Lisa Hunter, a writer and sub-ed­i­tor, from Dundee thinks that peo­ple are get­ting so caught up try­ing to be in­of­fen­sive, that things are get­ting out of hand.


In the years be­fore I was a jour­nal­ist, I did a course in Child Care and Ed­u­ca­tion and, at col­lege, I learned that an al­ter­na­tive ver­sion of Baa Baa Black Sheep was be­ing used – due to ap­par­ent racist con­no­ta­tions. The rhyme had ap­par­ently been amended to Baa Baa Woolly Sheep, but since then, I’ve also heard of vari­a­tions us­ing Rain­bow, Happy and Green Sheep. The PC Bri­gade were clearly hav­ing a field day, weren’t they? Racist con­no­ta­tions? No, the sheep was just black. It’s sim­ply a colour, not used as an of­fen­sive way to dif­fer­en­ti­ate skin colours, merely to state fact. On the other hand, I can’t claim to ever have seen a rain­bow sheep – must be a breed I’m un­fa­mil­iar with! It is true that some nurs­ery rhymes were orig­i­nally more sin­is­ter and have been adapted for a younger au­di­ence. Surely it should be up to parents to de­cide which nurs­ery rhymes to share with their off­spring. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against the need for some kind of po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness. Af­ter all, times move on and there’s no place in to­day’s so­ci­ety for sex­ist and racist terms. There is a clear need to draw the line some­where. The is­sue is that some peo­ple don’t know where that line is and get so car­ried away with their cru­sade to be in­of­fen­sive that they bring around a dif­fer­ent kind of in­sult. Be­ing PC is more than just fol­low­ing a set of rules and con­ven­tions, it’s about com­mon de­cency and hav­ing re­spect for oth­ers. More and more, it seems to be the case that some­thing said en­tirely in­of­fen­sively will have some­one up in arms. Re­cently, Tesco found them­selves ac­cused of sexism, due to there be­ing a pic­ture of a woman and her child on their trol­leys. One cus­tomer com­plained of “ev­ery­day sexism”, say­ing the su­per­mar­ket chain had been re­in­forc­ing our pre­con­ceived stereo­types of women, and that the trol­ley’s logo im­plies that the woman’s place is with the chil­dren and she is the one ul­ti­mately re­spon­si­ble for shop­ping. Ab­so­lute non­sense. No mat­ter what any­one says, in­no­cent or not, there is some­one just wait­ing to be of­fended. Over the years, “dis­abled” has evolved to be­come “phys­i­cally chal­lenged” or “dif­fer­ently

It seems now that no mat­ter what any­one says, in­no­cent or not, there is some­one just wait­ing to be of­fended by it.

abled”. But what if a per­son is not aware of the PC ter­mi­nol­ogy, does that mean they’re de­lib­er­ately be­ing cruel? Of course it doesn’t. It’s very pos­si­ble they just gen­uinely aren’t aware of the po­lit­i­cally cor­rect ter­mi­nol­ogy. Fol­low­ing a code for be­ing po­lit­i­cally cor­rect won’t nec­es­sar­ily al­ter the way you or any­one else views things ei­ther. The way the world has be­come ob­sessed with not caus­ing of­fence has got out of hand. Peo­ple need to get off their high horses and stop blam­ing oth­ers. The only way to make the world bet­ter is by ex­am­in­ing our own be­hav­iour and attitude. Dic­tat­ing what is ap­pro­pri­ate for oth­ers to say ag­gra­vates mat­ters and breeds con­tempt. It stops free­dom of thought and ex­pres­sion. Per­haps this can be seen in the fall­out of the Har­vey We­in­stein sex scan­dal al­le­ga­tions. With many peo­ple, rightly so, try­ing to en­sure women are treated fairly and not sub­jected to sex­ual ha­rass­ment in a pro­fes­sional, or per­sonal ca­pac­ity, we’ve all been re­assess­ing long-stand­ing cus­toms. For­mula 1 Grid Girls have been at races for decades, but will no longer be used by F1. While I see where peo­ple are com­ing from on this, that Grid Girls were, es­sen­tially, there to be pretty, it was their choice to be em­ployed in that pro­fes­sion. They weren’t do­ing so against their will and many of these women see them­selves as sim­ply rep­re­sent­ing their coun­try. Now, due to a col­lec­tive idea of what is right or wrong, these women have lost the right to choose to be Grid Girls, some los­ing their only source of in­come as a re­sult. Cos­met­ics, cloth­ing and per­fume com­pa­nies all em­ploy at­trac­tive women, and men, to ad­ver­tise their prod­ucts. Is be­ing a Grid Girl re­ally so dif­fer­ent from be­ing a model? It’s as though lu­natics are run­ning the asy­lum. Sorry, how very unpc of me! I’d bet­ter go be­fore the PC Bri­gade catch up with me...

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