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...