This morning, as with many others, I was woken to what has become an incessant drum beat of political correctness coming across the radio waves. It seems to be tagged onto so many stories as they break into our national conscious, not only those about prejudice or discrimination. The news is so often accompanied by the drumming of the “PC-Gone-Mad Activists”; politicians, journalists, commentators and members of the general public who seem to have taken up this pounding and have become quite masterful exponents of it.
As regular readers of this blog are probably aware, I give much time to the concept of political correctness – either something is correct or incorrect, euphemisms for right or wrong, and politics has nothing to do with it. How often does poor behaviour from one person to another get minimised as an example of “it’s just PC gone mad”.
I thought, to do a trawl of a few media websites to see how often the claim is made. So my findings:-
The Guardian Online – during March there were 13 news stories quoting PC as a reason/excuse for certain complains, behaviours and language issues. The subject matters range from The Leveson Enquiry, to Syria, Mitt Romney, gay marriage and the UK’s boxing bad boys. The Mail Online quotes 20 cases of political correctness during the same period. There subjects involve Prince Philip, a New York school story, plenty of celebrity and media gossip articles and issues about the Union Flag. Interestingly, The Times Online has only four articles whilst the Mirror Online has 269 – I’m not going to bother trawling through them.
So what is the point here?
I wonder how many of us easily cast aside a piece of news or comment worthy of a second thought or glance because it is packaged up or presented as a political correctness story. Does this make it any less worthy or with less learning opportunity? I know that it is hard not to become judgemental; after all issues of right and wrong are by definition statements of judgement. We must also remain cognisant that often one’s person’s right is very often another’s wrong – but this can be a recipe for healthy debate.
So my appeal to you is not to default to the easy PC conclusion – it does not do justice to the protagonists of a story, the news, the comment or you.
Thanks to my colleague Chris Markiewicz for his input on this one.