Saturday, 26 September 2015

Free speech and PC

The week has flown by and I'm overdue with a blog post!  

There's an interesting discussion going on one of the yahoo groups (it may be over now) about whether or not to use certain words in historical novels. I am surprised that anyone would think about re-naming Guy Gibson's dog in order to be politically correct, because surely that is changing history. I use that example because it is fairly straightforward: the dog, a black Labrador, was called Nigger. Gibson's dog, his choice of name and surely a reflection on his character and an interesting sidelight on the man and his culture of almost eighty years ago. Change the dog's name and you "sanitise" the story.

How far does this censorship go? For that is what it amounts to. We used to have a nice little word that described happy people but now it is never used except to describe people of a certain sexual persuasion. The allowable words to describe those with physical or mental problems, people of colour and/or a particular religious habits change almost every week, making it nearly impossible to keep up and be correct - if you subscribe to the idea that you should. It is even hard to describe some of these situations without getting the language in knots. PC-ness is tied up with gender and sexism, too; I notice more and more actresses don't want to be anything but actors, as if the word itself conveyed something special on them. Waitresses are in danger of becoming terribly Americanised "servers," which I think is a rather more demeaning concept than being a waitress. But there you go. what do I know? But I have to ask, before this all goes silly:

What happened to free speech?

Some thoughts that bear thinking about, discovered while researching the topic;

We recognise bullying as the most unpleasant form of physical abuse by someone who wants to wield power of some sort over someone else. Political correctness is the most insidious form of bullying where the bullies attack the psychology and thinking of another for their own satisfaction, even though something is said in complete innocence (and ignorance) of its origins. We should recognise the politically correct brigade as nothing but bullies in another form, trying to twist the minds of others to satisfy their own inadequacies.

Political Correctness: Only saying what one is allowed to say - by whom? Didn't the Nazis practise something like it, or the Soviet Union especially under Stalin. Double talk, double think results in lies and deception. Sweep away PC once and for all.

These kinds of regulations are completely insane, and yet they exist. Has anyone asked just why it is that in Britain today, faceless bureaucrats, whose names aren't even known, apparently have the power to impose legal restrains on the speech of other citizens. And they can apparently do this with any law being passed through Parliament, and in complete defiance of the will of the vast majority, without any form of accountability.

I don't want a sanitised language, and I really don't want history sanitised. History was often brutal and unkind, but that is part of the reason it is endlessly fascinating. Trying to whitewash the language is like trying to say that no wars ever took place and Henry VIII never executed two of his wives, that so-called heretics were never burned at the stake. 

No comments: