Political correctness gone mad?


photo by Katie Tegtmeyer via PhotoRee

Can I say mad?

Reading over the protests against the proposed SOPA / PIPA legislation recently my thoughts wandered from censorship to the limits society put on what we say or write.

Example 1. In the times BC (before children, not before Christ!), during a particularly busy day at one of the bases I worked in I said “Jeez! It’s like Paddy’s Market in here!“. A hush fell over the colleague with me. “You can’t say that!” she whispered, looking around to make sure no-one had heard my faux pas. I was baffled to be honest! “Jeez? I didn’t mean it as Jesus, just erm like gosh?!“.

Some eye-rolling.

No, you can’t say Paddy’s Market! It’s may upset someone who is Irish“.

Jeez! I did explain that my Father was Irish and that as far as I know it’s not a hanging offence to utter such a thing but the PC police had  spoken.

Example 2:  When doing my counselling training, we split into groups and proceeded to brain storm ideas for …… No we didn’t. We were informed by the tutor that Brainstorm was no longer respectful as it may belittle those with epilepsy or similar conditions. I’m now told “Mind” isn’t the correct term, so “Thought shower” it is.

Example 3: Englishman, Irishman, Scotsman jokes – for many these are a no go. The stereotypical way the Irishman is always portrayed as “dumb” and the Scotsman as a tight-fisted whisky drinker is unacceptable (jokes about the death of Amy Winehouse, the Riots, Bin Laden etc are fine, because  these are just funny though).

Perhaps I’m missing the point?

I’m not talking about blatant racism / sexism etc, I’m talking about once common terms that seem to be unacceptable now but it’s not always clear why. Sometime it seems that people find fault where there is none. Perhaps I’m being blinkered and such things are offensive and I just can’t see it as well as others.

I’m a freelance copywriter when I have my professional hat on so of course have to be mindful of these things, it is very important to not add anything in that may cause offence however with the goalposts constantly hanging, who is to know what  the next no-can-do thing to say or write will be?

What do you think? Are there any examples like mine above that make you groan or am I behind the times and need to wake up to the political correctness revolution?

* I was taught many of the Englishman / Irishman / Scotsman jokes by someone who is Irish. I never once got cross about the Englishman being the one who seemed to always miss out on all the fun times.

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  1. Blimey. Your point number 2 summarises what is wrong with the whole ‘politically correct’ stuff going on nowadays.
    How is anybody supposed to know what to say when anything you can say can be misconstrued?!
    Brain storming offensive? Really?! It seems you can’t say anything these days as there’s always someone, somewhere that can take offence! 🙂

    1. Annoyingly, when I started writing this I had many more examples but I’ve forgotten them all. The thought shower one is a prime one though. I know people with epilepsy who think it is absurd. I have to wonder who “they” are, those that decide what can and can’t be said?!

  2. The brainstorm/idea shower thing seems to have passed a little now. At least I hope so, anyway. I remember running training sessions where I’d say “OK, let’s do a b….let me just write these ideas on this whiteboard” because I couldn’t bring myself to say ‘idea shower’. It stopped the flow of the session because someone would then say “idea what?!” and then we’d end up having the whole political correctness conversation. Nightmare.

    1. Nightmare indeed.
      I had LOADS of, to be honest, better examples when I started writing the post but they all disappeared. That happens a lot these days, I’m easily distracted lol!

  3. I agree with you about your second point, but your 1st and 3rd are basically the same thing. It is casual rasism. My husband is Irish and gets comments like this on a daily basis and they can be hurtful, withone old lady saying “never trust the Irish” people think because it is said with a smile it won’t hurt someones feelings, not knowing they maybe the 5th person to make a “joke” that day.
    The simple truth is you would not make these types of comments and jokes based on cultural stereotyping to a black or Asain person as we all know they are rasist. Just because and Irish or Scotsman does not have different coloured skin does not mean they cannot be offened by them. Indeed they are expected to join in because they are Irish and as we all know the Irish love the Craic.

    1. Its an interesting point and strictly speaking is not one I actually disagree with.
      I expect it depends on your experiences. As I said, half my family are Irish and I have many Irish friends and the examples I’ve listed aren’t an issue, that said they don’t experience the same things your husband does i.e. never trust an Irishman etc.
      Thanks for commenting, food for thought!

  4. I find it disconcerting that the so called PC brigade are most likely to pull you up on saying the ‘wrong’ thing lest offense is given. I argue, much like Stephen Fry, that offense is taken rather than given.

  5. I was once on an Autralian Airlines flight and there was an announcment: “Sorry about the quality of the video – it’s to do with the electricity supply. We’ll turn the ovens off and it should be OK. I know that sounds a bit Irish but it usually works.” No one complained. I was amazed – they’d bener get away with that in the UK.

  6. As an Irish girl myself I love those jokes and never take offence!! I really think the world has gone PC mad, I mean the braistorm thing is just ridiculous!!! Soon it will take us so long to say anything to keep it PC that people just wont bother!! 🙂

  7. Yeah. There are many situations can cause us so much trouble when we try to make a sigh or short phrase to ease what we are feeling. Even if we have freedom of speech, we are still limited at some point so there’s no such thing as utter freedom. How old were you when you made the remark?

    I like your personal experiences as examples here!

    -Jon Carlo

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