It’s political correctness gone mad

The definition of ‘political correctness’ is the only thing to have been distorted in the last decade on a scale similar to that of the price of Freddos. The phrase has been promoted by aspects of the media in a way that has allowed the ‘PC Brigade’ to be stigmatised as a contingent of pedants, on a crusade for the sake of it. Such manipulation has been an intelligent move by the right-wing press, meaning that an institutionalised lament for how political correctness is ‘degrading’ our society is now synonymous with lament for whoever the media chooses; regularly ethnic minorities and certain faiths.

The ambiguity over what PC really is is astounding. One would hope when coming to University, a place of ‘intellectuals’, that such uncertainty would fade. Stumbling across the article Unnecessary political correctness replaces tolerance with intolerance in this very paper therefore served as a momentous kick in the teeth. It seems that even here, a pretentious hub of education, people are still confused. So, what on earth is political correctness?

The best answer to this I have so far come across has been provided by comedian Stewart Lee, who describes PC as: ‘An often clumsy negotiation towards a formally inclusive language’. Yes granted, ‘clumsy’. But what the ‘PC Brigade’ endeavour to do is cleanse our language of the inherent draconian-ism it naturally holds. It is an effort to encompass all cultures in a sensible way. Perhaps I am missing the point here, but does such an effort warrant the description of the ‘great cultural disease of the twenty-first century’ that it received in the previous article?

The bastion of the slogan ‘It’s political correctness gone mad’ is of course the ever-righteous Daily Mail. Members of the ‘PC Brigade’, who are so regularly hounded by the Mail, therefore achieved a smug victory in recent weeks when the Mail conceded that they had ‘got ‘Winterval’ wrong’.

For those not familiar with ‘Winterval’, this is a term that has been employed by various writers of the Daily Mail to claim in an exasperated tone: ‘You can’t even call Christmas, Christmas in some places. You have to call it Winterval so it doesn’t offend immigrants, it’s political correctness gone mad’. ‘Winterval’ therefore served as a simultaneous means of attack on the PC Brigade, and a platform for citing multiculturalism as the cause of an alleged decay in Britain. Worryingly, this myth has permeated society on a horribly successful scale, being referenced by politicians as powerful as David Cameron.

It therefore came as a much anticipated relief, when on the 8th of November, after years of using the term, this appeared in the clarifications section of the Daily Mail: ‘Winterval was the collective name for a season of public events, both religious and secular, which took place in Birmingham in 1997 and 1998. We are happy to make clear that Winterval did not rename or replace Christmas’. Yes, Winterval was manipulated into a context sufficient for attack on whoever was deemed suitable; an insight into the motives of such papers. And no, ‘immigrants’ are not demanding that we stop calling Christmas, Christmas. Whether this apology was a last-ditch and futile attempt by the Mail to remove itself from the Naughty List for the impending Christmas, I frankly do not care. For this is an important victory to be claimed in the effort to eradicate such frightening journalism in our society that is responsible for the distortion of what political correctness is really about.

10 comments

  1. Agreed. I think it’s often difficult to form a response to this ridiculous straw man, but your piece isn’t bad. Next up, you will have to tackle the new and even more frustrating Daily Mail argument – that any form of protest is ‘freedom of speech gone mad':

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-2054238/CHRIS-EVANS-Sven-wont-mind-sacked-His-slogan-Hire-me–long-pay-I-dont-mind.html

    (scroll down about halfway)

  2. The basic point you make is quite right and I commend you for making it. Political Correctness HAS gone mad, particularly at this University. I point to a friend of mine who has been slapped on the wrists by authority countless times for ridiculous reasons. Most recently for creating the following Hitler parody video. He was told to take it down as it ‘might cause offence to certain individuals’. The main issue seems to be that certain people are willing to ignore the views of the majority in order to appease a small minority. It’s quite frankly ridiculous!

  3. @ Anti-PC
    You have woefully misunderstood.I am fully for PC. The headline is satirical. My article is aimed at people such as yourself, who have been misinformed into thinking PC is something that it isn’t. It is quite apt that someone in favour of PC such as yourself, who is use to fictitious journalism, has been misinformed to such a level that you have moulded my article to fit your already pre-conceived ideas. With all due respect of course, i would ask you to re-read it.

  4. *against PC such as yourself.

  5. 16 Dec ’11 at 9:42 pm

    In search of a poet..

    The ideas you have are good, strong and right. The way you express them however, leaves a lot to be desired.

    Your language is clumsy and the rhythm of your writing is non-existent. I make this point not through snobbery, but because your poor writing style unfortunately obscures your argument.

    Keep driving against the prejudice of the right-wing press, that’s a thoroughly worthwhile cause, but just try and do it a little more eloquently.

  6. No one said he was D H Lawrence, I think his writing was fine and his argument progressed naturally. At no point did I think ‘I wish he’d worded this better’

  7. 20 Dec ’11 at 11:13 pm

    Becky Fennelly

    This article hits the nail on the head and is a fantastically written piece. To say the language is clumsy with no rhythm to the piece, in my opinion, is unnecessary over analytical and overlooks how well the issue is addressed.

  8. 20 Dec ’11 at 11:14 pm

    Becky Fennelly

    unnecessarily over analytical*

  9. I had to read this three times just to get the general jist of it, and I’m a Humanities student.

  10. Sorry, *because I’m a Humanities student.

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