Tuesday, 8 April 2008


A recent report has said that lesbian, gay and bisexual people in the UK meet prejudice at every level of society. How true is this? I would say totally true, and to a certain extent always will be.
I say this because it is so with everything. Some people with ginger hair still face prejudice, as do rather small people, like myself. Of course, this may not seem as fundamental a prejudice, but this fact holds an important message.

I am a great believer in freedom and equality for all.

This is my belief regardless of who, or what, they are, and I would defend the rights of anyone. But a degree of prejudice is endemic within any society.
This is a factor that people who fight for the rights of any group find hard to accept. Hence, when the fight for freedom begins, it is heroic and good. Eventually, and slowly, equality comes before the law.

But so often, it falters.

When the impregnable barrier of die-hard prejudice is encountered, the message begins to change. Becomes more fundamental. Become more absolute. And I always worry that, when this happens, the message begins to turn the silent majority who have already been won over.
If we take political correctness today, at one time it was a noble cause that I supported. But in recent years, it has led to a degradation of free speech that is not only appalling, but will end up annoying people to such an extent that mass prejudice will eventually return.

© Anthony North, April 2008

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Sandee (Comedy +) said...

Same thing that's happening over here. Being politically correct is killing us. We have gone too far with this issue. If all of us could just find the middle it would be great. We tend to go too far either right or left. It just doesn't work well then. I agree with you on your take. Have a great day. :)

anthonynorth said...

Hi Sandee,
Oh, for the middleground - the home of all commonsense.

Twilight said...

I believe that it's better to err on the side of PC-ness when there's any dispute on the subject.

To criticise the concept too harshly sends the pendulum quivering in the wrong direction.

I agree that moving too far towards extreme PC is too far to be reasonable, but too much criticism tends to play into the hands of the extreme non-PC crowd - and there are still plenty of them around.

I find myself having to defend PC-ness more and more, and I do it not to defend the extreme examples, but to protect the concept itself.

anthonynorth said...

Hi Twilight,
Could it be you're having to defend PC-ness because it's already gone too far?
Obviously I can only speak for the UK, but we've had incidents such as the police interviewing journalists because they may have insulted a sector of the community; TV presenters sacked for un-PC comments that were really nothing but mild jokes.
There is a general fear among people of saying the wrong thing, which cannot be right. Yet, regarding gays, our most popular SOAPs have gays as their most popular characters; gays front prime time Saturday entertainment shows; gay writers are doing a marvellous job.
In the main the message has been received, understood and accepted by the majority, and I don't think it can become any greater. So pushing it, the only way is down, and I'd hate that to happen.

Twilight said...

It depends on what you see as "too far", AN!

When does a remark or joke against gays, a racial/ethnic group, or against women become offensive?

If one is allowed to go past a certain point because "it was only a joke", then people will feel free to carry on in the same vein, extend the lee-way and you'd end up again with racial and sexist slurs becoming commmonplace, or jokes against those with disabilities being thought OK because "it was only a joke".

I guess I'm on the wrong side of this argument..lol!

I'm feeling sensitive due to the stuff going on in the USA at the moment. Race and gender are both sensitive subjects, and gender is losing badly. Sexist remarks by talking heads re Hillary Clinton are and have been rife for some time, while the slightest mention of anything which may be construed as racial is pouinced upon quite undeservedly because it is seen to offend Obama supporters.


Travis said...

We all have prejudices. It doesn't mean we're all bigots. Or that we'll all discriminate.

I think the key in all things is tolerance for the difference in others. And respect.

anthonynorth said...

Hi Twilight,
I was in a similar discussion a few months ago with someone from the American deep south, who felt severely persecuted by Christian Fundamentalists, and I ended up agreeing that PC has a long way to go there.
This taught me that it's a subject very much down to the particular place under discussion. For instance, Catholic adoption agencies in the UK have been told that they have to offer children for adoption to same sex couples. This is totally against their beliefs, so they face the possibility of being shut down, or going against their conscience.
Now, we may disagree with their beliefs, but does a belief, and action from a belief, have the right to be? In this case, PC is leading to a world where only one system of thought can be allowed. Surely that is tyranny?
There is a popular TV chat show over here, Friday Night With Jonathan Ross. The host is joined by a singing group, all gay, and called Four Poofs and a Piano. The jokes Ross makes would be considered totally un-PC, but because he's known as an 'alternative' entertainer, he's classed as funny (Personally, I think he's hilarious). An older school comic, called Jim Davidson, made some much lighter remarks to a gay on a reality show, and he was thrown off the show. PC had already almost wrecked his career by having his prime time programmes dumped.
Homophobes, etc, will always exist regardless of PC, but I'm worried where freedom lies in all this. I think most people know how to behave - all they needed was a little education. But as I say, this all depends on place. I can imagine some Bible Belt areas where it is a different matter indeed, and PC still has work to do.

Hi Travis,
Yes, I think that's a pretty sensible attitude.

Twilight said...

I remember 4 Poofs and a Piano, and Jonathan Ross, and Jim Davidson, AN. :-)

It's a tricky subject - humour! A lot depends on how malicious or otherwise the jokes are perceived to be by the audience. Which, in turn, depends on the reputation of the joke-teller.

Someone like Billy Connolly (sp?)
can get away with stuff that Jim Davidson couldn't, probably because there's an underlying warmth and affection for the eccentricities of life in Billy's humour, whereas Jim D. came over to me as quite vicious a lot of the time.

PC is a very tricky subject in general. As you say, location is important. And no two people perceive things in the same way, so it's hard to make blanket declarations.

"Do as you would be done to" covers most things though - PC included. :-)

anthonynorth said...

Hi Twilight,
I tend to agree with that statement, but it's interesting you bring up Billy Connolly.
A couple of years ago a Liverpublian engineer called Ken Bigley was kidnapped and murdered in Baghdad. There was outrage, as, indeed, the incident demanded.
It was tragic, but Liverpool then turned out in a communal, and massive, spectacle of grief. The last eccentric MP, Boris Johnson, criticised such communal grief. The PC press turned on him and he was forced into a humiliating trip to Liverpool, where he repeatedly and publicly apologised for his views.
About a year later, Billy Connolly cracked one of his usual 'tasteless' jokes, about Ken Bigley. The PC press rounded on him. Connolly has not had a TV show in the UK since. He's finished over here - death by PC.
I repeat, any form of persecution is, in my book, terrible. But over in the UK, it is now becoming clear that the supposed protectors from persecution are now becoming the persecuters.

Twilight said...

I didn't know about that incident, AN.

Maybe Billy C. had become overly confident. I've seen that happen before when comedians assume they have the unconditional love of their audience. Dave Allen did the same thing towards the end of his career and alienated a lot of folks.

anthonynorth said...

Hi Twilight,
Yes, I remember Dave Allan. He was my favourite comic when younger. But it doesn't apply to Connolly. After this incident, he was voted 8th in The Comedian's Comedian Poll out of all comics ever.
His videos still sell, and he's about to begin a tour of Ireland. He is just quite simply not on TV. Producers panic over PC, and that's the end of a TV career.
Connolly himself is as loved by the public as he ever was. But he doesn't seem, now, to have a chance as far as the controllers are concerned.