Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Ok folks I know its been a while... Ba Bar Rainbow Sheep

The political correctness debate

In childhood we were taught the well known rhyme to stop the tears when the vile spotty kid that lived round the corner was calling us names in the street, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”. While we could hold our heads high and repeat the phrase, we all thought it was bollocks. Words and language are the most powerful tools we possess, they make us ultimately superior to gold fish and hamsters. Political correctness merely means the practice of using speech that conforms to liberal or radical opinion by avoiding language which might cause offence to or disadvantage social minorities. But has it gone too far?

Education has a duty to teach values of equality and respect, but is banning nursery rhymes really the answer? It has been a children's rhyme for hundred’s of years, but 'Baa Baa Black Sheep' has fallen victim to the drive for political correctness. Nursery school children are being taught to sing 'Baa Baa Rainbow Sheep' instead of the traditional rhyme to promote 'equal opportunities'. This has also been extended to Black boards now being referred to as Chalk Boards and White boards reinvented as pen boards. None of these phrases refer to skin colour in any way, they are merely descriptive of the colour these items actually are. Also which is more disturbing, children who grow up repeating Bar Bar Black sheep or children who spend their time making trips to the country searching for rainbow sheep. Achieving this will require large quantities of illicit drugs and years of expensive therapy. I find the thought of six years old singing about three visually impaired rodents or I'm a size challenged teapot, small in stature and generous of girth, ultimately more worrying.

American feminists are leading the drive to substitute Herstory for History – ‘Herstory’ attempts to remove men from ‘HIS story’. Though there are nearly 900,000 Google citations for ‘HERstory, they are all based on a mistaken assumption. When Herodotus, the first writer that we know of (probably really the first) who tried to find out what had happened in the past, wrote the first history book, the word meant simply ‘inquiry’. Also is the removal of men’s part in our history really equal? Following on from the trend to remove sexism from society an “Inclusive Bible” which is supposed to be an example of Christian teaching in a more diverse manner has rewritten prayers to honour women an example being, “Our Mother and Father Who are in Heaven”.

My personal favourite of all of these is Manchester council employees were requested by e-mail to wish fellow members of staff and members of the public “Season’s Greetings” instead of Happy Christmas. Also More than two out of three Manchester city centre companies have banned Christmas decorations from the office because of fears that they will offend people from different religious faiths and alienate minorities. Before you ask, I haven't become a weirdo fundamentalist. This is not a matter of religiosity, I am personally not religious as I disagree with certain fundamental aspects of the faith I was raised in, my protest is about rejecting plans to turn celebrating any religious festival into a crime, including those festivals celebrated by Christians. I would never want to discourage anyone from celebrating Eid or Hanukah so why is Christmas allowed to be vilified. As only one in 15 Britons actually go to church on Sundays, Christians are becoming a minority. Does anyone genuinely find Christmas offensive or was the idea thought up by an office geek with no friends who is bitter as he didn’t receive any cards or get a snog under the mistletoe at the Christmas party.

PS if this debate has in fact bored you so much that you need caffeine to stay awake, be warned: Coffee shops are changing menus from black coffee to a coffee without milk as it has been deemed to racist.

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