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Discriminate To Prevent Discrimination?

Posted on 3rd July 2022

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The BBC reports here on Lewis Hamilton's statement that 'Older voices' should be refused a platform to make offensive comments. I have a number of issues with Mr. Hamilton's position:

  • The whole woke attitude that people should never have to be offended. Sometimes offending someone is the only way to really get their attention. Life is offensive, but nowadays people get offended just by hearing disagreement with their opinions. Stop wasting my time with ideas based on the argument that people might be offended!
  • He seems to be suggesting that we discriminate to reduce the risk of discrimination. The hypocrisy of this position beggars belief!
  • Why has he singled out 'older' people? This is discrimination in its purest form.

I anyway do not subscribe to the cult of celebrities, and Lewis Hamilton had already demonstrated that he is not someone suited to lead public opinion, but with his latest statement I will definitely no longer take his opinions seriously.

Victoria Bans Swastikas.

Posted on 23th June 2022

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This article on the BBC reports that Victoria, the southern state in Australia which includes Melbourne, has banned the display of the Nazi swastika.

Well, it's about time! This page on Wikipedia lists countries which have banned the swastika and other Nazi symbols and flags; I count 13. Such things have long been banned in Germany, although the rules are complicated, as explained here by DW.

Political Correctness Is Ruining Sport And Comedy.

Posted on 26th December 2021

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In this article on the BBC, Maureen Lipman is quoted as saying that comedy is in danger of being "wiped out" due to fears over being cancelled. I tend to agree. I recently watched Jimmy Carr: His Dark Material on Netflix; Jimmy Carr felt it necessary to point out several times the difference between a thing itself (e.g. rape) and making a joke about it, which should be totally unnecessary. Some comedians are now afraid to make jokes about certain topics, and comedy is the worse for it. I also recently watched an interview by a CNN journalist of Trevor Noah, where he was taken to task for some of the language that he uses, because it could be interpreted as racist. Trevor Noah is clearly not anti-black; he is, after all, half black himself. The problem is clearly with the interpretation, not comedy itself; if people have an inability to properly interpret in the light of the context, they should stop watching comedy, instead of trying to stop those of us with no such limitations from watching it.

JK Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books, has been heavily criticised a lot recently. People accuse her of being trans-phobic because she has expressed concern about the unfairness of trans athletes competing against non-trans women in sport. One of the latest developments in this sorry saga is reported here by the BBC: that two Quidditch leagues in the USA are changing their names because they do not wish to be associated with JK Rowling (QuidditchUK looks like they may follow suit). Quidditch is a game invented by the author in her Harry Potter books; the Quidditch leagues in question did not licence the use of the name "Quidditch" from JK Rowling, and any association was of their own making.

If you doubt that trans athletes competing against non-trans women can (sometimes) be unfair, you should read this article on The Daily Signal, and also here. I don't understand why this is so hard for some people to accept: the science is clear, and the examples given by The Daily Signal are also very clear. Political correctness is supposed to be about the avoidance of unwarranted offence, but in the face of irrefutable evidence, political correctness must not prevent truth being spoken. The result, as suggested by The Daily Signal, could be to drive women out of many sports.

Eddie Redmayne Tries To Sit On The Fence.

Posted on 29th November 2021

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In this BBC article, Eddie Redmayne tries very hard to sit on the fence regarding the issue of actors playing roles whose sexual identity doesn't match their own. He says it was a mistake to a play trans role in the movie "The Danish Girl", released in 2015.

Well yes, there is a lot of that kind of thing in the acting world. Cisgender actors playing trans roles and straight actors playing gay roles. What really annoys me is the Star Wars movies and spin-off TV series: how many of the alien characters were actually played by aliens?

Just in case any readers have not worked it out, I am being sarcastic. We have a word in the English language for people who play roles that are in some way different from who those people really are: actors! Even Eddie Redmayne referred to this, when he said that any actor "should be able to play any sort of part ..."

If we take this lie of reasoning to it logical conclusion we would have to have:

  • Actors only playing roles of matching ethnicity (no Indians playing Pakistanis, and no Caucasians playing native Americans, for example);
  • Actors only playing characters of matching sexuality and sexual identity;
  • Only actors who are serial killers playing the roles of serial killers;
  • Only actors with real martial arts skills playing the roles of martial arts experts;
  • Only actors who have been to space playing the roles of astronauts;
  • Only mafioso actors playing mafioso roles;
  • Only wife-beating actors playing the roles of wife beaters.

Are we going to outlaw pantomimes (an English tradition) because of the pantomime dames?

Where do we draw the line? If it is wrong for straight actors to play gay roles, how is it OK for gay actors to play straight roles (which is how most gay actors learn their trade)?

I want to see movies and TV shows in which the characters are well played and believable, which means picking the best available actor for the role. Please leave PC considerations out of the casting decisions.

Political Correctness and personal pronouns.

Posted on 27th June 2021

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I was thinking recently about the ridiculousness of political correctness regarding personal pronouns.

Many transsexuals, and even some transvestites, are very picky about what personal pronouns people use about them and to them; they can get seriously offended if people don't use their chosen pronouns (he, she, they etc.).

Many of us have, or had in the past, nicknames that people used instead of our given names. I, my father and my son Brendan, have all been called "Foz" or "The Foz". Often these are not directly offensive (not, however, the case with an ex-colleague whose name was Richard Head). I know of no-one who ever chose their own nickname, but most of us know better than to be offended by, or try to change, the nicknames people use for us.

Why then, do people expect to be able to choose the personal pronouns used when people refer to them?

Personal pronouns are part of our language; the purpose of language is communication, and lack of ambiguity is an important part of that communication. If someone who identifies as a woman, still looks like a man (and I have seen a fair few transsexuals whose operations, hormone treatments, clothes and makeup are not convincing) then I reserve the right, for the purpose of avoiding ambiguity, to use whatever personal pronouns I choose when referring to them.

I feel that is the height of arrogance to insist on specific personal pronouns. You own neither the nicknames nor the pronouns that people refer to you with.

Political Correctness in Texas.

Posted on 26th June 2021

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Newspaper Clipping

A friend sent me this photos of a newspaper clipping (to the right) about a bill being put forward in the Texas legislature (the highlighting is my friend's, not mine).

Representative Terry Meza (a democrat - no surprise there) wants to repeal the states's "castle doctrine", which allows a homeowner to use lethal force to defend their home.

There have always been issues with the way the "castle doctrine" legislation was written and interpreted, with the result that there was no onus on the homeowner to use only the minimum necessary force, and a number of morally questionable deaths have resulted. It is absolutely right to put a legal responsibility on homeowners to use only proportionate and necessary force.

I do, however, find some of the other parts of the proposed legislation downright offensive. Homeowners will have a duty to flee, if someone break in, and if unable to flee, then to cooperate with the intruder.

Then there are the excuses made in the article for the thieves, and the statements that the thieves need the money more than the homeowners, and that theft can be viewed as a means to a more equitable distribution of wealth; it is unclear whether these views can be attributed to Representative Meza, or are the opinions of the journalist.

This is arrant PC nonsense. The good thing is that this bill has no chance of becoming law in Texas.

Political Correctness is getting out of hand!

Posted on 5th July 2020

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It really seems that political correctness is getting thoroughly out of hand!

Recently, Sheryl and I watched the movie "Rush Hour", starring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker. Sheryl mentioned that this film is now considered to not be politically correct, because it contains racist words and phrases (anti-Chinese and anti-black). The movie was made in 1998, and the world at the time was much more racist than it is now (and even now, the world is still very racist). The social and historical context is thus racist, and a film set against this background needs to represent this context (without condoning it). Movies that do not properly represent their social and historical context are flawed, and generally uninteresting (no-one will watch them). Lots of other kinds of context are apparently allowed to be represented (and even exaggerated) in movies (sex, violence, espionage, war, science, technology and crime, for example) without the self-appointed PC watchdogs crying foul, but racism now has to be whitewashed (and no, whitewashed is not a racist term). I am getting really fed-up with this PC nonsense!

Another example, reported here on People, is the decision by Hulu to pull an episode of the Golden Girls from their catalogue, because of a scene where the stars are wearing mud-masks; not black-face, but a beauty treatment. All this because Hulu were worried that audiences would misinterpret this scene as racist. How far are companies willing to go to guard against the ignorance and stupidity of some of their consumers?

In other PC news (here, on the BBC), Twitter and other companies are dropping the terms "master", "slave" and "blacklist" (very widely used in software) in favour of more inclusive language. I can understand dropping the use of the word "blacklist", which has racist origins, but "master" and "slave" are words that pre-date the enslavement of blacks and have meanings that accurately describe the functions and relationships of things, which are not based on racist models or analogies. The word "master" is not modelled on a white slave-owning person, and "slave" is not based on an enslaved black person.

Another aspect of political correctness is the beatification by public opinion of the victims of police violence. No matter what the history of such a victim is, once dead they are treated as a saint, and any suggestion to the contrary is met with a vicious backlash by the PC police. An example is George Floyd. There is no question that George Floyd was brutally and unjustly murdered, but he was no saint. Nevertheless, Ron Johnson, who was head of consumer products at Riot Games had to resign (as reported here by the BBC) over a meme he posted about George Floyd, which included the statements "no reason to condone his killing" and "This type of criminal lifestyle never results in good things" (about George Floyd, not the police officer who killed him). Being factually correct seems to be no protection from these kinds of backlash.

There is a well known phrase, widely quoted in several variants: "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it". How can we learn from history if our history is whitewashed and we cannot discuss the facts and implications of our history? Political correctness (among other things) is now standing in the way of our learning from our history, and thus guaranteeing that we will repeat it.

Wayne Hennessey did not know what Nazi salute was?

Posted on 17th April 2019

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I can't believe that Wayne Hennessey got away with this, as reported in this report on the BBC.

Wayne Hennessey is goalkeeper for the Crystal Palace football (soccer) team. The FA (Football Association) regulatory commission has just decided that he will face no punishment, because did not know what a Nazi salute was, and displayed 'a "lamentable degree of ignorance" about Adolf Hitler, fascism and the Nazi regime'.

This is purest bullshit. Just look at the photo, which says it all. In the picture, not only is he making the Nazi salute, but he is using his other hand to mimic Adolf Hitler's mustache, showing that he at least understands the connection between Hitler and the Nazis.

His "ignorance" is clearly feigned.

NBC Presenter Criticised For Saying That Hispanic-Americans Should "Work Harder At Assimilation"

Posted on 30th January 2019

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This short piece on the BBC really highlights the differences between Germany, where I live, and the USA.

The USA has an official language: English (although not always recognisable as English by other English-speaking nations). Germany also has an official language: German (although there are regional dialects, to the extent that people from one region have great difficulty understanding people from another, and Swiss-German speakers have subtitles added when on German TV).

In Germany, the government has no qualms in insisting that people speak and understand German. There is even a test, when applying for residence or citizenship. By contrast, the USA seems to need to tiptoe around the issue, and it is not considered politically correct to make a fuss about residents and citizens not speaking English. Most of us have heard stories of people not being able to order food in places like McDonald's unless they do so in Spanish (in some parts of the USA).

I really don't understand the Americans' reticence about insisting on English: it is the law and it is established practice. Giving in on this could easily lead to a situation like in South Africa, where it is common for a school teacher to have to work in up to 14 different languages in one class.

Insisting on ability in English doesn't mean that other languages are banned. At this moment, there are four of us in my office: two Germans, a South African, and me (from England). All of speak English and German; the South African also speaks Afrikaans (so I can also use my very limited Dutch with her). We speak whichever language is easiest for all participants in a conversation; sometimes we use more than one language in a conversation.

Political correctness is largely an American invention, so it is rather appropriate that they are now becoming victims of the monster they created. I must ask, however, that they keep it on their own side of the Atlantic.

Reverse PC?

Posted on 19th July 2018

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It seems that things have been turned on their heads recently. After years of trying to stamp out prejudice, two groups who are often victims of discrimination, disabled and transgender people, seem to be telling us that discrimination is good.

This story from the BBC reports that Scarlett Johansson quit a role playing a transgender person because of a backlash from LBGT community. It seems that these people feel that transgender people should only be played by transgender actors.

This story, also from the BBC, discusses whether the role as a disabled person, played by Dwayne Johnson (The Rock), should have been played by an actual disabled actor.

In both these cases, the idea is ridiculous and the height of discriminatory. I would be laughing if I didn't think that such ridiculous arguments could actually gain some traction in the messed up world of political correctness.

IMDB Sues California

Posted on 16th November 2016

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This BBC news story reports that IMDB (a huge online database of movies, TV programmes and actors) is suing the state of California over a law requiring it to remove actors' ages at their request. California's reasoning seems to be that publishing actors' ages is discriminatory.

I am afraid that I disagree. The age of an actor is information relevant to casting decisions, to validate the sometimes less than accurate statements made by actors about their life experience, past actions and the reasons for their opinions, and is something that audiences want to know for various reasons.

I do agree that age is made into too much of a headline by the press, when writing about famous people (especially about women), but suppressing this information is going too far: it is censorship, and sometimes readers have valid reasons for wanting to know the age of an actor (or a politician, business person, or other celebrity).

Publishing someone's age is not inherently discriminatory; the important thing is what the reader does with that data. For example, the age of Donald Trump (the oldest person ever elected to the US presidency) is relevant to his suitability for office, and censoring that information would have interfered with proper democratic choice. When applying for a job, I have to submit my CV, and if my age is not in it, I will either be asked my age at interview, or maybe will not even get an interview.

Bruce Willis is famous for doing many of his own movie stunts, despite being born in 1955. That information is not a cause of discrimination, but rather a reason to be impressed with him.

Can we please just apply some common sense to the constant demands for political correctness?

Is Not Being Politically Correct Really Being Discriminatory?

Posted on 8th November 2016

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I admit to having a lot of sympathy with the position taken by professor Jordan Peterson, as described in this BBC report.

Professor Peterson risks being charged with breaking the law on discrimination, by refusing to use gender neutral pronouns (among other things). There are so many things wrong with the the political correctness agenda in this matter:

  1. The alternative, gender neutral, pronouns that we are encouraged (or forced) to use ("ze" and "zir") are simply not English. The singular "they" is for use only when the gender of the person referred to is not known. Using "they" in the singular, when the person is known, is rather like the misuse of "chair" and "chair-person"; chair can be used to refer to the position, not the person; if the gender of the person is unknown, they can be referred to as the chair-person, but otherwise they are a chairman or chairwoman. Many people would be upset by the implication that their gender is unclear, which is what you are doing by calling someone you know a chair-person.
  2. Using a gender-specific pronoun is not inherently discriminatory, nor does it automatically encourage others to discriminate. If, when talking to you, I intend to insult you (or someone else), believe me, you will know; you do not need to read between the lines, and to analyse my use of pronouns, to work it out.
  3. The names by which people are referred to, and in some cases the pronouns used, are ultimately not the choice of the referree, but rather the choice of the referrer. Nicknames are a common example of this. I have a good friend, a German named Karl, who prefers to go by Charlie, but I always call him Karl; he understands that this is my choice, and that he doesn't get a vote in the matter. I believe that I have a right to refer to a transgender person as he or she, as it suits me; the pronoun that I use may depend on the circumstances of the moment, and also depend on whether the they are convincing as their chosen gender. There is a person of uncertain gender living near me in Munich, who sometimes dresses as a man, and sometimes as a woman; it would be rather ridiculous in this case that he/she insisted on a specific pronoun, irrespective of how he/she was dressed.
  4. Like Professor Peterson, I really don't care if some Emo feels upset by the pronouns used about them. If one chooses to live in the gender-grey-zone, and to not explain to everyone one meets exactly what one's surgically assigned or consciously chosen gender identity is, then people will themselves choose the pronouns. I fully support your right to choose, but don't get upset if people around you get confused.

Many people have enough difficulty using their native language just to express themselves clearly and unambiguously. The standards of spelling and grammar in English (German and Dutch too) in common use are abysmal (e.g. "You done good" instead of "you did well"; I get frequent emails from job agents which say "Hope your well" - you hope what about my well, and why is it any of your business where I get my water from?). I feel that expecting average people to be politically correct, when they can hardly string three words together, is too much to ask. Being politically correct is even harder when communicating with people from other countries (e.g. in South Africa, "black" means ethnically African, and "coloured" means mixed-race or ethnically Indian/Pakistani, which is totally at odds with what is politically correct in the USA).

Please, can we just forget about politically correctness?

Political Correctness Gone Mad

Posted on 21st June 2015

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Sometimes I don't recognise the society in which I find myself. This BBC story, describes how a Utah baseball team cancelled their 'Caucasian Heritage Night' for reasons of political correctness.

The event was anyway only meant as a bit of fun; a tongue-in-cheek opportunity to poke fund at the white-Caucasian way of life, but was cancelled because of a recent massacre of black church goers in South Carolina.

Odd, but I haven't heard of any other ethnic groups cancelling events that celebrate or otherwise highlight their ethnicity because of the events in South Carolina. So what they seem to be saying is that it is OK to highlight and even celebrate your ethnicity and culture if you are black (African-American), Hispanic, Indian, or Chinese, but certainly not if you are Caucasian.

That is what I hate about this fashion (yes, it is a fashion: a fad) to be PC about everything. It is influencing our social events, our language (don't call that person fat; he is just gravitationally challenged!), our clothing, indeed almost every aspect of life. Plus, there are plenty of pitfalls between one country and another (In South Africa black means of African origin; coloured means mixed race or originating from the Indian sub-continent - try using American-style PC English there and see how much confusion you can cause!).