These days we have to be careful what we say and how we say it. In 2018, political correctness has infiltrated every corner and aspect of our life; everything I believed to be right was swept under the rug of time, never to see the light of day again. Someone decided that past generations were wrong to act and speak in the way they did. We were asked to forget the past ever happened and deny our social history in favour of a sanitised version of events, that I don’t recognise. My childhood, growing up in the 1970s has been forgotten; changing times have demanded answers and a vindication for daring to be who we are. Suddenly people of a certain age have become irrelevant, their views ignored and their right to be heard dismissed. This is the age we live in and it is responsible for the failing World we inhabit today!
The 1970s were special; I look back on this period of my life with fondness, yet this decade has been linked to everything that is bad with the society we live in. A reference to this forgotten decade, is usually done in derogatory terms, to highlight the worst aspects of the era. As a child, I didn’t consider this period to be anything but normal. Even today I am content with my childhood; I do not want to wipe the recollections of this controversial age from my memory. I want to savour the reminders of a far more innocent, credulous and trusting time. Of course as I look back over time, every year that came before, is deemed worse than today. As people, we are constantly apologising for what we believe to be the mistakes of the past. These were not flaws and faults with us, they were part of evolving as a culture and becoming comfortable with who we are; able to laugh at one another and discuss our differences, without fear of displeasing, insulting or upsetting our peers. Many people were offended by the language and references used and we have had to become more aware of other peoples opinions and differences. I understand the reasons for change, I am not at odds with modernity, I just wish we could stop beating ourselves up over an altogether different generation!
Political correctness seeks to avoid forms of expression or action, perceived to exclude or insult groups of people, who are socially disadvantaged, according to a reputable online dictionary. Like most people I understand the concept of protecting those more vulnerable or susceptible to abuse. In a civilized society, all of us should be equal, that is not in question. What I do find abhorrent is how others have hijacked this campaign, to suit their own agenda. I accord consideration to everyone, no matter who they are. Recently while out with a friend in Alicante, shopping in El Corte Ingles, walking through the entrance, I held open a door for a lady behind me. She smiled approvingly and walked in. My friend turned to me and said, “You really shouldn’t be doing that these days, some women can take great offence by it; after all, we are all equal now!” To be honest, I was a little taken aback by this. Have we really become that PC, that we can’t even project good manners, towards others? A common courtesy, I have always adhered to and will continue to practice, was being used as a political statement, describing me as sexist, just for holding open a door. I would have done it for a man or a woman; it is the mark of decent behaviour.
I could give you many examples, of just how ridiculous Political Correctness has become and would be writing for hours, so I will stick to a couple for the purposes of this article. I recently read about an incident in a school. A teacher mistakenly referred to a ‘blackboard’ in his lesson and a pupil reported him for unacceptable use of the word ‘black;’ which is considered racist. Today we should refer to the offending item as simply a ‘board,’ or a ‘chalkboard,’ anything else is unacceptable. Also in schools, morning assembly has had a makeover, at least in some areas. In February 2017 Brent council in London was the first to actively encourage its schools, to hold assemblies based on other faiths and not just Christianity. When I attended school in the 1970s, I quite enjoyed the religious element to morning convocation, the signing of hymns and appropriate readings from the Bible. I wasn’t a Christian myself in the literal sense, but never questioned the schools right to hold such gatherings; it is part of our culture, after all!
Whilst researching this topic online, I have come across a few other examples of political correctness gone mad and want to include a couple of the more extreme examples. In Seattle a school renamed its Easter Eggs, Spring Spheres, to avoid causing offence to those who didn’t celebrate Easter. In the UK, a recruiter had her job advert rejected by the job centre for referring to ideal applicants as Hard working and reliable. Apparently this would cause resentment among lazy and unreliable people. Finally Barry Town Council, recently banned a ‘Punch and Judy’ show from its local festival, because of ‘inappropriate hitting,’ depicting an ‘abusive relationship.’ I don’t know About you, but this all seems rather ridiculous to me. All of us are afraid to say the wrong thing, for fear of upsetting someone, so the vast majority of us say nothing at all!
The fact that I have decided to write about political correctness at all, is in itself contentious. It remains a subject that most avoid discussing, for fear of being labelled racist, sexist or homophobic. I am aware that not everybody will agree with my views; nevertheless, as a writer I should have the right to express them. As someone who grew up forty years ago, I am mindful of the terrible injustices committed by public figures towards those in a more unguarded or powerless position; these individuals deserve our contempt. Much of the entertainment from the era, has now been deemed unsuitable for mainstream television, because it is viewed as wrong, from so many different angles. I have watched many sitcoms, comedians and other television programmes from this time; I am also a member of a minority group, who could quite easily take umbrage at the subject matter on view. Nevertheless I choose to enjoy the material for its comedic merit, rather than reading too much into what others perceive it to be. I have never been offended by anything referencing controversial or taboo topics; it wouldn’t be correct to do so. Television of the time simply documented the period in which it was made. What is classed as unsuitable now, wasn’t then; consequently we should not forget these years existed.
I have grown up unhindered and unblemished from a childhood firmly rooted in the 1970s. The words I used then as a child in the playground, are not necessarily the ones I would use today. I admit times have changed and all of us need to accept others for their differences. Diversity in all its forms is a welcome addition to the communities we live in. No one should have to hide who they are, or suffer abuses because of their looks, mannerisms and identity. In 2018 we have sadly tried to cover up the past and deny our heritage, simply because we no longer find it acceptable. We have also become a World of apologists, unable to say what we feel, or practice what we believe, because we may upset someone else. The balance between what is right and wrong has become blurred; we need to get back to a situation that accepts everyone’s distinctiveness, without removing our choice to express ourselves as we think fit. Political correctness, needs to be corrected!