Saturday, March 22, 2008


A heated debate was going on over at Grandad’s blog and continued at Nick’s, and others’ too, perhaps!

It inspired me to write both a lengthy response to what Grandad wrote but also to write a post of my own.

The pen is mightier than the sword. I would say the pen, or keyboard, has razor edges to it.

Some people are anti-PC, that little “politically correct" adjective that has insinuated itself into our language. Some have it all mixed up with the right to use any words they choose, words like “golliwog”, “mick”, “paddy”, “redneck”, etc. Derogatory, horrible words that go far behind the few letters I put down here. I don’t need to spell them out for anyone.

Us women have fought long and hard to have generic words like chairperson, fisher and firefighter put into the language to make all these jobs accessible to us. (I’m old, they weren’t you know. You’re welcome.) You call that PC? Terrific!

They say the PC police are out to take Christmas away and St. Patrick’s day away and even Easter. Well no one’s out to take anything away but there is certainly a need to recognise other cultures in our midst who do not have their special feasts recognised. What about thinking of PC as adding something to all of us! An enhancement. Try Ramadan just once! Or Hannukah! Just think about it.

For isn’t this how most of the trouble in the world begins? The lack of tolerance for others’ beliefs, customs, gods, women, gays?

There are no easy answers to any of it. I don’t know what it is like to live in a country where the Christian traditions are not honoured. I would probably feel extremely alienated (and alone) in Israel or India. I would miss Christmas (even though I know longer call myself a Christian).

I was brought up in a household where the most appalling words were thrown at children on a regular basis. Words I had to look up in the dictionary. Words that damaged and wounded to the core. Words that still live on fifty years later. There are no expiry dates on words like those.

I have beloved gay friends that can’t walk down a street without some epithet being flung from a car or a passerby while I walk down a street in freedom.

"Handle with care" should be written on every word before it leaves the keyboard or mouth.

Good words:

Call me a bitch. It’s the new black.

And to read more insight on words, please go to Jenny at South Belfast Diary for a great post.


  1. Very well said.

    I too grew up in the South of Ireland where everyone felt it their right to call me names because I had red hair, freckles and looked like I had Anorexia nervosa long before it was ever heard about. Everyone thought they were being witty while no thought was given to my feelings.

    In blogging we have a responsibility to our readers and must take care not to offend those from a different culture who may not understand our humour.

  2. Thanks, GM.
    A slip of the tongue can wound for years.
    We are all sensitive to the careless slings and arrows that can be so carelessly thrown at us.
    We obviously share a similar past!

  3. Oooooh! It wouldn't do for me to read Grandad's blog very often! I have enough trouble regulating my blood-pressure when reading politcal blog comments and articles!

    I agree with you on all fronts, WWW!

    I worked for 24 years in a UK government department which adminsters tribunals dealing with (among other things) cases of race and sex discrimination. I sat through and/or read thousands cases. I came to realise the value of much maligned "PC-ness". I saw the damage and pain unpc-ness brings.

    I also saw, with some satisfaction, wise judges decide these cases, and make decisions as to compensation.

    Racial or sexist slurs are despicable however used or intended. They are the thick end of the wedge, the thin end is the milder form of PC-ness most whine about.

    In the end it all really just comes down to old fashioned courtesy and thoughtfulness. It's not rocket science. For those individuals who only ever think of themselves, this comes hard, and whining about pc-ness is an easy release, I guess.

  4. Thank you for introducing me to "Grandad". I enjoyed reading all sixty-odd comments plus the post that inspired them.

    My own view? Well, I believe both sides have something to offer in this debate. PC is frequently carried to extremes by those who, I believe, do so for no better reason than a strong sense of sanctimoniousness. Equally, many use political in-correctness as a blunt instrument of intolerance to beat others they consider inferior. Personally, having to watch every syllable one writes or speaks for fear of offense is, to my mind, taking matters way to far. I've always maintained that words are only ever as good or bad as the sentiments behind them. If I call my good friend in Liverpool a "Scouse git", he accepts it in the manner it was intended. There is no requirement for euphemism. When approached by a drunken lout outside the Liver Buildings late on a Saturday night, however, there undoubtedly is.
    It's not the words, but the meanings and interpretations we place on them that is important. Consequently, our hearts need always be the arbiter of our pen or keyboard. It will be a sad day, I think, when we cannot write what is in our hearts, simply because it may not be 'politically correct'.
    I, for one, will never bow to that rule.

  5. Well said, www. But after all the furore that's been stirred up, I'm a bit nervous about saying anything more. I feel whatever I say might be offending the arbiters of political incorrectness!

  6. Hi All:
    I find that those promoting anti-PC have no trouble using derogatory terms for describing others.
    I just don't see the purpose or the intent and if humour is the purpose, I frankly don't get it.

  7. I'm with you on this one too. Grandad doth protest too much and when this is endorsed by a blog award and other accolades, it is only right that he is called to task over language use.

  8. Hello 73Man and welcome. Free speech and the flinging of slurs are all mixed up with some people. I am such a firm believer in free speech I even posted about it way back:

  9. Interesting topic, my friend. Here's a quick story: At a family reunion, my brother-in-law, a car mechanic, was complaining that they couldn't put up girlie calendars anymore because they had to be - in his words - "all PC." And I thought later, it's not about being "PC"; it's about having respect. Who could argue with that?!

    Yes, "handle with care": our words and other human beings.

    Thank you!

  10. Good point, Verna, how some people interpret PC, I see a clear divide between men and women. I was always offended walking into my mechanic's, a guy I really like, and seeing his calendars. I asked him what was the percentage of female customers he had and he said 60%, I asked him could he afford to lose them all because of the offence of his calendars? He took them down.
    It's not so much about the calendars as what it says about the fellah who put them up.


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