Sunday, August 28, 2011

Political Correctness - the new Institutional Echelon of Authority?

Once upon a time community clubs swore allegiance to the God, King and Country, we drank a Loyal toast to the  Monarch at Weddings, and many children attended Sunday school and recited "The Lord's Prayer" each day at school (even the free state ones).

Today most of the meaning and leadership has disappeared from these societal institutions, so that we have a new pervasive form of authority that has no legitimacy, no guidelines, is not derived from,  or accountable to,  any one individual. Allegiance to one's God, Country or Religion has been supplanted by the flimsy less tangible rules of Political Correctness. It seems that this is what keeps western society and behaviour, in check, to a larger extent these days. More so than the Ten commandments, national - cultural constraints and legal guidelines. So given this, is society and individualism being eroded by its own desire to become less offensive, that it to be more politically correct?

When we must, or feel coerced to refer to short people as vertically challenged, and children's nursery rhymes are altered we must ask the question of where will this end? Is it taken out of context for the time it was coined? Is is still relevant today? Do we take it with a grain of salt? Or take offence? Political correctness appears to be the ruling body in this moral area.

One cannot now feel unrestrained to sing: "Baa Baa Black Sheep" rather, one must now sing, "Baa Baa Rainbow Sheep."  However, when "What shall we do with a Drunken Sailor" is now 'passe' and drunken sailor must be replaced with something less offensive, we must ask: Is there a posse of naval men rampaging the streets with placards protesting and crying out to be treated fairly? I think not.

Don't get me wrong. I am all for challenging stereotypes. Because stereotyping lumps us all in the one basket, and denies our individuality. But does political correctness also fall into this trap? Straitjacketing our modes of expression, our ability to laugh at ourselves? Restricting our descriptive language?

Having worked in Disability for years, I can see how modification of appropriate language is very very helpful. But are we being so judgemental that we take this all out of the context of the time in which such terms/words were coined? In the 1960's it was acceptable to call someone a "spastic" as the benevolent society that helped them was indeed known as "The Spastic Welfare League" started by the parents of the individuals themselves. ( and surely parents would be the last people to demean their own children with derogatory labels?) So are we in fact, denying that the community, at the time these terms were coined, was completely different to contemporary times.??? There was no hint of cynicism or mocking at the time, what has changed since them. Why look askance at them from the future, thinking "How demeaning for that language to be used? How could they call them that?"   Language is a changing and dynamic thing, is the language or the person wrong because terminology was used that was accurate for the time era? Will calling someone "ur bro" also be considered derogatory and offensive in years to come???????

People are often shocked to hear that our census in the early part of the 20th century asked family to provide information as to how many "idiots" were living in one's household!!! The words: spastic, retard, cripple, are considered derogatory and rightly so. However, some countries still use the word Handicapped whilst we in Australia, must use the term able bodied, as opposed to disabled. Wait, the dynamic has changed again, disabled is now passe and we must refer to "person with a disability" so that the person comes first and is more important.  In using these phrases, one becomes so verbally diarrhoeac that the saliva will form at the corners of one's mouth in getting the 'right' words out.

The hysteria of political correctness exemplifies our dynamic language forces and our quest or need for equilibrium. Political correctness may be the Eleventh commandment of today's society, but that does not mean we should cast accusatory fingers at past generations for their colloquial language use.

Enough said Bro, now I am off to chow down! Something to ponder about? Hell, yeah!

No comments:

Post a Comment