I have a Scottish uncle who delights in calling my dad, Paddy. My father enjoys calling my Scottish uncle, Jock. One gets the sense that they’ve been at this since before I was born. My father, like so many of his contemporaries, fled the poverty of rural Ireland, to find work on the building-sites of England. Thus the non-Irish relations. He returned to Ireland in 1979 and it took me many years to realise, that returning was obviously a mad thing for him to have done.
There was still little or nothing for him in rural Kerry. What possessed him to leave good money and a house in the UK, to come back to live in this backward dump? “In England, he would always be Paddy.” Growing up in a virulently anti-English place, as Ireland was in the 80s (slightly less anti in the 90s and slightly less again in the noughties) it was more than beneficial for me to hear that it doesn’t matter where one lives, there is always someone hating and always someone being hated.
Not that Paddy is necessarily a bad word. It’s not. Many of us refer to Saint Patrick’s Day, as Paddy’s Day. It’s more colloquial, shorter and secular. I’ve told Paddy Man jokes, both those that belittle the Irish man and those that depict him as superior. And despite my British Passport, I am a Paddy, so if you are an Australian or are French or a member of a yet to be discovered tribe in the deepest part of the Amazon Jungle, please feel free to call me Paddy. If however you have an English accent and cannot lay claim to plastic-Paddyhood, then you don’t get to use the word.
That’s what Political Correctness is all about, robbing the powerful of a tool they once used to oppress i.e. specific words and phrases. Some rail against this imposition, claiming it is inconsistent for a word to be allowed for some, but not for others. And it is inconsistent, but why should those who were the victims of abuse, suffer the same restrictions as the perpetrators?
I don’t think a white person should ever use the N-word. It can never be anything but hateful in the mouth of a white person. Not that there are any legal strictures, which prevent me from using the word. All that prevents me from using it is my comprehension of common decency, which is again, another essential aspect of Political Correctness.
Common decency and an understanding that language matters. Words matter and the context in which they are used matter. If a white person uses the N-word, I am going to assume they are ignorant, until proven they are merely stupid or are bigoted. If they desist from using the N-word, once it is explained that the word is offensive and implies an aggressive disdain for black people and that the person using the word is presuming a position of superiority over black people, then fine. A misunderstanding had been dealt with.
If that isn’t enough, then one is dealing with a bigot. A bigot who is wielding the word as a weapon and is aiming to wound, is aiming to impose their reality on others. And it is not a very subtle attack. It is similar to what gay people daily endure. There are several epitaphs specially designed to belittle and harm and destroy gay people. Trouble is, a bigot is never going to wake up one day and discover their child is African. Gay however, is a possibility. This has led to a more insidious form of bigotry.
The language has evolved. Those with power, no longer use the language of street abuse. No, they prefer terms like ‘intrinsically disordered’ and ‘harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual well-being.’ Not Fags, not Queers, no Benders here, no, instead big words and ideas are wielded, to convey hate as reasonable comment.
This is where Political Correctness is at its weakest, when it is battling people with large vocabularies. When the enemy are not grotesques who can be ‘othered’ for their coarse ignorance. The young men who delight in ‘queer bashing’ and toothless rural types who can put centuries of hateful inflection into the term ‘boy.’ Those are easy to point fingers at and even silence.
It is the men with Doctorates and power and respectability, with their thoughtful and carefully edited hate, that are the most important enemies now facing Political Correctness. Not only do they seek to oppress, they do so, while attempting to wear the mantle of the oppressed. No one is better at this gross hypocrisy than the Roman Catholic Church and its fellow Christian cults who continue to oppose equality for gay people.
The bleating of this inhumane campaign grew to an astonishingly ‘offended‘ pitch recently, when a high-ranking member of this anti-equality coalition, was named as a bigot, by those he seeks to discriminate against. When Cardinal Keith O’Brien, was named as the Bigot of the Year, by a gay rights group called Stonewall, there was apoplexy, for daring to call this powerful man, his discriminatory beliefs and his anti-equality campaigning, bigoted. It’s as if Political Correctness has been turned on it’s head. Instead of denying the powerful, the use of words they have used to abuse, it seems now we are to see Political Correctness as just not being mean to anyone. Well anyone who is a high-ranking member of a powerful institution that is.
Let’s look at this poor misfortune’s words.
“Those of us who were not in favour of civil partnership, believing that such relationships are harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing of those involved…”
“…but rather is an attempt to redefine marriage for the whole of society at the behest of a small minority of activists.”
“…victims of the tyranny of tolerance, heretics, whose dissent from state-imposed orthodoxy must be crushed at all costs?”
“…marriage is defined as a relationship between men and women. But when our politicians suggest jettisoning the established understanding of marriage and subverting its meaning they aren’t derided. Instead, their attempt to redefine reality is given a polite hearing, their madness is indulged. Their proposal represents a grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right.”
“ All children deserve to begin life with a mother and father; the evidence in favour of the stability and well-being which this provides is overwhelming and unequivocal. It cannot be provided by a same-sex couple, however well-intentioned they may be.”
“It would create a society which deliberately chooses to deprive a child of either a mother or a father. Other dangers exist. If marriage can be redefined so that it no longer means a man and a woman but two men or two women, why stop there? Why not allow three men or a woman and two men to constitute a marriage, if they pledge their fidelity to one another?”
“Education suddenly had to comply with what was now deemed, normal.”
“Imagine for a moment that the Government had decided to legalise slavery but assured us that, no one will be forced to keep a slave.”
“If the Government attempts to demolish a universally recognised human right, they will have forfeited the trust which society has placed in them and their intolerance will shame the United Kingdom in the eyes of the world.”
All quotes taken from one depraved rant. But we must not call this Prince of the Roman Catholic Church a bigot? We would not want to offend him? Laughable, if it wasn’t for the fact that this Christian bigotry is killing people. Children and adults are dying because it is still acceptable to publicly denounce homosexuality as wrong. Denounce it because an ancient prejudice got written down and must now be accorded a level of respect we don’t give to slave owners, human sacrificers and those who would stone people to death. No, this prejudice is give a special dispensation.
The Roman Catholic Church can envisage an eternity of torment for gay people, but we must be polite in our rejection of that monstrous hate. Well no thanks. I may not be gay, but if a friend, a neighbour, or just a fellow citizen is attacked by people spouting irrational hatred, then politeness is not what is called for. No. If a section of our society is bullied, attacked, maligned and discriminated against, because a group of hateful men, think their god demands it, then Human Decency demands that I and everyone else, that is free of this ancient bile, must point the finger of shame and say bigot, bigot, bigot. To do ought else, is to affirm the bigots in their bigotry.