Monday, April 24, 2006

Back and forth

Came back to uni on Sunday - we went to Exeter on Saturday and stayed at a hotel overnight (Dad's the only one who can drive and it's a long drive so he didn't want to drive there and back on the same day, it would be too tiring) but i didn't move back in my room as i didn't think they'd give me my keys until Sunday (official moving-back-in day). It turned out afterwards that i hadn't been the only one there on Saturday, Dan was there too and he managed to get his keys and stay in his room overnight (they charged him a tenner for it tho). He was the only one there, so if i'd know then i would have moved in too and kept him company. He seems to have forgiven me for the water incident last term (thank fuck!), although he did ask me at dinner on Sunday why i did it (I'm not sure why i did it either... damn you alcohol!!) and he said that he'd prepared to get angry at me and shout and swear, but then he didn't. That's what i like about Dan, he doesn't get aggressive. He watches a lot of violent movies, which kind of disproves all that "violent movies make you violent" stuff that you hear about (and which has not been consistently proven). Last night we watched Battle Royale, all huddled onto Dan's bed, drinking port out of Simpsons shotglasses (we didn't have any wine glasses). In this film there are massive social problems so schoolkids riot, so adults decide to solve it by sending random kids to a deserted island where they have to fight to the death, and they'll carry on doing this until kids stop rioting. Despite all the blood etc., it was a very good film, although there was one bit near the end that was really odd: a teacher is shot and is lying on the floor dying, then his mobile phone rings so he gets up to answer it, then he dies. What was weird about it was the way he suddenly got up off the floor like normal. Did he suddenly forget to act or something?
We also saw the much-hyped new episode of The Simpsons which was written by and featured the voice of Ricky Gervais. It was good but after all the build-up we really expected it to be even funnier. There was also a re-run of the episode where they visit England (our side of the pond), which i'd never actually watched before. We watched a bit in the Welly but i couldn't hear much of it as it was noisy in there that night. I don't have Sky One at home, so I have to wait another 3 years for that episode to reach Channel 4. I have the feeling that every English person in that episode speaks either in a posh and reserved manner or like a cheery Cockney shoeshine. I wonder what the Americans would make of the Geordie accent? I know a lot of southerners find it hard enough to understand. I can understand (and speak) it OK (usually), and i quite like it. Work experience must be like buses, i looked ages for one placement and ended up with 3 at once, one of which was in Newcastle, land of the Geordies! I loved it.
Talking of travelling back and forth, Mum got a DVD of the Blackadder special Millenium episode "Back and Forth" during the Easter break! woohoo! and while on the subject of TV shows about time travel, the new series of Doctor Who has started and it's as great as ever! I also got a DVD of the first series of Look Around You, which spoofed the old science videos for schools - ahh, brings back memories...
Will blog more some other time - i'm going to bed soon, i have to get up early tomorrow, I have to give a presentation about my work experience at 9am tomorrow morning, and it's assessed! eek!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Political correctness gone mad?

This story has been in the news a lot, mostly portrayed as trivial playground teasing and that overused phrase "political correctness gone mad", and a lot have been saying the kids are now friends. Certain far-right news sources have failed to report the other side of the story - what the kid was calling the other, what the NUT and NASUWT actually said, and the fact that it was the kid who was doing the name-calling who said they're now friends. I would be interested to know if the victim says they're now friends too. I also want to ask: what was the school doing? were they letting the bully get away with it? I know from experience that a lot of teachers do not care about bullying, whether racially-aggravated or not, so it could be that the victim had little option but to report it to the police. Some people have compared this case to kids calling others "fat", and saying that not every fat kid prosecutes so why should this mixed-race kid prosecute, but if you think about it it's not exactly the same as a fat kid can go on a diet and lose weight, whereas a mixed-race kid is stuck with his/her colour for life.
Also, another thing about it is the comments people have made (for example on the BBC's "Have Your Say" pages) that it's "ridiculous" that a 10-year-old boy is being prosecuted for a crime. Bet they said exactly the same thing when James Bulger was murdered... not.
Anyway, I found this report, which shows the other side of the story, to give some balance.

Judge under pressure for 'playground racism' case
07 April 2006

A senior judge has found himself under fire this morning for terming the prosecution of a ten-year-old boy for allegedly making racist comments to another boy "political correctness gone mad".
Judge Jonathan Finestein adjourned the case against the schoolboy and urged the crown prosecution service (CPS) to find another way of punishing him, adding that in his day he would not be in court but would have been given a "good clouting" instead.
But the general secretary of teachers' union NASUWT, Chris Keates, has condemned his comments, claiming that expressing such a view could "feed" the harmful agenda of extreme-right candidates planning to stand in future local elections.
"Judges have a responsibility to consider the potential impact of their comments," she said.
"Relegating an incident of what appears to have been repeated abuse to the level of a playground spat is unacceptable.
"The timing of his remarks is particularly unfortunate. The local elections are imminent. Candidates from the extreme right are being fielded in many cities. Comments which dismiss racial abuse as 'political correctness gone mad' simply feed the pernicious agenda of extremists."

The boy, from Irlam in Greater Manchester, appeared at Salford youth court after being accused of racially abusing an 11-year-old fellow pupil, who is of mixed race, between July 1st 2005 and January 30th 2006.
He was alleged to have called his schoolmate "Paki" and "bin Laden" and chanted at him: "He is on the run, pull the trigger and shoot the nigger, five, four, three, two, one."
The boy, who was in court with his parents, denied the racist abuse charges, claiming he was now friends with the other boy.
© Adfero Ltd

Talking of "political correctness gone mad", remember the story that a nursery was teaching kids to sing "Baa baa rainbow sheep" in case "Baa Baa Black Sheep" was politically incorrect? Well, it was a load of rubbish. According to Private Eye, similar stories have been circulating since 1986. Eye, the BBC, and some other news sources also reported that in this case, children had been taught to sing "Baa baa rainbow sheep", but it wasn't for reasons of political correctness, but a new-fangled teaching method: they're taught the usual nursery rhymes, and then they're taught variations of them (changing the word "black" to different colours for example) to expand their vocabularies. Of course, the likes of ITV News and the Daily Mail won't report that fact, because it gets in the way of a good long political-correctness-has-gone-mad-what-is-this-country-coming-to-things-were-so-much-better-in-my-day rant.
ITV News's reporting of bird flu reaching Scotland has been rather predictably panicky and over-the-top. I'm not worried at all about bird flu, they made such a big fuss over foot-and-mouth disease which never killed anyone.