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.

3 Comments:

Blogger ISLAND MONKEY said...

It's true the true facts of the case were hardly reported and a lot of the media seemed happy to support the judge's view that the crime did not merit prosecution.
The police did though and they are under a lot of pressure to be seen to clamp down on racist abuse and quite rightly. The popular media is reactionary and loves cliches and unfortunately it loves the term 'political correctness' as a convenient label to prevent progress..

5:07 pm  
Blogger culfy said...

Was going to blog about this myself; but I have been busy myself.

Yes, maybe the case shouldn't have gone to court; but the boys committing the racial abuse had committed a crime.

And fat people rarely have their shops and houses painted with grafiti; are rarely beaten up in the street for their race and almost never told to go back home where they came from.

6:42 pm  
Blogger FreeThinker said...

I see your side of the pond has caught the PC bug too!

9:23 pm  

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