On Sunday I received an email from someone in Canada who I have never met, and only know from exchanging a dozen emails or so, here’s what it said:
“And a very Happy Easter to you Colin. I just presumed that with that Irish name you are probably RC [Roman Catholic], certainly not Jewish or Moslem. So it’s safe to wish you a great Easter. ”
It was nice to receive an unsolicited email like that and if you’re reading this, thanks Fred. However, it’s a sad reflection on society these days I think, that he even had to consider whether it’s “safe” to wish someone seasons / festival greetings, irrespective of the particular occasion. He lives in a nominally Christian country, and so do I, so why shouldn’t one person be able to say Happy Easter (a recognised national holiday) to someone else without fear? If an Indian friend of mine wishes me Happy Diwali say, why should I be offended by that, whether I be Christian, Muslim, Jewish or otherwise? The answer is political correctness.
Sorry but this is a particular hobby horse of mine. I firmly believe that political correctness has gone mad in Western society these days. There seems to be a general fear of “offending” someone….. So what? I say. Since when did it become illegal to have a different opinion from someone else and not be able to express that, just because someone might not like what you say? I’m not saying that anything goes, you should not be allowed to incite violence or murder, but that’s not the same as saying that you think something is right or wrong. Take the Jack Straw and Muslim head scarves row a few months ago, he got crucified by the political correctness lobby, simply for stating an opinion that dared to go against the current trend of “let’s all be nice to the Muslim’s, in case we upset one of them”.
I don’t know you the reader, but I can pretty much expect that I probably hold some views that might offend you. Not because I’m particularly radical, just because the law of averages says that we won’t agree on everything. Does that mean we shouldn’t converse, in case one of us says something the other won’t like? This progressive sterilisation of society in the name of political correctness, is a dangerous trend I think, as it actually fosters divisiveness by preventing people from even discussing different points of view. But worse, thinking differently from the norm becomes socially unacceptable, and once you prevent free thinking, you stifle much of what it is to be human and what we need to do to grow as a society.
I firmly believe that one day there will be a backlash. There’s a growing resentment amongst your ordinary man on the street, that things have gone too far. Here in England there’s a small, but significantly growing, political movement called the British National Party. Every country has it’s ultra right wing, bordering fascist party, in England in the last local government elections, the BNP has started winning elections for the first time. It’s a small movement, predominantly local in efficacy, but it’s growing and spreading and I believe the root cause is political correctness, coupled with the perception that it applies differently to different sectors of society. A belief that is fostered because people feel they can’t converse about divisive issues, in case they offend someone.
Sorry, rant over.