The most of humanity brigade

I was just thinking right now about a rather odd turn of phrase. It turned up as a comment on an article about gaffes by Prince Philip.

Not gaffes, he is just not a signed up member of the PC Brigade.

Now while Prince Philip’s faux pas tend to raise a smile with me rather than anger or annoyance, I still recognize them as such. It wasn’t the suggestion of support for Philip’s behavior that rankled rather than the phrase “PC Brigade.”

It’s a widespread idiom, calling a group of people a “Brigade”. It usually seems to me to be a turn of phrase used by people describing a nice, positive form of behaviour or viewpoint that they don’t subscribe to. It seems to be an attempt to portray that nice, widespread quality as unusual and problematic. The use of the phrase “brigade” is almost always scathing, and an attempt to portray people that someone doesn’t like as a noisy and problematic minority. The brigade labelled is often trying to deny the fact that the attitude they despise is both positive and mainstream.

As Stewart Lee observes, Political Correctness is just a form of institutionalized politeness. Yes it can be done unthinkingly by idiots, but on the whole it is a positive thing that does more good than harm. Yes, I think there is a case to be made for humour that rises from offensive behaviour. But not for trying to make out that offensive behaviour isn’t offensive, or that those that are offended are kiljoys.

Using phrases like “The PC Brigade” and “The Human Rights Brigade” doesn’t make you look witty or down to earth, it makes you look like a loony and an idiot.



  1. Giacomo

    Great post, I agree!

    We need a term other than brigade for nice people like us to use to describe groups of borish obnoxious people.

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