Much has been made of the recent case in the media of a gay couple who won damages against the owners of a B&B.
The couple were extreme Christians applying a personal interpretation of Christian values to their guest-house. Their views are far from normal, even among Christians. Actually even among the sub-set of Christians who have a problem with other people being gay. That’s not to say believing sex outside marriage to be wrong is rare, and believing homosexuality to be a sin of some degree is not, relatively, common. It’s just that most decent, caring, Christians do not seek to impose those values on others.
As someone who was brought up in a loving, caring Christian family, I worry about the fall out from this sort of case. It always seems to be the nasty, dogmatic kind of Christian, who’s just that little bit weird. It never seems to be your normal, church-going caring christian, who has come up against some silly aspect of dogmatic secularism. Even though some religious leaders claim religious people are under attack from dogmatic secularists, these sort of cases demonstrate nothing of the sort.
There are plainly a large number of people who have prejudices and look for reasons to back them up. The Bulls’ are so clearly such a couple that I shudder when I read about their personal views, even extrapolated from Christianity as they are, being misrepresented as Christian values.
I worry about the popular view of Christianity when these are the examples of Christian values people see. Not Churches running homeless projects or reaching out to help asylum seekers. Not taking on and supporting individuals who’ve had a hard time. The image is of a people who have a set of rules which they use as a ruler to judge others and don’t hold back when they find they don’t measure up.
I think decent, caring, mainstream Christians should be doing more to present the positive side of Christianity. Sending out a message that the Bulls’ are not typical or representative of true Christians.
When looking round for sanity I found this nugget of it from Stuart Lee. It’s a diatribe from the Radio 4 show Heresy:
It really worries me that 84% of this audience agrees with that statement, because the kind of people that say “political correctness gone mad” are usually using that phrase as a kind of cover action to attack minorities or people that they disagree with. I’m of an age that I can see what a difference political correctness has made. When I was four years old, my grandfather drove me around Birmingham, where the Tories had just fought an election campaign saying, “if you want a nigger for a neighbour, vote Labour,” and he drove me around saying, “this is where all the niggers and the coons and the jungle bunnies live.” And I remember being at school in the early 80s and my teacher, when he read the register, instead of saying the name of the one Asian boy in the class, he would say, “is the black spot in,” right? And all these things have gradually been eroded by political correctness, which seems to me to be about an institutionalised politeness at its worst. And if there is some fallout from this, which means that someone in an office might get in trouble one day for saying something that someone was a bit unsure about because they couldn’t decide whether it was sexist or homophobic or racist, it’s a small price to pay for the massive benefits and improvements in the quality of life for millions of people that political correctness has made. It’s a complete lie that allows the right, which basically controls media now, and international politics, to make people on the left who are concerned about the way people are represented look like killjoys. And I’m sick, I’m really sick– 84% of you in this room that have agreed with this phrase, you’re like those people who turn around and go, “you know who the most oppressed minorities in Britain are? White, middle-class men.” You’re a bunch of idiots.
One thing that annoys me more than someone moaning about “Political Correctness”, is someone moaning about an aspect of political correctness that doesn’t exist, or is passed on by whispers and rumour.
At this time of year, the more extreme end of the Press try and rile their readership with half stories of how Christmas and our Christian culture is under threat.
Much as I think this country has gained from Christianity, with only 2% of the population attending church I think it is a bit rich that people who only go to Church for “christenings” and weddings shriek “But this is a Christian Country” when they hear distorted stories of isolated well meaning but wrong-headed people doing something to avoid offending minority religions. Fact is that the people who get most offended by overt Christianity are militant atheists, who are by and large not “immigrants” but very much part of the “indigenous population”.
If Christmas is in anyway under threat, it is from those who celebrate it, or actually fail to celebrate it. Those that moan about the PC brigade threatening their traditions probably ought to be looking at how little.
But I digress. The fact is there is not a wide spread war against Christmas. Sure in a country of 60 million people, if you dig hard enough you will find a story that if you report some of the key details will annoy a significant number of people. But these stories are isolated, and few and far between.
Another urban myth is the offensiveness of the term “Brainstorming”. Epileptics do not find the term offensive, unless it is used to describe a seizure. Not sure where this myth came from but I’ll bet some belligerent “it’s PC gone mad” type sarcastically said once “I bet you can’t even say brainstorming any more because it’s offensive to epileptics”, and caused a self fulfilling prophesy.
The myth was disproved back in 2005, a study was carried out and the term was found to be non-offensive. Yet even still people will trot out “Oh you can’t say brainstorming, it’s got to be thought shower.” In fact I have been more upset by someone not trusting me as a knowledgable person on this and continuing with the thoughtshower line, than anyone was ever upset by the term brainstorming.
So today’s message: Christmas is not being banned and you can have a brainstorming session. Unless you’re having a fit, then it’s called a seizure.
While the mainstream news has largely ignored the Jamboree and Scouting’s centenary, the same hasn’t been true of the various “have your say” pages.
What is apparent is that outside Scouting there are some very scary and misinformed people, both supporting and deriding Scouting. The less scary are the anti-Scouting nutters, banging on as if it’s some militaristic pseudo-fascist, Christian-only club. The scarier group are those who are all for Scouting, because they imagine it’s a Christian only militaristic, pseudo-fascist bastion of old fashioned bigoted values. Any evidence to the contrary has the second group frothing at the mouth about us giving in to “political correctness gone mad”. This sort that believe we shouldn’t allow darkies in with their funny beliefs, and if we did they should be made to eat pork sausages like the rest of them.
Can you tell by the way I summed them up, that I vehemently disagree with both groups? My view on political correctness is that it’s just a new name for being nice to one another, and that fits with Scouting.
Robert Baden-Powell was a maverick during his time in the army. The siege of Mafeking made him a war hero, and when he returned home he found that young people and teachers were copying his techniques from his Scouting manuals. (Indeed it’s been argued that SSAGO has its roots in a Scout club formed at an Ambleside teacher training college during this period). B-P came to realise there could be something in his rather unorthodox army techniques that could offer something to the young men of the time and set about organising an experimental camp. That was 1907.
And that’s where the political correctness begins to creep in. It has long been fashionable to believe that Scouting was a white, middle-class Christian movement. However not only is this not true today, it never was. The boys B-P selected for the experimental camp were deliberately chosen from a multitude of backgrounds. From day one Scouting has sought to be there for young people of all races, religions and backgrounds, it was there at Brownsea, it’s there in Scouting for boys.
B-P declared about Scouting
It is a movement, because it moves forward. As soon as it stops moving, it becomes an Organisation, and is no longer Scouting
Scouting has always been about being a good, respectful citizen of the world. Just has scientific and medical knowledge has increased hugely in the last 100 years, so have ideas of citizenship and respect, and while we should never lower our standards, to stay in a state of ignorance would not be in line with B-Ps vision of being a movement.
While Scouts helped in both world wars, Scouting was never another cadet corps, training young people for war. If B-P was happy with young people dabbling with militarism he would have left them to his army manuals, rather than writing Scouting for boys.
The globalist aspect of Scouting came fairly early too. In B-P’s time the movement had spread across the world, and it was acknowledged even then that the capacity of Scouting to unite young people from the far corners of the globe should be used to increase the understanding of different peoples and cultures, so as to make world peace more achievable.
Yes some aspects of Scouting are of their time too. It did not occur to B-P that girls would be interested, and when they tried to infiltrate a Scout Rally in 1909, someone had to quietly have a word with B-P about what was then acceptable in society to stop him simply letting them in right there and then. But even then he didn’t just shut the girls out, he asked his sister to start another part of the movement for girls.
All of B-P’s ideas of inclusivity make the press coverage of PC creeping in to Scouting more and more galling. Scouting has always been as PC as it gets! If it’s reactionary, backward and un-PC it just isn’t Scouting.
As part of an ongoing clear out I’m listening to those things that I picked up over the years and not listened to. This time up it’s Flip Flop, listened to Friday night and this morning.
It made me want to change my name. Not my real name of course, which is never mentioned in this blog, but my pen name.
Flip flop is written by my former acquaintance Jonathan Morris (Erasure’s webmaster, not the bloke out of Bread or Animal Magic).
The story comes on two linked CDs which the author claims can be listened to in any order. What this ultimately meant to me is the story is unresolved. It’s a clever concept let down by some dodgy dialogue, performed by dodgier actors, and underlined with some dodgier political satire. Imagine force feeding someone the more factually inaccurate “the immigrants are out to get us” stories from the Mail and the Express, and depriving them of all other information and this is the sort of science fiction you’d get. The villains are a race of aliens posing as asylum seekers who take over through a sick person’s version of political correctness.
Or maybe he was just doing a very clumsy satire at the expense of the sort of person who says things like “they’re trying to ban Christmas” or “it’s one rule for them and one rule for us”. After all the things are no better when the aliens are defeated than when they take over. However if the story is anti-bigot, it is done very badly and is open to misinterpretation.
Now you may have gathered I’m not the sort of person to bang on about “Political Correctness Gone Mad”. I have a special withering look for the sort of loony who likes to use that phrase.
However when hearing about Cheif Inspector of Prisons Anne Owers remarks in the report on Wakefield Jail, thoughts of political correctness sprang to mind.
It’s one thing to declare that tie pins showing political, religious, national or other affiliation can be misinterpreted. But it’s quiet another to label a national flag as potentially racist. I think more political correctness, or sensitivity to other peoples feelings as it is more correctly called, would have been in order. The remarks were ill-judged and have caused far greater offence to more people than the tie pins themselves ever would.
And raising it as a concern is over the top too, the “Staff should not wear unauthoised tie pins” recommendation was more than enough.