Too Politically Correct For Our Own Good

There seems little doubt the ego of the human race will eventually over-inflate, like a toy balloon attached to a runaway air compressor line at the local gas station, until it bursts with a loud popping noise and we all disappear up our own anuses.

Why do we take ourselves so seriously? We’ve turned into a load of po-faced miseries. We’ve totally forgotten how to laugh at ourselves. Humans everywhere have become so inflated with our own importance we have to pussy-foot around each other for fear of upsetting the overly-sensitive natures of our fellow beings.

Those who refuse to capitulate to the extremes of ‘political correctness’ imposed by the exponentially increasing abundance of ‘do-gooders’ in our society, risk castigation on par with the Puritan witch-hunts of medieval times.

Take the case of 34 year old Laura Bowater, a senior staff nurse at London’s Central Middlesex Hospital – at least, she was until July 2006 when she was fired for a remark made while helping control an unconscious patient in the midst of an epileptic fit.

According to the Daily Mail newspaper:

Laura Bowater, 34, quipped: ‘It’s been a few months since I have been in this position with a man underneath me’ as she straddled his naked body while doctors tried to give him an injection.

The trousers of the ‘extremely strong’ 31-year-old patient had been removed so doctors could inject his buttock and Ms Bowater sat on his ankles to control his flailing legs.

But the patient span on to his back, exposing himself and kicking her forward so that she ended up astride him.

The senior staff nurse’s remark would have been considered ‘merely humorous’ by many people and did not warrant losing her job, the judges found.

Ms Bowater was on her way home from a 12-hour shift in the accident and emergency department at London’s Central Middlesex Hospital in July 2006 when she stopped to help staff.

A complaint was made six weeks later even though no-one suggested the unconscious patient could have heard what Ms Bowater said.

She was fired from her £25,000-a-year post for gross misconduct over the quip despite four years’ unblemished service.[1]

Though an industrial tribunal found in the nurse’s favor, North West London Hospitals NHS Trust appealed the decision and their ruling was reversed by the overly-inflated ego of an appeals court judge, thus leaving the country with one less experienced and capable nurse to help run an ailing health service.

Then, there’s Stephen Fry, the well known entertainer and intellectual, who appears to have upset the whole Japanese nation following a segment on his quiz show, QI, which featured a discussion about Tsutomu Yamaguchi, the only man to survive both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki explosions.

From the BBC:

Mr Yamaguchi was the only person to have been officially recognised by the government of Japan as surviving both explosions.

Mr Yamaguchi was burnt in the Hiroshima explosion – only to travel by train to Nagasaki to be caught in the second attack three days later.

During the programme Stephen Fry and two fellow comedians discussed Mr Yamaguchi’s survival.

Alan Davies suggested an A-bomb had landed on Mr Yamaguchi and “bounced off”.

And Stephen Fry expressed amazement that the Japanese trains were still running after the blast.

The episode prompted a complaint to the BBC from the Japanese Embassy who accused the broadcaster of making light of the attacks.

The BBC responded by apologising, acknowledging the sensitivity of the subject for Japanese viewers.[2][2]

As a result of this nonsense, the BBC shelved plans to film part of a documentary, starring Stephen Fry, in Japan due to the ‘strength of feeling’ in that country.

Having watched the offending episode of ‘QI’ I can say with all honesty I found nothing offensive whatever in that particular segment of the program.

The atrocities committed by the Americans should neither be forgiven nor forgotten, but nevertheless, in the light of significant atrocities committed by the Japanese against allied forces during WW2, perhaps its time the people of Japan lightened up a little and were less sensitive to events imposed on them over sixty years ago.

So, too, the Mexicans. Just a click way from the Fry fiasco, one finds the team that brings us the top-rated TV show, ‘Top Gear’, in trouble for slagging off the Mexicans. Apparently, they described them as ‘lazy and feckless’. The Mexican ambassador wasn’t amused. He demanded an apology, calling the remarks “offensive, xenophobic and humiliating”.

Hundreds of Mexicans contacted the BBC Spanish-language website BBC Mundo to protest about the remarks made by presenters Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May.

Many more expressed outrage in e-mails to Mexican newspapers and websites, where the Top Gear jibes have received huge coverage.

The matter was also raised in the Mexican senate, where lawmakers were considering a motion of censure.

On Thursday an all-party group of British MPs also urged the BBC to apologise, calling the remarks “ignorant, derogatory and racist”.

In a statement, the BBC said the comments may have been “rude” and “mischievous,” but there was no “vindictiveness” behind them.

“Our own comedians make jokes about the British being terrible cooks and terrible romantics, and we in turn make jokes about the Italians being disorganised and over dramatic, the French being arrogant and the Germans being over-organised,” the BBC said.

It added that stereotype-based comedy was allowed within BBC guidelines in programmes where the audience knew they could expect it, as was the case with Top Gear.

“Whilst it may appear offensive to those who have not watched the programme or who are unfamiliar with its humour, the executive producer has made it clear to the ambassador that that was absolutely not the show’s intention,” the BBC added.[3]

A motion of censure in the Mexican senate! British politicians urging the BBC to apologize? All because Jeremy Clarkson, who’s built his career on bluntly humorous, controversial comments, calls Mexicans lazy?

Have British and Mexican politicians nothing better to do with their time? Mexico’s fighting a drug’s war on its streets, and the British parliament is supposed to be concentrating on dragging the nation out of recession. If the Mexican ambassador doesn’t like Top Gear he shouldn’t watch it. Don’t Mexican TV’s have an ‘OFF’ button? Or, had he just imbibed one too many tequilas and failed to see the joke?

Meanwhile, if you’re planning a vacation in Malawi this year, be sure to take an abundance of corks with you. Due to the over-inflated ego of Malawi’s justice minister who doesn’t believe he should suffer the need of others to occasionally break wind, an unexpected bout of public flatulence could see you in jail.

Justice Minister George Chaponda is determined to criminalize farting.

The BBC again:

Justice Minister George Chaponda says the new bill would criminalise flatulence to promote “public decency”.

“Just go to the toilet when you feel like farting,” he told local radio……

……The Local Courts Bill, to be introduced next week reads: “Any person who vitiates the atmosphere in any place so as to make it noxious to the public to the health of persons in general dwelling or carrying on business in the neighbourhood or passing along a public way shall be guilty of a misdemeanour.”

Mr Chaponda, a trained lawyer, insists that this includes farting.

“Would you be happy to see people farting anyhow?” he asked on the popular “Straight Talk” programme on Malawi’s Capital Radio.

He said that local chiefs would deal with any offenders.

When asked whether it could be enforced, he said it would be similar to laws banning urinating in public.[4]

Only a lot more difficult to enforce.

One is reminded of the stoning sketch in Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian’:

“Alright, who threw that stone farted, then? Who was it? Come on, own up. Was it you? Go to the back!”

These days we no longer need to visit the cinema in order to see human beings acting silly. Just turn on the news, or open a newspaper.

No-one wants a return to the bad old days when vitriol against minorities abounded, but there’s a world of difference between a humorous comment and one that’s deliberately intended to vilify.

It seems our ego’s puffed-up self-importance sometimes fails to comprehend the variance.

[1] “Carry on nursing: Health worker sacked for making cheeky joke as she straddled naked patient was unfairly dismissed” Daily Mail, February 4th 2011

[2] “Stephen Fry Japan trip scrapped after A-bomb joke” BBC, February 3rd 2011

[3] “BBC offers apology for Top Gear comments on Mexico” BBC, February 3rd 2011

[4] “Malawi row over whether new law bans farting” BBC, February 4th 2011

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One Reply to “Too Politically Correct For Our Own Good”

  1. Good collection of examples RJ!

    On the first (re the nurse) I’m in agreement with you – and glad to see my old employers (the industrial/employment truibunals) still doing sterling work and getting it right more times than not. 🙂

    The second and third examples I find a wee bit iffy, possibly due to the characters involved: Fry and Clarkson, both of whom used to get right up my nose. I’d have been “offended once removed” as it were by their remarks. I’m not obsessively PC myself, but my boundaries might be a bit tighter than those of some others. While it’d be okay to joke in that way in private conversation among friends, airing the same on public TV or radio is another matter.

    The last example (farts) is pure Python isn’t it! LOL!!!

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