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Political correctness

December 27, 2007

Hello again,

I admit it I’m old. When I was younger the f-word had four letters and you could be arrested for using it in public. Now it’s the x-aggot word and some luminary in the BBC ...

...decided to censor the Pogues’ annual hit. Faggots, maggots, so what? When are the thought police going to leave us alone? In a recent UK tv reality show a girl was expelled for using what is now the n-word. She meant no insult but was using current slang. Frankly I don’t know what we tell our students about offensive language. It seems to me that the intention is all. I don’t like to hear kids using obscenities, that is in the old-fashioned sense. But I discover that these words are now a reflexive mannerism: I heard an elderly lady talking on her mobile phone to somebody explaining that the effing bus was late. When I complained to a ‘respectable’ neighbour about a noisy party at 2.00. a.m. I was told to f-off. Frankly I was shocked because I have never used such language to another person, but I am not so shocked by x-aggots and x-iggers in a certain context.

Have we lost our perspective in a welter of political correctness? I love the Pogues and Kirsty McColl in Fairytale of New York. Why? It seems to contain so much bitter- sweet reality of relationships. I’d gladly analyse it with students and discuss the language and its implications. But please leave us to make up our own minds.

The real obscenities of this world concern the senseless killing of the beautiful, brave, wise and courageous Benazir Bhutto. When will we get our priorities right?

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