Friday, July 11, 2008 

Jon Gaunt in police are politically correct shocker.

Jon Gaunt is horrified at our politically correct police:

I told him the little scrotes on the street would just laugh at him unless he could back it up with force.

He got upset, not at my allegation but at my use of the word “scrotes”.

He said it was inappropriate language to use against young people.

This political correctness would have made even Lambeth council blush with anger and demonstrates everything that is wrong with our police service.

Gaunty is of course completely right. When you can't call teenagers that are outside after 9pm at night during the school holidays "scrotes", it won't be too long before you won't be able to describe Gaunt as a fat, bumptious, oleaginous, simple twat.

And we can't have that, can we?

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Friday, February 29, 2008 

Political correctness goes back to school.

You can always rely on the Sun to pick out the most important parts of the various documents it chooses to report on. "Kid flag ban by PC teachers" it screams, referring to a research document published by the government on Childhood Wellbeing.

It took me a while to track down the actual report, but I did finally find it on the dedicated research website for the Department for Children, Schools and Families (PDF). This is a 78 page document, presumably commissioned in the aftermath of the damning UNICEF report which found childhood wellbeing in the UK as the worst in Europe. The section where it discusses political correctness is on the key issues undermining a good/content childhood, and is the sixth out of eight entries. The entirety of the research is presented as is; exactly what the parents they interviewed said is provided, and it isn't questioned or investigated further to actually find whether it's true or not.

Hence the first half of the political correctness section is mainly on complaints that the latest group of immigrants are getting the most help, a familiar complaint and one that doesn't really have much evidence to support it. It also explains that claims of racism come from all sides, whether white or from established ethnic minority communities. They also seem united though in denouncing the latest to arrive, this being one of the choice quotes the document provides:

“If people from [a country cited] bring their fights here we’ve no hope. There was that story in the papers about someone from [one European country] stabbing someone from ... I think it was [another European country] (Mothers, 35-45, eldest child in KS 3/4, C2D(E), Worcester Pk)

Not that all of them do rely on the tabloids for their views, as the opening says that most who talked to them opened their conversations with the statement, "I don't want to sound like the front page of the Daily Mail but...". This is the part about the banning of the flag, which the Sun does quote reasonably accurately:

Many of the groups, both upmarket and downmarket, those who contained only white English, and those who contained BMEs, felt that it was not longer permitted to be proud to be English. There were many stories told of how their children had been sent home for wearing clothing containing the Cross of St George, or being reprimanded for having a English flag on their van. The general perception amongst respondents (parents and carers in particular) was that it was no longer acceptable to be proud to be English.

“[His employer] had a go at me and made me take it in, during the World Cup, I ask you. Every single other nation was proud to be flying their flag, and they made us take ours down. What does that tell you about England nowadays?” (Father, Family Depth, eldest child in KS3, Ripley)

It doesn't then suggest that the flag being "banned" had anything to do with political correctness on the part of teachers. Indeed, it's probably quite possible that those that were sent home for wearing the flag were because they were breaching the school's code on uniform, however unfair or stupid that seems when they're only supporting their country and national football competitions happen every 2 years. The quote the report uses isn't even about a school reprimanding someone for flying a flag from his van; it was his employer who objected, meaning the Sun's claim that schools were discipling children simply for being dropped off in vehicles flying the flag is utter nonsense.

As is often the case, the more interesting parts of the document are the ones that aren't instant hackle-raisers. The last part of the "political correctness" section deals with the complaints of parents whose children, for various reasons, had failed to excel in the academic subjects, but who felt their children were being held back because sports days had been reduced to non-competitive events and that drama, dance and music classes were ruined because everyone, regardless of ability, had to be involved. Not of all this is either down to political correctness or the familiar complaints of health 'n' safety, but this is of far more importance than whether your child can wear the England flag or not during the World Cup. This is children's lives, and their future, and it's ignored by a sensationalist press more interested in pressing the reactionary buttons. Similarly, the next section, neatly headlined 'It's our culture, we don't like children' is damning of how children are stigmatised and made to feel like second class citizens simply for existing, with families being dismissed also. Presumably the Sun didn't feel the need to mention this because of its constant demonisation of all youth as either yobs or potential yobs.

Fact is, these reports are used by all sides to confirm their own prejudices. Our children are being ruled over by politically correct lunatics! You can't be proud to be English any more! Our kids are the most materialistic ever! And so on. They can only be ever viewed as a snapshot, a simulacrum, and acted upon accordingly, but that makes no difference to the press with their file to copy and the editor screaming down their neck. It's getting the proper perspective that as ever remains so difficult.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008 

The Daily Express sweepstakes and three little rainbow pigs.

Partially thanks to this glorious government's liberalisation of the gambling laws, and also down to the ingenuity of bookmakers in devising yet more ways to separate those who enter their doors from their money, you can now more or less bet on absolutely anything. Want to put a bet on when the first throw takes place in a football game? Go ahead. Decide to back Ken Bloggs in the national tiddlywinks championship? You're more than welcome. Amy Winehouse to become prime minister AND die in the next year? Sure, we'll take your money sir.

With this in mind, surely there is now the opportunity to bet on the front pages of newspapers, or more significantly, that of the Daily Express. Under the helm of Richard Desmond the paper has declined from an embarrassment into an atrocity, to the level of such that there are now just a few distinct subjects which ever reach the front. These are, in no particular order, immigrants (today), Muslims (yesterday), the weather (Tuesday), Diana (last week), Madeleine and house prices. On a rare occasion there'll be a rant about tax or something else, but mostly the aforementioned are fair weather friends.

To extend the fun slightly, you could even wager on whether the story will be backed up by even the slightest of actual facts. Today the Express is itself playing the percentages: according to FCC, one of its previous lying front pages, claiming that migrants have taken "all" the new jobs in Britain, is under investigation by the Press Complaints Commission, and has been taken down as a result, and so it's being extra careful. Claiming that 1.3 million Poles arrived in Britain last year, the headline is accurate, but only in the strictest possible terms. The Office of National Statistics figures that the Express is basing its story around don't count immigrants: they count tourists and businessmen making visits here (PDF). Despite this, they've managed to get two separate different political figures to open their mouths and make different statements on how this simply must change. On the roll call of shame goes David Davis, yet again, and the increasingly deranged Frank Field, who seems to have let his hatred of Gordon Brown for ending his ministerial career develop to gargantuan levels. True, both could have been tricked by the Express into commenting on figures they thought were official levels of migration than visits, but that doesn't excuse them making their own checks. The article even claims that because Poles only spent £24 on average a day during their stay it means that they *must* have been looking for work. This is quite openly misleading their own readers, but then the paper doesn't seem to think they're intelligent enough to notice.

Yesterday was a similar case. The story, BRITAIN'S MUSLIMS ARE TOO EXTREME, was based on the comments of Iraq's vice-president after he had visited mosques in Blackburn. It wasn't what he saw actually going on there that made him deliver such comments, or what was being preached, but the literature itself that he said would have been banned in Iraq. Somehow, you get the feeling that Iraq in its current state has far more of a problem with extremism than we do, but what the hell do we know?

To go to another discredited source on extremism in British mosques, the Policy Exchange report
(PDF), they found what they defined as extremist material in two of the mosques in Blackburn, although in the case of the Islamic Educational Society, they seemed to have used one of the tricks used elsewhere in the report of attributing literature found in places not technically connected to the actual mosque, in this case, the Noor ul-Islam Mosque. The book found there, Islam: Beliefs and Teachings, is noted by the report for being one of the key introductory texts that set Ed Husain on his path to extremism. The other mosque in Blackburn which had alleged extremist literature is the Islamic Cultural Centre, featured on page 138 of the report.

The key thing as always has not been whether these texts are available in the mosques, but whether they are actually being preached and lauded as acceptable, or that their interpretation of Islam is admirable and the one that ought to be followed. There has long been no evidence to suggest that this is the case; indeed, the government's latest thinking on radicalisation and extremism has come to what many have been saying for a long time, that rather than the mosque being a hotbed of anti-Western sentiment, it's the personal research by the impressionable and interested rather than a fiery imam that has set many down the path. Organisations such as Hizb-ut-Tahir might be involved at some stage, but they do not personally condone any sort of violence, regardless of their oft anti-semitic rhetoric. We shouldn't be complacent, but we shouldn't be scaremongering about it all either.

Finally, in a story that might have made or even warranted a Daily Express frontpage, we have an educational, digital, updated version of the Three Little Pigs, entitled the Three Little Cowboy Builders, apparently being rejected for a major prize for the possibility of being offensive to Muslims, and err, builders. Via MediaWatchWatch, according to Merlin John online, some of the feedback provided by Becta involved these comments:

* “Is it true that all builders are cowboys, builders get their work blown down, and builders are like pigs?"

* "The subject matter is questionable for certain groups within the UK."

* "The idea of taking a traditional tale and retelling a story is fine, but it should not alienate parts of the workforce (building trade)."

* "Developers should make role models positive."

* "Although this may not be intended, it feels cynical and tongue in cheek."

* "Judges would not recommend this product to the Muslim community in particular."

* "Only an exceedingly creative teacher could find this innovative."

Which more than anything seems to suggest that those doing the judging were a bunch of cretins taking the whole thing rather more seriously than they should have been. Becta has issued a statement, which you can condense down to "In particular, the product was not sufficiently convincing on curriculum and innovation grounds to be shortlisted," and it does indeed appear that the makers have gone public with some of the reasons why it wasn't shortlisted out of hurt pride.

As regular readers might know, I don't think there is such a thing as "political correctness". What there usually is, and then distorted out of proportion for their own short-term gain, is generally well-meaning people going out of their way to be inclusive for decent reasons but only showing themselves up as ignorant and overly sensitive in the long-run. As could be expected, the Scum leaps on it, and before you know it, "the politically correct brigade" are it again, with the Telegraph even bringing up the non-existent rainbow sheep yet again, although it did bother to ask the Muslim Council of Britain for its views, that unsurprisingly said they weren't offended at all.

I've always been intrigued by this notion of the politically correct being part of a brigade, and the latest Viz has a fake advert about calling them out with Littlejohn praising the service. Thing is, just what vehicle do the politically correct brigade go about in? My vote is for a Robin Reliant: a car missing a wheel for all those one legged lesbian Muslims in niqabs to answer calls in.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007 

Scumbags, maggots, cheap lousy faggots.

Bemusement seems to be the right word to describe Radio 1's original decision to censor, of all songs, the Pogues' seminal Fairytale of New York. I long ceased listening to the station with its terrible playlist mixture of shitty indie and the very worst that rap/hip-hop has to offer, combined with the most egregiously annoying DJs since the Hairy Cornflake was forced into hanging up his mike, with the ghastly Chris Moyles, airheaded calamity Edith Bowman and irritant Scott Mills. Mark and Lard's departure was the final straw. Not that Radio 2 or any other station is any better.

The decision to censor "faggot" and "slut", whether out of an attempt not to offend anyone or not, shows a complete ignorance of the song. It's about a rowing couple in the drunk tank on Christmas Eve for Christ sake - and the exchanging of insults is the high point of the song. It's been playing on the radio uncensored for years, with I suspect no one except the most meddlesome and easily disgusted complaining. The only person the BBC could find to defend the original decision was Peter Tatchell - a respectable activist, but not one to turn to whenever anything even in the slightest bit disrespectful of gays is up for discussion. It's not even as if it's aimed at someone as a gratuitous insult rather than as part of an argument, where you might at least be able to see their point.

Surely though it ought to have been seen as sacrilege to alter it in the first place. It's both critically and popularly the greatest Christmas song of all time, mainly because it isn't slushy, sentimental, by Cliff Richard or really about the actual event other than it takes place on the day. It also reflects the oldest Christmas tradition - the inevitable argument. It'd be nice if after this everyone attempted to get it to number one instead of the habitual, hackneyed and revolting crap from the X-Factor that'll be sitting there come the weekend, but that is probably beyond even the collective power of the "blogosphere".

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Monday, November 05, 2007 

Enoch Powell was right - and completely and utterly wrong.

If there's one thing we can be glad about when we talk about immigration and its effects, it's that we that none of our politicians are as rabid as some of those currently in office in Italy. Unlike here, Italy imposed no restrictions on Romanian or Bulgarian free movement when they joined the European Union at the beginning of the year, and like with the result when we were only one of three countries to not impose similar restrictions on the A8 countries in 2004, Romanians especially have moved to Italy in search of work. Armed with dubious figures which suggest that although they only make up 1% of the population, Romanians make up 5.6% of those charged with murder, it took the violent death of Giovanni Reggiani for the centre-left government of Romano Prodi to pass what can only be described as panic legislation which allows for the deportation of any other EU national judged to pose a "threat to public security." Vigilantes have since attacked Romanians and the post-fascists have called for mass repatriation.

From Italy we move to Halesowen and Rowley Regis, the constituency for which the Conservative Nigel Hastilow was until Sunday the prospective candidate for. His decision to resign over his article in Friday's Wolverhampton Express and Star which commented that "Many insist: “Enoch Powell was right”, is hardly a one-off event. Every couple of years an MP, a councillor or a candidate gets exposed for holding less than salubrious views, and they either sit it out, resign, or are summarily sacked. Earlier this year we had Patrick Mercer, who shouldn't have had to resign or be sacked for his explanation of the reality of army life, but went anyway. Late last year there was the Conservative councillor who sent on a highly offensive and racist email about Pakistani immigrants. Prior to that there was Ann Winterton and her joke about the Chinese cockle pickers, and two years previously a joke about Pakistanis "being ten a penny." You could write a whole post purely on Tories and their "jokes."

Even the most naive person must realise however that mentioning Enoch Powell and his infamous speech is career suicide, yet Hastilow did it anyway while noting that he was marginalised afterwards. Rightly or wrongly, and you can argue that Powell was, as the apologists for Hastilow would also say, simply speaking for what many others are thinking and telling them, his whole political life has been reduced to just one simple phrase: rivers of blood. Hastilow himself in his actual article only mentions the rivers of blood in inverted commas, and the mention of Powell being right is not his own, but that of "most people" in the Black Country.

More than anything, his article in indicative for what it isn't: it isn't racist, nor is it even slightly original. It's the atypical rant which will appear every so often in any of the right-wing tabloids. He uses an example of a family that may or may not exist that in their own view have been forgotten about and ignored by the local authorities because the "immigrants" have taken all the accommodation. Powell himself used a couple of such examples in his speech, one of a man who said he wanted his family to move abroad because "in 15 or 20 years time the black man will have the whip hand over the white man" and appropriately enough, of a white elderly woman in Wolverhampton supposedly the only white person remaining on her street, who had "excreta pushed through her letterbox." These are the stock, possibly apocryphal tales which make up these "I'm not a racist but.." stories which enable the politician or writer to push an agenda which they're too frightened to come out with and say openly. Later he makes use of Asian Britons who've told him exactly the same, which is the latest example of the above. To be fair, there was an Asian man on Question Time last week who was of the same opinion, and it does for a second make you wonder whether they've forgotten the racism they must have undoubtedly suffered at some point in their lives, or their own struggle for acceptance which their parents underwent, but to pretend that anyone who has a skin colour other than white can't be racist is a self-deluding fantasy. Just because they've said it doesn't make it any less racist or wrong.

Hastilow continues: the nub of his argument is that there are far too many people, that our services can't cope, that we only need these migrants because our own indigenous potential workforce is all on benefits, all so predictable and also easy to disagree with. If anything, the current balance of people is about right, our services are coping admirably well, as the reports recently have shown, and the numbers of those on incapacity benefit are overwhelmingly those who lost their jobs in the 80s and haven't worked since, and aren't going to again. Society may be getting healthier, as he writes, when he perhaps ought to say we're living longer, but if the government's predictions are anything to go by, half of us might well be obese shortly. He claims the population is growing by almost half a million every year but he seems to have forgotten to deduct those emigrating from those migrating, which leaves a net increase of about 200,000. He asks whether we want 3 million more houses, which we'll need regardless of immigration or not, even though he's a member of the party that created the problem through the selling off of council stock that hasn't been replaced. He implies we'll need higher taxes to cope, when we what really need is better targeted funding to the places that need it.

Trevor Phillips last week praised David Cameron for helping to "deracialise" the whole issue of immigration, and Hastilow is equally vehement that it's not about race but numbers. Cameron does deserve a certain amount of credit for a calm, measured speech on immigration, but his policy of not actually coming up with a number for his magical cap is politically bankrupt. The only real reason why the debate has become "deracialised" is that the migration itself is now overwhelmingly deracialised. Those who have come here since the ascension of the eastern European countries to the EU in 2004 might speak a different language, but they sure look like "us" and have the same colour of skin as us. True, the tabloids have tried to whip up the occasional furore about the Polish, notably the Daily Mail (see FCC ad nauseam and here for the most recent most egregious attempt), but most of it has been half-hearted. There's a reason why the British National Party hasn't turned its fire entirely on the new wave of immigration from Europe and has instead concentrated on Muslims, and that's because they're overwhelmingly as Aryan as "we" are. If the migration was coming from either northern Africa or the Middle East, you can bet, "political correctness" or otherwise that the debate would most certainly not be as "deracialised" as it currently is.

Along comes then Hastilow's solution. Police our borders. Deport without debate "bogus asylum seekers". There's no such thing as a bogus asylum seeker, as the Press Complaints Commission set out 4 years ago in a recommendation to editors. There are only failed asylum seekers. Illegal immigrants get the same treatment. Abandon the "human rights" merry-go-round. Get rid of the 11,000 foreign criminals. Note how many of Hastilow's recommendations are the government's own, yet you can't suggest such things. It's all right though, as Hastilow is humane enough to care about "genuine" refugees who we should always allow in. We, not the immigrants themselves are being exploited, and we're a soft touch seen around the world. As a graduate of the university of reading Sun editorials, I can testify I've read the term "soft touch" dozens of times.

If anything, the whole article shows Hastilow's cowardice. He hides behind the granny of the family for saying that Enoch was right. He quotes the Asian Britons who tell him that too many immigrants now come to benefit purely from the welfare state. He instead mainly lambasts the Brits who can't be bothered to work or who can't work. No sir, he hasn't said anything offensive. The others can do that for him. It serves however to perpetuate the myths of political correctness and that you can't talk about immigration without being called a racist and lambasted. Never mind that almost the exact same article could be read in the pages of many papers in this country without anyone batting an eyelid, Hastilow has been silenced and freedom of speech is threatened. Those who fought the Nazis have been betrayed.

There is a debate to be had about immigration, and it does need to be decided on whether there is an optimum rate. The numbers currently coming though are not set in stone. The restrictions that have resulted in those from the A8 coming to either here, Ireland or Sweden might be lifted; circumstances back home will change, with the figures suggesting that the numbers might have already peaked. There's the small matter that shortly the boomers will be moving in retirement, putting pressure on the pensions schemes; unless we all intend to work far longer than our parents, it might well be immigrants that come to the rescue. While no one is suggesting completely cutting off the flow, the farming industry would undoubtedly collapse without migrant labour, as might the care industry that looks after the elderly we so casually toss aside. We might storing up problems for later, but for the moment the economy and the country are benefiting with only minor instances of pressure on services.

Powell in one sense was definitely right - immigration has irrevocably changed this country, but it's changed it for the better. Britain as a result is both more tolerant and pleasant because of it. It's not because of "political correctness" that we've reacted differently to say Italy; it's because of our personal experience of immigration and the challenges that it brings. I saw the comedian Stewart Lee recently, and in a part of his routine about political correctness and why he thought it was a good thing, he mentioned that when he was at school there was one Asian child in his class, and the teacher always referred to him, every single time, as the "black spot". It's unimaginable and shocking today because of how we've been changed. Powell was completely and utterly wrong because the change has come about, not with the black man gaining the upper hand, far from it, but without the rivers of blood he predicted. There have been riots, but mercifully few, and with little loss of actual life. People do regularly say "Enoch Powell was right", I've even heard my father saying it and later rebuked him for it. Like Powell, they were wrong then and they're still wrong now. Hastilow shouldn't have been made to resign or to apologise - he should still stand and see where his article gets him. I have more faith that the people
Halesowen and Rowley Regis would make the right decision than I do in those that have supposedly been contacting him from around the world to back him up.

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Saturday, October 13, 2007 

Is it me, or do the Christmas is being banned stories keep getting earlier?

It usually at least takes until November before the tabloids start printing their annual lies and distortions about how Christmas is being banned thanks to politically correct councils, killjoys with nothing better to do than moan and health and safety fascists. The Daily Mail then has to be congratulated on being first out of the blocks this year, only two months and twelve days before the actual event:

Health and safety killjoys are threatening Britain with a Christmas blackout, council bosses warned yesterday.

Crippling insurance costs and absurd safety requirements mean many local authorities have abandoned their traditional lighting displays.

And so forth. You know the drill. Massive costs, compensation culture, elf 'n' safety rules, it's all here.

Know how that says "many" local authorities? The Mail article provides 3 examples, one from Clevedon, another from Sandwell and finally from Bodmin. Only the Bodmin case is backed up by a statement from a council spokesman. The other two quotes are from the Federation of Small Businesses, which laughably suggests that "Christmas lights excite consumers", and from the Association of British Insurers, neither of which set out any evidence that this going to be replicated across the country, even if the examples are accurate, which, going by past related articles, seems unlikely.

Let me, if I may be so bold, make a prediction. Your local town/city will still have the same familiar, gaudy, depressing, garish lights put up in the first week of November by the same familiar burly men. They will look exactly the same as last year's, except slightly less bright. No one will take any great notice of them. Half the time they won't be turned on. The council will have spent an inordinate amount of money putting them up and buying Christmas trees that would be put to better use elsewhere. Repeat until we're all dead.

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Monday, June 04, 2007 

Tabloids in printing bullshit yet again shocker.

Another two essential reads over on Five Chinese Crackers. Firstly the Mail and Sun get taken apart over their embellishment of a non-story about a crematorium replacing their benches, which they exaggerated into benches across the country needing replacing at the cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds. He called the council and spoke to the press office, something that neither of them did, and got a unsurprisingly different account of events. Then there's the Scum's lame "APC" feature about alleged political correctness in schools, which I started to fisk on Saturday, only to give up because it rapidly made me lose the will to live. Someone is thankfully made of stronger stuff.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007 

Scum-watch: More "political correctness" gone mad bullshit is, err, bullshit.

I missed the original article in this case, and for once it seems to have been removed from the archive (unlike the fantasy Muslim yobs story, which is still freely available and uncorrected) but here's today's suitably buried correction and apology for another completely untrue report:

We have been asked to make clear that Councillor Pruw Boswell, Mayor of Totnes, Devon, did not order a ban on prayers at the town’s council meetings for fear of offending other religions, as we reported on January 11.

Prayers continue to take place at the start of each meeting, although in a different format, after a decision taken by the entire council.

The Sun regrets any confusion and apologises for the distress caused.

A similar article remains uncorrected and without an apology on the Daily Mail's site, and as it's from the day before, it seems likely that the Sun ripped it off, likely taking even more liberties with the non-story, as per usual.

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