Journal Column – Political Correctness is bad for our health

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Politically-Correct

Political Correctness should come with a Government health warning

It is my fervent belief that the vast majority of people in this country do not harbour hateful prejudice and those that do are unlikely to be dissuaded by legislation or, indeed, the finger wagging of a sanctimonious and politically correct diversity officer.  However, I do fear many normally fair-minded people are becoming increasingly irritated by the direction political correctness is now going; so much so, it is highly likely to create an uncomfortable backlash if not radically curtailed.

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Indeed, it seems the latest PC inspired campaign is to now seemingly try and reduce the potential of upsetting or offending people from what appears to be, in some circumstances, quite normal behaviour.  Here are some recent examples:  A council has banned the term ‘brainstorming’ and replaced it with ‘thought showers’, in case they offend epileptics. Many schools are now no longer having competitions or sports days, so as not to upset those who don’t win.  Let’s not forget the renaming of Christmas trees and Easter eggs to Holiday trees and Spring spheres, along with all the other airbrushing of Christian symbolism for fear offending non-Christians. And my personal favourite; a job advert for ‘reliable’ and ‘hard-working’ applicants was rejected by a recruitment agency as it could be deemed offensive to ‘unreliable’ and ‘lazy’ people.

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Where will we go next? Will Butchers be compelled to cover their shop windows to avoid offending vegans? Will there be a banning of poppies and cancelled Remembrance Sunday parades in case they offend pacifists? It’s all getting a little silly and out of hand.  Sometimes, I wish those in charge of our public services would spend as much enthusiasm and money on ensuring we have sufficient care for the elderly, affordable housing and regular refuse collections as they do providing  enough gender neutral public toilet facilities or whether to keep a 17th century memorial or statue of a former slave trader.

Butcher window

Unfortunately, we now have government departments, town halls,  businesses, high street retailers, the NHS, schools and universities, to name but a few, frantically analysing almost every facet of their operations and protocols to ensure they don’t upset or offend anyone.  The difficulty is, it flies in the face of human nature.  In researching this, it was surprising to find out that there are over six different classifications of human emotions and over forty different actual emotions.  Happiness, love and compassion, for example, have a positive connotation; whereas the likes of anxiety, frustration and suffering a negative one.  Clinicians and social scientists have long acknowledged the importance all human emotions, both positive and negative, play in how we think and behave. The emotions we feel each day can compel us to take action and influence the decisions we make about our lives, both large and small. In fact, contrary to this modern PC inspired anti-offence dogma, anger and sadness are an important part of life, and new research shows that experiencing and accepting such emotions are vital to our mental health.

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Attempting to suppress thoughts and emotions could backfire and even diminish our sense of contentment.  So there we have it; danger, hurt, upset and offence are perfectly natural experiences that ought not to be contained or managed by society or the state. Nor too, should there be any financial compensation for experiencing such natural emotions. We don’t, for example, expect a handsome payout when we feel happy or elated? If we reward people who feel upset or offended then people will seek such offence and upset wherever they can.

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While largely noble in cause, much of our modern PC inspired doctrines, are now causing more problems than they solve. Like being trapped in quicksand, the greater the movement, the further one sinks into the mire.  Perhaps it is time political correctness was deemed a risk to sanity and should now come with a government health warning?  It should come with a warning because we need our schools to educate, our NHS to treat the sick, our police to uphold the law, our military to defend the realm, our athletes to win medals and our businesses to compete on an international stage. We can’t do that by holding back and worrying about who may, or may not, get upset by anything we do, say or depict. Pointless political correctness is becoming an institutional canker offering precious little benefit but much detriment to our national psyche.  It is fast becoming a bureaucratic joke, but it isn’t funny. We can have all the rights in the world, do as little as possible and sue each other for as much as possible – but sooner or later we’ll wake up and realise we have no more wealth creating industries left, because while we are fussing about trying to create a self imposed society of comfort living sybarites in a pain-free utopia,  the studious people of Asia and other developing nations are simply and diligently getting on with a day’s work – Thereby making them more efficient, profitable and attractive to investors?

There are no easy answers, and I don’t purport to have them all; but I do believe that if our industry, economy and society, as a whole, wants to reclaim its industrial and economic heritage we need to be led by fewer students of political correctness and more graduates in common sense.

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This Article was first published in the Newcastle Journal newspaper 2nd November 2017