It seems that every day now there is an item in the more popular media (take that however you want) which brings the spectre of “Political Correctness” into view. In around 99.99999% of the times the phrase “PC” is used, for something other than a Police Constable 😀 , it is the start of a combination of appeal to ridicule and false dichotomies. The tabloid press are the worst for it, but this attitude is reflected in all walks of life.
One strange, yet recent, example is found amongst the comments on Bernard Manning following his recent real life death (I am sure he died on stage many a time). Now, if you have never heard of him you are truly lucky. Bernard Manning was an overweight comedian (in the loosest sense of the word) who had a small repertoire of jokes that revolved around the mother-in-law, women and ethnic minorities. Famously, when performing at a police convention he made a remark to a black policeman to the effect of asking if he (the policeman) enjoyed walking the beat more than swinging in the trees. Yeah, Bernard manning was that funny. I am not convinced there was ever a time people found sheer offensiveness as “funny” but it seems I may be wrong. People are actually leaving messages about the hateful creature saying he was a comic genius. On the radio (Jermey Vine, again) there were people saying how great he was and that ridiculing politicians and the powerful (rarely targets of Good Ole’ Bernard) was too easy, and that Bernard took the difficult path to attack vulnerable minorities who couldn’t respond.
I never said his supporters were sane did I?
Anyway, back on the “PC” topic, the majority of the defendants of Mr Manning claim detractors are “too PC to get his jokes.” This is madness, but look at the comments on Jeremy Vine’s page, these are two of the top ones as examples:
Des – Croydon
Being a fan of comedy and the quirkiness of life I liked Bernard Manning when he was in the Comedians. Agreed some of his turns were a bit close to the line but that was just a stage act and…if everyone was PC no one would laugh and smile. Rest in Peace Bernard. You deserve it but dont crack jokes about the angels for heavens sake.
Peter from Wokingham.
Two reasons why trendy, ‘alternative’ comedians resent Bernard Manning: he was funny and a genius.Manning’s critics call him a ‘racist’ and ‘sexist’: of course these hypocrites don’t class anti-male jokes as sexist and they don’t consider making fun of protestant, Anglo-Saxon British men as racist.Manning’s humour appealed to working-class British men (traditionally Labour). No wonder the middle-class liberal intellectuals and PC Nazi’s of the Blair era hated him.
Now this is unadulterated crap. Peter is obviously insane. Manning was as funny as a blood clot. There was nothing “genius” about his comedy – he took long-standing stereotypes and repeated them. Over and over and over. That is it. His some total of jokes was black people swing in trees and are lazy, the Irish are thick drunks, Scots are drunk tightwads, women are weak and stupid etc.
Bernard Mannings “comedy” was not humour, it was bullying. It was picking on minority groups and ridiculing them. The false analogy Peter uses tries to conflate Manning’s attacks on (say) blacks with jokes about WASPs. Not only do you rarely hear a joke which hinges on the stereotype of a white Anglo-Saxon male, but that is the dominant social grouping. It’s members are unlikely to be victimised by a references to them all working hard (or what ever joke you aimed for). The bit about “Manning’s humour appealed to working class British men” is nonsense – I am one and know lots, none liked the pathetic excuse for a joke that was Manning. People “hated” him because he was resolutely unfunny.
What is common about the pro-Manning commenters (on radio, in text, on TV etc) is the reference to anyone who thinks Manning was not funny is a “PC Nazi.” This is sheer nonsense. It is basically saying, if I say something which offends you, if you get upset about that you are just “being PC” (with all the derogative connotations that weasel word now has).
The problem with this line of thinking is it is inherently false. Being offended by offensive comments is not “being PC” and being PC is not, in itself, a “bad thing.” Granted some people make a profession of being offended by comments but that is a different argument all together, it does not grant people the right to be offensive. (Ironically, I read in the papers that Trevor Philips, one time stalwart of the Commission for Racial Equality and professional “offendee,” has been caught being offensive to the elderly – especially that national icon the late Queen Mum…)
It is not just PC which gets in the neck enough to become a swear word of it’s own, though. For my sins I am often involved in more Health and Safety work than I would wish upon my worst enemy. During the process I am regularly confronted with people who say things like “We used to always do [insert practice] but thanks to bloody Health and Safety we had to stop [or wear protective devices etc].” The crazy thing is, the practices referred to are not things like stirring their tea with finger and thumb (or other trivialities) but things which have a monstrously high chance of happening and when they do happen are likely to be fatal. The Health and Safety law is there to stop these workers dying or being crippled and they spit the words out with genuine disgust.
Just shows, people are truly mad and the tabloid newspapers rule the universe.
[tags]Bernard Manning, Jokes, Comedian, Political Correctness, Health and Safety, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Workforce, Offence[/tags]