Political Correctness Gone Mad

Anthony Browne has just published a pamphlet, “The Retreat of Reason” with the think tank Civitas, which can be downloaded here. It’s already prompted quite a bit of blog-discussion, partly, I think, because Browne (Anthony) and Brown (Yasmin Alibhai-) were tearing strips off one another at 8.20 or so yesterday morning on the Today programme (you can still, I think, listen to them here), and people like to blog about what they hear on the Today programme.

The pamphlet is dreadful, of course. (But then I would say that, wouldn’t I, as a leading PC guardian of strict orthodoxy and general thought-policeman? So the Browne-boosters needn’t worry about me. Anyway, I thought that Civitas was supposed to be the non-barking centre-right alternative to the loons at the Adam Smith Institute and so on: was I wrong?)

Melanie Phillips, on the other hand, thinks it’s marvellous. She writes: “Browne is one of the few who very clearly understands that ‘political correctness’ is not some ludicrous absurdity that can be laughed away, as it is so often depicted. It is instead a terrifying, totalitarian and in Britain wholly successful putsch against truth itself, the weapon of subversion of a moral, political and social order.” So opinions differ.

Browne’s pamphlet ends with a rather engaging ten-point “Guide to Purging the Political Correctness Within” for all citizens to follow, and I thought it would be fun to see how Browne’s text performs in light of his concluding recommendations. Read onward, or upwards, as the case may be.

0 thoughts on “Political Correctness Gone Mad”

  1. Richard A @ 3:49PM | 04/01/2006| permalink

    Chris – I’m disgusted … you have used the phrase “thought-policeman” in this post, when of course you should say “thought-police officer”.

    I am only saying that to be a member of the giant liberal conspiracy that suppresses the voices of Anthony Browne and Melanie Phillips so that they are brutally restricted to writing columns for national newspapers and appearing on the BBC and publishing books and articles for think tanks … when oh when will the thought police persons of the left-dominated politically correct media let their opinions be heard? Why is it that their voices are restricted only to the select few million who buy the Mail and the Times and listen to the Today programme? Is censorship too strong a word here?

    Michael @ 4:18PM | 04/01/2006| permalink

    Amusingly enough, earlier this morning I was picking illustrative video clips from Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus for use in schools – and I realised after I’d finished that I’d devoted considerably more thought as to whether I should cut a particular clip just before or just after the line “Aaron will have his soul black like his face.” than I did about whether or not to include graphic scenes of rape, murder, limb-lopping and cannibalism.

    (Melanie Phillips and Anthony Browne will doubtless be delighted to hear that I ended up leaving the line in. Obviously, the answer was a firm “yes” to all the other elements as well).

    Chris Brooke @ 4:22PM | 04/01/2006| permalink

    “Hark, wretches! how I mean to martyr you.
    This one hand yet is left to cut your throats,
    Whilst that Lavinia ‘tween her stumps doth hold
    The basin that receives your guilty blood.
    You know your mother means to feast with me,
    And calls herself Revenge, and thinks me mad:
    Hark, villains! I will grind your bones to dust
    And with your blood and it I’ll make a paste,
    And of the paste a coffin I will rear
    And make two pasties of your shameful heads,
    And bid that strumpet, your unhallow’d dam,
    Like to the earth swallow her own increase.
    This is the feast that I have bid her to,
    And this the banquet she shall surfeit on;
    For worse than Philomel you used my daughter,
    And worse than Progne I will be revenged:
    And now prepare your throats.”

    Michael @ 4:36PM | 04/01/2006| permalink

    Yup, that’s the one – though I didn’t go for that scene as I couldn’t possibly have left out “Why, there they are, both baked in this pie” and the reaction of Tamora to the news that she’s been eating her own sons.

    Chris Brooke @ 4:38PM | 04/01/2006| permalink

    Oh, I don’t want to suggest that this chap AB has predictable views, Michael, but the only thing he says about Shakespeare in his pamphlet is to express disapproval of people who think that Shakespeare might have been gay.

    Chris Brooke @ 4:38PM | 04/01/2006| permalink

    “Bakèd in this pie”, isn’t it? That’s one of my favourite Bits of the Bard.

    Michael @ 4:42PM | 04/01/2006| permalink

    What, you mean despite the evidence (within the text itself) that some of Shakespeare’s most passionate love poetry was addressed to what Woody Allen would have called “a man of his gender”?

    This is quite apart from his being a man of the theatre, fond of prancing around in tights, regularly consorting with young boys dressed as ladies and so on. And writing plays about fairies.

    Backword Dave @ 6:57PM | 04/01/2006| permalink

    Ms Phillips: ” virtual reality becomes widely accepted as truth.”

    Curse those X-Boxes!

    Andrew Bartlett @ 9:02PM | 04/01/2006| permalink

    Is there any way that I can steal this pamphlet? I wouldn’t want to give Browne any money for his drivel.

    Andrew Bartlett @ 9:03PM | 04/01/2006| permalink

    Oh, it can be downloaded. On to my PC.

    Chris Brooke @ 9:08PM | 04/01/2006| permalink

    Do think-tank-pamphlet-writers get fees and/or royalties for their efforts? Somehow, I doubt it. But, yes, Civitas, for all its faults, does seem quite good at making its stuff available for nothing.

    Tim @ 11:23PM | 04/01/2006| permalink

    Utterly marvellous. What a horrible little man Anthony Browne is.

    Backword Dave @ 11:43PM | 04/01/2006| permalink

    I mentioned South Park in a different comment, and you (Chris) pointed out that Browne somehow twisted his thesis (that Hollywood is politically correct, and makes no exceptions) to mention the South Park film. I’ve now read a little further in the pamphlet and found this gem: “Spiderman II was an allegory on how, if you are sure of your own virtue and you have power, you have a right and a duty to use it, an extraordinarily un-PC (and very neo-conservative) message.” Er, wasn’t Hitler “sure of own virtue”? (I know it’s crude to use Hilter in an argument like this, but in this case he fits.) Is that an un-PC and very neo-Conservative message? It’s certainly un-sane and very barking.

    Dave F @ 9:35AM | 06/01/2006| permalink

    Your argument is all very well, but in fact there is a considerable body of evidence demonstrating that public bodies, businesses and industry often panic and act stupidly and in a literal minded way to complaints that they have committed some kind of -ism that places them outside the civil pale.

    The term is pejorative in that it is applied to the collective of opinion makers, lobby groups, minority “spokespersons”, bandwagon politicians and lawyers
    who believe they have established a moral corral beyond which the rest of us dare not stray. My question is: Who died and left them in charge?

    Frank P @ 3:55PM | 09/01/2006| permalink

    Dave F

    Who died and left them in charge?

    Antonio Gramsci, apparently. Just listen to the noises they make What’s more, most don’t even realise where the soap came from that washed their brains.

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