How my disabled son has changed my mind about political correctness

Without the prevailing wind of political correctness my life would be very different. Eddie’s would be ­unrecognisable

19 March 2016

9:00 AM

19 March 2016

9:00 AM

Here’s another stock joke for your collection: Pembroke College, Cambridge, has cancelled a fancy dress party themed on Around the World in Eighty Days to ‘avoid the potential for offence’. One college has objected to the serving of sushi as ‘cultural appropriation’; another cancelled yoga lessons for the same reason.

There is an inevitable backlash to this kind of puritanism — to ‘political correctness gone mad’. And it’s true: prissily expressed PC attitudes do often look silly.

The problem is that, broadly speaking, they’re also right. I know this with immense certainty. Without the prevailing wind of political correctness my life would be very different. The life of my son would be unrecognisable.

Eddie is 14 and has Down’s syndrome. It’s politically correct to say ‘Down’s syndrome’, but in earlier times it was wholly acceptable to use rather different terms. They cropped up in the playground in what we thought were jokes.

I have just tried an experiment. I wondered whether I could write down some of these terms, but I found myself more or less physically incapable of doing so. The thought that the keyboard at my fingers could utter those words made me feel slightly sick.

That’s because words are powerful things. There was a time when I advocated the total freedom of usage of any word in existence in pursuit of truth and meaning. The freedoms won by Joyce and Lawrence were not to be tossed away on the whims of the prudish, the squeamish and the hypersensitive.

Eddie has changed my mind. When I was a boy, 50 years and more back, people with Down’s syndrome were usually hidden away from us. It was acceptable to keep them locked up. Physical and mental disabilities were too distressing for the sensitivities of us normal people.

If you were presented with a disabled child you would have been within your rights to turn your back, walk away and feel distaste to the point of disgust… and perhaps a genuine anger at those who allowed unacceptable people to be on view, walking your streets and breathing your air.

We all went to London for half-term. One day Eddie and I got the bus and the tube and then walked to the Natural History Museum. We marvelled at the model of the blue whale, met a man showing off some fabulous insect specimens, went for a meal — Eddie did the ordering — and then caught the train and a taxi home to Norfolk.

Every step of the way Eddie received courtesy and consideration. From the tail of my eye I caught little approving smiles. Sometimes these were aimed conspiratorially at me and at Eddie: wanting us to feel approved of. Welcomed. Sharing a good half-term.

I sometimes notice a momentary dismay in people in shops or pubs or casual encounters, but it’s soon conquered. People know they’re not allowed to feel distaste any more. There’s an obligation to get over it and behave as one human being to another. More or less — though not quite — invariably, that’s what people do. They walk away surprised at themselves, and I think enriched.

They do so because society has changed in Eddie’s favour. Because it would be politically incorrect to treat Eddie badly, it has become inexorably clear that treating Eddie badly is also morally incorrect.

It’s natural to resent the bullying of the self-righteous. It’s also natural to feel that students — people forever seeking to make a better job of the world than their parents did — are mistaken to the point of lunacy. When I was a student I was crazy enough to believe that what the world needed was love and peace; one look at today’s newspaper will show you how wrong I was.

Correct terms change with bewildering frequency. Felix Leiter tells James Bond in Diamonds Are Forever: ‘People are so dam’ sensitive about colour around here that you can’t even ask a barman for a jigger of rum. You have to ask for a jegro.’ That was published in 1956: perhaps the first recorded joke about political correctness.

But at heart, political correctness and its attendant language are about inclusivity: race, religion, sexual orientation, age, gender, physical and mental capacity. Non-PC views, however jovially expressed, are about exclusion, generally exclusion of the weak by the strong. And if you go to the pub with Eddie, you do rather tend to think that an inclusive society is better than the other kind.

If you went to Salisbury Theatre last week you’d have caught Up Down Man, a play written and directed by the brilliant Brendan Murray and starring Nathan Bessell, who has Down’s syndrome and dances like Nureyev: a fine symptom of a more inclusive society.

The business of inclusivity reached a peak of all-conquering triumph at the London Paralympic Games of 2012, not just in the competitors but also in the audience. Many had difficulties or challenges; the walk to the train was like Ben-Hur with wheelchairs.

But many others had tried and failed to get tickets for the Olympics, gone to the Paras as a second best — and found themselves part of something bigger than they bargained for. It felt briefly like a utopian dream of the future come to life: and that’s precisely what the student radicals are trying, however ineptly, to bring about.

It was summed up in the film version of A Bear Called Paddington. Paddington says the final words: ‘Mrs Brown says that in London everyone is different, but that means anyone can fit in. I think she must be right, because although I don’t look like anyone else, I really do feel at home. I will never be like other people but that’s all right, because I’m a bear.’

That may seem to be simplifying things rather — but then at heart it’s a very simple business. Eddie loved that film. Afterwards we went out for a meal and Eddie was treated with kindness, generosity and respect. Political correctness gone sane.

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Show comments
  • StrategyKing

    This is beautiful. And this is also the consequence of women entering the public sphere. A mother loves all her children, she cannot love one more than the other, she instinctually loves them all.

    We only learn when it happens to us.

    • Zalacain

      Actually most mothers do have favourites among their children.

      • Sue Smith

        Sadly, this is true.

    • Uhm, no. Women have been in the public sphere for a long, long, time. Treating the disabled as fully human is an influence of Christianity, which argues that all lives have equal worth. Political correctness is the blackjack that attempts to shame anyone who doesn’t play along.

      • StrategyKing

        It is both. There is the hand of Christianity here for sure. But Christianity alone didn’t stop Columbus from killing the natives he first met. It didn’t stop the pilgrims who set up the first colonies from giving blankets infected with small pox to the native peoples, the same peoples who helped them survive the first few harsh winters. It didn’t stop the British from looting Bengal and causing the great Bengal famines. And it didn’t stop the British, before political correctness, from being openly bigoted, xenophobic and racist.

        So there is also the hand of enlightened women who insisted that their voice be heard in the organization of the public sphere, and the public sphere be made one in which everyone feel welcome. For that matter, the figure of Jesus is a feminine figure, in contrast to the harsh masculinity of the old testament.

        • JabbaPapa

          You’re a bloody loony

    • JabbaPapa

      crikey, I wish the down-vote still worked

      • Sanctimony

        So do we all… especially in your case..

    • Mr B J Mann


      Political Correctness has absolutely nothing to do with kindness!

      How was it kind, for example, to him, or blacks, to get a black US Mayor’s white but highly respected pro black activist diversity aid (was it?) sacked for complaining his black support budget was “n!ggardly” (a totall unrelated word!)?!

      How was it kind for someone to get Carol Thatcher sacked from the BBC by publicising worldwide the fact that they had overheard her, in a private conversation, trying to identify a black tennis player, at the time laying at the other side of the world, whose name she had forgotten, by eventually describing his hair, factually, as resembling her favourite childhood toy?!

      Especially as, if the guilty party is the supposed comedienne she’s supposed to be, she had that week taken the P out of Thatchers ill mother.

      And the Beeb had rerun the her show two more times in the following week or so?!?!?!

      By definition, PC is a tool to undermine traditional society, and so has absolutely nothing to do with kindness!

  • Ozzy Guy

    Well it might make life easier for the spastics…but it’s makig things pretty bloody difficult for a lot of other people. Just look what mindlesscpolitical correctness has done to Sweden.

    • Shorne

      Your use of the word spastic demonstrates that your level of humanity is as low as your ability to spell and punctuate.

      • HammyTheHamster

        Aha! You said it!

        Quick boys stone him – he said Jehovah!

        S**t – I said it too!

        That is how silly it is to be so caught up on words, especially historic slurs (won’t write any in case my post gets moderated ironically…)

    • Cyril Sneer

      Please refrain from using ‘that word’.

  • David Webb

    There’s nothing wrong with being kind to people: I think the author of this piece has mistakenly linked non-PC with unkind (a bit of virtue-signalling going on). What about a pre-PC way of talking and dealing with people that takes into account our Christian heritage?

    • diqi

      I agree.

      I am a parent of a disabled child and disagree with the view of PC being justified as a means to an end. It is a view that says the minority are always justified and their needs must be paramount over the majority.

      PC is the imposition by a few on the many of behaviours the few believe correct, for whatever reasons which are not always charitable. It is a tool being used by those who mean our society and culture harm.

  • D J

    Perhaps it is balance that is required. Kindness is good but suppressing free speech until people resort to violence to get their way is bad for all of society.

  • BillRees

    The fact that society has a much better attitude these days to people with a wide range of disabilities is something to be thankful for, but it’s a totally separate issue from political correctness, which reflects an ideology that attempts to stifle free speech and impose a particular set of values on us all.

    I’m surprised that Simon Barnes can’t see this.

    Ethical behaviour, and a sense of decency, are obviously influenced by the prevailing mores of society. In that sense political correctness will play a part, but its true nature is revealed when we don’t behave in accordance with its precepts. Then it becomes an excuse for victimisation.

    • vieuxceps2

      Victimisationand persecution. Many have lost jobs and status for saying their views openly or in jest.

    • Dave Cockayne

      If you think things are better today for disabled people I have a question for you, why is that 50 years ago people were happy to subsidise the employment of disabled through the Remploy scheme so that disabled people could have a dignified life and play a role in society but today under Labour, Liberal and Conservative governments that kindness has vanished to be replaced by a victim complex.

      Yup this is such a better society…

      • Mr B J Mann

        Then there were the “charities” who went mental (pun intended) over suggestions we should consider allowing employers to pay “special” people less according to their output to give them a chance of worthwhile employment.

        Charities that expected “special” people to work for FREE in their own shops!!!!!

    • FrancescaMacfarlane

      Yes. To see the absurd situation that political correctness has brought us to, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiU20QjKPCo

  • CharleyFarleyFive

    I’m not at all convinced by this article. Its premise seems to be that people are only kind to the author’s child because political correctness has told them that they should be and in its absence they would lose all sense of moral decency.

    I’m inclined to suggest that those predisposed to mock or abuse the mentally or physically disabled are a tiny minority for whom political correctness is merely a smokescreen. They may no longer verbalise their feelings or opinions for fear of censure or prosecution but they’re still feeling or thinking them.

    There is not and never will be a valid argument for telling people what they can or can’t think and say.

  • Alison H

    The general thrust of your argument is right, but what is inclusive about preventing people from eating sushi? I had prevented myself from trying it until last year, because I didn’t fancy the sound of it, but then my daughter found herself a half Japanese, half Scottish boyfriend, and now I love both Sushi and Haggis. And the boyfriend now enjoys Yorkshire Pudding. Cultural appropriation is good and inclusive.

  • Cyril Sneer

    Political correctness has very very little to do with this.

    This piece is flawed.

    • vieuxceps2

      Yes. Note the word “political”. That’s what is important to the concept. Ask Lefty.

    • Sue Smith

      …said the defensive lefty. And, God knows, you’ve got enough reasons to BE defensive!!

  • JSC

    “It’s politically correct to say ‘Down’s syndrome’, but in earlier times it was wholly acceptable to use rather different terms.”

    Ah, but by the very nature of the PC treadmill it is entirely possible that, in 10 years time, saying “Down’s syndrome” might get you locked up for hate speech. As others have also stated, I don’t see the greater acceptance of disability in society as a result of PC, but just better education and less puritanical attitudes.

    • CharleyFarleyFive

      I think it’s inevitable that ‘Down’s Syndrome’ will eventually become politically incorrect.

      • Sue Smith

        Or the condition will die out as people create designer babies.

      • Mr B J Mann

        That’s just gay!

    • Sue Smith

      In 10 years time? You’re supremely optimistic.

  • Simon

    No, Mr Barnes, decency and kindness are emphatically NOT the substance of PC, and neither are they its effect.

    PC exists to protect the status of groups and ideas who, at a particular moment, are emblematic of the agenda of the cultural left, while stigmatising or making unmentionable those that stand in its way, all the while disguising itself as simple virtue.

    As a handy special-interest group with which to beat mainstream society, the disabled have been useful to the project, no more than that. We were already making huge leaps in the dignity with which the disabled were treated long before PC reared its head to claim the credit, and would have continued to do so without. Meanwhile, in the present post-modern moral sewer of which PC has been at the vanguard, its loudest champions will cheerfully man the barricades for the “right” to murder a Down’s baby in the womb because it’s unwanted or its life isn’t judged worth living.

    • vieuxceps2

      Yes, quite agree. PC language and /or behaviour (think of the NUS et al) is a powerful weapon of the lefty marxoids whose use is now so widespread that Orwell himself would shudder to see it.
      We have only ourselves to blame for this.We didn’t just accept what we were told, we positively embraced our shackles, pursuing the right to have our words banned, seeking to be in the trend and show what’s now called virtue-signalling ,formerly known as hypocritical posturing. You all know who I mean. That’s right, you and you and you.
      Let’s stop it shall we? Let’s fight back ,not by being rude to anyonel,but by using truthful English words and not hiding behind trendy jargon and lefty newspeak. Let’s speak English, let’s be the English of old.

      • Broadwood

        Hear, hear!

      • Verk

        Hear, hear and I’m not (even) (ethnic) English.

    • bengeo


  • Broadwood

    I went to school [almost] 50 years ago – attached to our primary class and sharing a playground with ours was a ‘special’ class – including children with downs, cerebral palsy and other conditions. We got to know them as fellow pupils. They were not hidden away, and no-one was reported to the police for using ‘incorrect’ language, although we certainly did, at times. Generally everyone flourished, and when bullying ensued it was dealt with as bullying, not ‘hate-crime’.

    This was a far more effective way of teaching tolerance and understanding than PC, which stifles debate, suppresses concerns and unpleasant opinions and creates a climate of fear and – yes – intolerance.
    You don’t produce ‘enlightened’ views via force, you create the conditions for a backlash.

  • HammyTheHamster

    Mr Barnes, congratulations on surrendering your principles in order to selfishly pursue a different agenda once it became beneficial to you.

    This is a fine illustration of the progressive movement – a person close to a genuine victim of some form of discrimination feels embarrassed or ashamed and chooses to campaign in order to make themselves feel better.

    It is common to see such activists expressing how their lives have been so ‘enriched’ by caring for a disabled child/sibling etc. But this is purely an attempt to erase or cover the unpalatable truth which is that said child or sibling will never truly measure up to a “healthy human”. Whether it is physical, mental or emotional these defects cannot be cured by political correctness.

    Now it is undeniably true that those disabled individuals should not be mistreated by others, nor should those with the misfortune of being burdened with such an individual be derided by others for it. However this is no more the case than for someone unfortunate enough to be born exceptionally ugly.

    It is evident from your article that the ‘winners’ from political correctness are people such as yourself, Mr Barnes, ie. those who are burdened. It was the parents who chose to lock their children away out of shame, not society forcing them to. It was their lack of spine which stopped them from facing the stigma which is precisely what is needed to change attitudes – not draconian thought policing.

    The real path to achieving that happiness for yourself is not by petitioning the government to stop people from hurting your feelings but by accepting the reality of your situation and moving on with life. For the parent of a child with Down’s Syndrome the truth is tragic – however it must be accepted, not ignored.

    • whosaywhat

      Trying to read this nonsense nearly gave me down’s syndrome. So thanks for that, Hamster.

      • HammyTheHamster

        I don’t mind disagreement, but I certainly wrote nothing as nonsensical as claiming that reading difficulties caused you to gain an extra chromosome.

        • whosaywhat

          You want to see ridiculous “political correctness” culture then take a look at the little snowflakes in the Spectator comment section and see all the people who dislike their view point getting challenged. The almost combative towards any suggestion of having empathy.

          Also thank you for replying, and I apologise for the down’s syndrome joke.

          • HammyTheHamster

            Yes the Spectator comment section has become a bit of an echo chamber on certain issues, though I don’t think any more so than most online news pages to be fair.

            On this particular topic the combativeness stems from general anti-establishment sentiments rather than having an issue with the disabled or simply politeness.

            Likewise, and no need to apologise at all.

  • Sensei Weasel

    There is a far cry between teaching our children good manners, and the forced conformity of political correctness. Manners are a tool that allow us to co-exist, even with those who are wildly different from ourselves. Political Correctness is wielded like a bludgeon – be like us, or burn for your sins.

    • Sue Smith

      I’ve long held the view that the lack of direct existential threat leads people in the society to look inward – at themselves – and this has resulted in a far more narcissistic culture than I’ve seen in my own lifetime and one where real community engagement and caring has largely been replaced with PC and tokenism. (Real Niall Ferguson’s new book!!)

  • Zalacain

    Political correctness is like George Orwell’s Newspeak. It is intended
    to control thought by controlling vocabulary. It is very, very

    • Sue Smith

      Agree x 10,000 times! The armies of PC acolytes are just too inexperienced, unintelligent or ignorant to really get any of it. The smart people have to engage in the activism to try and fight against our recent relentless and inexorable loss of freedom of speech.

      People like Mark Steyne, who is wholly fearless against the banshees of PC and the feminist ‘fright bats’ (as we call them in Australia).

    • Grumpyodefox

      That is exactly what it is and the thought Police are out there already !

    • JabbaPapa

      The history of the VERY numerous attempts in the past at such language manipulation utterly failing in every respect demonstrates that our poetry is more powerful than any of this PC or similar flaw of thought.

      Graves’ The White Goddess isn’t a manual of how to create normative language — it’s a poem about how to subvert it.

      Umberto Eco wrote some more genuinely scholarly texts about the intrinsic impossibility of controlling or deciding how and what people will think, nor how nor what they might write.

      And the Holy Spirit taught us that to speak in tongues belongs to our heritage and our salvation.

      PC is all about learning how to think as a normative idiot.

  • Rodolfo Casadei

    Down syndrome people are going to be excluded. They are being suppressed through pre-birth tests: when the syndrome is discovered in the foetus, it will not see the light of the day. Feeling of guilt make us accept Down syndrome children, because we know we are eliminating them from the surface of the Earth.

  • trobrianders

    Our culture has swapped Reason, upon which all our prior success was based, for Correctness. And there’s no means of redress unless you vote for Adolph Hitler apparently.

  • Idioga

    It appears the author has conflated changes in public perception and awareness surrounding disability through education, with some kind of triumph for the PC and positive language brigade’s war on words. Outrageous! Being Spinal Cord Injured in 2013, I confirm for anyone AB’d here that positive language, and its vague and complex system of euphemisms, is a total nightmare to navigate. For everyone involved. ‘Disabled’ being the most vile example of vague euphemism of them all.

  • djkm

    Here’s a simple way of intepreting the phrase ‘political correctness’ – read it as ‘being polite and civil to one another’

    Not that for one second do I believe most of the cretins below me in this comment section even bothered reading past the headline of the article, given that they miss the point spectacularly, and concentrating on the phrase itself, imagining that they’re in some way being ‘suppressed’, in the same way that a child, told off for spitting on the floor is ‘suppressed’.

    Because that’s what you are: intellectually stunted children, who never got past being told off for doing something naughty, grown up and instead of adapting, want to continue acting in the same way.

    • Your inclusivity is only totalitarianism gussied up and euphemized. You feel you are morally correct, so therefore anyone who disagrees with you is naughty, and of course stupid. This all goes to show that the attitude of the PC people is the very same as those of schoolyard bullies of the past. Only the words have changed. Now “retarded” is out and “dummy” is in.

      • djkm

        No, again you only demonstrate that you have not moved on one iota from a playground mentality. I am as WASPy as the next person, however, I also have a key ingredient of ’empathy’, that has evolved over the years, and allows me to realise that you cannot say or act in any way you please simply because you feel like it. To do so after a certain age is the mark of a sociopath.

        • Mr B J Mann

          So, basically, everyone who dares discuss this with you except those that agree 100PC is being IMpolite and UNcivil to one another.

          And are cretins: intellectually stunted children, who never got past being told off for doing something naughty, grown up and instead of adapting, want to continue acting in the same way.

          And have not moved on one iota from a playground mentality and lack ’empathy’,

          Which is the mark of a sociopath, sez you.


          It’s a good job you’re not judgemental, or anything!

          • djkm

            If you act like a child, expect to be treated like a child. Even children learn wrong from right.

          • Mr B J Mann

            Are you referring to the author, his child, or yourself?!

            So you’re saying that if a child disagrees with you you warm up by telling them they are being IMpolite and UNcivil.

            And go on to call them cretins: intellectually stunted children, who never got past being told off for doing something naughty, grown up and instead of adapting, want to continue acting in the same way.

            And have not moved on one iota from a playground mentality and lack ’empathy’,

            Which is the mark of a sociopath, sez you.


            It’s a good job you’re not judgemental, or anything!

  • Steven Carr

    Happily, you are still allowed to be misogynist and homophobic without any fear of criticism. It does involve rather stringent fasting once a year, so it is not for everybody.

    • Father Todd Unctious

      Trouble with PC is it ends with violent bigots like Trump becoming popular.

      • Sue Smith

        Yes, Trump is the pointy end of the community’s fury about PC. Again, the ‘progressives’ don’t get it because they’re not smart enough to draw the dots. I’ll quote Colin Powell, “you break it, you own it”.

      • SunnyD

        popular with right minded people

    • Sue Smith

      Whereas some people have been on a consistent program of cerebral weight loss.

      • Steven Carr

        ‘Program of cerebral weight loss’?

        I’ve never seen this politically correct euphemism for beheadings.

  • Steven Carr

    Let us hope none of the politically correct are appropriating Irish culture by celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.

    • Sue Smith

      They will be pea green with envy, though, of the wealthier middle classes. Will that do?

  • HammyTheHamster

    Remove my comments eh?

    You’ve not heard the last of this!

    • HammyTheHamster

      Rather ironic when the last one mentioned Spectator Blogs becoming a bit of an echo chamber and the first was about the author needing to accept and make peace with reality rather than trying to ignore it!

  • WTF

    I fail to see the connection between looking after those who need help with political correctness as they are completely different things. We always had sympathy for disabled children long before PC came on the scene.

  • Spychiatrist

    PC is a gun pointed at your head.

    End of story.

  • Fairly Educated Scot

    It’s always the same with conservatives; injustice and discrimination don’t exist/matter until it happens to them or someone close to them.

    • It’s always the same with liberals. They act like they have a corner on mercy and compassion and ignore every conservative who doesn’t fit into their conservative caricature. This is because they love to play with complexity to appear smart but cannot actually handle the complexity inherent in dealing with people. That is why liberalism always promotes such grand programs that end up quietly murdering people, whether it’s Stalinism, the Liverpool pathway, abortion, or euthanasia. Their mask of sympathy and virtue-signalling is a cover for an impersonal, antihuman agenda that doesn’t want to sully itself with real problems or real people.

      • Fairly Educated Scot

        Stalinism is literally the opposite of liberalism –

        Liberalism: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free markets, civil rights, democratic societies, secular governments and international cooperation

        Stalinism: threatening behaviour at political rallies, state broadcasts, cult of personality, a centralised state, oppression of minorities, one party state , militarism, isolationism
        “Cruz 2016” hahahaha how’s that going?

        • Mr B J Mann

          So the liberals have been campaigning for consenting adults who want to indulge in the legal pastime of smoking legal tobacco to be allowed to do so in designated public premises where the owner and staff are smokers themselves and want to serve them?!

    • Sue Smith

      Actually, conservatives are far more likely than their bien pensant ‘progressive’ opponents to care about people; the reason I know this is that tearing down institutions and replacing them with faux ideologies in ‘progressive’ lock-step has done nothing but affirm the ‘rights’ of the individual; the magic “I”. What we have is social breakdown, not caring.

      Stop with the projections already!

  • ohforheavensake

    Thanks, Simon. Good article.

  • ant

    Strikes me this article is just an exercise in straw man debate. There are real and dangerous issues of insane levels of political correctness that need highlighting and dealing with, starting with the ridiculous notion of ‘islamophobia’. With regards to obvious cases of race and disability, that battle has evidently been fought and won.

  • Doctor Crackles

    Political correctness arrests any negative definition of your son. You know he has problems, but you have to pretend he doesn’t or blame yourself for these. This is why PC is illogical nonsense.

    PC kills the male desire to protect the weaker and has sown the seeds for the weaker in our society to become the prey of others. PC kills chivalry and makes men into weedlings.

    Wise up Mr Barnes and be a man and stop clinging to the PC petticoat.

    • iucounu

      Gosh, that’s a bizarre set of neuroses

      • Doctor Crackles

        Says more about you than me.

        • SunnyD

          bravo – well said

      • Mr B J Mann

        Would you deny that the PC “liberal” crowd would have encouraged Mrs Barnes to “Plan” her family better?

        Or that it would encourage Mr Barnes to plan a trip to Switzerland?!

    • Sue Smith

      How’s this for PC gone insane? My neighbour called in last night (just outside Sydney) and mentioned that her son, 39, is a Melbourne house-husband who cares for their 2 children. My neighbour tells me the children’s friends aren’t able to come to the house to play because the parent is a male – and males cannot be trusted.

      Please answer this question honestly: HAVE PROGRESSIVES GIVEN US A BETTER WORLD?

  • Patrick

    ‘Mrs Brown says that in London everyone is different, but that means anyone can fit in….’ ‘That may seem to be simplifying things rather’

    Yes it does seem to be simplifying things !! London has huge problems in the near future, and many now (political corruption in Tower Hamlets the like of which has not been seen for centuries, slave labour, slums hidden away in vibrant communities, the white population leaving or pushed out etc etc)
    If you think the comments in a cartoon about a bear from “Darkest Peru” have any truth or relevance, you honestly need help. The vast majority of countries which are as “Balkanised” as London do not function properly and usually lead to war or genocide. The only thing different about London, is there will not be any English living there in 50 years time.

    • Sue Smith

      Please read Niall Ferguson: “Degeneration: How Economies Fail and Institutions Die”.

      And I’ve got tickets to his lecture in Sydney in May!!

      • Patrick

        Have downloaded will read this weekend (hopefully).

  • SeattleConservative

    It is not “political correctness” that forces me to be sensitive to others, it is empathy and charity. As a 52-year-old man, I, too grew up in an age when certain words were used. They were used by small people who were poorly raised.
    The term “political correctness” is as offensive to me as any other slur- it’s a strong rebuke from the nanny state that I can’t be trusted to make my own values and judgments.

    • Sue Smith

      Excellent comments!

  • Tom M

    Can’t remember who said it but at one end you have the liberty to say anything you like. At the other end you have the law. In between you have politeness. You don’t need political correctness.

    • Sue Smith

      You cannot mandate politeness. We have a less civil, more aggressive and entitled society than ever before in my 60 plus years on this planet so clearly the social engineering has backfired badly.

    • D J

      It was Lord Justice Moulton.

      • Marian Hunter

        Drat you beat me to it. I wanted to say who it was.You will have to erase your reply due to my hurt feelings. It would be PC of you to do so.

        • D J

          Apologies.I will withdraw to a safe space and plead for mercy from Comrade Alinsky.
          I am sure many Speccies knew I just happened to be between chores at the time.

  • David

    A piece of “enlightened” legislation some years ago – the Abortion Act – has now resulted in about 90% of Downs children not being born, according to a news item I recently read.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Which puts the PC brigade back in their box, well and truly.

  • davidofkent

    These days, hardly anybody would argue against the writer’s point. But, as always, it is not appropriate to argue from the particular to the general. Because we no longer say rude things about Downs Syndrome children, it does not mean that we should have to put up with the total claptrap that we receive frequently from the ‘I have been or may be offended’ brigade. Political Correctness is stupidity. ‘Virtue Signalling ‘ is pointless. Decent people know all about politeness and the others couldn’t care less.

    • Sue Smith

      Spot on!!!

    • iucounu

      Right, so how exactly did it come about that we stopped saying rude things about children with Downs Syndrome? There was some kind of gradual process of change in attitudes, in which certain things became socially unacceptable?

      That’s the history of ‘political correctness’. Influential people actually did have to signal particular kinds of virtue. When Princess Diana went and showed compassion for people with HIV and AIDS, she was doing so in order to publicly signal something: that it wasn’t OK any more to treat them as pariahs or stigmatise them in the tabloids etc, etc.

      There may be instances where PC goes too far and irritates you, sure, but it’s hardly a terrible burden compared to what people who aren’t straight white males had to face in the past. Try to cultivate a sense of proportion about it, eh? We still have plenty of privilege!

      I’d also point out that decent people do, of course, know about politeness, but nobody ever knows *everything* about it, which is a problem that is well-known, and the entire reason that we have books of etiquette dating back to 3000 BC or so.

      • Sue Smith

        You confuse genuine caring and empathy (Diana) with the faux manufacturing of sincerity through the PC epidemic. These are not the same things – by a country mile. PC acolytes care primarily about themselves. They love it that they are not judgmental; they love it that they mesh with other PC luvvies and they can thrill about their exquisite sensibilities and how kind and tolerant they are. I’ve seen it all and heard it all. It has nothing – repeat, nothing – to do with caring or helping others.

        • MikeF

          ” They love it that they are not judgmental” – except, of course, that they are.

          • Sue Smith

            Irony is beyond their ken, I would suggest. Last night in Sydney on a discussion program, comprised of a panel of 3 or 4 ‘commentators’ a well-known bien pensant criticized our government for saying ‘full employment is about 3% unemployment”. This fatuous individual claimed the government had surrendered good policy by capitulating on full employment which was actually ZERO unemployed!! Presumably this same individual thinks that severely handicapped, mentally ill or criminal individuals SHOULD be employed.

            Now, that’s the ugly face of PC and ‘progressivism’ right there.

          • MikeF

            Yes – we know what they are but do they? It is difficult to believe people can be so lacking in understanding. Another irony – and one that seems to evade Mr Barnes – is that societies which promote the idea that there is a single ‘correct’ attitude in any given instance tend also to be those that are least tolerant of deviation from purely physical norms of ‘perfection’ as well. The treatment of disabled people in the old Eastern bloc countries, for instance, was notoriously poor. Political correctness is about control and conformity not acceptance and coexistence.

          • Sue Smith

            Apposite. And that same comment was recently made in our mainstream press; that these people are the social conservatives – rigid in the way you suggest and unable to think outside the square. Great minds think alike!

        • iucounu

          But this is all just assertion and assumption isn’t it? I see this an awful lot on the Right: as soon as it’s something or someone that we don’t actually agree with, their concerns must be ‘faux’ and ‘manufactured’ and just expressed to burnish their own egos. Those lefties aren’t really offended! They’re just pretending, for reasons that are bizarre and unlikely!

          I think this is dangerous, because it’s very easy to get into a completely closed-off state of mind where you think disagreement with your views is evidence of bad faith, and then you can’t ever change your mind about anything, and then you end up saying things like ‘I’ve seen it all and heard it all’, and before long you’ve mentally fossilized.

          Also, who knows if Diana’s caring and empathy was real? I certainly don’t know. Perhaps it was all stage-managed for the best of reasons, or merely to make her look good. (There’s not an awful lot about the royal family that isn’t stage-managed.) The point is that even an insincere expression of empathy, if indeed that was what it was, actually did a lot of good.

        • Countrywatch

          Agree entirely, Sue.

      • Countrywatch

        “Right, so how exactly did it come about that we stopped…..”

        I think Jacobi (above) gives you the answer:
        “Attitudes have changed for the better because of publicity and awareness – the opposite of Political Correctness.

      • hobspawn

         “T​here m​ay b​e i​nstances w​here P​C g​oes t​oo f​ar a​nd i​rritates y​ou, s​ure, b​ut i​t’s​ h​ardly a​ t​errible b​urden c​ompared t​o w​hat p​eople w​ho a​ren’t​ s​traight w​hite m​ales h​ad t​o face i​n t​he p​ast. T​ry t​o c​ultivate a​ s​ense o​f p​roportion a​bout i​t, e​h? W​e s​till h​ave plenty o​f p​rivilege!”

        T​ell t​hat t​o C​hild D​ o​f R​otherham.

        T​he t​ruth i​s t​hat p​olitical c​orrectness i​s a​ c​ulture i​n w​hich s​ome h​ave a​ r​ight n​ot t​o b​e o​ffended i​n t​he s​lightest w​ay, a​nd n​aturally l​earn t​o a​buse t​he p​ower t​herein, w​hile o​thers a​re e​xpected t​o a​bsorb u​ntold l​evels o​f a​buse b​y t​he p​rivileged o​ffense-t​aking c​lasses. Y​ou c​an s​ay a​nything y​ou l​ike a​bout s​tave-t​rading r​acist p​hobic w​itch-b​urning e​ntitled w​ife-b​eating w​hite m​ale s​cum w​ho a​re r​esponsible f​or a​ll t​he w​orld’s​ i​lls, m​ay t​hey r​ot i​n h​ell #k​illallwhitemen. Y​ou’l​l r​eceive a​pplause f​rom t​he p​rivileged a​scendant o​ffense-t​akers w​ho r​ightly h​ate f​ilthy w​hite o​ppressor s​cum. S​ee?

      • JabbaPapa

        people who aren’t straight white males

        Why do such persons seem to think it’s somehow OK to express disdain or hatred of straight white males in the first place ?

        Is PC just some kind of moronic revenge psychology based on demonising a particular minority via the hypocrisy of denouncing this same exact attitude ?

        • hobspawn

           “Is PC just some kind of moronic revenge psychology based on demonising a particular minority via the hypocrisy of denouncing this same exact attitude?”

          You nailed it.

    • JabbaPapa

      These days, hardly anybody would argue against the writer’s point

      These days, people lose their jobs for failing to agree with it.

  • Spit-Burn

    “…People forever seeking to make a better job of the world than their parents did…”

    That, ultimately, is how anything gets done.

  • RingedPlover

    ‘Because it would be politically incorrect to treat Eddie badly’. Surely it would simply be bad manners to treat Eddie badly?

    • iucounu

      That’s what political correctness IS. It’s institutionalised politeness.

      • Sue Smith

        You’re too kind. Really.

        • Marian Hunter

          No, after you, I INSIST!

      • MikeF

        It is institutionalised formality which is not the same thing at all.

        • Neil Saunders

          It’s actually a system of control. Politeness doesn’t come into it.

          • MikeF

            I was trying to be an Englishman and give them the benefit of the doubt. But yes you are right.

      • DBF

        Except that the political correctness brigade are nowhere near being polite.

        • Sue Smith

          Yes, the game’s up isn’t it!!!

      • Robbydot1

        You are very wrong. Politeness doesn’t come into it, PC is a way of shutting down debate by making certain things unsayable, no more – no less.

  • Sue Smith

    It’s when empathy and consideration become institutionalized that you really know its completely bogus.

  • WTF

    Ironically whilst genuine compassion has naturally evolved over time at the other extreme, anarchy and stupidity has increased. Compassion for those with medical conditions happens in spite of political correctness not because of, however the behavior of students protesting today is a direct result of political correctness and the entitlement culture.

    We’ve had students throwing fire extinguishers off roofs that nearly killed people, we have university Professors in Missouri calling for ‘heavies’ to eject a reporter from campus and a bunch of students all across the US and UK demanding ‘safe space’ which is really their demand to shut down open and honest debate on subjects they disagree with.

    Genuine concern for others is aid workers going to Syria and sadly being be-headed for the compassion whilst the lies of faux concern are progressive liberals demanding we accept millions of migrants of unknown motives, background or intent without doing any background checks.

    • JabbaPapa

      Just look up the word “hypocrisy” in a few dictionaries, including an etymological one.

      • WTF

        I don’t need to look it up as there’s plenty of ‘worked examples’ in the world of progressive liberals. Worked examples are what you used to learn at school, college or uni that backed up a theory with real life proof. We’ve had a Redgrave trying to guilt trip us over travelers breaking the law, we’ve had Russel Brand doing the same, Bob Geldorf of course and all manner of other celebs and politicians preaching to us to be compassionate to illegal immigrants or those after a free hand out but not a one has given shelter to a so called ‘refugee’.

        That’s a worked example of “hypocrisy” to the highest order expecting the UK’s poorest to suffer from the effects of mass misplaced compassion whilst these hypocrites live in their gated communities safe from the undesirable fall out.

        • Mr B J Mann

          You’ve just reinforced his point you missed:

          It originally meant play acting, or acting a part.

          Perhaps the Oscars and Baftas should introduce a Best Hypocrite award?!

  • Dave Cockayne

    I disagree completely with this article.

    I’ve spent 3 years of life being unable to walk without using crutches, during that time not a single one of the PC luvvie brigade would ever lift a finger to help or offer a seat to me on a bus.
    By contrast the PC despising chaps that are perfectly happy to treat me like a human being and call me a cripple are the same people who will actually offer to take time out their day to help.

    PC and morality are not the same thing, PC is a tool to beat and oppress people with, good morality is a personal duty to help others.

    Don’t confuse them.

    • Sue Smith

      Agree. It’s what I wrote below myself not 10 minutes ago!! Best of luck to you.

    • JabbaPapa

      Exactly — as someone sliding slowly but surely into cripple-dom, I viscerally despise PC ideology for those exact reasons.

    • Kandanada

      Indeed. We used to have collections for the “Mongol” children, but there again, that’s what they were called back then.

      To say that because we used a word that was (many years later) deemed to be inappropriate means there was anti-Down’s sentiment is nonsense.

      • post_x_it

        Exactly right. And whatever you do, you’ll never be able to eliminate children’s playground insults.
        The perfect example is when use of the word ‘spastic’ became verboten, and the Spastic Society changed its name to Scope. Ever adaptable, the yoof quickly dropped ‘spaz’ as an insult and replaced it with ‘scoper’.

    • I think that you may have been seeing the exceptions. Words are powerful, as Barnes says, and I don’t think that calling people ‘cripples’ helps. Trying to respect people with your words (‘being PC’) won’t be enough without acting on that and treating people with respect with actions too, but words can be damaging; both treating people kindly in vocabulary and actions is the best way to go. I think that if you call disabled people ‘cripples’ then that can too easily become a sneer said behind someone’s back and a label which unfairly discriminates them from others.

  • Shorne

    Political correctness, defined as “a term primarily used as a pejorative to describe language, policies, or measures which are intended not to offend or disadvantage any particular group of people in society.” has been seized on by right wingers as a weapon in their ongoing war against liberalism. It is often accompanied by ‘Cultural Marxism’, ‘Lefty scum’ and ‘Anti-white racism. I think those who bandy the term about are really saying ‘I’ve always said things like this, I want to continue, I don’t give a toss who I offend so don’t you dare try and stop me.’

    • Sue Smith

      These are the typical cant and obfuscation of the left. It’s all going pear-shaped and, of course, it has nothing whatever to do with them. And you’ve described yourself quite well in your comments. At least there’s a scintilla of self-awareness there, so all hope is not lost.

      See my question below about whether we have a better society as a result of your social engineering.

      • Shorne

        Rather proves my point I think.

        • Neil Saunders

          Not really. The Politically Correct brigade have hijacked the concept of virtue, and pretend that before their ministrations society was in a hopelessly benighted and illiberal condition, thereby requiring drastic measures.

          It is an ideological crusade founded on lies and distortions.

          • Shorne

            I was born in 1950 and yes when I was growing up society was in many ways ‘in a hopelessly benighted and illiberal condition’
            This is the best summing up in my opinion
            “What I think the political correctness debate is really about is the power to be able to define. The definers want the power to name and the defined are now taking that power away from them’
            Toni Morrison
            There seem to a lot of ‘definers’ having tantrums in this column.

          • Neil Saunders

            The quotation from Toni Morrison strikes me as empty rhetoric. The implication, however, is that the wretched of the earth have finally wrested the power to “define” (whatever that might involve) from some sinister and hitherto powerful political and cultural establishment, and a good thing, too. This is a highly distorted analysis expressed in triumphalist language.

            I’m glad that hanging, flogging and corporal punishment have been abolished, that fewer people smoke and that the food in the UK is far better than it used to be. That said, we have lost a great deal since the time of the world in which you (and I) grew up.

          • Mr B J Mann


            There seem to a lot of ‘definers’ having tantrums in this column.

            Demanding their safe spaces, and an end to micro-aggresisons, and jail for “hate” speech:

            Which they, and they alone, have the ‘right’ to ‘define’!

            Orwell wasn’t writing handbooks you lefty numpty!

          • Shorne

            It is up to the ‘defined’ to decide how they are described, not the likes of you. Implying I said Orwell wrote handbooks is more blatant strawman tactics, but so far you have kept the exclamation marks in check. Still must go and tell my family somebody has called me a ‘lefty’ it always makes them laugh.

          • Mr B J Mann

            Typical PC Bollards!

            So you believe that it is up to h0mophobes to decide how are described?!

            You believe that it is up to racists to decide how are described?!?!?!

            Oooops, no, it’s not up to the likes of them, it’s up to the likes of you!

            The hypocrisy of PC in a nutshell!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • Shorne

            Ah there’s the exclamation marks, I almost missed them.

          • Mr B J Mann


            I put them in specially for you and you still almost miss them.

            Not surprising you’re still missing every point despite me marking them out for you with the marks!

          • Shorne

            Dear oh dear, I meant that, stupid as they are, I almost regretted their apparent absence.

          • Mr B J Mann

            A bit like people with low IQ you mean?!

            You meant that, stupid as they are, you almost, alnost, but not quite, regretted their apparent absence?!?!

            In the mind of people like you, deep down you seem to think they should be euthanised.

            In fact, this seems to be your problem and at the root of your anger!

            You clearly have both deep seated anxiety issues about your own IQ, but also even deeper seated guilt issues, probably subconsciously repressed, about your own anger at, and hatred of, people with low IQ.

            Mix in sibling rivalry and mummy and daddy issues and is it any wonder the way you project your own problems and insecurities on people who best you in argument and then attack them instead of self harming.

            Have you ever thought of getting professional help?!

        • Mr B J Mann

          Does “Orwell” mean anything to you?!

          • Shorne

            Of course Brave Hungarian peasant girl who forced King John to sign the pledge at Runnymede and close the boozers at half past ten! Is all this to be forgotten?

    • Mc

      Offense is a very small price to pay for free speech. Without free speech, you end up with totalitarian, vicious, unequal, unjust and economically backward societies: all the things that PC merchants claim their crusade will banish from those societies that enjoy robust free speech.

    • hobspawn

      You are mistaken. The “war against liberalism” is being waged by you, the supporters of “political correctness”. Controlling what people can say is the first step in controlling what they can think. Haven’t you read Orwell? Political correctness is above all, about thoughtcrime, and the concentration of the elite’s power.

      • Shorne

        I repeat a quote from an earlier posting;
        “What I think the political correctness debate is really about is the power to be able to define. The definers want the power to name and the defined are now taking that power away from them’
        Toni Morrison
        I have read a lot of Orwell and when I do I always keep in mind that he was an old Etonian ex-colonial policeman.

        • hobspawn

           “…he was an old Etonian ex-colonial policeman.”

          Unable to think for themselves, the left defers all authority to demagogues on the basis of class, and then wonders why they are being arrested in the night by their own side.

          • Shorne

            Oh do stop talking rubbish. The only time this country had something resembling centralised State control of things like industry and agriculture and when some people were ‘arrested in the night’ for crimes against the State was during World War Two and the whole thing was presided over by that notorious Marxist Churchill. Oh, and me pointing out indisputable facts about Orwell bears no relation to what you wrote.

          • hobspawn

            You’re d​eranged. Nothing that happened in the UK compares to the hel​l created by class war romantics in the Soviet bloc. Orwell’s excellent education has nothing to do with this. Dispute the truth of what he said rather than attacking his background.

          • Shorne

            ‘Something resembling’ does not mean identical. In many ways much of what Orwell wrote arose from the ‘zeal of the convert’ following his disillusionment with communism in the Spanish civil war which is why he is often so accurate. Mind you when he was pretending to be living in the gutter he could and did simply get money from his relatives when necessary.

          • JabbaPapa

            His Down and Out in Paris and London is the only truly hypocritical thing he ever wrote — though he did get many details of what it’s actually like to live in those conditions by force (rather than trendy lefty choice).

          • hobspawn

            Why do you bother responding to my comment when you haven’t read it?

    • JabbaPapa

      oooh oooh ohhhh doubleplusungoodthink, call Thought Police plusquick doubleunpartythink !!

      • Shorne

        The best thing to do when the Thought Police knock at your door is to think ‘I’m out.’

        • JabbaPapa

          plusunirony minithink

  • SunnyD

    I had a dog called Syndrome once… we had fun telling him to get off the sofa

    • Dominic Stockford

      Am I allowed to laugh at that?

      • Enoch Powell


      • SunnyD

        relax, Dom, you’re in a “safe place”

  • right1_left1

    I can say with certainty that 50 years ago it was not the norm to be verbally abusive to people with Downs syndrome.
    I dont say it didnt happen I say it wasnt the norm.
    Bullying did occur at school but I very much doubt it has reduced much despite all the bleeding heart pleading.

    On average PC is a disaster especially where political debate is concerned.
    Cant criticise Islam Cant criticise Israel Cant oppose mass coloured immigration. Cant tell the truth about obvious IQ differences across the racial diviidee as revealed by tests and the economic conditions in black Africa.
    Look at Haiti and its history.
    Freed about 1800 odd and has been a cess pit ever since.

    Bah humbug to PC correctness.
    If you a grossly fat as is frequently to be seen thse days some verbal straight talking might wake you up a bit.
    If you get poxed up fairly regularly ditto.

    • Dutch_Boy

      Oh yes you can criticise Israel. In many of these circles you are supposed to criticise, or even boycott, Israel.

    • CSStrowbridge

      I can’t tell if you are a Poe or not.

    • Shorne

      One has to laugh when somebody who cannot spell or punctuate goes on about ‘IQ differences’.

      • right1_left1

        Since you are implying I have a mediocre mind and a low IQ, which happens to be true, aren’t you really
        proving my point ?
        Paraphrasing Rumsfeld: there are things you dont know you dont know

        Ebonics 2u !

        • Shorne

          It wasn’t Rumsfeld he was using a concept called the Johari window.

          • Mr B J Mann

            Isn’t that something different?

            Rumsfeld was talking about facts.

            The window is more about feelings.

          • Mr B J Mann

            From wikipedia:

            the idea of unknown unknowns was actually commonly used inside NASA from much earlier. Rumsfeld himself cites NASA administrator William Graham in his memoir.[3] Kirk Borne, an astrophysicist who was employed as a data scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center at the time, notes that he used the phrase “unknown unknowns” in a talk to personnel at the Homeland Security Transition Planning Office a few days prior to Rumsfeld’s remarks, and speculates that the term may have percolated up to Rumsfeld and other high-ranking officials in the defense department.[4] The terms “known unknowns” and “unknown unknowns” are current in project management circles.”

            And engineering, and far predate Rumsfeld’s use, aa the article goes on to show.

          • Shorne

            The Johari Window was devised in 1955 and is clearly the originator of such concepts as ‘known unknowns’.


          • Mr B J Mann

            So before 1955 no one knew that they didn’t know exactly what caused gravity?!

            Or that they didn’t know how the Universe actually was formed.

            Or life on earth, for that matter.

            Are you a Creationist?!

          • Shorne

            Now this is a bizarre response even for you.

          • Mr B J Mann

            Shorne Mr B J Mann
            20 hours ago
            The Johari Window was devised in 1955 and is clearly the originator of such concepts as ‘known unknowns

            Mr B J Mann Shorne
            19 hours ago
            So before 1955 no one knew that they didn’t know exactly what caused gravity?!
            Or that they didn’t know how the Universe actually was formed.
            Or life on earth, for that matter.
            Are you a Creationist?!

            What on earth do you find bizzare about that?!

            You claimed that before 1955 there were clearly no such concepts as ‘known unknowns.

            Ie before 1955 no one knew that they didn’t know exactly what caused gravity?!
            Or that they didn’t know how the Universe actually was formed.
            Or life on earth, for that matter.

            As far as I am aware the only people who thought they definitely knew what and how gravity, the universe, life on earth, were created were the Creationist?!

            I find it bizzare that I have to spell out such simple logic even to you.

          • Shorne

            Of course they knew, it just wasn’t formulated in those precise terms, quite how you make the leap from such considerations to Creationism is beyond me. I’ve shown some of your responses to a psychologist I know, he tells me that I should stop responding as it only prompts you to more and more extreme illogicalities which can’t be good for you, so I will.

          • JabbaPapa

            Of course they knew, it just wasn’t formulated in those precise terms

            It is highly dubious to suggest that no precise terms for such things existed prior to 1955, and BTW your sarcasm detector seems to be broken. Maybe ask your psychologist friend to fix it for you ?

          • Mr B J Mann

            Funny, but I’ve shown yours to a psychologist, and he said it would be unprofessional of him to comment on someone who wasn’t a patient, never mind to a third party, especially when you have your own already, so he wouldn’t want to appear to be trying to poach your shrink’s clients.

            The most he would say was that we should all support your treatment by avoiding engaging you in debate as, as your trick cyclist has spotted, and tried to politely guide you, it only prompts YOU to more and more extreme illogicalities, which can’t be good for YOU!

            Personally, as I’ve tried to tell you before, deep down you seem to think people of low IQ should be euthanised.

            In fact, this seems to be your problem and at the root of your anger!

            You clearly have both deep seated anxiety issues about your own IQ, but also even deeper seated guilt issues, probably subconsciously repressed, about your own anger at, and hatred of, people with low IQ.

            Mix in sibling rivalry and mummy and daddy issues and is it any wonder the way you project your own problems and insecurities on people who best you in argument, and then attack them instead of self harming.

            Clearly, not only have you thought of getting professional help, you’ve gone and done it.

            Well done you!

            That’s always the first step.

            I wish you a speedy recovery!

          • Mr B J Mann

            By the way, Plato said that Socrates accounted for his wisdom because he did not imagine that he knows what he does not know!

            Wold that be before or after 1955……

            B.C. ?!?!?!?!!!!!

      • Mr B J Mann

        Do you laugh even more at people with Down’s Syndrome?!

        Proof, if proof were needed, that the PC brigade aren’t really interested in manners, politeness consideration:

        Just in attacking everyone they disagree with!

        • Shorne

          Your use of that last sentence made me laugh.

          • Mr B J Mann

            So you “only” laugh at other “other” people with lesser IQ differences.

            How very, and I mean this very sincerely, PC of you!

          • Shorne

            You have no grounds for assuming I laugh at anybody, except you of course.

          • Mr B J Mann

            Shorne Mr B J Mann
            an hour ago
            You have no grounds for assuming I laugh at anybody, except you of course

            Shorne right1_left1
            2 days ago
            One has to laugh when somebody who cannot spell or punctuate goes on about ‘IQ differences

            Mr B J Mann Shorne
            a day ago
            …..Proof, if proof were needed, that the PC brigade aren’t really interested in manners, politeness consideration:
            Just in attacking everyone they disagree with!

          • Shorne

            No just attacking hypocrisy.

          • Mr B J Mann

            Even if you were “just” attacking hypocrisy, and by laughing it it: that’s still supposedly UN-PC bad manners, rudeness, lack of consideration for others, unwelcoming, rejecting their “diversity”, prejudiced, bigoted, bigoted, being judgemental……

            And all the other PC BS the PC hypocrites come out with.

            Especially as, for example, your victim might not be English, making you a racist, or dyslexic, making you a disablist, or both, making you both, but he could still have a higher IQ than you.

            Even more especially as having a low IQ doesn’t mean someone doesn’t have a right an opinion, or to express it, except in the mind of people like you who deep down seem to think they should be euthanised.

            In fact, this seems to be your problem and at the root of your anger!

            You clearly have both deep seated anxiety issues about your own IQ, but also even deeper seated guilt issues, probably subconsciously repressed, about your own anger at, and hatred of, people with low IQ.

            Mix in sibling rivalry and mummy and daddy issues and is it any wonder the way you project your own problems and insecurities on people who best you in argument and then attack them instead of self harming.

            Have you ever thought of getting professional help?!

  • davidshort10

    I must be around the same age as the author and for the life of me I cannot recall people with Down’s Syndrome being treated badly. Yes, they were called Mongols but that was before people knew the term Down’s Syndrome. The few people and children with it in my small town in the North East were treated with kindness and affection.

    • Countrywatch

      Our experiences concur with yours.
      I and my husband are probably about the same age as the author, we have a son with DS, and the reason individuals have been kind to him does not stem from PC but from compassion, kindness, and sensitivity. I fear that the author may be naive in not recognising what PC really is, and what its true role is. Davedeparis (comment above) describes it very accurately.

      • davidshort10

        And I think it should be said that generally speaking people with DS are also gentle and loveable, with far better characters than the average person. I hope that doesn’t sound patronising; it’s just meant to be an expression of what I have observed.

        • Countrywatch

          They can be great characters indeed!

        • JabbaPapa

          And not a few of them are actually quite clever — these are the ones who actually suffer the most from the sort of PC prejudice that simultaneously asks us to condescendingly treat DS persons as if they were “normal” (they’re not), and to blindly “justify” the actions of women and doctors who seek to systematically murder them in the womb.

          PC : definition, “systematic hypocrisy and self-serving virtue-signalling”

    • hobspawn

      Barnes’s highly misleading portrayal of a hate-filled Christian Britain of yore is the greatest achievement of the traitor class to which he belongs: a mass-delusion of Maoist proportions.

    • JabbaPapa

      I cannot recall people with Down’s Syndrome being treated badly

      Well, is routinely murdering them in the womb a “bad treatment”, or do the diktats of PC forbid saying such things in public ?

      • davidshort10

        I fear that you are bonkers, like a number of regulars on this site, such as Unctious. i do not read his comments any more. let alone reply . I expect you are right wing, unmarried, living with your mothers, virgins. This is the only reply you will ever get from me. My recollections are from a time when abortion was illegal. Now put away the tissues and find a job, and a life.

        • JabbaPapa

          My recollections are from a time when abortion was illegal

          Have you been living in a bunker for the past 50 years and only very recently emerged ?

          Or are you just losing your temper because your PC hypocrisy has been exposed ?

        • Mr B J Mann

          “bonkers, [stereotyping edited out] right wing, unmarried, living with your mothers, virgins. ….. put away the tissues and find a job, and a life.”

          Is that meant to prove that PC is inclusive, non judgemental Polite Compassion?!

  • Davedeparis

    As George Carlin said, “Political correctness is fascism pretending to be manners”. I’ve no objection to be people being polite and sensitive about other people’s feelings but that is not what political correctness is about. It is an expression of Frankfurt school post cultural marxism that uses sensitivity as a pretext to bully and silence opposition.

    • Mc

      Spot. It’s about imposing tyranny under the guise of inclusiveness and politeness. Mr Barnes’ logic is flawed, with its basis being schmaltz.

      • Sue Smith

        Any kind of social engineering is tyranny by another name. It reminds me of the medieval christian church and its attitudes regarding, but not limited to, the playing of music and how that invoked the devil and was therefore forbidden in the mass. Even the interval of an augmented 4th (for those of you who don’t read music, for example, in the key of 4 Major instead of playing the B flat you play the B natural) was ‘the devil in music’ and had to be avoided. PC is absolutely no different to that.

        • JabbaPapa

          Do you even KNOW anything about the Mediaeval Church in the first place ?

          • Sue Smith

            Don’t project your own ignorance onto others. I have a masters degree in Musicology and that means I’ve done a great deal of study of the church from the medieval era. Go away.

          • JabbaPapa

            Good for you and your excellent degree, but your suggestion that the rules and requirements of any particular form of music (or poetry, or architecture, or anything) are based on “superstition”, and calling it “tyrannical” “social engineering” is completely anachronistic gibberish.

            Many of these more “exciting” theories about the “awful” mediaeval Church come straight from either rancid 19th century anti-clerical intellectualism, and/or freemasonry, and/or Soviet propaganda. In each case, on ideologically motivated propaganda.

            The flaws and the virtues of the Church in general are well known, but the attempts of certain deeply corrupted Italian families to take control over her, or, more pertinently to your point, of a certain University-Monastic faction to impose monasticism as a theocratic model for the whole of society were neither unopposed nor successful, because the Church as such rejected and defeated them.

            The sort of “tyrannical social engineering” that you accuse her of is anachronistic for an even simpler reason than that though — it has only been technologically possible to achieve such a thing since the invention of the mass media, and so, at very earliest, since the invention of the industrial printing press in the late 19th Century.

          • Sue Smith

            Bla bla bla…hate…blather…misery….resentment….chip on the shoulder.

            Shame you don’t channel your aggression into an excellent, lucrative career.

          • JabbaPapa

            So now that you’ve run out of “arguments”, you aggressively accuse me of aggression. Nice one.

          • Sue Smith

            Hop along now. If we’re ever looking for a one-legged Tarzan you’d be perfect for the role!!!

          • JabbaPapa

            Good GRIEF and never mind the double standards, eh ?

          • oldoddjobs

            Who cares how much money he earns?

          • Sue Smith

            He does!!!

          • JabbaPapa


            Your incoherent ranting is just a series of personal attacks, because you’ve run out of valid points to make.

      • Mr B J Mann

        It’s Passive Aggression,,,,,

        Without the Passive, even!!!!

    • Countrywatch

      Well said.

  • paulthorgan

    There is a difference between political correctness and good manners. This article fails to point this out.

    • Sipu

      My apologies, I have just said exactly the same thing, before having read your comment.

  • Jacobi

    Political Correctness is dangerous. It is a form of public deliberate misinformation.

    The motivation behind it is frequently fear, as much as willingness by minorities to alter
    public agreed thinking. Down’s Syndrome is acceptable and there is no need for any other term. Attitudes have changed for the better because of publicity and awareness – the opposite of Political

    As for that other related matter, Positive Discrimination, that is a disaster.

    I am getting fed up to the back teeth with it and have practically given up watching TV news because of the gross disproportion of those we see on TV. A very bad example was seen tonight when dealing with schools. What we see typically now is way out of proportion to actual percentage in the population.

    We can make up my own mind on such matters. Forcing views upon us is counter-productive.

    • Mr B J Mann

      Reminds me of when I was working from home and was due to pick my daughter up from school as my wife had to be somewhere.

      As she dashed out she yelled oh, forgot to tell you, she’s bringing a friend home who’s a special needs child.

      Unfortunately the door slammed behind her as I yelled back what special needs: do I need to make room in the boot for a wheelchair? Do I need to remove the glass coffee table because she’s visually challenged? Or get last year’s books and toys out of the loft…..

  • T Gould

    This article is pure emotional blackmail, typical of PC warriors. No sane person, no matter what they think of political correctness, would argue that your son deserves to be treated with anything but respect. To imply otherwise, or to suggest PC is the only means through which this could be achieved, is just stupid.

    • nutsingha

      Exactly. The author is [more than] a bit mixed up and foggy-brained in this piece. PC behaviour is a very different thing to respecting others. How muddled can one get?!

      • Mr B J Mann

        PC is the exact opposite of respecting others:

        It’s “dissing” anyone or anything the PC Brigade disagrees with!

  • Suzy61

    As a working-class child of the sixties, our next door neighbour had seven children…. six daughters and one son. One daughter was a spastic ( as was the normal acceptable term back then) and spent her days sitting on their low, front garden wall engaging in conversation with every passer-by. I cannot recall even one occasion when she was treated unkindly by anyone she engaged with. We all loved and protected her. It was instinctive. No PC language, no human rights law… just the basic humanity that our elected politicians do not trust us enough to feel.

    • RRDRRD

      I often take others to task for basing an online argument on personal experience (how do we know it is not made up) but in support of your post, I will share that my first thought as I read the article was about my first grade class is a small town in Iowa (early 1960’s) and the classmate who was to some degree developmentally disabled.
      I do not recall any specific term being used for his condition but it was not Down’s syndrome but he was decidedly handicapped to a significant degree. He was widely accepted and watched out for by our class and when we moved on he was kept in first grade – where he was similarly accepted. When I reached fifth grade, there was another classmate who was about 3 years older than us with similar challenges. I do recall some ill-natured treatment towards him – which was met with scorn and ostracism virtually universally. In that politically incorrect time, the worst offender – who tried to take advantage of the challenged classmate – received a rather public smacking around by his older brother who also proudly assured all that there would be a spanking for the perpetrator waiting at home as well. I see the risks but think the rewards of the less PC world of yesteryear tended to pay out.

  • Ewan

    Just to say that I cannot stand political correctness and that is from a left wing perspective…I hate listening to mainlymiddle class people spouting stuff that they clearly don’t believe but feel that they should say. Maybe some of you guys on the right could at least give Jeremy Corbyn some credit for at least being genuine in his beliefs as compared to someone like Tony Blair who is as phoney as they come. just a thought…

    • JabbaPapa

      What’s the real difference between an ideologue who’s a phony and one who wears it on his sleeve ? Both men are proponents of the same loony PC ideology, but Blair is an obvious hypocrite, whereas Corbyn keeps on acting as if the intrinsic hypocrisy of PC might somehow be part of honesty.

      • Ewan

        I think that he is generally a man of principle but I agree with you about his changing stance on the EU. I do find it strange that every one I know, virtually, is planning to vote to stay in; most of them vote either Labour or Green and it just seems that the assumption is they should be on favour of EU. Personally I think the whole European project is unravelling and that we would be better off out of it.. The only argument that almost swayed me was from George Mon bi o t who said that without the EU the Tories would be given a free reign to further slash worker’s rights and conditions. But I still intend to vote out though this does worry me.

    • xIRONFISTx

      You make a fair point, because integrity is very important, but I wouldn’t use Corbyn as an example. Myself and many others who identify with the right have a great deal of respect for certain figures on the left, specifically those who still hold genuine working class leftist views and not this contemporary ultra-liberal virtue signaling that is just a fashionable trend for overpaid journalists, actors and musicians—and the university imbeciles who fawn over them.

      Corbyn is a poor example is because he was until recently one of the ‘Old Left,’ a tiny minority faction that I disagree with but still largely respect. Despite some strong ideological differences between the Old Left and the right, a good number of the older leftists still believed in individual liberty, democratic values, controlled immigration, rule of law, protecting European culture, and strongly believed in the importance of national sovereignty. Much of modern left hates those things and actively seeks to destroy them. When Corbyn was elected, I was pleasantly surprised, because knowing his history, I figured he would stick to his Old Left principles and vehemently oppose both EU membership and the ongoing Blairite policy of unlimited mass immigration. But idea that came to a crashing halt when he sold out his principled position on the EU and decided to publicly support phony Tory David Cameron and the Remain campaign. Then to add insult to injury, he publicly expressed his unwavering support for unsustainable mass immigration from the EU and from the (economic) migrant crisis.

      So, I can’t give Jeremy credit after selling out, but I will give Gisela Stuart and Kate Hoey a HUUUUGE amount of credit for both having the courage to directly challenge modern left-wing thinking on the EU. They both make such a great case for Brexit and they’ve gone directly against the prevailing tide within Labour by maintaining their principled stance in spite of dogmatic media luvvies and pro-EU Blairite scum.

  • ZJX

    The notion that ‘prissily expressed PC attitudes’, though often viewed as ‘silly’, are ‘also right’, is astoundingly wrong. Firstly, acceptance, politeness and tolerance need to be differentiated from political correctness. By insinuating that without it we would be morally inept and indecent is a fallacy. In fact, in light of San Bernardino and the Rotherham atrocity, I would argue that the presence of political correctness is in many ways actually eroding our moral integrity. In both cases, individuals consciously repressed their inclinations as decent citizens to report suspicious behaviour and blatant crime in order to avoid stigmatization from those who espouse illogical, impractical PC mantras. By conflating humaneness with the political force that at current disrupts humanity’s progress is intellectually dishonest. And although I empathize with the author, I cannot accept the wider allusion that just because the ‘prevailing wind’ of political correctness has generated some positive outcomes in his own life, that it must by default also be doing the same for the lives of others.

    • Enoch Powell

      Excellent response. I had more or less the same reaction to the author’s piece but you’ve put it in words far better than I might have hoped to.

    • Norbert

      The author states, “Because it would be politically incorrect to treat Eddie badly, it has
      become inexorably clear that treating Eddie badly is also morally

      I do not think causation has not been proven in this instance.

      In Germany it is now politically correct to welcome an unlimited number of migrants. But, is that the right thing to do? To send a message around the world that millions more may come and be welcomed? I think not.

  • Anita Bellows

    You just have to check the number of people on twitter or facebook who call people they disagree with mongs or spastics, while these people don’t have Down syndrome or cerebral palsy, and they call it free speech

    • SunnyD

      sorry, I don’t get the connection – are they deriding people with Down’s syndrome or just name calling for name calling’s sake?
      ah, no, I get it, you’re taking offence where none was intended obviously! clap clap clap – btw, did I ever tell you about the dog I used to have?

  • Fritz123

    Yes, we have to care. But somewhere in some forum, NPR or something like that, some black Trump supporter, maybe real, said, that he knows discriination “from the receiving side” and that he hears nothing.

  • JJD

    I appreciate that having a Down’s Syndrome son will wake you up to the value of inclusivity, but in my view you need to distinguish PC from other things that only share some of its features.

    Better still, *define* political correctness. You’ve written an article about your view on political correctness without defining what you mean by the term. At first glance, it looks like you’re construing it way too broadly. Being civil in one’s speech, being kind, treating disabled people as people – this is not about being “politically” correct, this is not a form of “political” speech. But all of these things seem to be muddled into your idea of what PC is. I would accept that there are indeed people who need to be treated with particular care and compassion. For example, children (and adults) with Downs. But not – for example – women. Getting uptight about comments on Theresa May’s red dress is most certainly NOT the same as getting uptight about Downs people being called demeaning names. I care about the latter, not a jot about the former. If you fail to distinguish these things, and instead adopt the catch-all term ‘PC’ for what is going on in each case, you only weaken your own argument.

    So it would have helped if you tried set forth a definition of what you take political correctness to mean. What it is, what it’s for, where it starts, where it ends.

    For my part, I understand it as an effort to censor one’s own speech, or that of others, based on what is deemed acceptable by certain influential people and groups. The last part of this definition is admittedly nebulous. It is supposed to indicate that PC is a top-down thing, not a bottom-up thing. I self-censor, in politically-correct speech, not because of a moral imperative, but because of a political/social imperative. Sometimes that’s valid: one way of arriving at moral maturity is observing, and internalizing, social approval or disapproval. The problem, however, is that, so often in the case of PC, there is simply no moral core involved. It has “gone mad”; it is self-censorship cut adrift of its moral moorings, and become a tool for effecting political change. It is used cynically: paradoxically, this form of “inclusive” speech has been used, deliberately, as a means of social exclusion.

  • Rob74

    This might be a side effect at a push. On the other hand it might just be a change in general attitude attributable to any number of issues. Either way it doesn’t detract from the truth that political correctness is a tool of social control imposed on the many by a minority group who have been given too much power by an acquiescent right wing who should have been standing up for free speech.

  • SunnyD

    After reading this article, my better half has reminded me our young ‘uns will never know the joys of bah bah black sheep, golliwogs – even Noddy got nonced by the PC brigade – and it happened on our watch and our kids have no idea.

    who knows, perhaps one day Manchester will be renamed “Personchester”

    one thing I know for sure is that one day there will be a reckoning…

    in the meantime, let’s continue to treat others as we would wish to be treated and ensure the same values are enshrined in the generations to come…

    make certain that our kids understand the difference between being polite and thoughtful and being “politically correct” – whatever their persuasion, whatever their bag

    • UncertainTrumpet

      The joys of golliwogs?

      Yes, that must be a wrenching, painful thought to realise that it is now considered inappropriate for children to play with icons of good old-fashioned family racism.

      Just terrible.

      • SunnyD

        oooooh! someone’s rather touchy – what’s wrong? someone take your toys away? or do you miss watching Noddy and Big Ears having a lie-in?
        I’ll clarify what I meant: children can’t play with a toy nor enjoy some of the shows that have done (people like me) no harm – all because certain “liberal minded” adults feel they would be perpetuating racism and bigotry by doing so. Such insidious fascism tells me more about the naysayers than anything else…
        So tell me, were you a racist or homophobe as a child? And have your attitudes now been suitably corrected as a result of their banishment? In my view, things like that are an exercise in mass control for “sheeple” and you’re a fool if you think otherwise.
        No offence but I get rather annoyed when someone tries to paint me with the same brush they apply to their own life’s picture.

      • JabbaPapa

        When you’ll be forced to ensure that your grandchildren of indeterminate gender must play with an entire panoply of pansexual toys of multicultural origin, or face imprisonment for “child abuse”, you’ll wonder how all the madness started.

      • xIRONFISTx

        Don’t start crying now.

      • Mr B J Mann

        How is it inappropriate, never mind racist, for a child to love an ethnic dolly?!

        Next you’ll be telling us teddy bears are icons of good old-fashioned family bear baiting.

        You are an icon of good old-fashioned Political Correctness Gorn MAD, I tell you!

  • investigator

    Here we can freely talk about pommies, yanks and Aussies. It’s OK, in a comedy context, to talk about wogs. But if you so much as utter the word Abo you are fiercely condemned. You have to say, according to the latest edict, “a member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.” You have to speak about these people, and individuals amongst them, in a tone of reverence and hyper-sympathy. This is intellectually mad and it helps to keep huge numbers of them in the gutter.

    Here you are encouraged to dislike the American state, the American culture and the American people.
    I can produce hundreds of examples. Also mad.

    This is not North Korea but it is still nauseating. Political Correctness is the successor to obligatory reverence for Christianity and it’s various manifestations. Now we can attack the Pope (which I approve of) but our freedom to express our own, individual, personally formed ideas is still subject to the approval of our cultural elites.

    • Mr B J Mann


      • investigator

        What on Earth is AToS?
        Write English, you ratbag.

        • Mr B J Mann

          Read the post I was replying to:

          An alternative to Abos.

          • investigator

            Still makes no sense.

          • Mr B J Mann

            Aboriginal and Torres Strait ?

            Aboriginal and
            Strait ?!


  • Sean L

    The only *argument* offered here is that because it’s cruel and hurtful to them to make fun of disabled children, it follows that one can’t make fun of *anyone*, that’s to say anyone belonging to a group where any member of said group might take “offence”, ie anyone. But everyone knows from daily life that nothing joins people together more than sharing a joke: it’s practically a definition of harmonious relations, of being friends, if we’re *able* to make fun of each other. It’s only with strangers that we have to stand on ceremony.

    Political correctness, on the other hand, as a means of enforcing identity politics, has excluding people as its raison d’être. Personally I’d rather we be encouraged to laugh at each other. But now the amity symbolised in the national and regional jokes that were our common currency has been turned on its head into enmity by the PC zealots, the Puritans de nos jours. Of course it’s complicated, and some group identities are less robust than others, and one must be mindful of their sensitivities. What’s new? All the same, if ” inclusivity” is the aim, then reinforcing people’s group identity must be contrary to it. But then Simon Barnes puts no argument anyway: just virtue signalling.

  • investigator

    I forgot to mention that “minorities” can very often be vicious, cruel, crazy and anti-social.

    • Hippograd

      Surely not. Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin were from minorities. So is Bashir al-Assad.

  • Picquet

    You fail to distinguish between words uttered in the spirit of full freedom of speech and thought, and those spoken after instinctive consideration of their moral import; the second case is that of a mature, intelligent speaker while the first is that of someone learning to be the second. Both are actually fine, so long as the learning process is understood.

  • rosross

    The world is changing for the better. Fifty years ago Down’s Syndrome kids were hidden away and the view of scientists and doctors, those ‘experts’ who get so much wrong, was that they were little more than cretins and had no future.

    It was parents who challenged the medical opinions of the day, just as it is parents who challenge medical opinions still, and it will always be parents who know their child best and who know what is best for their child.

    • JabbaPapa

      Down’s Syndrome adults are working towards that too.

      Being open-minded in our relationships with such persons requires no PC ideology, it simply needs some civility and lack of prejudice. These are not the trademarked property of the Loony Left.

    • Mr B J Mann

      The ones I saw 50 years ago weren’t hidden away.

      Today the “liberals” hide them in incinerators!

  • bengeo

    “In 2012, Paul Krugman wrote that “the big threat to our discourse is right-wing political correctness, which – unlike the liberal version – has lots of power and money behind it. And the goal is very much the kind of thing Orwell tried to convey with his notion of Newspeak: to make it impossible to talk, and possibly even think, about ideas that challenge the established order.”

    As seen here. “The Culture Secretary has indicated that the new charter will allow the Government to appoint the majority of BBC board members.”

    • xIRONFISTx

      “Right-wing political correctness.” What a load of twaddle!

      No such thing exists, because the two are incompatible. I laughed at the claim that left-wing political correctness does not have power and money behind it. Anyone not stranded on an uninhabited island in the South Pacific would know that in 2012 most of the West had already been suppressed under the brutal iron fist of leftist power and influence—including closeted leftist David Cameron, who I suspect some of the less observant among us might incorrectly associate with “right-wing political correctness.”

    • Mr B J Mann

      Yes, when Google, Facebook, Obama, the Post Office and the Garda, joined forces to try to shame and scare the Irish into voting for g-y marriage there was no power or money behind it.

      In fact wasn’t the propaganda spend lots of pounds to very few pence?!?!!!

  • Sipu

    I think Simon Barnes does not understand that there is a difference between good manners and political correctness. The former is severely lacking in modern society, the latter is put to excessive use and has created what I call a Command Morality.

  • nonsequiturcouk

    I was just about to write exactly what Sipu has written below.

    to add: Political correctness isn’t about being nice and inclusive, it’s about shutting down views that aren’t left wing.

    • UncertainTrumpet

      Political correctness is about the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.

      Yes, that is progressive and ‘left wing’

      The right and conservatism resents it, naturally. Over time the progressive left wing narrative has won and become popular. It has become unacceptable to refer to black people as n*****s or treat women in demeaning sexist ways (though plenty still think like that)

      And it is now unacceptable to discriminate against children with Downs syndrome.

      The right and conservatism regards each progressive step forward as a monstrous imposition and deliberately tries to conflate political correctness with ‘shutting down views’ .

      • Steven Carr

        But it has become politically correct to replace the traditional cultures of Middle Eastern countries with one uniform Islamic culture, under the name of ‘multiculturalism’.

      • In your final paragraph, your tribalism becomes apparent: You belong to the tribe on the Left, whom you see as the goodies, of course, while conservatives belong to the tribe on the Right, whom you see as the baddies.

        I don’t mean to ridicule you, because we are all the same in this regard, the human brain having evolved in a very tribal environment. The problem is that this tribal environment, to which human nature is adapted, no longer exists, having been replaced by the state and civilisation itself, which conflate and confound very different aspects of it.

        The Left/Right divide, along with countless others, is a perversion of our tribal nature (desperately looking for its lost tribal environment), which, instead of serving human survival, is leading to our self-destruction.

        Seeing all humanity as belonging to one great human tribe or family clearly gives those on the Left a wonderful sense of their own moral superiority, but it is misconceived, involving a lot of Orwellian doublethink.

        In conflating and confounding very different aspects of our original tribal environment, the modern “nation state” deceitfully poses as our tribe or nation (intra- and inter-tribal environment) itself, while at the same time facilitating society’s SELF-exploitation (as an extra-tribal environment, on a par with the natural environment) to the personal advantage of its ruling elites and favoured (especially wealthy and academic/formerly priestly) clients, at the expense and ultimate self-destruction of society at large.

        See blog in which elaborate on these ideas: http://philosopherkin.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/civilisation-evolutionary-cul-de-sac.html

      • Mr B J Mann

        Political correctness is about the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.

        Yes, that is progressive and ‘left wing’

        The right and conservatism resents it, naturally. Over time the progressive left wing narrative has won and become popular. It has become unacceptable to refer to black people as n*****s or treat women in demeaning sexist ways (though plenty still think like that)

        And it is now unacceptable to discriminate against children with Downs syndrome.

        The right and conservatism regards each progressive step forward as a monstrous imposition and deliberately tries to conflate political correctness with ‘shutting down views’ .

  • Sean L

    Laughable for you to invoke DH Lawrence in this context, who absolutely loathed the kind of liberalism you stand for, any kind of liberalism. His big political theme was man’s need for authority and strong leadership, and contempt for democracy. Phallocracy would be more like it where he’s concerned, along with blood and soil.

  • Philip

    You fail to explain how PC would ‘protect’ your son. You conflate censorship with sensitivity. PC is a dangerous and insidious Marxist construct, which seeks to undermine free speech and expression; and is far more important than your child being called a name or two.

    • Rudyinbama

      Not only is Karl Marx irrelevant to the notion of Political Correctness, but given his views on religion, theocracy and any number of topics, he would today be more likely banned from speaking at colleges by its proponents.

      • Hippograd

        Not only is Karl Marx central to the notion of political correctness, it is perfectly normal for religious cults to pick-and-choose among the tenets of their founders. Dostoevsky famously suggested that Jesus might end up in the dungeons of the Inquisition if he returned to earth while it lasted:


        • JabbaPapa

          Dostoyevsky’s comment is extraordinarily stupid — Christ was in fact condemned to the death penalty for blasphemy.

          Christ’s comment on this persecution ? “Forgive them Father, they know not what they do.”

          Seems like a pretty good comment about the ignorance of PC ideology, anti-Christianity, and general herd mentality alike.

      • Mr B J Mann

        That’s as logical as arguing that Greer and Tatchel are irrelevant to the notion of wimmins and g-y lib, given their views on any number of topics, they would today be more likely banned from speaking at colleges by their proponents!

      • Acadian Driftwood

        If it isn’t Ruby in ‘Bama waxing poetic about Marxism. You don’t mind if it call you Ruby, do you Miss? You have no compunction misgendering trans folk so I thought you wouldn’t mind me returning the favor. Cheers, Miss!

      • Acadian Driftwood

        I see Ruby in bama is in run silent run deep mode.

        Y’all have a good day miss Ruby.


  • Steven Carr

    ‘If you were presented with a disabled child you would have been within your rights to turn your back, walk away and feel distaste to the point of disgust….’

    Yes, because your grandparents had nothing but disgust for children crippled by polio.

    Simon Barnes bashes strawmen so that he can boast about how wonderful he is.

    • Manon

      Actually, read up on the awful institutions children w/ polio were sent to and actually there was a great deal of ‘hiding them away’ going on.

  • Steven Carr

    Political correctness is nothing more than being polite, inclusive and welcoming.

    Only Tory scum would be against that.

    • Philip

      …and if you believe that hokum, I have a bridge you may be interested in purchasing.

    • xIRONFISTx

      Die in a fire.

      • JabbaPapa


      • Manon

        More likely to happen in our region because of savage Tory cuts to the fire service.

    • Mr B J Mann

      Yeah, I’ve often noticed news reports of the lefty “liberal” PC brigade seeking out people they disagreed with so that they could demonstrate their moral superiority by being polite, inclusive and welcoming to them.

      You saw it at Trump conventions, Pegida rallies, EDF marches, even UKIP meetings!

  • James Sunderland

    That’s called kindness. It has nothing to do with controlling peoples language.

    • Steven Carr

      So where does the phrase ‘Tory scum’ come from?

      • Village Idiot

        Umm, their political opponents? No further explanation is required.

  • Rudyinbama

    This article is nonsense.
    Civil and human rights – including rights for the disabled – were won by debate and struggle and most certainly NOT by Political Correctness.

  • . . political correctness and its attendant language are about inclusivity: race, religion, sexual orientation, age, gender, physical and mental capacity. Non-PC views, however jovially expressed, are about exclusion, generally exclusion of the weak by the strong.

    The question is, what kind of world is such a “morally superior” view leading to? One in which healthy, non-disabled, white, heterosexual males, are in perpetual decline, until finally becoming extinct.

    Hurrah! I can hear the typical white “progressive” shouting. But isn’t this just an expression of the racial self-hatred which began as an understandable overreaction to Nazism and the Holocaust, before being fashioned into an instrument of socio-political intimidation, rewards, punishments, manipulation and control, a modern, secular replacement, effectively, for the power-political role of medieval church ideology?

    See blog in which I elaborate on these ideas: http://unapprovedcomments.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/the-wests-overreaction-to-nazism.html

    • JabbaPapa

      PC isn’t about inclusion, it’s exactly about excluding anyone who sticks to any and all traditional forms of social & political & religious life as positives, and says so in public.

      • It is about inclusion, alright, but as you say, this requires excluding, by demonisation, those who fail to conform with the rules of inclusiveness.

        This drive for Inclusion/exclusion is part of our inherent tribal nature as human beings, which we urgently need to develop an understand of, instead of trivialising, ridiculing or demonising it: http://philosopherkin.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/civilisation-evolutionary-cul-de-sac.html

        • JabbaPapa

          A rather excellent reinforcement of both our points. Thanks.

          • WTF

            How does this inclusion work with those who don’t want to be included with the rest of us due to their own self segregation ! There are groups and cultures who deliberately distance themselves from being inclusive, what would you say to them ?

          • JabbaPapa

            Whatever does your question have to do with the topic of PC ? Did you think I was “supporting” it somehow ?

          • WTF

            I didn’t bring up the subject of inclusion within the context of PC, you and others did. I just made the point that there are those who don’t want to be included and what should we do about them if anything.

          • JabbaPapa

            Well thanks for clarifying the question anyway — except that it’s based on such a broad generalisation as to be IMO meaningless, even though the French have a word for it : communautarisme.

            The French attempt enforced integration and the quasi-criminalisation of deviations from the “republican” norm ; multiculturalism and PC attempt enforced “diversification” and the quasi-criminalisation of normative traditionalism.

            Both of these utopian projects are intrinsically flawed, and equally so, because they are dehumanising.

          • WTF

            I think we actually agree, the French attempts were clearly wrong as is PC social engineering. However, how do we address the problems created by a ethnic group who have no intention or wish to integrate into main stream British culture or even obey our liberal laws.

            A fair equivalence and comparison would be some Brit ex-pats who go to Spain but wont try to learn the language or integrate into Spanish culture. BUT they do contribute to the Spanish economy, they don’t cost the Spanish tax payer one centimos, they don’t gang rape under age young Spanish girls or blow up the Madrid metro and nor they don’t demand any special treatment.

            If the same was true of all ethnic groups in the UK then there wouldn’t be a problem but we know that not to be the case. What should we do ?

          • JabbaPapa

            Whatever happened to the concepts of “live and let live” and “individual responsibility” ?

          • JabbaPapa

            I suppose that what you’re asking belongs more properly to the sphere of Religion than politics, philosophy, or governance — I’m not surprised anyway that the daily attacks against Religion and religious cohesion, here there and everywhere, have created this fractured society.

          • WTF

            I don’t see verbal attacks against any religion other than Islam in the west but there again its Islam that brings tends to bring these attacks on itself. When mosques have been found as training centers for radicalizing Jihadists and even storing terrorist materials, no wonder people are more than a little suspicious as to Islams motives. Add to that the constant victim status card they play and excusing all manner of criminal acts some of their ‘flock’ commit on the majority, are we surprised at the attitude towards Islam. We had exactly the same attitude towards the Catholic religion during the inquisition period as its all about how a religion behaves and not singling out one religion.

            There are of course far more than daily attacks against Christians and Yahzidis for example in the middle east but again its one majority culture trying to exterminate minority religions or cultures just like WWII in Germany.

          • JabbaPapa

            I don’t see verbal attacks against any religion other than Islam in the west

            Oh please — is the constant commentary about “bronze age” “goat herd” “irrational’ “superstitious” “bigoted” “ignorant” “sky fairy” “worshippers” somehow either PC or not constitutive of deliberate attacks ??

            (as for the Inquisitions, they were Courts of Church Law, where the accused were presumed innocent, could defend themselves before an impartial judge, which delivered a majority of “not guilty” verdicts, where the great majority of the guilty suffered some minor punishments only, and where the vast majority of the more serious penalties, including the death penalty, were applied by the local civil authority upon those having committed such crimes as murder, theft, rape, brigandry, etc. They are the model that the modern Courts system is based on.)

            There are of course far more than daily attacks against Christians and Yahzidis for example in the middle east but again its one majority culture trying to exterminate minority religions or cultures just like WWII in Germany

            Both of these attempts at genocide were motivated for religious reasons — both the N@zi desire to eradicate religion entirely on the basis of its extremist anti-religious ideology, and ISIS’ desire to eradicate everything except for their own creed of Islam.

  • Upright Man

    Simon Barnes includes some jokes and criticisms about political correctness to pretend as though he’s presenting a novel and considered case but he refuses to actually respond to them, instead resorting to emotion. This is just the same nonsense that is constantly peddled by ‘social justice warriors’ with all its fallacies and arrogance.
    Reading about someone giving up and embracing the dark side is depressing.
    Thank God for the comments section.

  • Hippograd

    And let’s remember that political correctness has protected the poor Pakistani drug-dealer community in Rotherham from the jackbooted fascists of the South Yorkshire police force. And not just in Rotherham, of course. Thank Heaven that Britain puts the welfare of vulnerable minorities where it should be: at the top of the agenda 24/7.

    Karrar was brazen in his exploitation of Girl D and acted in the belief that the authorities would never challenge him – something that for years proved to be true. Isolated, terrified and dependant on the drugs she was being fed, she summoned up the courage to report Karrar to the police twice; once in May 2005 and again in 2007. Nothing happened. Social workers also knew and did not act. One told the court it was the “general consensus” of the staff in her care home that she was being groomed.

    Political correctness in the Land of Dreaming Spires

    • Steven Carr

      Rotherham was so politically correct that it removed children from foster care if the people adopting them were members of UKIP.

  • Oriolus

    The “political correctness” of treating other human beings with courtesy – aka basic common decency – has nothing to do the “political correctness” of the sushi- and yoga-banning brigades.

    • Frank

      This may be too complex for Simon.

    • That’s really what it boils down to. There was a Yoga class at the university of Ottawa that was shut down for being insensitive. Now it’s back with a new instructor that feels a bit embarrassed by thought that she may have been hired simply because she has some Indian heritage. I don’t get the impression that feels more comfortable.

  • Kandanada

    I can remember a time before the current wave of PC language manipulation.

    In the seventies and eighties there was a great deal of fondness towards Downs children.

    Even now, there are women who refuse to have the Down’s test when pregnant. The mighty and sacred PC movement probably refers to them as anti-abortion bigots, etc.

    It has nothing to do with PC and everything to do with humanity.

    • Manon

      Actually that earlier ‘fondness’ had a very patronising tone. “They’re so cheerful” “They’re always smiling” and I recall a book which referred to them as “cheery turnip-headed people.”

      Not so fond, really.

      • Kandanada


        Did pregnant women choosing not to have the Down’s test have a patronising tone as well?

        So, all these mothers who chose to have their Down’s kids. even though they regarded them merely as “cheery turnip headed people” must have done it out of hate?

        Fancy those loving mothers doing something so dreadfully bigoted as that, just to allow you and your ilk to take offence.

        Typical progressive, sheeple nonsense.

        • Manon

          The mothers didn’t write that book *duh*. I was referring to historical societal attitudes towards the disabled which are very easily researched.

          Your post sounds a bit garbled and you aren’t making a lot of sense.
          Step away from the bottle. I know it’s Friday but it is clearly not very good for you.

          • Kandanada

            Oh, I see. You weren’t there at the time, and you have no experience of the subject, but you read a line in a book and think you are an expert?

            My post is a clarion opinion; yours is derivative offence seeking. There’s the difference.

          • Manon

            A clarion call? *falls over laughing*

            More like a feeble whimper. I am in my fifties. Of course I was *there*- they were my siblings. Time to re-read what I said: ” This was the kind of help and support that was available in the seventies and I know because of my own family history of bringing up children with this disability”- what part of that ‘being there’ did you not understand?

            As for editing, I changed it to ADD something, not take it away.

            *laughs at your paranoid drama again* *leaves you to spaff on alone*

          • Kandanada

            So now, after re-re-editing, they are your siblings. I really would have thought that to be the salient point of your argument, rather than an afterthought, but no matter.

            And you once read a line about “turnip headed people”, and you want to make out that the main reaction from most people was some sort of disgust about Down’s kids?

            There was no support available, there was no help and no protection in law and all you ever experienced was hatred towards the “turnip headed people”?

            And, generally, all the other pregnant women and new mothers looked down upon your siblings as “turnip headed people”?

            Rubbish. I don’t think there is a woman in the world who would look down on a mother with a disabled child.

            It wasn’t really like that, was it?

            Spot of historical revisionism going on here.

          • Manon

            You are kidding me? You truly think that the past was a glorious acceptance of disabilities? Why are you so hell-bent on revising the past yourself? Why are you denying the experiences of the many disabled people who have written about the prejudice they have experienced growing up?

            Go research how women who gave birth to kids affected by Thalidomide were treated. The way some of them were ostracised in their communities BY OTHER WOMEN? Go broaden your world view and learn about how disability is regarded in countries other than this one, countries where some disabilities are regarded as terrible. And yes, there are women who look down upon (as you term it) on women with disabled kids. Read about Nathalia Vodianova’s experience of recently being thrown out of a Russian cafe because the female owner and some female customers objected to the presence of her disabled sibling. You think that’s not prejudice and judgement?

          • Kandanada

            I have read about elderly people being attacked in their homes as well. However, the mainstream view is that this is a bad thing.

            The mistake you make is confusing rare occurrences with mainstream tendencies: literally taking things out of proportion.

          • Manon
          • Kandanada
      • WTF

        Just like the progressives today, they were the ones who said “ah bless” but they didn’t have to deal with the problems personally.

  • therealguyfaux ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    Someone PLEASE explain why the descriptor “A person with Down’s” is a patronising sort of term to use– I’ve seen it argued that “To emphasise the ‘personhood’, by leading off a phrase like that with the word, ought not be necessary! It has all the odour of ‘Aw, bless’!” What a hot steaming load in the middle of the pasture, if we’re on the subject of “odour.”

    It may initially have been a well-meaning sentiment, approximating “Don’t just feel sorry for the Down’s individual, DO something to help!” But I fail to see how saying “a person [in this condition]…” is any different to “A person who does [X]….”, the words “a person” being seen as a synonym for “some-one/body.”

    I certainly do NOT want to self-censor to remember to say “SOMEONE with Down’s” as opposed to “A person etc….”, and I won’t do it. That is a ludicrous “distinction without a difference,” and tells you more about what’s on the mind of “the person” castigating you as to how THEY view “personhood” and all its appurtenant connotations.

    • Manon

      I agree, I don’t really see the distinction. And after all, actions are what demonstrate acceptance and equality. We can have the most accepting language in the world but until people with disabilities have equal and full access to services and opportunities, it’s all just hot air, isn’t it?

      • PaD

        Equal and full access to services and opportunities…Hardly anyone I know able Or disabled has that.

  • Bayesian_Rationalist

    Steven Pinker, in his book, ‘The Better Angels of Our Nature’, argues that the rise of political correctness is evidence that we are making moral progress in society. Of course, Pinker would be the first to point out that political correctness can go too far, but I’d rather have a society in which people were politically correct than a society in which there was no such thing.

    • WTF

      Unfortunately political correctness when taken to the extent we see today in the west is actually worse than no political correctness.

      The main idea behind political correctness was to reduce or prevent discrimination against minority groups and engender better cohesiveness in society. That of itself might seem a worthy objective and of itself, most would back that approach. The problem is that political correctness by its very nature will generally disadvantage or discriminate against one societal group in favour of the group it is trying to protect. Most discriminatory practices in the past be it sexism, homosexual or ethnic will generally dilute over time naturally by society on its own volition without the need for legislative laws to enforce a PC mandate and I’ll give an example.

      When Indian immigrants came to the UK there was at first a feeling of unease due to what seemed like an alien culture, the progressives would call it racism but I’d argue its a natural response from any person in the majority in any country to feel unease at first with something new or strange. Its not just a white culture thing as it exists in ALL cultures when this happens. However, over time Indians integrated into the UK culture without any interference by the state and by far the majority, just like myself think of them being as British as I am.

      However, when one group refuses to integrate and the state interferes due to predictable divisive elements that surface, instead of solving the problem they make matters worse. Despite all the PC efforts at brow beating the majority whilst making excuses for uncivilized behavior from some in a minority group, it has demonstrably failed. For example, did the cover up of Rotherham on politically correct grounds help cohesiveness in society ? I doubt any one could claim it had when in fact it had exactly the opposite effect.

      That is an extreme case of PC interference causing even more divisiveness than helping community relations. Its no different in America where progressives have made the country far more racist from both sides due to PC dogma instead of solving the core problems that exist.

      The ONLY thing that helps a cohesive society is to treat everyone equally but by passing PC legislation like hate laws but not applying it equally, it then encourages and enables racists in the progressive camp to have a free pass.

      • Digger52

        The PC mantra which rules our society is that wealth is virtue. It is enforced by the wealthy and their parasites on behalf of the wealthy. The fact that the anti pc brigade obsessively focus on everything except the ruling mantra tells us all we need to know about you

        • WTF

          If that is the case then why are so many free loading migrants trying to enter European countries with generous benefits as that will hardly make those people wealthy but will certainly impoverish natural born citizens. It used to be the mantra that working and providing for yourself and your family was a real virtue unlike the PC virtue signalling of bringing in economic migrants so what happened ?

          • Digger52

            i suppose you think you a ‘natural born citizen’ a phrase from idiot central

          • WTF

            I think that everyone should pay their way whether they are natural born citizens or legal residents and no one should get a free hand out unless voted for by the tax payers. Anything else leads to unfairness, discrimination and ultimately a back lash.

          • Digger52

            About £90 billion in tax payers money a year is ‘handed out’ to business and landowners in various ways. Did you vote for that ? £120 billion is evaded or avoided in tax – the so called tax gap – the vast majority of this has nothing to do with immigrants. Are you expecting a backlash about these realities or are you fixated on the Daily Mail hate the immigrant agenda ?

          • WTF

            The backlash can be at the ballot box or in communities.

    • Dave Nielsen

      It’s a sign of the pussification of society.

  • Kandanada

    Oh dear, the PC brigade have decided that, until they waged a war of political correctness and started telling us what words we can use, the world was a very dark place because the whole of humanity’s natural instinct was to hate, mock and attack the disabled.

    Their evidence for this appears to be the non-PC words which used to be used to describe some disabilities.

    The PC brigade seem to think that it is in our instinct to attack the weak and only their expertise (as sociologists and such like) can save us.

    I say that it is more instinctive for us to protect the weak; it seems to be the way we are made.

    • WTF

      Of course it is as its a natural thing to protect our vulnerable and we see it in animals as we do in most people and PC indoctrination has nothing to do with it.

      • Digger52

        Ignorance is bliss for the ant PC brigade

    • Digger52

      Pity that history is terra incognita to the average PC brasher

  • Mr B J Mann

    Absolute utter and total BalderDAESH!

    Political Correctness has absolutely nothing to do with kindness!

    was it kind, for example, to him, or blacks, to get a black US Mayor’s
    white but highly respected pro black activist diversity aid (was it?)
    sacked for complaining his black support budget was “n!ggardly” (a
    totall unrelated word!)?!

    How was it kind for someone to get
    Carol Thatcher sacked from the BBC by publicising worldwide the fact
    that they had overheard her, in a private conversation, trying to
    identify a black tennis player, at the time laying at the other side of
    the world, whose name she had forgotten, by eventually describing his
    hair, factually, as resembling her favourite childhood toy?!

    as, if the guilty party is the supposed comedienne she’s supposed to
    be, she had that week taken the P out of Thatchers ill mother.

    And the Beeb had rerun the her show two more times in the following week or so?!?!?!

    By definition, PC is a tool to undermine traditional society, and so has absolutely nothing to do with kindness!

    • Digger52

      Thanks so much for this perfect example of galloping green ink lunacy. I will use it in lessons for years to come

      • Mr B J Mann

        You’re a teacher?!

        And they try to claim they aren’t dumbing down our children?!?!?!!!!

        I post some facts which contradict the dogma you preach and you come back with that attack?!?!!!!!

        Give me a heads up if you ever get round to trying to justify your wild allegations:

        So that I can strap up my sides to prevent them splitting when I read it!

        • Digger52

          Mr Mann, poor Mr Mann, someone who substitutes the word Daesh, in capitals, as the last syllable in the word balderdash when trying to cobble together unhinged remarks about PC is a pitch perfect example of a loon. Thanks again for the teaching material – not for children by the way. But you certainly produce excellent copy for a secondary PSE curriculum.

          • Mr B J Mann

            We’re doomed!

          • Mr B J Mann

            At least I don’t have to strap up my sides to prevent them splitting!

    • nuff said


      nuff said

      • Mr B J Mann

        Yup, it nicely summarises the article.

  • Philsopinion

    As I’m sure has already been said BTL, political correctness is good when it is protecting children like Eddie (and indeed their parents). It is not fine when it is used to stifle debate over things like immigration and religion. And it is positively dangerous when it is used to cover up ‘sensitive’ crimes like the systematic sexual abuse of vulnerable young girls by Pakistani men.

  • Mode4

    In the past we did not need Political Correctness to be kind to disadvantaged people, it’s called good manners, which needs to be taught. Political Correctness is a dangerous tool and was not designed to be kind to people. It was designed to control peoples thoughts and words. Often it is used by a minority agenda to control a majority. It’s only natural that eventually people will resent being controlled and fight back.

    • Digger52

      A hilarious example of the rhetoric of Shire County pinheads

      • PaD

        Go to london and stand on a street corner&ask that mosque building be halted.

        • Digger52

          A hilarious example of the half baked rhetoric of a bigoted Shire County pinhead

          • Mr B J Mann

            Is that retort PC? Is it welcoming? Inclusive? Good mannered? Polite? Considerate? Non judgemental?!

            A hilarious example of the half baked rhetoric of a bigoted Sh!te Lefty pinhead hypocrite!

          • Dave Nielsen

            Digger52’s standard, empty-headed boilerplate response.

      • FMA

        I must respectfully beg to disagree.

        ….it isn’t hilarious in the slightest. More kind of sad and mildly depressing 🙁

      • Mode4

        Your manners aren’t the best are they. It doesn’t surprise me. PC advocates such as yourself thrive on being abusive while using intimidation to close any discussion on any subject so you can control the outcome. You proved my point.

      • oldoddjobs

        High status white aspirant signals against low status whites. Fail.

        • Digger52

          Cryptic crossword clues belong in crosswords

          • JabbaPapa

            Is the answer “matrix” ?

    • Dave Nielsen

      Quite right. We haven’t achieved much if people still think all the same things they used to, but just aren’t allowed to say them.

  • Clare

    I remember reading Thomas Hardy’s Under the Greenwood Tree, in which Leaf, the “village idiot” is an accepted member of the community and invariably treated with kindness and affection. No doubt many things have improved for the disabled, ethnic minorities etc., but that does not mean they were always mistreated in the past. It might be added that there is something a little grotesque in our society (rightly) objecting to the mockery of those with Down’s syndrome while being perfectly comfortable with allowing the vast majority of them to be killed in the womb.

    • Dave Nielsen

      That etymology is just one possibility – you present it as fact.

      • JabbaPapa

        Been looking at a dictionary of Old French, and the etymology seems odd.

        The OF cretin was a kind of small wicker bin or container for small belongings, and the word was sometimes used metaphorically to mean a person’s head, full of things ; but the root of the English “crest” was often used to designate someone’s head, particularly a pretentious or arrogant one, in the sense of “fat-head”.

        • Sanctimony

          Bollocks… to use your current and favourite epithet… Cretinism is a condition seen often in mountainous areas of which one of the causes is a lack of iodine in the sufferer, caused by the leeching of this chemical element by extreme weather conditions.

      • Clare

        Sorry, just checked it – you’re quite right! I meant it as more general proof that people were more accepting of disability in the past than this article implies.

  • Digger52

    It is amazing that the term ‘political correctness’ is still being used as though it actually had any meaning. In the USA the leading GOP candidates are saying the election is about defeating PC, not ISIS or economic failure. When buffoons like Trump,Carson and Cruz tell us that a silly term of abuse invented by tiny minded reactionaries to attack basic human decency is the defining crisis of our times isn’t it time to humanely put it down?

    • Mr B J Mann

      When buffoons like you tell us that rejection of a silly term of abuse invented by tiny minded revolutionaries to attack basic human freedoms is the defining crisis of our times isn’t it time to humanely put it down?

      Political INcorrectness has nothing to do with nastiness, nor bad manners.

      It is telling truth to those who want power, and don’t want to hear it.

      ISIS, just like !slamic gr00ming gangs, “honour” killings, forced marriages, FMG, Cologne style r-pes, etc, wouldn’t be a danger if we were allowed to nip them in the bud, but that would be impolite, bad mannered, rude, refusing to accept diversity and alternative cultures, and denying the “oppressed” their uman rites to blow us up!

      Similarly, it’s the left who repeatedly cause the economic problems (even of greedy bankers/toxic mortgages – Clinton and his acolytes Blair and Brown, encouraged the financial sector to increase tax revenue on artificial inflated “profits” and bonuses, and sell unaffordable mortgages and remortgages to inappropriate customers to promote a debt fuelled, housing boom driven, borrowing based, feelgood, never had it so good, consumer spending frenzy.

      • Johnnydub

        Exactly the architect of the financial crisis was Bill Clinton.

        Abolishing Glass Steagall and signing the Community Reinvestment Act were the two key root causes of the crash. Bill like his wife are in the pockets of the banks.

  • Edwin Moore

    Lovely piece Simon

  • Dinarchus

    Sad to see the visceral victimhood of some of the commentators here. Thank you for a thoughtful and balanced perspective Simon.

    Political correctness may be a clumsy attempt at negotiating linguistic conventions but the intentions behind it are civilised and the impact on many has been positive.

    I for one am happy to trade in some freedom to be offensive so that others who are less fortunate can experience a little less offense.

    • FMA

      PC doctrines are disliked by some because they are based on the traditional injunction to support the weak, a call which goes against the Darwinian side of human nature.

      • greencoat

        I disagree. PC is used by Leftists to pretend to support the weak.

        Who supported the weak in Rotherham?

        • Johnnydub

          Exactly. The defining aspect of modern PC is the grievance hierarchy.

          Its why feminism doesn’t give a damn about Muslim women. Islam trumps gender in the pyramid.

          Its all evil bollocks.

          • anonuk

            I thought it was all an “intersectional” Venn diagram these days.

            I’d love to have seen the old Oppression Olympics scoreboard though.

    • Mr B J Mann

      Visceral victimhood?!

      Unlike the victimhood of the oh so privileged lefty “liberals” when complaining about unconscious institutional micro-aggressions and r-pe of their safe spaces?!

      And being “literally” assaulted by statues?!?!?

      Oh, Purleeeeeeze!

      There is no thought and no balance, never mind perspective in the article by “Simon” (you another mate leaping to his defence?!)!

      Political correctness isn’t a clumsy attempt at negotiating linguistic conventions but the evil intentioned attempt to subvert anything that doesn’t support the Cultural Marxist agenda!

      The intentions behind it are to undermine Western civilisation and culture and the impact has been entirely negative.

      Any supposed positive outcomes are a smokescreen and a whitewash.

      What proportion of Downs children have been ab0rted?

      How many schoolchildren’s education has been not just disrupted, but destroyed, by being taught in a class with other children who need a, or even two, carers to “include” them in their education?!

      And we’ve even had the “mental” situation (pun intended) of mental health charities decrying even the discussion of having lowered pay rates to enable the handicapped to enjoy the benefits of being included in a work environment, insisting that they have a uman rite to the going rate for the job:

      When those same charities expect the handicapped to work for free in their shops!

      And while you, for one, might happy to trade in some freedom to be offensive so that others who are less fortunate can experience a little less offense, that means you aren’t being forced to.

      So it’s not you paying the price.

      It’s not you losing your job (helping oppressed and impoverished blacks) for complaining your budget to help them is “n!ggardly” (a completely unrelated world for those who don’t know).

      It’s not you losing your job because you used a word or phrase that was totally innocent, innocuous, inoffensive for most of your life, but someone has suddenly decided it’s a taboo word.

      Worse, it’s not you losing your job, record, even liberty, because you used a word or phrase that was indeed totally innocent, innocuous, inoffensive not just for most of your life, it’s still considered totally innocent, innocuous, inoffensive even now, but someone has suddenly decided, regardless of your intention or meaning, decided to BE offended by it and report you to the police.

      We’ve even had the driver of a temperamental sports car “visited” by the police for revving his engine in a racist manner after an off duty officer decided he was trying to intimidate Musl!ms, dragged off to the cells, locked up for a couple of nights, and charged, prosecuted, and taken to court for the “racist” offense.

      Yes, they eventually dropped the racism charge in court and switched to breach of the peace, but the guy got a £150 fine after 2 nights jail for being “racist” by revving his engine!

      And this is your brave new utopian world that “you” are prepared to surrender “your” freedoms for.

      And that’s without being a r-ped schoolgirl!

      • Dinarchus

        Thank you for your reply. You seem aggrieved. And in doing so prove my point about visceral victimhood far more effectively than I could hope to myself.

        If being angry because we no longer tolerate children being called “spastics” by bullying peers upsets you, then so be it.

        I was raised to take some responsibility for my lot in life. This may be why I am less prone to blame all of society’s ills on those less fortunate than myself.

        Good day to you Mr Mann.

        • Mr B J Mann

          Thank you for your micro-passive-aggressive ad hominem retort.

          Who wouldn’t be aggrieved at society being undermined?

          And in doing so prove my point about privileged lefty “liberals” complaining about unconscious institutional micro-aggressions and r-pe of their safe space far more effectively than I could hope to myself.

          Where have I said I was upset, never mind being angry, because we no longer tolerate children being called “spastics”?

          You seem to be trying to accuse me of wanting to, and actually calling, children “spastics” in an intolerant way.

          That’s an evil, intolerant, smear, though not judgemental, as it is entirely fabricated in your retarded little mind.

          You then go on to imply that I’m one of the “bullying peers” of said “spastics”.

          And that it upsets me to no longer be able to bully them.

          And finally you insinuate that I wasn’t raised to take any responsibility for my lot in life, or if I was, I fail to do so, and that I am supposedly prone to blame all of society’s ills on those less fortunate than myself.

          You are an obnoxious, snivelling little prejudiced and bigotted creep who obviously judges others by your gutter standards and are clearly projecting on such a massive scale you could clearly run a multi screen multiplex cinema solo.

          I’d say come back when you’ve got a case to argue, but you clearly haven’t got one, and never will have!

          • nuff said

            “…your retarded little mind…”

            Nuff said.

          • Mr B J Mann

            Yup, it nicely encapsulates the state of Dinachus’ mind.


    • Zalacain

      “I for one am happy to trade in some freedom”. Trade a little bit of freedom here, and a little bit of freedom there. Very quickly you find that all your freedoms have disappeared.

      • investigator


    • JabbaPapa

      I for one am happy to trade in some freedom

      The freedom you’re trying to barter away isn’t even your own freedom in the first place, is it, given that you agree with this bollocks.

      What you really mean is that you’re happy to impose your ideology on everyone else.

      • Sanctimony

        What you really mean is that you’re happy to impose your ideology on everyone else….

        Talk about pots and kettles… You are completely deranged !

  • outlawState

    “But at heart, political correctness and its attendant language are about
    inclusivity: race, religion, sexual orientation, age, gender, physical
    and mental capacity. Non-PC views, however jovially expressed, are about
    exclusion, generally exclusion of the weak by the strong.”

    The strong are entitled to exclude the weak. It’s what happens in educational establishments. If you are taught alongside someone weak, then your education will suffer. It’s what happens at all job interviews. The weak are excluded; the strong are given the job. That the strong exclude the weak in some necessary areas does not prevent them from showing mercy in others by way of charity.

    PC is all about exclusion. They invent rules that everyone must conform to, or else they’re excluded. Here it is actually the PC who suffer, because they receive only the education of hypocrites. This is why so few PC are real Christians and there are so many PC hypocrites.

    PC is doctrinally Christian gnosticism or dualism. The OT God is excluded as being non-PC. Jesus Christ would himself be excluded by 99.99% of PC hypocrites. So don’t equate PC with being good or godly.

  • Dave Nielsen

    What a load of bollocks.

    • Wee Mental Davie

      Short, sharp and so correct.

  • I grew up in the 70s and I don’t recall mentally handicapped people being treated with any less compassion than they are now. It wasn’t the middle ages. The problem is not that the terms they were described with were offensive, they became offensive as they accrued the negative connotations of what they were describing. Words like ‘idiot’, ‘cretin’ and ‘spastic’ all started out as medical terms. The goal seems to be to change the language in lieu of changing human nature. Now phrases like ‘culturally enriched’ and ‘special needs’ have taken on a darkly comic hue. The second point to note is that this is, as you acknowledge, a new puritanism. It is an unnatural artifice that exists separate and apart from compassion and understanding. Like puritanism it is a dead end in societal evolution, and it will go the same way. Unlike puritanism though, it will leave permanent division and conflict in its wake, given the effect it has had in the debate over immigration and identity

  • Johnnydub

    Political Correctness can be defined as a ban on noticing things.

    Things like – the Crime rate in black communities, or that there are no human rights in Islamic societies, or that feminism is just misandry with added victimhood.

  • serguei_p

    You don’t make people better by scaring them from saying “wrong things”. You just make them less honest.

    Political correctness is what regimes like in North Korea promote – tell the wrong thing and you are dead. Fortunately today in the UK you are not sent to “re-education camps” yet, but people already loosing there jobs because they are saying “wrong things”.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Losing their jobs …
      Would improved writing skills keep you more employable?
      Or would that be considered elitist?

      • serguei_p

        I am quite employable, think you.
        And, unlike you, I am intelligent enough to write on the topic, not just attack writing skills of others.

  • Andrew Dougal

    I am glad that the social changes and what is often dismissed as PC have enriched your sons life and made it easier for him; and full marks to you for admitting such.

    But here as they say is the rub. Too many well off right wing types like you dismiss PC and its values until one way or another it actually affects you directly. You have a child with downs so you are aware; another has a sudden heart attack and is treated well in an NHS hospital and goes on to write a mea culpa about all the slagging off of the system he used to do.

    It seems that those with comfort and wealth on the right cannot empathise with the problems of other until they are thrust upon them in a way that can no longer be ignored. So the poor are lazy, until you lose your money; the unemployed are feckless, until you find yourself without work and no chance of getting it; BME people are moaners, until you find your mixed race or disabled grandson crying because someone has called him a mong or n*gger; the NHS is a costly waste of time until you collapse with a serious illness that the private sector cannot or will not deal with.

    Yes much PC nonsense is an attempt to shut people up or close down discussion, but most of it is juts a request to treat people with courtesy – and perhaps just a little kindness.

    There seems to be a lack of basic empathy on the right that needs a brickbat over the head to overcome; and it doesn’t always work even then. That is why I could never support the right.

    You simply do not see the rest of us as human.

    • JabbaPapa

      You simply do not see the rest of us as human

      This is bollocks, and your own attitude towards “the right wing” is exactly identical to the attitudes that you’re complaining about.

      PC vocabulary will do NOTHING to prevent uncaring people insulting whomever they wish, according to their own prejudice — exactly as you have done yourself.

      • Sanctimony

        will do NOTHING to prevent uncaring people insulting whomever they wish…

        Which is exactly what you do day in day out… with a couple of comfort breaks thrown in, I imagine, in order to expel all your abundant bile…

    • MikeF

      On the other hand too many complacent left wing types like to justify their attempts at social control through mawkish fantasy. Take as an example your touching story about ‘right wing types’ suddenly feeling different about racial abuse if their ‘mixed race’ grandchild is abused. What you seem to forget is that in order to have a ‘mixed race’ (isn’t that rather un-PC terminology) grandchild they would have to have had a son or daughter who had married someone from another ‘non-white’ ethnic group (because let’s face it by ‘right wing’ you mean ‘white’) and that in order to be offended by this hypothetical abuse of their grandchild they would also have to have some concern for it. Hence they would have to have feelings of affection for their ‘mixed race’ grandchild while still being ‘right wing types’ who did not care for PC strictures.
      So you are actually admitting that people – even ‘right wing types – don’t need to conditioned by PC ideology in order to act in a decent human fashion. But as I said if you try to justify political beliefs by means of make believe scenarios this is the sort contradictory nonsense you end up with and why instead people like you inevitably do resort to ‘brickbats’ i.e. abuse and coercion to try to make people act in the ways you want them to because you cannot actually formulate convincing arguments on the basis of experience.

  • oldoddjobs

    Mr Barnes seems to honestly think that Political Correctness just means not gratuitously offending people. What a blunder! He hasn’t been paying much attention, has he?

  • Joan

    Yes yes yes! Thank you for this.

  • johnb1945

    A very good article.

    Political correctness exists because in the past we have been incapable of accepting difference in a spirit of shared humanity, using it, instead, as a reason to marginalise others.

    We have now reached a stage where many are fed up of it, but the response should not be to roll ourselves back to the days where a racist joke was OK, but to discuss differences in a spirit of openness. We can all learn something from each other.

    Political correctness has played a large role in creating the environment where, for probably the first time in history, this may be possible.

    • JabbaPapa

      Linguistic dictatorialism isn’t “a spirit of shared humanity” — it’s an attempt at thought control.

      Shared humanity as such is based, exactly, on the insistence of each on individuality and personhood, NOT on trying to pretend, via deliberate lies, that these do not exist.

      Our differences define us, and seeking to deny them is fundamentally irrational.

      • johnb1945

        I’m not saying that. I’m saying it has been a major factor in creating an environment where difference is not automatically perceived of as threatening.

        Political correctness has had its day because we have moved on. We want to discuss difference and we need to, but just a few decades ago discussion of difference would have been flavoured with slurs, aspersions and maybe even violence.

        Not so now, and the restrictions imposed by political correctness have played big role in creating this more mature environment.

        • JabbaPapa

          restrictions imposed by political correctness

          Linguistic dictatorialism exactly, so YEP, contrary to your claim otherwise, thought control is exactly what you’re promoting.

          • johnb1945

            Except I’m not promoting it.

            PC has had its day.

            Look – I remember back in the 70s when prefixing an insult with “Black”, “Irish” or “Pakistani” was normal, as was slapping a female co-worker on the backside and telling her to make tea.

            PC made that stuff unacceptable, and probably just as well.


            Now we’re all a little more mature, we can discuss difference, and, in fact, must discuss difference, but back in the 70s it would have been barely possible without a fight.

          • JabbaPapa

            I cannot remember any 1970s “fights” about such gibberish. And we continue to survive perfectly well down here without it, and simply taking the ordinary insulting behaviour of ordinary people in stride, without trying to victimise or hate them.

            Are you trying to suggest that the moral cowardice of PC must be imposed dictatorially upon everyone just on your say-so ?

            Are you saying that you’ve failed to gain in maturity since the hatred that we were all of us, I imagine, subjected to on the school playground ?

            PC vocabulary meanwhile is just as easily used for insults as any other vocabulary, contrary to your naïve rubbish — because the intellectually-questionable suggestions from your personal emotional preferences are inconsistent with the culturally-expressed beliefs produced by the self-perceived cerebral hypertrophy of some individuals of whom you have expressed an intellectively fragmented suggestion.

          • johnb1945

            Pompous nonsense. Just say what you mean – i.e. we should all man up and insults should be OK, not that anybody ever made them.

            I dispute both assertions.

            Racial or gender based epithets and stereotyping used to be common place. You may not remember them, possibly because you were never the subject, but I certainly do, and it did affect people detrimentally. It was more than simple playground bullying.

            It affected the jobs people could get, it affected how far their career could progress, it affected how much they were paid vis a vis others, it affected the house they could rent or buy, it led large parts of our population to feel marginalised and ridiculed.

            It’s not about hating the “ordinary people” – as if those subject to his abuse were/ are not themselves ordinary, it’s about trying to create an environment where intolerant prejudice is not “ordinary” in the first place. It’s about shifting the goalposts and being more civic to one another.

            It isn’t moral cowardice, moral cowardice would be laissez faire, to turn away from the kind of music hall jokery and wider prejudice which affected everyone outside of the WASP male mainstream until very recently.

            And as society evolves, so must PC evolve. It’s probably had its chips, but that doesn’t mean that it was unnecessary, nor that served no purpose in making us a more open and civic society.

          • JabbaPapa

            Just say what you mean

            If you failed to comprehend “PC is complete bollocks” from that, then there’s little hope for you, is there.

            Racial or gender based epithets and stereotyping used to be common place. You may not remember them, possibly because you were never the subject

            Crikey you’re a presumptuous and supercilious twerp — all of these things are common features of ordinary life, regardless of your moronic pretence otherwise.

            Particularly given my extremely explicit reference to playground crap.

            It affected

            You are EXTREMELY naïve to suppose that PC has vanished all prejudice away forever.

          • Sanctimony

            You must be the most supercilious, presumptuous, bad-mannered and simply obnoxious cretin to have ever posted on these Spectator blogs… that’s before mentioning how opinionated, smug you are in all your polymath declarations… get yourself a life, you horrid old boot !

          • johnb1945

            Never said that it had, but you are extremely naive to think it has not improved matters.

            Read the article!

          • MikeF

            “It affected the jobs people could get, it affected how far their career could progress, it affected how much they were paid vis a vis others, it affected the house they could rent or buy, it led large parts of our population to feel marginalised and ridiculed.”
            Similar things can happen today to people who express non-PC opinions. Do you regard that as an improvement?

          • johnb1945

            Depends what those opinions are and how they express them.

            What kind of a question is that?

    • serguei_p

      Communist dictatorships used the same argument to defend their lack of freedom of speech.

  • itsthepatriarchy
  • itsthepatriarchy

    Political Correctness is a silencing and self-shaming technique to monitor and limit political expression and (hopefully!) thought. You are thinking nice thoughts…aren’t you? You had better be.

    • mumble

      “self”-shaming? Not mostly, I fear. The correction of innocent bystanders is far more common.

  • Jackthesmilingblack


    • Max


  • nancoise

    Things I personally like about PC:

    No one’s told me not to ‘worry my pretty head’ about something for decades. Don’t know if that’s because I’ve chilled out or because my head isn’t pretty any more .

    No one’s insulted my parking or driving skills for years, except my husband.

    No one’s debated my fitness for some job or another based on my gender for some time, but then, as I’m nearly sixty, the likelihood of my being hired for any job at all is as remote as the Hubble.

    Things I personally don’t like about PC:

    Sane discussions about immigration were not allowed for more than a decade.

    Delicate butterfly souls seeking any excuse to silence others and rewrite history lest other even more delicate butterfly souls be even mildly offended by hearing a less-than-flawless thought or accidentally catching a glimpse of a statue of an imperfect human from another era.

    The robust intellectual kickabouts of uni years have been abandoned.

    • Max

      It seems like there’s clever mind hiding in that pretty little head of yours 🙂

    • mumble

      “Don’t worry your pretty little head about it” has harmlessly become self-parody akin to whistling past the graveyard or someone laughing in the tensest part of the movie – deflecting discomfiture, as is very common. In this case, it is a short-hand for interlocutors to signal unspoken, “Cor, did we really used to speak like that?”

      Or it can simply be used for teasing, although you had better be the right kind of friends before you try that one on, but then it is applicable to heads of all pulchritudes and sizes.

    • wasteman

      Political correctnes is a symptom of no self confidence

  • rtj1211

    I don’t for one second think my definition of PC behaviour involves not shunning those with disabilities. It is shunning those who ride the coattail so of PC mantras for self-serving grubby selfish aims.

    It is having the right to criticise individual gays, women, blacks, members of other ethnic minorities, Jews and Muslims for their own bad behaviour without them calling me racist, sexist, anti-Semitic or anti-Muslim.

  • owlist

    I don’t think many people take issue with political correctness just so they can get away with aimlessly calling people pejoratives. It’s more about being able to speak your mind and be critical of things that others might find uncomfortable. An example of this can be seen after the San Bernardino attack when neighbours said they felt unable to report suspicious behaviour.

    That said, a good read nonetheless.

  • Andrew Smith

    Christian morality tell us that it is wrong to be offensive to disabled people. I don’t need any political correctness to tell me this. And as for cultural appropriation and all the rest of it, that is just so much rubbish.

    • Ken Franks

      Of course it is. Once my 5 yr. old daughter and I were shopping when we came to stand in line; the gentleman being served ahead of us was missing a leg from above the knee down, my daughter was quick to point-out. The man could barely hold back a sneer (chewing his lower lip)
      when I “shushed” her – it was all a curiosity to her being 5. Me? I shrank into my shoes, held my breath and nodded at him as apologetically as I knew how to no effect. He crutched away still fuming. I spoke to her about what happened: At 5 years old she got it. Today she’s exceedingly empathic to anyone with any disability. Good parenting? Yeah, on that day.
      The end.

  • Matthew P Ward

    It’s easy to confuse political correctness with good manners and decency. Where I think pc is pernicious is where it declares war on common sense and where it’s used for partisan advantage.

  • mumble

    I never needed political correctness to treat Down Syndrome and other disadvantaged people with courtesy and consideration: my parents applied a one-size-fits-all parenting solution by inculcating an obsolete behaviours called “good manners” and “politeness”.

    The cancer of political correctness is a carping, clumsy, uncivilised, don’t-get-it symptom of the decline of these traditional values where the patronisation of the false smile replaces sincere and natural good behaviour.

    This article is about two different phenomena with little connection.

  • Chennai07

    More commie excuses to tell people how to think and what to say thoughtcrime no freedom of speech… no one has a problem offending Christians or drawing the blessed mother with excrement or placing the crucifix in a jar of urine but you cant offend anyone else please … The world is upside down read melanie phillips books besides her stance on Israel shes pretty dead on!

  • racetothebottom

    Look, political correctness started out in our society simply pressuring people to be more polite and use the manners our parents taught us to use. Using slang terms for Downs kids or minorities was well known to be rude and discouraged by all but the gross and uneducated. Those types of folks will always be with us. PC had a point and it still does: “Be Nice”
    But it has morphed into a bludgeon used to silence thought and opinion other than your own.
    There is a sort of power in being aggrieved. It puts the offender on the defensive and takes away his or her power for the moment. It puts the aggrieved on the “high road”. It makes the offender apologize or be in an apologetic frame of mind. It stimulates guilt. Folks have learned to keep power away from the powerful, the wealthy in a continual state of guilt by taking the position of being constantly aggrieved. And in order to do this, they have to look deeper and deeper into your behavior and words to find the offence. Once, racism was setting dogs and firehouses on to black students. Making them sit at the back of the bus. Now you are a racist if you simply have the opinion that “all lives matter”…a rather benign and warm and fuzzy thing to think. That is why these “offenses” are now understood to be “micro aggressions”…they must, by definition, become increasingly smaller and smaller in scope and size, yet the victim culture must embrace these non events as if they represent the most heinous of racist offenses: to keep the culture of victimhood alive and well.

  • Bob Williams-Findlay

    I have been around as long as Simon has however I have lived all my life subjected to an array of dehumanising, often ill-informed and prejudicial labels to describe who and what I am. There is only a couple of things I would take issue with, chief among them, being this absurd notion of ‘political correctness’ – whose politics? Why the false fixed binary of right and wrong? The word ‘spastic’ for example isn’t a word to be shunned if employed with an understood meaning; but it is employed as an insult or a label for an individual, I would view this as an indirect attack upon my human rights and those who like me have a condition called cerebral palsy. Language conveys meaning therefore it can (mis)inform and act to empower or disempower those subjected to it.

    • Bob Williams-Findlay

      I have addressed discriminatory language for forty years and my starting point isn’t, ‘does this cause offence’, because we can employ personal and subjective reasons as to why something is offensive. I begin by questioning what messages we convey via specific forms of language. What defines ‘normality’ and who determines what that is? Why defend ‘the norm’? In the 1950s the Lancet defined homosexuality as a disability – in my opinion, this says far more about the dominant ideologies and cultural beliefs of the time, than it ever did about the socially constructed ‘abnormality’ of people who are gay . Nevertheless this binary normal/abnormal construct still oppressively implies ‘the less I function like a ‘normal person’ (sic) the more I can be judged to be ‘disabled’ – well, having spent 65 years inside this body, I know this crude reductionism doesn’t explain my circumstances in any meaningful way other than to denote a specific functional loss in a given context . This construct legitimises how certain individuals and groups are both seen and treated; it maintains language with specific meanings in order to protect the status quo. For fifty years groups of disabled people have questioned and challenged how we are seen, treated and spoken about – but we are called ‘subjective’, in denial, politically correct dictators – unfortunately, our knowledge and experience continues to be discounted. The government has wasted millions on employing ‘people suffering from normality’ (sic) to design and implement assessment processes using discredited methodology; the language we use in relation to ‘disability’ colludes with this bankrupt policy.

      This isn’t about ‘correctness’ – it is about, to quote Simon – inclusivity. He speaks about race, religion, sexual orientation, age, gender, physical and mental capacities – I prefer to acknowledge impairment realities (acceptance of bodily and mental diversity in a nonjudgmental way for the reasons I’ll explain. CP is my impairment, it impacts upon my bodily function, but physical capacity isn’t solely determined by function, other factors influence outcomes. The design of products disable me more than my actual loss of dexterity does (this isn’t a denial, by the way) and addressing ill thought through product design is cheaper and easier than trying to ‘cure’ everyone with loss of dexterity! Inclusivity is impossible without challenging the whole notion of “normality”. How we speak and write about people informs the way we treat them. I am a disabled person, not the sanctioned label, but a political identity – I judge myself to be a person with impairment who is disabled by the structures, systems etc. of society because the way in which differing groups of people with impairments are ‘taken into account’ ultimately leads to them not being taken into account. Disability, like it or not, is a political question. Now I’ll sit back and wait to be called to a PIP assessment.

  • Geo

    Simple politeness is not what the anti-pc brigade are attacking. The Cambridge students are wrong, not because they are telling people to be more polite to minorities, but because they are banning a harmless activity wherr no offence is meant, and I highly doubt is taken. And if it is, they are the ones with problems.

    Setting out to insult someone is very different to making a joke aimed at a group as a whole, which again is very different to what students want to ban. The problem with the label PC is that it covers all three.

    The other problem I have with PC is the use of the law to further its objectives. I’m all for persuading people to treat everyone with respect, but not making it a criminal offence not to do so.

  • trespasserswill

    “It’s politically correct to say ‘Down’s syndrome’”
    Only for now. Rest assured that in a few years time, that expression will also have been denounced as a derogatory shorthand, and the author will be similarly excoriated for his casual, dismissive summary of his own son as a medical case.

  • Sally

    Right. Compassion for disabled people justifies suppressing free speech.

    Now that, folks, is an excellent example of a non sequitur