By Joe Audritt
“The notion of political correctness has ignited controversy across the land. And although the movement arises from the laudable desire to sweep away the debris of racism and sexism and hatred, it replaces old prejudice with new ones. It declares certain topics off-limits, certain expression off-limits, even certain gestures off-limits.” So said George H. W. Bush while addressing students at the University of Michigan in 1991.
In the 25 years since not much has changed. We have still seen the forces of political correctness at work, whether it is Dennis the Menace receiving a reimagination into Dennis the politically correct mild nuisance; the rebranding of brainstorming into the more epileptic inclusive ‘thought showers’; or the renaming of a pudding from Spotted Dick to Spotted Richard.
All these incidents inevitable inspire the now well worn bemoaning mantra: “It’s political correctness gone mad!”
The phrase has become a rather ghastly cliché, one I wish I could erase from the national lexicon with the bile summoned inside myself everytime I hear it.
But rather than being the conspiratorial liberal tool used to purify thought by emotive force, which it arguably once was, PC has now become a tool manipulated by capitalist for the sake of business.
Easter, a once religious festival, long appropriated by commerce is fertile ground to bait the hounds of PC in order to produce profits.
Last Easter Tesco ran an ad campaign to promote discounted alcohol with the strapline: “Good Friday just got better.” Cue the predictable outrage.
This time it came from Revererand Richard Coles who tweeted his displeasure with Tesco and described the advert as “extraordinarily and unnecessarily ignorant.”
In a country where people are increasingly indifferent towards religion and far more likely to worship alcohol what did the Reverend really achieve? The national exposure his tweet induced leads me to wonder if he is actually on Tesco’s payroll.
Cadbury also enjoyed a day of trending on Twitter as well headlines and being the subject of radio phone-ins after it renamed its annual easter egg hunt to the Cadbury egg hunt.
Rather than recognising this as a commercial decision The Church of England decided Cadbury were attempting to airbrush religion from existence and Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu accused the chocolatier of ‘spitting on the grave’ of their religious founder.
Instead of defending the faith they have actually been baited by Cadbury to do their advertisement for them. Whether conscious or not the ruse was so successful it even triggered the Prime Minister, Theresa May, to take time away from her meetings in Saudi to fan the PR flames.
Not only is the ‘madness’ of PC good for marketing it has also become good for ratings.
Third-wave pseudo feminists, who have become one of the guardians of PC thought, are regularly invited on Sky News to debate issues of ‘sexist’ children’s toys or the widely misunderstood wage gap where they deliver their rehearsed vitriol of the tyrannical patriarchy.
Nothing brings in ratings like a debate with a ludicrous caricature of a feminist complaining how office air conditioning is sexist and oppressive; and with increased rating comes increase ad revenues.
Religious leaders, as well as modern feminists are notoriously thin skinned and prone to bouts of public outrage over trivial matters. They can be reliably trusted to cause a fuss by the marketing execs who instigate these outrage campaigns.
They start the fire and everyone else seems unable to help themselves from fanning the flames, from pundits to columnists, to the general public who ring into radio shows to express their outrage. All any of them achieve is to shine a big bright light on a supermarket’s special offer on alcohol or to remind them to buy easter eggs.
Rather than being a petty tyranny, political correctness, or rather the baiting of the bishops of PC, has become good business.