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January 16, 2009

Politically Incorrect

Political correctness (commonly abbreviated to PC) is a term applied to language, ideas, policies, or behavior where people seek to minimize offense to gender, racial, cultural, disabled, aged or other identity groups.

Two members of the British Royal family have been in trouble recently because they’ve used words some members of the public think are out of place. Prince Harry used the word “Paki” when talking about a fellow cadet from Pakistan, and His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales called one of his friends, “Sooty”. The man he called Sooty is of Indian descent and has been known by this name for years. Here’s a link to the story.

Prince Harry apologized for his remarks, which were recorded in a private video three years ago, while the Prince of Wales’ friend Sooty has said he wasn’t offended by the long-standing nickname.

Here’s another link to a series of print ads from the past. Most of them are not very kind to women. They actually made me chuckle when I saw them, although I’m not sure I would have approved if I had been around at the time.

In New Zealand I’ve heard of children being taught alternative words to old and popular songs because the original songs are deemed inappropriate. e.g. Baa Baa Black sheep being changed to Rainbow sheep. Here’s a link to a story about the song at an English nursery.

Sometimes I just shake my head because I believe we try too hard to be politically correct. Sometimes we are too sensitive to words or ideas and forget to have a sense of humor. It must be a nightmare for people in the public eye, eg. the Royal family or political figures who have to walk the tightrope of correctness all the time. I’m not saying we should go around and use racial slurs or the like, just that we should use a bit more commonsense when it comes to political correctness.

What do you think? Do we go too far sometimes? Ladies, what did you think of the print ads?


  1. Christina Phillips

    OMG. Those print ads – seriously, if my husband gave me a mixer as a present he would end up WEARING IT!!!

  2. Shelley Munro

    I can’t believe they actually got away with those ads. I didn’t get the very last one though. That was a weird one.

    I’m with you regarding the mixer . :eek:

  3. Leah Braemel

    Baa Baa, rainbow sheep? :eek:

    But there ARE black sheep and frankly I don’t think sheep would get offended when you’re asking them for wool. Sheesh! That’s taking it WAY too far.

    And the print ads? Thank heavens we’ve moved past those (although I ASKED my husband for a Kitchen Aid mixer a couple years ago – and he got it for me and I loved it. But it’s more the text that bugs me – and that one of the wife being spanked? One of the reasons I never could stand I Love Lucy. Awful Awful Awful!

  4. Tameka Green

    I mean come on the media is blowing this thing way out of proportion. Paki is like me calling some white or some one calling me black. I think the media needs to find something better to do than hounding these boys. Give this shit a rest theirs more drama in the world than this, that they can report on.

  5. julia

    I don’t roll my eyes at PC. I’m usually the one prodding the people around me to consider that it’s not very funny to refer to licorice babies as ‘N***** babies’ or to order ‘Chink’ food.

    And everyone in my office knows never to refer to me as a girl. Calling women girls is the biggest nails-across-the-chalkboard that you can get for me. The print ads definitely explain why I hate being referred to as a girl when I’m 44.

  6. Shelley Munro

    Rainbow sheep doesn’t sound right, does it? By changing the words to songs etc I think we are actually making it worse for children and giving them more ammunition to tease others. Kids are horrid enough to each other. I remember school days well and not many kids escaped some sort of teasing. It’s part of growing up. Bullying, now that’s different and not acceptable.

    By the time I reached the spanking ad, my mouth was wide open. The car driving one and the sauce bottle one just made me laugh out loud. Different times, I guess. I wonder what they’d think of the women who have powerful jobs and responsibilities these days.

    Tameka – the words that Prince Harry said were filmed three years ago. I didn’t find it offensive, thinking it was more like someone saying a Kiwi, an Aussie, Pom or Yank. But, I’m not from Pakistan so I can’t really judge how they would feel.

    I’m thinking that maybe it was a slow news day, and they hadn’t picked on the Royals for a while.

  7. Shelley Munro

    Julia – I’ve never heard NZers use those particular two words. Personally, my jaw would drop on hearing those. I know, however, that the Chinese immigrants were treated terribly on the goldfields of NZ in the 1800s. I was horrified when I visited the goldfields and read what they went through. I suspect it was the same in America and Canada at the time.

    Isn’t it curious how we all have different bug-bears? Girl doesn’t offend me in the slightest. :smile:

  8. Amy Ruttan

    Rainbow sheep? Give me a break.

    OMG that one with the man slapping the woman over coffee. Seriously, those are bad.

  9. Laurie

    I agree that people can go too far sometimes. I used to lead the campfire singalongs at Girl Guide camp and one of my favourite songs got banned. Why? Because parents only heard part of the lyrics and got offended.

    The lyrics?
    “I was taught that black was evil, I was taught that white was good. But in a rainbow made of colours, every colour is understood.”

    Yeah… understanding every colour. How offensive. Grrrr…

    And dude, rainbow sheep? It doesn’t even fit the cadence of the song…

  10. Catherine Bybee

    See… I just think those adds are funny. Because, ladies, that was the way it was. I’m so glad we’ve evolved.

    I do think we go too far with being politicaly correct. Where does it end and become rediculious? I personaly think we are already there. Here in America our kids can’t say cowboys and Indians. “Oh no, Johnny… it’s Cowboy’s and Native American’s.” Whats next? Cowmen? They’re not boys you know… They’re men. And they’re not cows.. so maybe.. western men in levis?


  11. Emma Petersen

    I totally think we go to far. Baa baa rainbow sheep? Umm…really? I’ve never seen a rainbow sheep before but I’ve definitely seen a black sheep.

    And as far as the ads go, is it super wrong I don’t see anything wrong with all of them except the last one? But that’s only because I don’t really get it. I heart the “If Your Husband Ever Finds Out” If only. :mrgreen:

  12. Lucinda

    I think we can go too far with political correctness—especially with the “Baa Baa Black Sheep” change to “Rainbow Sheep”. That’s crossing over into the absurd if you ask me. As far as the print ads go, I grew up during the time that most of those were popular, and I can tell you that the ads depict an version of womanhood that some adman created in his fantasies. The reality was much different. But, hey, my husband still thinks he’s supposed to open all of the jars, and I say, “Let him think it.”

  13. Amy W.

    Okay, I actually get the last one. You used to be able to buy stamps or pay directly to the postal carrier (There’s another one they were the mail man when I was growing up.) when mailing something.

    That Baa, Baa black sheep deal is hilarious I think. I’ve seen black and white sheep, and the only time I’ve seen rainbow sheep was in some movie where they were practicing dying hair. (Blow Dry, I think was it’s name.)

    Now as to the royal family I feel bad for them because really I don’t think of either of those as offensive, one of the gentlemen actually have that as a nickname. People take things way too far for PC. I also feel bad for those who make a offhand comment and get blasted for it. Especially when it’s really not that bad. There was no malice behind it and so they should just be corrected not raked over coals.

    Okay need a new subject quick!

  14. Shelley Munro

    Yep, I have to agree about the rainbow sheep. It just doesn’t fit and it is absurd!

    Laurie – that’s a bit rough. That’s an OTT reaction for sure.

  15. Julie Robinson

    There’s a reason for my RebelHeart name. He!! yeah, we go too far. Changing the words to songs to be PC? I don’t think so! it’s all about what causes a sensation in the media. People either need to get a sense of humor or get a life.

    Julie R.
    BTW, if someone called me ‘girl’ i’d be flattered. I’m 45.