Sunday, August 23, 2009

British Quangos to Ban 'Everyday Racist and Sexist Language'

Via Blazing Cat Fur, check out this piece from the Times of London, "Quangos Blackball ... Oops, Sorry ... Veto ‘Racist’ Everyday Phrases":

It could be construed as a black day for the English language — but not if you work in the public sector.

Dozens of quangos and taxpayer-funded organisations have ordered a purge of common words and phrases so as not to cause offence.

Among the everyday sayings that have been quietly dropped in a bid to stamp out racism and sexism are “whiter than white”, “gentleman’s agreement”, “black mark” and “right-hand man”.

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has advised staff to replace the phrase “black day” with “miserable day”, according to documents released under freedom of information rules.

It points out that certain words carry with them a “hierarchical valuation of skin colour”. The commission even urges employees to be mindful of the term “ethnic minority” because it can imply “something smaller and less important”.

The National Gallery in London believes that the phrase “gentleman’s agreement” is potentially offensive to women and suggests that staff should replace it with “unwritten agreement” or “an agreement based on trust” instead. The term “right-hand man” is also considered taboo by the gallery, with “second in command” being deemed more suitable.

Many institutions have urged their workforce to be mindful of “gender bias” in language. The Learning and Skills Council wants staff to “perfect” their brief rather than “master” it, while the Newcastle University has singled out the phrase “master bedroom” as being problematic.

Advice issued by the South West Regional Development Agency states: “Terms such as ‘black sheep of the family’, ‘black looks’ and ‘black mark’ have no direct link to skin colour but potentially serve to reinforce a negative view of all things black. Equally, certain terms imply a negative image of ‘black’ by reinforcing the positive aspects of white.

“For example, in the context of being above suspicion, the phrase ‘whiter than white’ is often used. Purer than pure or cleaner than clean are alternatives which do not infer that anything other than white should be regarded with suspicion.”
More at the link.

By the way, this story reminds me of back in 1990, when I was joined the College Democrats' club at Fresno State. The group had a huge wooden booth out on the university quad area, and it had to be taken off campus during the summer. A local union electrician agreed to store it for us, so we had to dismantle the monster (partially at least) to be able to move it. I was working with one of the women from the club, trying to pry off some of the interior baseboard. While she was pulling up and twisting I said, "You just have to manhandle that thing." She stopped right there, gave me a look, and said, "manhandle it"? I immediately realized I was insufficiently trained in the politically correct doctrines of feminism. I apologized and quickly took the hammer from her hand before she cracked my cranium with it real good!

(P.S. "Quangos" are "quasi-autonomous non-governmental organizations," a bureaucratic term for non-profit public-sector agencies. Check out more good stuff at
Blazing Cat Fur, in any case.)


Greywolfe said...

Political correctness is a cancer that eats at the moral fiber of a country and a people. It's the central reason why the EU are getting smacked around by the muslims in their own countries.

God forbid we get that way here.

Pat said...

'Political correctness is a cancer that eats at the moral fiber of a country' true!

'God forbid we get that way here'..I wish you luck.

Sadly, the old order is giving way to the new at an alarming rate, just wish I could figure out why and who decided on it, it was not the ordinary 'man'-in-the-street!!

Dennis said...

The problem is that once you force ideas underground there is no way to refute them effectively. Free speech exist for a reason. It is so people can express themselves, no matter how poorly, but so that others can debate and challenge those ideas.
This is just another poorly considered idea that will have negative consequences for everyone. Stupid does not come close to it.

Dave said...

When you start trying to control what people can say, you aren't too terribly far from controlling what they think.

I am the black sheep of my family, and I had a pretty black day on Saturday, but I have a gentleman's agreement with my neighbor to keep the grass on my lawn below a certain height, so I am going to retire to the master bedroom, change into some whiter than white shorts, then go outside and manhandle the lawn mower around the yard.

Sure hope I don't leave any black marks on the driveway when I am turning the mower around for the next row.

As a libertarian, I despise political correctness and all things politically correct.


Unknown said...

This is just another poorly considered idea that will have negative consequences for everyone...

You cannot go wrong on the best security systems

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.