Small But Perfectly Formed

 |  October 29, 2009

Back in the UK, my daily newspaper was called ‘The Guardian’; with a left-of-centre political bias and the size of a sheet of wallpaper, it was also legendary for spelling mistakes and was commonly known as the ‘The Grauniad’. I have been checking Citylife for similar typos but haven’t found that many [Ed. Any, you mean?], though I found that you can make a few interesting anagrams from the word ‘Citylife’.

‘Felicity’ is the most obvious, but I’m not sure that this would have worked as an alternative to Citylife. You could imagine shouting to your significant other from the sanctity of the bathroom as you flicked through the pages “I will be out in a moment dear, I am just looking at Felicity.” I know what would happen in my house if I said that…which leads me nicely on to ‘icy filet’ which is what I would need on my eye after the previous comment.

According to one website that I tried, it is possible to make 1,645 anagrams from our editor’s name. I will not say too much more as I don’t want to engage her wrath, but the word ‘kink’ did feature quite often.
Back en point, after all, this is the Guardian Issue, I do admire people who have the ability to become committed to causes and act as guardians of the needy, culture, religion or whatever floats each individual’s boat. I have never really been able to get myself motivated to that point as I have found that the realities of every day life have always gotten in my way (e.g. family demands, holding down a job, putting food on the table etc.) But as I was thinking further, a question started to form in my mind; who is my guardian? Who is looking after me? Who has my best interests at heart? Who is Mr. Average’s guardian?

There are times when I could really do with a guardian. Someone to keep me on the straight and narrow; someone to say, “you really don’t need to have that last gin and tonic” or, “there’s a lot of fat on that meat so don’t eat it” or when on business trips, “you should really leave this bar now before you get in to more trouble….” OK my wife often says these things, so technically she is my guardian, but for some odd reason, I often perceive these comments as ‘nagging’ rather than caring guardianship.

As I get older I find that I probably need more nagging constructive criticism to keep me in line. I am far less tolerant of intolerance, less accepting of what I perceive to be incompetence and often become quickly angry when I see injustice. However, as a fully paid-up-member of the non-descript middle-of-the-road silent majority, I have spectacularly but consistently failed to do anything about it. Perhaps I do check my blood pressure more frequently, find myself moaning to anyone that will listen more often and maybe pour myself another drink “to steady my nerves” more than I should. Other than a lecture from she-who-must-be-obeyed, this achieves nothing. But why is this? Why am I so afraid of actually speaking out? Is there a guardian I can speak to about this?

Apparently not. What is interesting is that I find there are certainly guardians who are ready to tell me what I can or cannot say, and perhaps this is one of the issues. So let us consider the guardians of ‘political correctness’. Their effect on the free expression of opinion (a fundamental right of democracy) is nothing short of insidious censorship when one takes a step back and thinks about it.

I didn’t realise this but according to the internet (everything’s true on there isn’t it?), political correctness and its concepts originated in a 1923 Communist Party ‘Think Tank’ in Frankfurt, Germany. They were trying to understand why the spread of communism was happening so slowly in Russia after the 1917 revolution and what could be done to speed it up. The result was a series of recommendations that stifled the individual’s ability to express his (or her, of course!) opinion by making how it was said an offence and not necessarily what he was actually saying.

So political correctness is actually part of a communist plot for world domination? Well, not really; respecting other groups and their right to have and express an opinion makes sense. But the guardians of political correctness have successfully shifted society’s focus from addressing the root cause of a problem to how a problem is discussed…with the net result that nothing is done.

The classic urban legend example of this is the social worker who looks down at the little old lady lying in the hospital bed after having been mugged and says “whoever did this really needs help”. Oh really?

I am small, but perfectly formed, (at least that is what I tell myself). I am not ‘vertically challenged’ and describing my stature by another phrase does not change the fact that I am a short-arse. Is my beer gut nothing more than a ‘liquid grain storage facility’? Because I can’t dance am I ‘overly Caucasian’ or ‘rhythmically challenged’?

Is the person who parks in the disabled parking space ‘morally challenged’ or just a selfish prick? Is a prostitute a ‘sex care provider’? (I thought so but my wife didn’t; I might need another ‘icy filet’ for the other eye.) Are the homeless just ‘outdoor urban dwellers’? That actually sounds rather hip. Is a racist simply ‘genetically discriminating’ in his views?

By rebranding problems into socially acceptable, non-offensive, culturally safe phrases, the guardians of political correctness continue to ensure that fundamental issues are not addressed. Instead, the problems themselves linger and fester and just get worse. This is guardianship gone mad.

So, what am I going to do about it? Well, I shall definitely check my blood pressure and pour myself a drink to help me think. Do I need a guardian for myself? Of course not, I have my lovely wife to look after me. (OK, she was reading what I was writing over my shoulder but the coast is clear now.) Who will be the Guardian of Mr. Average? Don’t know _ but maybe I will spend the next few minutes starting a top ten list of “Guardians I Would Like for Mr. Average”. So let’s see………

#1 – Claudia; #2 – Angelina, #3 – Shu Qi (did you see her in ‘So Close’??)…oh dear….maybe I am being politically incorrect here…..#4 ……