Friday, July 2, 2010

Heights of Correctness

I exist in this politically correct world. I agree that in this environment of alleged equality that we take care to not offend minorities. There are good reasons not to poke fun at disabilities. It is a good thing to make people, however the same or different, feel at ease. Doesn't mean I like it all the time.

I get on the PC bandwagon occasionally. I take offence at being called Miss. I'm a Ms. It aint nobody's business if I'm married or not. I snap at telemarketers who call the landline at dinner time asking for Mrs Behr. "Bugger off, she was my grandmother and she's dead." is my standard reply to that one.

Working at Tin Can, String and Whistle I'm surrounded by people from many other nationalities, and I try to make sure I'm culturally aware. I've mentioned before in this blog that we all get on well. People are people. Especially with the World Cup on there's some good natured ribbing being poked about. I sit between a Brazilian and a Dutchman - their current spats are quite funny.

At the cry of "I'm in a minority," the normal answer come like, "Is that because you're wearing an ugly green shirt?"

It's a peaceful, contented place to work.

So today, when I was preparing the beer club flyer, which is my responsibility as Beer Club Chief - I got a raised eyebrow. Was the content PC? "Oh, that's poking fun at people. You can't say that!" came one naysayer. What, a thirties photo of two guys with wingnuts for ears? Un PC? The shot's quite famous -  been around since God was a boy. It was "Hug a Ranga Day", last week. Isn't that worse? Poking fun at redheads? (I had to feel for the teenage lad of one workmate who asked his father if this was his opportunity to "get some". Sort of felt sorry for the spotty, red headed fourteen-year-old)

As Beer Club Chief I have to use a bit of discretion. As the chief of the club I need some help. As I am the chief, I could have indians helping me - but as the guys who normally give me a hand are from Mumbai, Mangalore and Lahore, we've called them "minions" instead. It's a badge of respect being a beer club minion.

Back to the flyers. The last president was fond of putting half naked women on the flyers. Although I took a small amount of offence at this, I've been trying to find amusing content to put my slant on things - giving them a more topical bent.

So this week's flyer - you be the judge. Promoting responsible drinking.

It's cracked a few smiles when I put it to my podmates. It will go out tomorrow morning from the Beer Club email address.

But the daftest act of political correctness happened late last night when Geertt, Popeye's boss, went over to Jan Pieter's desk. As you can surmise, Jan Pieter (JP) and Geertt are members of the workplace Dutch Mafia. There had been a complaint about the photo pinned up on JP's pod wall. A photo of JP and his daughter Annika at Christmas. A photo that had been pinned up on the wall for over eighteen months.

The Dutch have this rather quaint tradition at their Christmas, which is held on 6 December. On this day, Sinta Klaus and his mate Black Pete come to bring presents if the kids have been good. If the children have been naughty, Black Pete takes them back on his ship to Spain where they are made to serve as slaves. So not only are there a heap of Sinta Klaus's, dressed like the normal Western Santa roaming the streets but there are any number of Black Pete's with them. Black Pete is traditionally dressed as a mix between a Vatican Swiss Guard and an Enid Blyton Gollywog.

Okay, over here it would be frowned upon, but it is in their culture? In this picture, both Jan Pieter and Annika were in the traditional Black Pete garb - the pantaloons, the ruffled shirts, the curly wigs and their faces blacked. Their cornflower blue eyes were shining from under the makeup.

"There's been a complaint about that photo." said Geertt.
"Why? It's been sitting there for eighteen months in plain view. Nobody's complained about it before." replied Jan Pieter.
"Well, the OHS people have done a sweep and said that people could find it offensive."
"Oh." said Jan Pieter, as he made a motion to take the shot down. "This was taken at your place, Geert. Annika and I dressed up for your kids."
"I know, and I took the photos and gave it to you to put up." said Geertt. "And we're pharking Clog Wogs and we can't celebrate our Christmas as we normally would. To think that we, the Dutch, invented slavery and apartheid - and some nimby namby Skippy with a clipboard gets offended by a photo of you and your kid. What is the world coming to?!"
We had a laugh over the whole event.

But once again, it's the boundaries which have been challenged. I can see where the incedent on "Oh Shit, It's Wednesday" a few months back could be seen as offensive where a group of multicultural doctors went on television with blackened faces to sing a Jackson Five song. Australian television should have moved on from that. Seriously.

But is the removal of  the photo of JP and his daughter doing a traditional Dutch activity discrimination?  Nine million Dutch people do this every year on 6 December? It's not particularly politically correct but it's part of Dutch life (this from a nation that calls putt putt or mini golf, Midget Golf...)

I think I had better take down my favorite Bunny Suicide postcard before the PC Police notice it.


1 comment:

The Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Pandora,

Political correctness can be a bit bonkers and I feel the urge to write a post on it myself. However, I am a bit wary in case it offends and I am blacklisted in the blogosphere.

I love the flyer by the way - that photo is legendary and I have been tempted to use it myself.

I think I might just go for the anti-PC post - there are so many absurd examples to choose from.

And there are so many high and mighty people who have gotr nothing better to do than complain about things that "may" offend others (but in reality probably won't).

Great post.




Dodgy word verification: Prodin - I think we should trawl through the word verification database and remove such words - not sure why but it seems the right thing to do.