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Forget About PC!

February 25, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Political correctness can be a bit annoying. First because its a big time and money waster when people debate, study, and implement policies designed to correct a problem which doesn’t really exist; and second, I just find it tedious watching the false and insincere behaviour of many people who seem to enjoy partaking in a bit of PC.

There are many issues in New Zealand related to PC but the most numerous and most wearisome usually relate to the real or perceived rights of Maori, the original inhabitants of New Zealand.

Many people are scared to even discuss the issue because they are immediately branded as racist. To be honest, there are many people who are against Maori rights issues because they are racist, but its unfair to make the automatic charge of racism just because someone disagrees with policies which give indigenous people special rights.

I encountered a similar issue recently when I debated the situation in Gaza with some people who were from a bit more to the right of the political spectrum. In that situation I was accused of being anti-Semitic. That was a totally untrue accusation but it served to divert the argument from the real issue which was did Israel behave in a reasonable and proportionate way when it invaded Gaza. I wasn’t saying the Palestinians were the good guys and the Israelis the bad, or vice versa. I was saying both were to blame. Apparently even that is seen as anti-Semitic to some people!

Anyway, getting back to the Maori political correctness issues. There were two stories recently which I thought were interesting. First, the Royal Shakespeare Company was accused of showing contempt for traditional Maori culture by performing a dance which was inspired by the “Ka Mate” haka. The stage version ends with the dropping of the trousers and the audience being mooned. This is Shakespeare?

So whatever the literary merits of this play the question that arose was is this insulting to Maori culture? Well maybe it is but who cares? Art is sometimes about insulting people and groups and using shock value to make a point. I haven’t seen the performance so I don’t know for sure but maybe this action imparted something particularly meaningful to it.

Free expression is important and, unless there is a specific call to violence against a group of people, I think this sort of action is quite reasonable. The same applied to recent satirising of Catholics, and to the anti-Islam cartoons. People really just need to get over it and take themselves a bit less seriously!

The second issue was a debate over the spelling of the name of a New Zealand city, Wanganui. According to a group of local Maori the correct spelling is Whanganui. Again I say, so what? Place names change all the time. They evolve, often as a result of misspelling. Why not just stick with the name that everyone is used to using? If the name was an English one I doubt whether the call for a correction would be given any consideration at all, as it happens the idea had to be rejected after a meeting of the local council. What a waste of time!

A quick search of the internet revealed many places whose names arose from a misspelling earlier in their history. People get used to the new (incorrect) spelling and that becomes the new name. Is this so bad? I think we should concentrate on the important matters that really make a difference to people’s lives and forget about PC!

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