Friday, May 30, 2014

There's no equality in taking offence 

'All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others...' George Orwell, 1945.

Over centuries of history, certain groups of people, who are identified with certain names, have been treated in an unfair way compared to others. This unfairness has included a great deal of serious persecution and killing.

In Britain, we now have a thing called 'political correctness', which seems to require from us a sort of respect to be shown (if not, to an overwhelming extent, really felt) towards some of the so-called 'minority groups'. However good this current general requirement of social discourse might be, it can hardly be claimed to be a wonderful solution to the existence of prejudice within people.

There is a basic, inherent problem with 'PC' - that is, of constant emphasis being made of a secondary identity or characteristic of a human being: this serves to perpetuate falsely elevated divisions between people. Organisations exist that purport to be fighting for the rights of certain commonly-identified groups of humans, separated from other human beings, who are not identified in such ways.

These organisations, and people who feel politically aligned with their aims, are inclined to loudly complain about anyone who expresses a view, in some manner or other, deemed to be "offensive" to the 'minority group' they identify with.

So much of this style of taking of offence has gone on, for quite a long time,  that we have reached a point in the social history of Britain, whereby the identity groups, who have been strongly supported/defended, now have (presumably, not deliberately) brought about a disquieting imbalance within the totality of real-life human experience of being offended. 

If a man or woman says a single word, or phrase, on television, that is considered to be 'politically incorrect' and offensive to one of the more sanctified of the discriminated-against social quasi-tribes, then a big news story is quite likely to be triggered. If this occurs, there is then much discussion about the incident, and the word or phrase that was used. To focus so much on one, or a few words, spoken by one person, on one occasion, might, of course, be swerving attention away from (among other social realities) more long-term, sustained prejudicial and offensive behaviour, that is being directed at the same sanctified minority group (smig), or against other categories of people, or people in general.

It is also worthwhile to consider the inequality that can be perceived to be operating when this type of situation develops. While smigs are taken much notice of when they are said to have been offended against, there are other categories of people within British society, who are freely generalised about, in the media, in such a way as to convey negative impressions about their character and behaviour. Possibly the most notable example of such an unjustly reviled category of human beings, who lack any appreciable support from the 'politically correct' pack, is 'teenage mother'.   

The prejudice against 'teenage mothers' finds its expression, in media circles, by the deployment of certain clichéd forms. One of these is the use of the demeaning phrase "children having children". In objective reality, the users of this line are speaking of teenage girls, giving birth to babies. It should not be necessary to point out that: A baby is very different to a 5 year-old child, and that a 5 year-old child is very different to a 15 year-old teenager, and a 15 year-old teenager is very different to a 25 year-old adult (etc.). Reference to "children having children" seems to be a malicious attempt to exceedingly diminish the maturity of a teenage mother and, by extension, all teenagers - albeit, the real malice of the speaker/writer, revealed in this phrase, can be veiled from most listeners by a pretentious show of pseudo-concern for the welfare of young people.

Surely, the phrase "children having children", absurdly employed to denigrate en masse all teenage mothers, ought to be considered as being just as offensively prejudicial towards this currently disliked category of people as any word or phrase that is ever used to denigrate one of the media-favoured smigs is deemed to be offensive to them.    

The apparent widespread prejudice against teenage mothers, in the U.K., is also revealed, in language, by reference being made over and over again, down the years, to Britain's "rate of teenage pregnancy in Europe". This is said by the speaker (or writer), to be the "highest" or "second highest", and we, as percipients, are expected to concur with the implication, if not explicit statement made, that this is utterly disgraceful, and that all teenage pregnancies are bad.

Among those I've heard play the teenage-pregnancy-rate-in-Europe card are: Piers Morgan; Henry Bonsu (on 'The Wright Stuff' TV show), and (then) Conservative M.P., Derek Conway. In the case of Conway, he was appearing on a radio programme, hosted by James Whale, and the two of them had got onto the subject of crime. Conway then made his reference to "teenage-pregnancy-rate-in-Europe", positioned in the conversation in such a way as to suggest that all teenage girls who are pregnant, are equivalent to muggers, burglars and other criminals.    

Of course, as with the sanctimonious style of Morgan, Bonsu and the others, Conway came across as complacent when saying what he said. It seems never to enter the minds of the individuals who come out either with the line about Britain's high "rate of teenage pregnancy in Europe", or with the moronic, biologically illiterate phrase "children having children", that there could be people, such as myself, hearing this sort of clichéd teen-hating bigotry, who do not endorse the sick belief that all teenage pregnancies in Britain, and elsewhere in the world, are somehow bad, and to be deplored.

End of Part 1