Daily Prompt: P.C.

Daily Prompt: P.C.

by michelle w. on August 11, 2013

Is political correctness a useful concept, or does it stifle honest discussion? 

Photographers, artists, poets: show us USEFUL.

Who doesn’t have an opinion on Political Correctness? I certainly do. To me PC is an insidious cancer in our society that stifles honest debate and homogenizes our political classes into a single generic type, indistinguishable between their different political ideologies. It robs us of original thought and leads to bland and mediocre politics where integrity and conviction have been traded for an easy ride and career progression.

The saddest thing of all is that it was meant to make life better for all of us by creating a language that was inclusive and inoffensive to the entire population. Well, like the man said, you can’t please all of the people all of the time!

And why do we even bother having interviews for jobs any more? Surely we can devise a computer program that will select the most ‘appropriate’ candidate from all the applicants once we have their gender, sexual preference, disability status, ethnicity and oh yes, qualifications, thus avoiding huge legal fees when we are sued by someone we didn’t appoint because they actually didn’t interview well, despite their excellent CV.

A quick story for you. Once upon a time there were two local authority children’s homes in a couple of neighbouring towns in Hampshire. The Social Services Inspectorate rebuked the local area office for being ‘under representative of Ethnic Minorities at management level’. The service Manager, a political animal if ever there was one, realised an opportunity to further her own credentials existed and moved to redress the imbalance.

The white middle class managers moved on and two new managers from ethnic minorities were fast tracked into their positions. Kudos to the Service Manager, boxes ticked, Inspectorate happy. Within two years conditions at those homes had deteriorated so much that both homes had to be shut down, the children who lived in them moved many miles from their families and loved ones.

This didn’t happen because the managers were black, but because they were under prepared for the challenges they would meet and the selection process had been designed to find the wrong qualifications for the job. Having worked in this environment for several years, and having borne witness to those sorry events, I know only too well how this kind of thinking can damage the very causes it seeks to aid.

I worked in one of those staff teams before and after the management change and watched first hand as a program was implemented to offer additional training to our ethnic employees while training opportunities for the rest were curtailed. The ethnic workers would have special meetings with the new ethnic manager that were not open to the white portion of the workforce. They were recruited to attend a ‘Black Workers Group’ that utilised information sharing and networking to further the interests of its members.   All fine and dandy, except that if the group was called the ‘White Workers Group’ and operated to further the interests of exclusively white members it would be illegal!

Feelings of exclusion and resentment began to be expressed in private between the white workers, but the culture of fear that permeated the staff team meant that no-one had the courage to speak out for fear of being branded a racist.

With the staff teams split, trust and moral evaporated accelerating the breakdown in order at the homes. Consistency was lost and the behavioural framework we sought to apply disintegrated. Just like children in discordant families, our residents acted in ever more disturbing and violent ways, culminating in such severe levels of violence that the homes were closed, and the staff redeployed or laid off.

The careers of those young managers were severely damaged and although I had already left the service at this point I later learned that one of those managers was now working at a much lower level and no longer in a managerial capacity. The Service Manager continued in her position for some years after.

Her attempts  to make the management structure mirror the ethnic makeup of the region were typical of the PC movement, but led to a split in the staff team along racial lines, and quite possibly fostered racist feelings in the white staff team that felt unfairly treated by the system.

How would you feel if you were passed over for an employment opportunity on the basis of your colour or your gender? If you were Ethnic, Disabled, or Female you would no doubt have a strong case for legal redress, but what if you were a white, middle class male? Would you even bother? Is it OK to even talk about this subject? What are you thinking of me as you read this post? Do you think I am a racist?

I hope not, and yet even though I feel the need to prove to you that I am not a racist, I am aware that this very feeling is the result of the social pressure we experience as a result of the PC movement. For the record let me be clear about a couple of things:

I love my ‘foreign’ wife and my mixed race children, most of my friends were born in other countries, I do celebrate Christmas and just occasionally I have been known to vote conservative. I don’t want PC, or affirmative action which most of my black friends are offended by.  I want real equality, and that doesn’t mean everyone is the same, just that we are all of equal value.


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