Those of us who read Orwell’s 1984 with a libertarian ethos will always have the greatest concerns about the notion of any thought being a crime but in the last few days we have seen some of the most egregious examples of the notion of the thought police being both real and crushing the face of humanity under the jackboot of political correctness.
The first example that I will touch on only briefly was that of the owner of a NBA franchise making a genuinely racist remark that was overheard, recorded and then broadcast on social media, as a consequence he has been stripped of his franchise, and “fined” millions of dollars. All of this has been loudly applauded on social media but I can’t help thinking that those who have been cheering so loudly may soon rue the day when it became a social crime to say something “offensive”. The reaction has been a rather horrible example of mob rule and the negative potential of social and mass media.
The next item in this litany of political correctness gone mad has been the bullying of Jeremy Clarkson for what can only be described as a slip of the tongue. Like Jezza I learned the eneny meany mineie mo rhyme in its original form where one caught the “nigger” by his toe and I also read the Noddy books as a child which had “golliwogs” as the the primary naughty toys. Such things learnt in childhood are the very last thing to go for the senile and for the the still cognitively functional such notions and well learned rhymes do not lend themselves to change without a great deal of conscious thought. Thus I have no trouble believing that what Clarkson said while trying to deliver his spiel was genuinely unintended and even if it had been intentional I don’t believe that there was any “racist intent” here. None the less the scions of political correctness have leaped upon this off air faux pas with a great deal of malice and spite. Anyone would think that Clarkson was a Kiddie fiddler from the amount of rancour vindictiveness expressed on social media when ion fact he is just a middle aged petrol head who has a good line in witty chat about cars.
By all means lets get upset at deliberate and blatant racism but the quest for linguistic purity that we are seeing in our age of social media is utterly obscene and if only the loudest voices calling for Clarkson’s sacking would think for just a minute they might just realise that what they are calling for will not make the tiniest bit of difference to the sum total of racism on the planet. All it will do is restrict free speech and honest discourse.