Sometimes my family sit around the dinner table taking the piss (a quaint phrase) out of each other for perceived breaches of political correctness. For example, when comparing meals I might comment that I prefer Indian food over Asian. “RACIST!” they all hoot, and much merriment is had by all. Yesterday, surrounded by a lumbering herd of the morbidly obese at our local shopping centre, my pachysarkophobic observations were tempered by a less-merry sense that I was being ‘fattist’. When three Sudanese women were killed in a traffic accident a couple of days ago, and someone said to me “Well, that’s three less on the dole-queue on Monday” I couldn’t find anything even remotely merry about it. But did I report it to the thought-police?
People have confided in me all my life just because I am white, male and there. In other words, because I look like them I must think like them. This has never been the case. The excess of bile which perpetually-aggrieved privileged white people suffer from arouses different responses from me at different times, but at no time have I simply worn their bullshit with a cheesy smile. I guess the makes me difficult; but it lets me sleep at night knowing that at least I won’t be invited into their hateful confidence the next time. It’s also allowed me to conduct an informal poll over a period of perhaps thirty years, the results of which are appalling.
Many of the Australians I know are racist, sexist homophobes. I wouldn’t piss on them if they were on fire. In fact, I’ve contemplated setting some of them on fire just to make the point. When I attend Aboriginal events, people snigger and wink. When I go to multicultural forums, they roll their eyes and yawn. The work performance of any female ALWAYS includes a comment, however sly, as to their appearance. I bite my tongue because people are entitled to their view, but my revenge is always to see if they can take as good as they give. Talk the talk, gotta walk the walk, right? For me it triggers Catholic jokes — for example, What do you give a paedophile who has everything? A bigger parish — if the mofo takes umbrage at that, I reach for the gasoline and matches.
No topic should be taboo, and stand-up comedy is proof of that. Dave Chapelle [*] made a career out of the word ‘nigger’. Closer to home, Steady Eddy [*] still makes a living out of poking fun at ‘spastics’. Pushing the envelope even further are comedians for who no topic is off-limits, like Louis CK. But if you go to see their show and find that their humour offends you, do you really have a ‘right’ to begin heckling, or confront them after the show, or wage a social-media hate campaign against them? What is the correct response when you do not have a right NOT to be offended?
It seems that political correctness only ever rears its head when predominantly conservative-minded persons feel their right to voice their opinions are being repressed. Most of us, most of the time, understand the good behind affirmative policies and law promoting tolerance and equality. So for the first time in decades probably, I find myself agreeing with the right
whingers wingers, but with a small qualification. Preserve the right to free speech, but make people liable for what they say and do. The fact a civilised nation write laws that make incitement to racial hatred (for example) a criminal offence doesn’t violate anybody’s rights to be racist. It just creates appropriate consequences for racism, and a chilling effect, we hope. But you are still entitled to talk your way right into gaol.