Freedom of Speech?
So, Carol Thatcher, daughter of “She Who Should Not Be Named” and Queen of the Jungle (and therefore half witch/half failure) has been kicked off the BBC’s One Show (Christine Bleakley…….sigh) for an off-camera remark in which she referred to a tennis player as a “golliwog” – read about it here.
This prompted a lot of media coverage which ranged from “the English are fundamentally racist” to “political correctness gone wrong” to “it’s only a soft toy” to “I’m black and I’m not offended” to “whatever happened to freedom of speech”……… The furore has been akin to that which followed the revelation of Prince Harry’s reference to a fellow officer as a “Paki”.
Well, this at least goes to show one thing – being high born doesn’t make for brains or common sense!
People throughout the ages have used “colourful” terms to describe those who are different to them – read here – be it as simple as our use of “Froggies” to describe the French or their use of “Rost Beouf” to describe us – presumably in the days before ecstasy…….
This reminded me of an instance shortly after I had joined my first company as part of their graduate recruitment many, many, many moons ago. The graduate intake had been dominated by Oxbridge (Oxford and Cambridge) students. There was one particular Cambridge gentleman that I didn’t warm to. I was caught referring to him as a “Tab” and a colleague asked me to explain. I explained that “Tab” was short for “Taberdar”, describing the short academic gown worn by Oxford students known as “Commoners” , differentiating them from the long gowns worn by the superior “Scholars”. Referring to Cambridge students as “Tabs” was, therefore, derogatory, suggesting that they were in some way / every way inferior to students from Oxford. My colleague turned to the Cambridge gentleman and asked if Cambridge had a similar term to describe Oxford students. “Yes, ” he explained, “we call them wankers”. That put me in my place and we got on much better afterwards.
Now I will not go into the rights and the wrongs of Carol’s use of the word “golliwog” and her unwillingness to concede that it might have racial overtones. I will not defend her argument that as she had not seen it as racist or intended it to be racist then it wasn’t racist. Let’s just put it down to the stupidity of the upper classes and remember the wisdom of my gran, who I am sure would have commented “If you haven’t got anything nice to say, say nothing!”