Right-hand man, gentleman's agreement and whiter than white are the latest phrases to fall foul of the political correctness lobby.You cannot ever avoid causing offence, unless you wish to spend your life in a small room, doing nothing and speaking to no-one.
Government quangos have issued fresh lists of phrases they are seeking to ban to avoid causing offence.
So, what ‘causes offence’ for these quangos? Oh, the list is long and ridiculous:
Staff at the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission have been advised to use 'miserable day' instead of 'black day'. The Commission claims that certain words carry a 'hierarchical valuation of skin colour'.You might ask why they think they won’t be held up to ridicule for these sorts of proclamations.
Well, because they thought no-one would ever find out, until Labour shot themselves in the foot:
The examples of political correctness emerged in answer to a series of Freedom of Information requests.Heh…!
Some of the examples quoted make me think that the 60s are alive and well at least in the minds of some quangocrats:
The Learning and Skills Council wants staff to 'perfect' their brief rather than 'master' it while Newcastle University reckons 'master bedroom' can be problematic.Wha…?
The National Gallery in London says the phrase gentleman's agreement may be considered offensive to women and suggests using 'unwritten agreement' or ' agreement based on trust' instead./headdesk
Advice issued by the South West Regional Development Agency says: 'Terms such as black sheep of the family, black looks and black mark have no direct link to skin colour but potentially serve to reinforce a negative view of all things black.There’s no black coffee for sale in the canteen, I take it?
'Equally, certain terms imply a negative image of black by reinforcing the positive aspects of white.
'For example, in the context of being above suspicion, the phrase whiter than white is often used. Purer than pure or cleaner than clean are alternatives which do not infer that anything other than white should be regarded with suspicion.'
Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: 'Most people assumed that this sort of PC madness went out in the 1980s, when Margaret Thatcher reined in the Left-wing councils, so it's unbelievable that it's rearing its head again.Well, Matthew, most people probably did think this, but then, a lot of people realised that they were still there, and suffered no public opprobrium or real job-related consequence for their incompetence, so why wouldn’t they simply bide their time until the stars aligned in their favour again?
'This nonsense proves that quangos need to be culled. They're unaccountable, undemocratic and wasteful.'
And we can make the argument that if they have time for this stuff, they must be seriously overmanned…
Marie Clair, of the Plain English Campaign, said: 'Political correctness has good intentions but things can be taken to an extreme. What is really needed is a bit of common sense.'Yes. Not just here, either.
We need it in a lot of other places too…