me - you - them


There seems to be a discussion in the media about political correctness, about acceptable usage of terms. I'm not entirely sure what it's about because I don't watch the news or read newspapers on the grounds that it's clear to me that the media just repeat press releases and peddle in stereotypes and racism.

At this point I'll just add that I had a chat the other day with L who said that the young people she works with believe that the English all hate Muslims, generally hate Africans and are racist. She said they get that impression everyday watching the news. I said I agreed with them. It's clear when you're alert to it.

The current discussion appears to be about the term 'nitty gritty'. It's a strange thing this political correctness business. While it is clear that some terms are offensive and heavy with historical weight, there is another strand to it which is just a load of crap. If people don't know a term could be offensive then it's just not the same thing as doing a 'heil hitler' salute or calling an Aboriginal person an 'abo'.

While I know that the origins of the term 'heebee jeebies' is Hebrew Jews and therefore it's seriously offensive in its origins, I also know that very few people know or care about the term's origins and so it's just not offensive in that way.

When I first came here I used to use the word 'wog'. In Australia the term refers to Greek or Italian descent Australians. It is derrogatory, but no worse than 'pom' for an english person. I didn't realise the weight or significance of the word here but I learned not to use it - eventhough the word may never have the emotional weight for me that it has for english people. Just as I had to explain to my mum when she was here that 'paki' is only used by far-right extremist bigots and that if she uses the term she will sound like she subscribes to those views. For her, being Australian, it was like saying 'pom' - no worse.

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