It's Safe to Insult Certain People. Apparently.

Coverage of the recent Olympics has made me realise that despite the fact that Political Correctness is widespread and pretty much ingrained in Western society, there are still 2 groups of people that we can still be patronising and rude to without any comebacks. I don’t know if this is a loophole or whether the groups aren’t deemed worthy of our protection. Oh, and before I go any further, use this at your own risk! I am not liable for any damage you receive…..

This whole thing was prompted because of a cheesy BBC slot. A reporter was asking the locals in Beijing whether they recognised certain London landmarks – Big Ben being the main one. None of the people on camera could name them. Cue the reporter looking at the camera with a wry look. Oh dear, people in China can’t recognise landmarks from a city more than 5000 miles away. Those ignorant Chinese people! But let’s flip that around. I’m relatively intelligent and know things about foreign countries. I doubt I could recognise any landmark from China apart from the Great Wall and maybe the Forbidden City. Does that make me mockable? Would anyone in China reading this be rolling about the floor in tears because the ignorant round eye doesn’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of their places of interest? Or would they, and I think this is more likely, just say “OK” and forget about it? Because it doesn’t matter and I’m sure the Chinese have better things to do with their time than memorise landmarks. Unless there’s a Chinese version of Jeopardy, of course.

Secondly, and this really really annoys me, is the use of a short phrase which is employed to encompass a whole range of people. “Simple folk/people”. As in “I would love to live in a rural area among the simple folk”. This isn’t restricted to the UK and is used to describe people in small villages/towns and rural areas. Basically, using it means that those people couldn’t possibly understand the horrible pressures that traders and bankers and accountants have in the City, because life is so much easier in the country. Let’s forget that farms are going to the wall every day and that suicide rates among the farming community are on the rise because farmers are seeing their livelihoods disappear and land held in their families for generations are being sold so the family can survive. Forget the bankruptcies and having to negotiate the minefield that claiming subsidies entails. Forget the fact that abattoirs are closing regularly and new regulations mean that farmers have restrictions on transporting the animals to be slaughtered so end up with a lot of dead livestock rotting on their lands. Their lives are just so simple.

Now what I find really weird, is that if anyone was to use similar epithets about non-white people in your own country, the racism tag is brought out.  We aren’t allowed to point out that a lot of immigrants don’t speak English (or French, or German or whichever local language in whichever country) and we can’t use euphemisms – look at the furore around describing Barack Obama as “articulate”.  But it’s fine to insult people of a foreign country while they are still in that country and it’s fine to put down whole communities.

Now, I fully accept that this has been percolating in my brain for a while and that I’m probably blowing this up ut of all proportion.  As I have said before, this site is mostly here for the purposes of me getting random thoughts out of my head.  But does this not massively smack of double standards?  Implying that Chinese people in China are ignorant is fine, but doing the same for Chinese immigrants isn’t?  Do they become worthy of protection once they enter the borders (does this make them “one of us”?) but they’re on their own if they choose to stay in their own countries?  Is it fine to call rural communities “simple” but not to call immigrant communities simple?  Where do Political Correctness and racism separate?  Am I the only one who has noticed this and do I need to lie down somewhere for a while?

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Posted on 28 August, 2008, in Generalities, Stupidities, Writings and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. I agree with you entirely. This kind of thing seems to be the expertise of groups of people who find comfort in long-distance insults.

    And I don’t think there’s any attitudinal difference at play here. It’s just the comfort that racists derive from the fact that people more than 5000 miles away are not going to sit in front of your house protesting, or worse bashing your head in. 🙂

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  2. In a similar comparison, there’s people here in the United States, above the age of 18 that don’t even know who the President or Vice President is. Those are the people you should make fun of, not those that might not know in a different country.

  3. Exactly Drew – it was meant to be one of those “lighter side” pieces, but it came across as arrogant and patronising.

    And as to people not knowing the President or VP, that’s the sort of thing that used to be mocked in this country. Unfortunately, people in the UK appear to be becoming more ignorant so we have little place to mock anyone any more.

  4. Well, like I always say, 99.999% of the world population are dumb anyways. As technology advances, it actually contributes to people getting dumber. If anyone watched or seen WALL-E, that’s exactly how humans are going to end up, fat and stupid with technology and machines doing everything for us, even enabling us to not have to walk even. 😉

  5. it’s a double standard indeed, and i feel goes back to the notion that people who aren’t like us, or whose culture we don’t really understand, can sometimes be treated with something less than respect. there’s a laziness here as well. instead of looking to bridge gaps of culture and understanding, it can be so much easier to point out the contrasts, and to treat what is familiar as something better or a little bit superior. unfortunate actually. i find myself disappointed with the media here.

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  6. An interesting and insightful post. Here in America, some liberals call it it fly-over territory. Anyone who doesn't live on the east coast or on the west coast isn't important and doesn't matter. Only those who live in the big cities are important. They just "fly-over" the rest of the country to get to the important places, living us simpletons to ourselves.

    Yet that's not politically incorrect in their world…

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  7. I would go as far to say that English society is not that PC at all. In a school I was teaching at there 2 kids had an argument right in front of me about who’s Dad was the most raciest, and they both thought that were winners…I had the point out that I wasn’t exactly born in England, and it offended a fair bit…they don’t give a crap. The UK has lots going for it, but I don’t think it is very PC at all.

  8. In my view, it’s because PC is imposed. The backlash makes the racist ideas all the more prevalent. Of course, it *needed* to be imposed, but a better way would have been to have gradually changed perceptions – though this isn’t ideal because it would take several generations to make it stick.

  9. It’s never okay to talk down to or be unkind to or about others. I have noticed that where ever you go in the world there are prejudices of one kind or another and those that adhere to them are usually doing so to make themselves feel better.

  10. Would love to see how some of those TV reporters or even TV execs would do if you pick them up off the street and started asking them questions.

    John@Marland Real Estate’s last blog post..Baltimore Real Estate

  11. This is just how humans are, there will always be examples of racism like this throughout the world. I don’t think the concept will ever be destroyed.

    Joe@Going Green’s last blog post..How Wind Power Works

  12. The world is going mad and kids have no respect. Its a shame that they do not learn to treat people the way that they would love to be treated themselves. When is it going to end?

  13. It’s kind of like when radio stations sponsor crank calling. It just makes me cringe to hear how they are making fun of some innocent person who is just trying to make a living (they usually call businesses and make stupid requests). Not only do I find them juvenile- they’re just plain cruel.

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  14. Farmers don’t live the “simple” life. They are probably more self sustaining than anybody. And with the price of food going up, we are at the mercy of the “simple” farmer.

  15. In the Western World, including the UK and US, the media establishment is run by a metropolitan cultural elite. This group of people tends to look down upon the “simple” rural people who grow their food, power their cities and accept their garbage in landfills.

    The fact is that rural communities existed long before urban ones, and that urban communities could not exist without rural ones.

    Rural communities are self-sustainable, urban communities are not.

  16. its safe as long as you area a nobdy o_O

  17. This is just one of the bad reality the world has now. The negative idea of racism will never end. Welcome to world we lived in.

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  18. I just don’t get it, why are there people who do this kind of insult? What do they get from being a racist? I agree with spike, rural communities are self-sustainable unlike urban communities.

  19. I found this post very humerous.. It’s sadly true that even in 2009 racism is prevalant and those brits don’t get me started.. if its any consolation I’m sure those BBC reporters have alot more things to worry about (besides if the chinese people know their landmarks).. Those reporters are getting canned left and right, bad economy = no advertising = reporters getting laid off and replaced with robots?

    Thx,
    locke

  20. How true this is. Those that think the world revolves around their life without realizing that in other spheres, they hold no more importance than a fireplace Montgomery Pa County

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