Tuesday 17 October 2006

Keeping up.

Jon provides plenty of ranting about this ridiculous story, so I don't have to. I'm just going, as is my wont, to pick up on one little detail:

But they say her comments afterwards raised further concerns, for example allegedly referring to the students as "blacks" — something she denied yesterday.

I think I've mentioned before that, when I was at school in South London in the Eighties, it was considered borderline offensive to describe black people as "black" and polite to describe them as "coloured". Forward to the Macpherson Report, and one of the damning pieces of evidence of the police's institutional racism is the fact that many of their officers described black people using the offensive term "coloured" instead of the polite "black". If I could bear to spend more than about ten minutes in London, I could find myself being condemned as racist as a result of trying to use non-racist terminology. Which would be annoying. But now it looks like it's changed again. That a girl used the word "black" is now considered by some as an excuse to arrest her, and the suggestion that she did so is considered such a serious allegation that she feels it worth bothering to deny it.

Personally, I'm not superstitious about language, and don't care which words people use as long as they don't say "wacky" or "zany", but I'm perfectly willing to accommodate people who are deeply offended by certain words: I don't say "fuck" within earshot of my grandma, and I won't say "nigger" around black people. What I'm not willing to do is to waste my time reading press releases from victim groups so that I can keep up to date with which words I'm allowed to use this year and which I'm not. Make up your minds, please.

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