Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Out and about early. Political correctness. Attitudes to truth.

Today I got up at the crack of dawn. As a rule, when I talk about getting up at the crack of dawn I simply mean rather earlier than usual. Today was different. The alarm rang at 6.20am. It was still dark. I had been awake briefly an hour earlier. Birds were already singing at 5.00. When they talk about the dawn chorus, they talk wrongly. It is the pre-dawn chorus! And very noisy it is too, especially if you are planning to catch a little more sleep before you have to get up.

So why was I up at the crack of dawn? well, the washing machine repairman, the one who had been to my daughter’s on Saturday without any spare parts of any description, was due to call at her house this morning. Between 7.30 and 11.30.consequently I was catching a bus at 7.15 in the hope that he would not arrive before I got there! Who knew that washing machine repairmen started work so early in the morning? And even though we have passed the shortest day of the year, it is still very dark and gloomy at that time of day.

By 11.00 or not long after, I was back home, having a very late breakfast (well, second if you count the banana I ate on the way to the bus stop at 7.00), having made the public transport system work in my favour for once by chopping and changing buses along the way. I had even managed a stop at Tesco for stuff from their deli counter and another stop at the Wednesday market in Uppermill. It was still very grey, however. In fact the day did not brighten until going on for 1.00 pm.

Elsewhere I notice that the battle for political correctness continues. Altrincham Girls’ Grammar School has decided to stop using the term “girls” when addressing groups of students. This is to avoid offending girls (oops, sorry, students!) who are questioning their own gender. They now want to use gender neutral terminology! Altrincham Boys’ Grammar has no intention to follow suit. Obviously any boys who attend the school and who feel ambivalent about their gender will just have to put up with being referred to as boys! So much for equality!

Catherine Deneuve has been criticised for criticising the #metoo campaign. It becomes increasingly hard to speak out against really well-meaning movements like #metoo even though they sometimes seem to go just a little overboard. You almost feel like a traitor to feminism if you say you haven’t really been abused and don’t object to men flattering you.

The ever so estimable George Monbiot has been sounding off about “no platforming”. He opposes “no platforming” - we need to be involved in discussion of everything, not protecting people from “difficult” topics - but feels that the matter has been given altogether too much attention. There are more important aspects of freedom of speech which need addressing.

Government bodies are quietly suppressing terminology, he tells us:- “Another resounding silence concerns the US government’s deletion from its websites of thousands of documents that mention climate breakdown. The US agriculture department instructs that the terms “climate change” or “greenhouse gases” should not be used in its publications; and the federal government bans the words “vulnerable”, “entitlement”, “diversity”, “transgender”, “foetus”, “evidence-based” and “science-based” from an agency’s budget reports. This is real censorship, not a feeble attempt by a few teenagers to prevent their peers using trigger words. Could it be that our free speech crusaders quietly approve?”

What a curious collection terms to be banned! In this age of “false news”, we are in danger of making our own truths. Jeff Sparrow writing in the Guardian reflects on the use of terms like “truthiness”, “truthy”, “alternative facts” and “truth from the gut”.

 Just as it is becoming increasingly hard to know which photo is a genuine snapshot and which has been photoshopped to within an inch of its life, so it grows hard to work out what is the real truth!!!

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