James Clarke Masthead
March 5 2012 at 11:25

School leavers have been channelled into universities with marks that a few years ago would not have even got them past Standard 10. They are told they have matriculated.

And British schools, a little while back, decided on a similarly idiotic tack.

They no longer fail pupils – they merely deem them to be suffering from “deferred success”.

We have become neurotic about plain speaking.

Political correctness is reaching a point of absurdity.

It began years ago when we stopped saying that a person was dead. They now “pass away”.

As a kid, I had macabre mental images of an uncle in the RAF who “passed away” in a mid-air collision.

We are at our daftest when we avoid being thought of as racist.

In the US – a country that has also lost it in a big way – one cannot say “black American” because that would infer the man is, well, black.

You say “African-American” even though the nearest he has ever been to Africa is Washington DC (east).

Like the boxing match I mentioned last year when, on television, I watched a very black man, Nigel Benn, and a milk-white Englishman, Louis Gent, clash.

The commentator, instead of saying that Benn was the black man or that Gent was the white fellow, said “Benn is the one in the red shorts”.

For no intelligent reason educators no longer say “student” or “pupil”. They now say “learner”.

How long, I wonder, before we no longer talk of “headmaster” (“master”, after all, sounds very colonialist and sexist) and say “head knowledge facilitator” instead?

We now call nurses “caregivers”. “Caregiver! Can you fix my drip please?” One day, I suppose, medical doctors will be called “wellness givers”.

Some restaurants have fallen for this silliness of calling waiters and waitresses “waitrons”.

Even the term “actress” is now taboo because it is deemed to be sexist. Nowadays, male or female, they are all actors. Paradoxically we now hear the phrase “female actor”.

I cannot understand why the term “receiver of revenue” has not yet been expunged by Act of Parliament. After all, imagine a poor receiver (who is only doing a job after all, just like, say, a hangman) arriving at a party and somebody asking him what he does for a crust. And he says: “I am a receiver.”

That would be fine in Joburg because everybody would naturally assume he was a respectable receiver of stolen goods. But what about in Potchefstroom or Stellenbosch?

Perhaps he should be called a “redistributor”. Yes, that’ll fit nicely.

And nobody is “old” any more. But I’d much rather be called old and even described as “a doddery old geezer” than be called a “senior citizen”.

I refuse to use the term chairperson – it’s chairman dammit. As for “Madam chair” – it gives me the creeps.

Anyway, speaking as a Pulitzer Prize winner suffering from deferred success I am all for a campaign against any form of political correctness or euphemistic nonsense.

OK, not entirely: I shall continue to call Threnody Higginbottom (she’s my secretary, you know) Miss Smith.


Honourable & Esteemed Sir,

You wrote of happiness the other day – I’ll never forget how happy I was when I saw my missus walking down the aisle towards me.

My heart was beating fast.

The excitement was unbearable.

It seemed to take an age but eventually there she was, at my side.

I gave her a cheeky wink and said: “Get yer trolley over here, hun. They’re selling my favourite beer 20 percent off.”

Eustace Wendle, Mondeor



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