It looks like Boris has offended lots of people by suggesting that some folk are where they are because they’re not very bright, something Nick Clegg calls ‘unpleasant’ and ‘careless’.
It’s also, as Clegg must know perfectly well, true, but as Rod Liddle writes this week there are certain things you just can’t talk about, not just despite being true but because they’re true.
Rod cites what Dominic Grieve recently said about corruption, which was rude, offensive, insulting to the Pakistani community and of course totally true. Likewise when Richard Dawkins recently pointed out a fact about the relative success of the Muslim world vs Trinity College, Cambridge – that was offensive.
At some point in the English-speaking world it was agreed that people should not say things that were true, however necessary it might be, if it offended someone’s sacred identity. As an extension of this it was required that people stopped speculating on things that might offend, and so it became that the new Renaissance man was one totally incurious about the world.
There is difficulty defining this dulling of the western mind; the phrase ‘political correctness’ is unfortunate because even Right-wing head bangers like myself are bored with stories about Baa Baa Black Sheep being banned.
In the popular imagination PC is associated with euphemisms about race, sexuality, disability or any other perceived disadvantage, and as a consequence ‘politically incorrect’ is the same as rudeness. Indeed PC could be called ‘political politeness’. It’s impolite what Dominic Grieve said, and as a general rule things don’t get resolved if people are too polite to talk about them.
Political correctness comes from a secularised version of American Puritanism mixed with European Marxism; but the aim is not to pressure opponents into being polite, but to stop them expressing their ideas.