Political correctness


The link posted here is parts of a speech given by Senator Cory Bernardi in May 2008 at Adelaide University. He talks about the dangers of Political Correctness. Things have gotten out of hand, he says. We cant identify that there are 2 different genders because doing so would imply that we think one is inferior to the other. For example; all people in the acting profession are now actors. There are no actresses. Another would be the use of the word ‘chairperson’ instead of chairman, or chairwoman.

While there are many issues which Senator Bernardi and I disagree on, I do agree with his stance on political correctness speak.

In  the George Orwell novel, 1984, the size of the dictionary is reduced with each edition. Words become unwords, not to be spoken. A friend boasts to Winston that the size of the next edition of the dictionary would be even smaller. Later Ampleforth is found in the same prison cell as Winston. His crime? Refusing to obliterate the word God from one of his poems.

Winston’s job at the Ministry of Truth was to alter newspapers to include only acceptable words and phrases. Being negative is not accepted in Oceania, so a reduction of chocolate rations from 30g to 25g is changed in the papers to an increase from 20g to 25g.

In his speech, Senator Bernardi makes reference to a letter to the editor of The Australian newspaper.

“There are three kinds of people in our society: a small and driven group that seek to pull down and destroy, the complacent majority who are disengaged, and another small group who protect and build.” (Ken Blakers, The Australian, May 9, 2008).

It is the silent majority that we need to mobilise. They seem to be content to just “go with the flow” (Bernardi) and accept whatever is offered to them. We, as academics need to ensure that we continue to think critically and to speak out against any attempt to make us accept things that are just unacceptable.

I know I harp on about this issue, but it is dear to my heart. The treatment of asylum seekers is one issue which we need to speak out about. The political speak for people who are seeking asylum is illegal immigrants. The actual truth is that someone who is seeking asylum is not an illegal immigrant. There is nothing illegal about their attempt to become residents of our nation.

The Miriam Webster dictionary defines asylum as protection given by a government to someone who has left another country in order to escape being harmed. These people can not “go back to where they come from”, as the politicians would wish they did. The media is used by the politicians to create an ‘us and them’ mentality with regards to people seeking asylum in our country. As global citizens, it is our duty to defend and protect people under threat of hard or death.

The fact that Australia has agreed to accept 12,000 people from Syria is laughable. There are over 9 million refugees seeking asylum or protection and a new home. That equates to just over 63,000 for each signatory nation of the 1951 convention pertaining to refugees, Australia is in a better position than many other nations to accept refugees.

we, as the masses need to change our attitude with regard to those seeking asylum. We need to not just accept what the politicans tell us. The politicians imply “look how good we are to let 12,000 people in”; where in fact they are reducing the chocolate ration.

Does that make sense?


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Filed under 20th Century Literature

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