From the 'political correctness is anything we don't like' files...

Watford Council has banned parents from playgrounds in case they're paedophiles! Wuurgh! Perlidigol-Creckniss-Gawn-Mayyd, yoo-coodern-mayyk-id-upp!*

See, 'Parents banned from watching their children in playgrounds... in case they are paedophiles' (check the comments), 'Council bans parents from play areas'. To be fair, Smellyface's inevitable coverage doesn't make any PC claims for once, but more on that in a bit.

Of course, Watford Council haven't banned parents from playgrounds in case they're paedophiles, in true Political Correctness Gone Mad non-story fashion. The Council has issued a statement and everything.

Having been fair to Smellyface earlier it's time to point out that the statement has been linked to from the front page of Watford Council's website since Wednesday, and any journalist who bothered to do a scrap of research rather than just regurgitated stuff they'd read in their own paper would have seen it as soon as they looked at the Council's website. But Richard Littlejohn's job is to reproduce any reactionary old piss that'll fit, not to actually check to see if what he's writing is true. That'd roo-in the column.

The thing is, though, right, the thing is, yeah, what would stopping parents from going into playgrounds in case they're paedoes have to do with amending language or traditions in order to remove things that are perceived as being inherently discriminatory anyway? Nothing, obviously. Duh.

Papers and assorted reactionaries now use the term 'Political Correctness' to refer to any rule that they don't like from anyone in any position of authority, however small. This is partly** because the papers created a market for Political Correctness Gone Mad stories in the 80s, and there's now a demand for them that the papers desperately want to meet - but genuine stories of this kind are few and far between. Even those kickin' it old skool 80s classics were mostly made-up nonsense themselves. (See 'The Culture Wars..' linked to in the list of books on the right for more).

So what to do? Include things that are a little bit like Political Correctness in the same category. That way it's possible to meet the need for PC Gone Mad stories with ones that have nothing to do with PC or loony lefties. This also allows left wing politics to be demonised in stories that might have zero to do with Labour Councils or anyone actually left wing. Brilliant!

The trouble is, even stories that are a little bit like PC Gone Mad ones are few and far between (although they're a bit more common than councils banning the term 'black hole' because it's racist and homophobic and replacing it with 'rainbow doorway' or something). So you get ones like this. Or the ones the Health and Safety Executive look at in their 'Myth of the Month' section. It's not necessarily that they're just made up, it's just that factchecking becomes less than lax when there's a demand to fill for certain kinds of story.

Having said all that - isn't it trippy to watch tabloids having a go at people for reacting to Moral Panics that the tabloids themselves whipped up in the first place, even when the people haven't actually been reacting to the Moral Panics anyway?

Yooocoodernmaaaykkiduppp! Fandabbydozy!

*Sorry. Smellyface didn't write a column on Tuesday and I've been jonesing for unfunny phoenetical spellings and shit catchphrases. Wot-abart-da-polah-beahz? Rock on Tommy. Et cetera.

**See, the word 'partly'. No red herrings here please!


Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

I really don't know how you keep managing to wade through all this shit.

Akela said...

This is actually one of those occassions when I want to be fair to the Mail.

Watford Council seem to have made more than one statement on this issue. If you look at the story as originally reported in the Watford Observer then you will see in the comments section at the bottom a response from the Council which makes it patently unclear that this is a case of not having parents getting in the way of adventurous activities. Instead it comes across as simply not wanting parents there full stop and emphasises the CRB checks on their staff in such a way that it does appear to be "stranger danger" paranoia. Indeed I was taken in by the whole thing myself.

Of course when the council clarified the position with the statement on its website then the papers that made the initial reports would have done well to have updated their stories rather than just carry or regardless and this is symptomatic of lazy journalism.

Over all I can tell you from my experience of working with kids that there is an ever increasing level of peadophile paranoia and I lay the blame for that firmly at the door of the tabloids and they deserve a thorough kicking for that.

Five Chinese Crackers said...

That's interesting, Akela. Turns this story into one similar to the original 'Baa Baa Green Sheep' story from the 80s.

What happened there was that papers contacted Hackney Council about a nursery in the area that had allegedly banned 'Baa Baa Black Sheep' for being racist.

Without actually knowing that the nursery hadn't banned the nursery rhyme in the first place anyway, the Council issued a statement defending the non-existent ban because the officials involved thought it was their job to stick up for the nursery.

Something seems to have happened here. Someone without full possession of the facts has added to the confusion. You're right - it doesn't excuse anyone who wrote about the story after the Council's official statement, or anyone who has updated thrit coverage of the story without mentioning the official statement.

Five Chinese Crackers said...

Whoops. That should have read "Something similar seems to have happened here," and, "updated their coverage".