Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Baa baa rainbow sheep?

Political Correctness (P.C.) has been a target for the right wing press for a long time now. If it wasn't The Sun in the 1980s shouting "Pooftas on Parade" when gay men were allowed to join the army, it was the Daily Mail lambasting local councils over their supposed attempts to avoid ofending non-Christians by changing "Christmas" to "Winterval".

Now The Times is reporting that nursery schools in Oxford are changing the words of "Baa Baa Black Sheep" to "Baa Baa Rainbow Sheep" to avoid offending minority groups. But as with all these stories about PC, is it just an opportunity for a silly story, or are there really people out there with so much time on their hands and so little grasp of reality that they actually do think of these ideas?

According to The Times, the poor black sheep is not the only nursery rhyme character to be reassessed:

In keeping with the new approach, teachers at the nurseries have reportedly also changed the ending of Humpty Dumpty so as not to upset the children and dropped the seven dwarfs from the title of Snow White.

So, is there any evidence that this story is actually true? It's dubious. The quotes in the article purporting to come from the people who've changed the lyrics are so general that they could apply to any type of anti-discrimination policy, while the quotes from OFSTED are very similar. The BBC report it slightly differently, while The Express put it on their front page.

Many of the "truths" about P.C. are in fact myths, "P.C. satires" designed to denigrate the whole approach. But some are true, and have to make you wonder what on earth could be offensive about a blackboard, a black sheep or even a cracked egg...

It would be interesting to see how this story develops and if there's any right to reply for the supposed perpetrators of this act of "PC gone mad".

Edited to add: you can contribute to the debate on The Times site here.

Other links to PC:
Wikipedia
Baa Baa Green Sheep

Useful for:
ENA1 - Language & Representation
ENA5 - Language Change
ENA6 - Language Debates

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