The story of the 10 year-old boy who called his classmate a "paki", "nigger" and "Bin Laden" and ended up in front of a judge, has been the lead story in several newspapers today. So, is this "political correctness gone mad" as the judge in the case himself claimed, or a reasonable attempt to clamp down on racist bigotry?
The judge, Jonathan Finestein argued (according to The Telegraph) that "he used to be called fat at school and said that in the old days the headmaster would have given the children "a good clouting" and sent them on their way".
Aah, those good old days when you could beat children and call a spade a spade, or a darkie, or whatever else you fancied... Err, racism aside, is it such a great idea to beat 10 year-old kids (or any kids for that matter) for things they say? And is calling someone "fat" really the same as calling someone deeply unpleasant racist names? There aren't gangs of demented murderers rushing around killing people because they're "fat", but there certainly are if they're black; you only have to look at the horrific cases of Anthony Walker this year, and Stephen Lawrence and Duwayne Brooks over ten years ago, to realise that people still get killed for the colour of their skin. So, "fat", "paki" and "nigger" are hardly equivalents, your honour...
But might taking this language to court be a step too far? Can't the school punish the child and deal with it sensibly? Looking through the various stories in the press highlights each paper's political agenda and what they choose to report, or not. For example, Channel 4 News' website reveals that the child had refused to accept a "final warning" while Sky News tells us that the child accused his alleged victim of calling him "white trash" before he himself insulted him. Meanwhile, the Daily Mirror, which has had a more progressive anti-racist attitude than many papers, adds more detail to the insults offered.
ENA1 - Language & Representation