Lights Out, Words Gone…

Well 2020 has certainly thrown a bucket of stinking sh*t over the world but thankfully it’s done and dusted. We started the year with bush fires that ravaged the country on both coasts before putting several of our cute and cuddly native species in danger of extinction. From there we moved into uncharted territory with people munching on bats and spreading Coronavirus in the little know town of Wuhan. Being a world in which travel from continent to continent is possible this put nations around the globe into lockdown and began to kill of young and old a like with flu like symptoms. We all had to learn to entertain ourselves and be ok with what became solo Netflix and chill sessions. It wasn’t till late in the year that we finally got some good news when the Americans went to the polls. In what was our favourite day of the year the American public gave the Mango Mussolini a double fingered salute and decided to evict him from the Whitehouse. Uncle Joe as he is creepily referring to himself now, is just Biden his time while he waits for the grown man child to accept defeat, pack up his belongings and jog on. Like a child chucking a major wobbly because they didn’t get their own way Mr. Trump refuses to go quietly into the night good sir. Chances are the Secret Services will be dragging him out kicking and screaming on the day he’s scheduled to leave the Whitehouse.

It might have been a nightmare year that we’d all prefer to write off, however we’ve been heading in a direction as global community for quite sometime now and the team here at A Mind of Its Own has struggled to keep our tongues from flapping too much. There comes a time however where you just have to say enough is enough and to be honest we’ve decided we can no longer keep quiet about this topic. Like all good blogs we are going to dip our toe in the deep end and no doubt offend a few people with this one. Isn’t that what freedom of speech is all about though? The ability to speak your mind without persecution from others. We hate to spill the tea to you all on this but there is no such thing as freedom of speech any longer. Someone, somewhere will find a reason to take issue with your thoughts, ideas and how you’ve voiced them. From being too far on one side of the ledger we have now swung the pendulum way too far to the other side. Well that’s the opinion of the writers here at this fine blog.

Ladies and gentlemen we now live in a politically correct world where people are offended too easily or find reason to be offended by things that they’ve never really cared about before until they read a post on social media or their friends have talked about it over organically farmed soy chai latte served in a glass keeper cup where the soy beans were nursed through the extraction process on a soft bed of love and rainbows. Just so you are aware there is nothing wrong with being ethically responsible for the planet in fact we actually recommend more people take note of how they are treating the world and do something about it. We’ve only got one earth and as much as Elon Musk is trying to get us to Mars it doesn’t look that hospitable. We are pointing out that certain people tend to jump on bandwagons when it suits them. Like fair weather supporters of their local sports team, when things are going well they are there when they aren’t they are complaining, whinging and often even marching only to reflect and ask themselves why at a later date.

In order to explain our line of thinking for this blog we need to take you back to the late 80’s in Australia. Mullets were the rage, MC Hammer pants were cool and Hypercolour was all the rage. We had iconic brands made right here in Australia like Bonds, Billabong, Fosters, Rosella, Peters, Streets, Cottees, Vegemite, Arnotts Biscuits, Uncle Tobys, Speedo to name a fair few, they were also still Australian owned at that point in time and exported around the globe to millions of people keen to get some Australiana in their lives. Fast forward to today and many of our favourite household brands are no longer made in Australia or Australian owned but what does that have to do with being politically correct? Under some of those brands are brands in themselves that have recently come under fire for their naming. The PC Police have been hard at work suggesting that some of our brands require new names as they are offensive or insensitive to various communities and ways of life.

Although the renaming of things to appease the politically correct pundits can be traced back to the beginning of the 19th century and probably further, here in Australia it started with Devon. Devon, you know, that luncheon meat so many of us used to enjoy in various ways. We were always impartial, to Devon on white bread with tomato sauce. Some would say it was the working class Deli meat of choice. Up until World War One it was called Fritz. Who’s Fritz you ask well that was often slang for the Germans. That wasn’t the only thing to be renamed due to the war and needing to be politically correct. Jam filled buns went from being Berliners to Kitchener Buns. From here the flood gates opened to political correctness changes. The managers renamed the Penguins at SeaWorld from Fairy Penguins due to their small stature to Little Penguins as they didn’t want to offend the gay community. A nice gesture but a little bit of overkill we think as the word fairy does not belong to the LGBTQI+ community and frankly if someone referred to a gay man or woman as a fairy that would be offensive. But that’s political correctness for you.

Things have gone as far as PETA wanting Iconic Aussies rockers Hunters & Collectors to change the name of the band as they believe it represents and promotes animal cruelty. It could be they referencing treasure hunting and collecting, they do have a song about the Holy Grail. So is this a case of political correctness gone mad or just a case of someone taking offense to something in which there is literally none to be taken. What really got our goat was the renaming of our favourite lollies in the world, we get that some people will find it offensive and that is their right but they are literally red and have a red skin, ergo red skin, just change the picture on the bloody packaging for crying out loud. No one wants to eat a “Red Ripper” . It sounds like a dog’s penis. The renaming of Coon cheese we kind of get as it’s a derogatory term often used to describe people of colour by those who are culturally insensitive or just plainly racist but we do feel for the founder John Coon who never had the intention of being racist when he named his cheese after himself. As of late Dr Zeus has come under fire for the drawings in his books which have been deemed culturally insensitive and several titles have been removed from the line up and shelves of stores. Eminem is also a target, no one seemed to mind in the early noughties when they were all singing along to his white rap. Next thing you know we won’t be able to call people racist we’ll have to call them people of differing opinion or something stupid. Heck we won’t even be able to call them stupid.

If you currently live in the land of Merica or America for those who aren’t in the deep south you’ve probably already started to feel that there is no such thing as freedom of speech any longer. Like gun laws stopping you from being able to wield a machine gun or have a suppressor on your rifle, your ability to rant and rave on social media is being taken away from you as we pussy foot (excuse our language) around peoples sensibility and prissy nature. We can blame millennials all we like for our growing political correctness but where do we draw the line? In a world where we are becoming increasingly vigilant around what we can and can’t say and a world where we supposedly have freedom of speech. Well those of us not living under a dictatorship or communist rule.

Whilst America goes into meltdown over their rights to bare arms and Trumpzilla spews riotous rhetoric across social media are other parts of the world feeling the pinch when it comes to political correctness vs freedom of speech? Sitting here in Australia it’s cringe worthy viewing nightly watching the so called mightiest country in the free world tear itself apart from the inside out. As waves of demonstrators storm the capital and kill fellow Americans the most we have to deal with on the home front is the loonies protesting COVID vaccinations and the other loonies who believe COVID is a hoax. Not sure how one would describe all the deaths around the globe. Unless it is an elaborate global hoax. Enter the conspiracy theorists hell bent on making something out of nothing.

Looking at the men and women protesting COVID vaccines, mandatory mask laws, quarantining or whether COVID is a hoax created by governments to impede their human rights, the question needs to be asked is it politically correct to allow them to march and have their freedom of speech or are they all just selfish wankers putting people needlessly at risk? There seems to be a common occurrence when it comes to political correctness there is black and white on several things in which people should be correct and then there are the grey areas. There are a lot of assumptions that come with being politically correct. Take actors as an example. In this case actors who have played a character that is deemed culturally insensitive. Take a white actor playing a black character. Black face is culturally insensitive to many cultures around the globe but does that make the person playing the character intrinsically evil? The assumption we all make is yes. They chose to play that character therefore they are evil and racist.

Companies such as Netflix and HBO Max have come as far to censor programmes and even remove them from their lineup for being politically incorrect. But banning and censoring art does not alter it, it just makes it harder for people in the present to learn from history. The same goes for removal of statues and history. In Australia, Australia day has become a day of opinion and unrest rather than celebration of the nation. As stated to one person we (the current Australian society) can only apologise so many times for the damage done by our ancestors. If it wasn’t the British it would have been the French or Dutch who colonised Australia. The same story would be playing out, the world is what it is through colonisation whether we like it or not. Exploration and expansion of empires was written into our DNA through curiosity. As soon as man could walk he or she was wondering what lay beyond the horizon. It doesn’t excuse how we’ve treated native populations around the world but we should be working together to educate future generations on the damage caused that allows them to be in a country like Australia. Sadly expansion is in our nature, we can’t say there wasn’t wars between tribes when Gondwana was the Super continent over land.

Where do we draw the line between politically correct and freedom of speech you ask? Well that is a tough one? Should people be able to express their opinions and views even if they are politically incorrect? Chances are most people would say political correctness has gone too far in some regards and yet they also feel strongly when it comes to hate speech. What we can all agree on though is that whether you have an opinion about something, you should never force your opinion upon someone else particularly when it comes to politics, religion, same sex marriage, sexual preference, gender, race, human rights and other potentially charged societal topics. In cultures regulated by political correctness, people feel judged and fear being blamed. They worry about how others view them as representatives of their social identity groups. They feel inhibited and afraid to address even the most banal issues directly. People draw private conclusions; untested, their conclusions become immutable. Resentments build, relationships fray, and performance suffers.

If we went back over the last couple of years there have been several movements that 20 years ago wouldn’t have gotten the coverage or the followings they have. Not because they aren’t worth protesting or voicing but purely because social media connects us all and allows those who previously didn’t have a voice to speak out. It also allows childish, immature, racist bigots to hide behind their keyboards and take a swipe at any and everyone to make themselves feel better. Again is it there right to bring down poor little Greta because she’s the only one standing up for the environment? No it’s not, the internet has given even the most shy person a platform to bully and bring down others. We live in a world of cyberbullying, political correctness and most of all indifference. A lot of people just do not care these days and that’s ok. Perhaps it’s some defense mechanism in which they shield themselves from the world and all it’s constant chaos.

So to wrap this all up in a neat little bundle and place it in the nearest recycling bin with what was the year 2020 we’ll finish up with a little ramble exactly where we started. There is no right or wrong when it comes to political correctness, what you might deem politically correct another might see as completely incorrect or irrelevant. So have we gone too far? The right might say yes and the left no or the left might say we haven’t gone far enough. All the team here will say is that you should think before you speak, you never know who might take offense to even the most inane comment. So as we wind up what will be our return to the world piece we wish you all an ecstatic 2021 and may it bring you a lot more than 2020 brought us all. So until next time and our next blog, you stay classy…

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