Political correctness exists for a reason


Some history doesn’t bear repeating

It’s rare to read anything too attention grabbing in my law textbooks. However, in the amongst my employment law textbook’s rather dry description of the course of actions available to wronged employees was this rather striking case:

Employers could, until 2003, be liable for the acts of a person who was not an employee. In Burton and Another v De Vere Hotels [1996] IRLR 596, the applicants were employed as casual waitresses at one of the respondent’s hotels, working at a dinner organised by the City of Derby Round Table. The stand-up comedian Bernard Manning had been booked as the guestspeaker. The two women were working in the banqueting hall where Mr Manning was speaking. He used words such as ‘wog’, ‘nigger’ and ‘sambo’, and said that ‘darkies were good at giving blow jobs’.

I think this struck me because I am too young to remember a time the brand of humour which Manning (a self confessed racist) represented was not considered totally unacceptable. So the hurt they caused is rather theoretical to me. Perhaps in part that’s why like many other millennials I indulge in jokes that can offend some people and does occasionally bristle at some people’s thin skin. However, that little paragraph was a necessary reminder for me (and others like me) that a society which is oversensitive is preferable to one without the decency to show sensitivity.


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