Star public editor: Can we talk, please, about political correctness run amok?
What is offensive and distasteful to some will be seen as a matter of political correctness to others. It’s all in the way you look at things.
So let’s talk turkey about political correctness.
This week, Vinyl CafeCBC’s Vinyl Cafe radio program announced that it will edit out portions of author Stuart McLean’s holiday story “Dave Cooks the Turkey” because some listeners deemed parts of the fictional tale degrading to animals.
As the Star reported Wednesday, this fowl matter raised several questions for McLean. On one hand: “Does my story foster animal abuse?” On the other, “Is this political correctness run amok?
“These are fantastic questions to be addressed,” McLean said.
Indeed. As in most matters regarding tolerance and taste, there can be no right or wrong answers here. What some deem offensive and distasteful will seem a matter of mere political correctness to others.
From my perspective in the public editor’s office, I’ve learned it’s all in the way you look at things.
Consider, for example, the drawing accompanying this column, a piece I have come to think of as somewhat of a Rorschach test for pondering these “fantastic questions” of political correctness and personal perspective. Do you see “pernicious stereotypes” in this piece of art?
Do you find the drawing “disrespectful, offensive and racist” as did a reader who sent a heartfelt email of concern when it was published in the Star earlier this month.
“Am I seeing tiny black people holding on to what could be taken as watermelons as large waves assault them? Given the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, the number of African Americans who lost their lives and their homes, it is shocking that this drawing would be used.”
I must admit, I was so flummoxed by this reader’s perspective that I initially couldn’t determine what was going on in the drawing. While the article did open with reference to Hurricane Katrina, I felt quite sure the artwork did not depict black people hoisting watermelons in the face of a storm.
The drawing, by artist Charles Weiss, is called “CBC Engulfed.” If you haven’t figured it out yet, the red wedges represent the CBC logo. I see the black figures as representing Canadians in the shadows, holding up the corp. The drawing accompanied an Opinion piece by writer Noah Richler entitled, “Before CBC is saved, there must be catastrophe.”