Saturday, 17 April 2021
A lost art
It is something we remember about the Duke of Edinburgh, his politically incorrect generalisations. Amusing half-truths which at the very least added a touch of colour to life. Almost a lost art, or it will be in another decade or so. Yet maybe the Duke caused at least some of us to consider the shallow nature of grey and timid convention.
It is another of those issues with which we are familiar enough but find difficult to tackle. We use generalisations because they reduce impossible complexities to manageable ideas. Even generalised parody has its uses and even partial accuracy may be better than nothing at all. At least it may stimulate some kind of debate.
Yet we are currently under intense political pressure to limit the use of political generalisations by both voters and children. Don’t venture beyond official generalisations concerning race, gender, immigration, culture, climate, sexual orientation or the demographics of violent crime for example. Do so and you risk being abused or worse.
This is what political correctness seeks to do, to expunge useful and flexible generalisations in favour of official one-dimensional versions. The effect is to undermine our ability to build widespread untrammelled political discourse around almost all aspects of the modern political game. If we are unable to use and explore generalisations we already have a subtle and effective version of Newspeak.