Political correctness appears to have rendered us completely humourless. Forget calling your office staff `sweetie’, jokes once considered harmless can no longer be made if there is the slightest hint they will cause someone somewhere the tiniest hint of offence. Anecdotes about girls with red hair or yarns about three Irishmen in a bar have gone the same way as Gollywogs did long ago and certainly where Barbie Dolls are fast heading.
Recently a woman I have known reasonably well over years discussed with me the possibility of bringing a formal complaint against the long suffering class teacher of her very disruptive, hyperactive eight year old son because the woman had ill-advisedly attempted to get him on-side and moderate his behaviour by referring to him as `the best looking boy in the room’. This mother decided the remark bordered on sexual harassment. Well very possibly in this beleaguered day and age she might be right but it seems only a very short time ago when it would have been viewed more properly as a harmless jollity.
A few years back I was taken to task by a group of nurses on my then staff for writing a newsletter in which I referred to the representative from the Employers’ Association as `livening up meeting proceedings with his dashing good looks’ (or something equally inane). When I contritely explained that the remarks were simply light-hearted – made in jest, I was frostily told that our contract meetings were no laughing matter and certainly the Nurses’ Union would not be able to see any humour in the situation should the offending newsletter be brought to their attention; they might even decide that I was attempting to bring them into disrepute. Naturally enough I made a rapid and sincere apology.