Sunday, January 11, 2009

Prince Harry Was Wrong, But the Reaction is OTT

Yes, I too was taken aback by Prince Harry's use of language when he described a colleague as "our little Paki friend", and it was clear he needed to make a public apology. He did, and rightly so. But reading some of the comments made by bloggers this morning has left me reeling. You'd think he had taken part in some kind of ritual murder. Yes, fine, criticise him for what he said, that's your right, but don't make out he's some sort of rich kid sponging off society. This young man entered a war zone and fought for his country. He should be treated as a hero rather than be villified for using two words inappropriately.

Iain Martin says that this whole episode brings shame on the press and media as well as Prince Harry.
So here we go again. Sky News has a reporter outside St. James's Palace (bet there's nobody inside today) intoning gravely that Prince Harry has apologised for his remarks.

George Galloway is on the same channel, attempting to adopt his usual position on the moral high ground and lambasting the young Prince. There is nearly as much cant on display on the BBC. We in Fleet Street supply the ammunition (in the shape of a three year old video, sold by a creep) and the broadcasters chase it round and round in circles until somebody apologises. The apology is then dissected for signs of insincerity or looming mental breakdown. Various "experts" (which means people prepared to ruin their Sunday for a £100 appearance fee) are then produced to talk about the whole affair and fill air time.

It is all so very typical of modern Britain, or at least a section of the modern British media and its absence of any sense of perspective. There's a dislike of anything which smacks of complexity and a refusal to understand that people make mistakes.

And it gives the media the excuse to wheel out all the anti-royalists and holier than thou commentators who want to put the boot in. Donal Blaney picks out a great example of cant and hypocrisy in this area.

Of course, the other person in this sorry saga who should be hanging their head in shame is the scumbag who sold the video to the News of the World. And as Iain Martin points out, it's almost impossible to imagine a News of the World reader using a term like 'Paki' or 'Raghead' isn't it?


DiscoveredJoys said...

I can picture it now... in the misty dawn light, Prince Harry facing George "The Cat" Galloway over pistols, their seconds standing to one side...

If only duelling were legal we might find people's comments far more measured and moderate than they are now. I wonder how many of today's outspoken 'celebrities' would still be alive, under such circumstances?

Me said...

The affair is a good example of how the people who make newspapers have zero political or intellectual values and will jump on any fashionable bandwagon in the effort to sell papers. The fashionable bandwagon in this case, one that's been rolling merrily along since the mid-90s, is political correctness. It's like the grievance culture: once people have been told they're ENTITLED to something, boy will they try and get it. I am not here condoning Prince Harry (as I suppose I must add, wearily) but pointing out that the triumph of the Left in ingraining Marxist PC in everyday discourse has spread even to institutions (eg right wing newspapers) who used to be implacably opposed to it (and still pretend they are, sort of), all because of the pursuit of profit. In a way, it's a fascinating example of how free market capitalism and Left-wing cultural behaviour have combined to rip the nation apart.

ItsFairComment said...

WARNING: "The Bank of England will be able to print extra money without having legally to declare it under new plans which will heighten fears that the Government will secretly pump extra cash into the economy.

(A bit more important item)

Charlotte Corday said...

In the 80s I used to report on various trades union conferences and I was struck by how delegates would spend all day passing resolutions condeming sexism, homophobia, racism, etc. and then hold a delegates' social evening with a comedian telling a stream of sexist, racist, homphobic jokes to general laughter and applause.

I'm not saying racist language is acceptable but I am fed up with the Holier-than-thou approach of some of the commentators.

Brave Sir Robin said...

It's interesting how the word "Paki" has become socially unacceptable. Growing up in a northern city in the 1970s the Pakistani community were referred to as "Pakis" by everybody, including the local media. It was never a term of insult, only of reference - after all, Afghanistani is often shortened to Afghan, Kazakhstani to Kazakh and so on.

I believe the word's current status stems from a campaign by the NUT in the late 1980s to render it taboo and give Britain's Asians a "Victim" name - after all, it is in the left's interest to make victims of ethnic minorities. But choosing "Paki" was ridiculous - you say it in the process of saying "Pakistani". (You do not, of course, say "N*gger" in the process of saying "Black Man" or "Afro Caribbean").

Other Anglophone countries are baffled by our current aversion to the term - even George W Bush (not the best individual to hold up as a shining example I know) used it a few years ago whilst referring to a Pakistan UN detachment and was lambasted by the left-leaning elements in the UK media.

old and angry said...

Must be a quiet news day,for this non-story to reach the proportions it has

Rush-is-Right said...

This is only a news item because a Murdoch crap-sheet decided that it was to be one.

The word "Paki" is certainly part of my vocabulary, I know what I mean by it and it is not derogatory to anybody.

Do I object to being called a Brit?

What nonsense.

The correct reaction would have been for the Palace to have come out fighting and to tell these a-holes where they get off.

Unknown said...

Of course Paki can be used as a derogatory term. I'm half Chinese, half English, and have been called a Paki by some idiot youths who probably couldn't point at France on a map.

The point here, of course, is context. Clearly, in the context I have experienced the term "Paki", it is clearly a term of racist abuse. You cannot compare it to "Brit", because no one yells "f*ck off, you f*cking Brit" in your face on the bus. In Harry's case, it's probably just banter. All I can say is at least he's fighting for his country, which is more than most idiot journalists can say.

JuliaM said...

"It's interesting how the word "Paki" has become socially unacceptable."

Only for some. Haven't some British-born Asians started to 'reclaim' the word, in the manner of African-Americans and that word so favoured by rap stars...?

Weygand said...

The important issue is that Harry and all the foreign soldier's colleagues (and those running the training, who awarded him a prize) seemed to have genuine respect for him.

There is no evidence that he felt belittled or bullied by the remark, any more than Harry did when someone asks him if his pubes are ginger.

If there is one thing that marks out any group/individual as part of the 'other', it is when he/she/it is singled out for special treatment.

Insisting that certain groups be exempt from the non-PC banter IN THIS SORT OF CONTEXT [when AND PROVIDED THAT offence is neither intended nor taken] merely goes to hamper rather than assist their genuine integration.

Alan Douglas said...

I have known many Pakis who referred to each other as ... Paki.

Alan Douglas

Richard Edwards said...

The royals are always making comments that are near to the mark. The Queen Mother according to Edward Stourton made racially derogatory remarks and the Duke of Edinburgh was notorious for his gaffes. What's new? Nothing.

What is annoying is the queue of professional Buttinskies and others who are 'offended' by some trivial out of context bollocks who feel free to share their 'opinions' with the rest of us. David Cameron included.

Andy said...

So first off we have all the ususal right wing loons on here claiming that calling someone a paki is the same as calling someone an afghan or a brit. Only a fool would say this..and it seems several have done (that's you Brave_Sir_Robin and Rush_is_Right)

Anyone with any understanding of race relations in the UK will appreciate that the term 'paki' is loaded with racist connortations and has usually been accompanied by a tirade of racist abuse and often violence by right wing thugs against people of Asian origin. It is not the same as Brit by any stretch of the imagination.
Imagine at a dinner party, "Hello Marjorie, have you met this Paki yet?"

Next we have Iain claiming,

"Of course, the other person in this sorry saga who should be hanging their head in shame is the scumbag who sold the video to the News of the World"

Iain, if you say that of course Harry should apologise then why is the person who brought this to the public attention somehow a scumbag?
Is Tory Bear a scumbag for publishing Matt Lewis' disgraceful facebook comments? Either something is wrong or it is not. Don't shoot the messenger Iain.

Iain Dale said...

Andy, I referred to this person as a scumbag as he no doubt got paid for it. I doubt whether he did it out of a sense of public spirit.

As for Tory Bear, you make a fair point. He asked me to publish the story. I declined to, which probably tells you what I thought of his action in posting it. I foresaw the press consequences and wanted nothing to do with it.

JuliaM said...

"Anyone with any understanding of race relations in the UK..."

In other words, if you aren't howling with righteous indignation over this, you must somehow be ignorant of race relations in the UK.

Even if you were born here and grew up here. You must therefore (presumably) wander the streets deaf, dumb and blind.

Or in other words - 'we define what is 'racist' and you just have to agree if you know what's good for you...', The usual rallying cry of the professionally-aggrieved.

Unknown said...

I can't really seen any news in this whatsoever - it was clear that Harry did not mean it as an offensive term, and for a term to be offensive it really has to have intent behind it. It was merely banter and he shouldn't have even had to apologise,

Jabba the Cat said...

More PC bollocks in the media.

Victor, NW Kent said...

At 4.17 Andy says "Imagine at a dinner party, "Hello Marjorie, have you met this Paki yet?"
I can't really but neither can I imagine introducing Marjorie to "this Frenchman", "this Venezualan", "this Spaniard" or even "this Pakistani". I would introduce the person by name as would any normal person.
And the person who brought this to the attention of the NofW no doubt did it for reward. So, yes, let's shoot the messenger for a corrupt act.

Unknown said...

There you go again Iain Dale, keenly defending the establishment.

Isn't the truth that Harry Windsor has displayed a racist pattern of behaviour which shows he is unfit for public office. That people like this are in line to the throne just demonstrates the nonsense that is monarchy. It's time for a Republic!

neil craig said...

P*k* is simply a diminutive of P*kist*n*. It is not inherently racist any more than Sc*t is racist & N*rth Br*t*n isn't (don't try this in Glasgow folks).

It is a geographical term which has been declared racist by the PC brigade & they have thus decreed that Asian is the "correct" term. Thus the BBC can, with a straight face report that "Asian & Chinese youths clashed today in ...." which I would consider insulting if I was Chinese.

Guthrum said...

I have been call a Limey in the States, a Brit in Ireland etc etc.... Who cares ! the Ginger chinless wonder can say what he wants he will only learn what is and what is not acceptable until somebody gives him a smack in the mouth, but being a 'Royal' that is not very likely, as 70% of the population will be too busy licking his boots.

Rush-is-Right said...

Andy @4.17 you are right. I have no knowledge whatsoever of race relations in the UK. I was brought up in Birmingham in the 1950s and 60s and so was completely out of the loop. And also, nobody ever taught me how to spell "connortations".

So sorry. I withdraw my earlier posting and submit to your superior, in fact oh-so-superior knowledge .

Anonymous said...

The Sunday press at its radiant best yet again. Piffle from start to finish.

Anonymous said...

I am a passive republican - i.e. don't think the monarchy should exist but the alternative would be just as unacceptable to many (40 -50% at a guess!)so might as well keep it.

I think what Harry has said given it's age is completly overblown. I would also say that Harry has done at least something many of his leftwing critiques would not do and enlist in the armed services, furthermore - he is a high levelled target by "anti-British" forces. That takes bottle IMO to vounter given the circumstances.

Harry has fought in a war that the Labour party entered - I notice Downing street have been very quite - the leftwing defetists and PC brigade should shut up! I feel Harry is becoming the whipping boy for a war Labour entered. Yes maybe he should not have said it but he was a boy then - he has come back from combat a man! Just remember that before you condemn!

subrosa said...

Strange how if anyone refers to a person from Pakistan as 'Paki' it is taboo.

If anyone refers to a person from Scotland as 'jock' it's totally acceptable.

I actually find the 'jock' less acceptable as it is a sexist comment. I've been pleading (to no avail) for us women to be referred to as 'janet'.

Utter nonsense this is Sunday headlines.

I concur with Iain that the person who sold the tape is the guilty party. Not to worry, they'll be found whoever they are.

Anonymous said...

Did the N.o W. get Harrys permission to publish his copyright material. I would be very surprised.

mark said...

As the years go by, the media get selectively more sanctimonious, pious and hypocritical - attempting to stir the public into a self righteous holier than thou frenzy.

And the addition of instant media through the internet and other technology, just makes the other lot of 'act horrified' self appointed gobshites look important when they look in the mirror - their egos swelling from another soundbite that appears on the subjective BBC website..smug in their higher tax rate salary that allows such showing off (all in the name of the victims guv).

Roll back the years of political correctness and let us all have a blinkin' opinion, without the fear of eternal retribution from the unemployable (in the real world) egotists that populate fanatical Quangos, and have destroyed our sense of national pride through misguided rhetoric and lifetime student status that moves across to the political arena.

God help us from the left wing spite that resides in this once great country, and dresses itself up as 'progressive'.

Poppycock - all of it.

AdamJacobson said...

I have no doubt that the press is sanctimonious and hypocritical when dealing with those in the public eye. However, it is time for the royal family, and esp. Prince Harry,to realise that dressing up as a WW2 German officer or calling somebody a Paki, even when done privately or in jest, will be taken out of context and blown up by a press who rely not on investigation but on tittle tattle and exclusive exposes.

Just saying....


Anonymous said...

They didnt play up the fact that this was infact three years ago.
Having been in Trinidad recently, I wassuprised that the Trinnys , called each other the N word , openly. I would not have dared.

Curbishly said...

This is a legitimate website based in Lahore in, Yep, Pakistan.

Billed as the "Biggest Pakistani online community". look at some item headers imagine repeating "Paki soul food" or "Paki news" or "For Pakis in North America".

Jimmy said...

1. It's not an acceptable term. In this day and age no-one should even have to have that explained to them.

2. As with Matt Lewis, the Prince said something offensive and tasteless under the mistaken impression they were being amusing. Most of us have I expect done so at some point in our lives. The Prince has apologised as no doubt will Lewis. They are both young men who will no doubt be more careful in future. No further action required.

3. Apparently the Conservative Party's moral arbiter is, of all people, Caroline Spelman. Were I Mr. Lewis I might consider myself a little hard done by.

Anonymous said...

It all happened three years ago, FFS, in private.

Which of you sanctimonious, politically correct, royalty bashers are absolutely sure you haven't said anything in private during the last three years that you'd loathe to see leaked?

Humbug from start to finish.

Me said...

Just another case of certain people getting enjoyment from being offended. It's the new national sport, donchaknow?

Andy said...

Ok then nutters. Why not try walking up to an Asian chap and ask him if he minds being called a Paki? Then try the same with an "Aussie" or an "Afghan". I guess if he isn't too keen then he is just looking for some sympathy from the PC/Lefty brigade eh?

Or try it this way. Would it be ok for someone to stand outside a synagogue waving a swastika flag around? If not why not? Should jews take offence at this simple Indian mystical signal? Are they being hyper-sensitive when they mention that this was the most visible emblem of the Nazi regime in Germany? Surely under your logic they should just move on as the past usage of a word or symbol is irrelevant to any argument?

I can never spell 'connotation' right. Damn me.

Andy said...

Andy, I referred to this person as a scumbag as he no doubt got paid for it. I doubt whether he did it out of a sense of public spirit.

True Iain. Do journalists write stories out of a sense of public spirit or because the get paid? Everything is a commodity at the end of the day.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Poofters, Dykes,Trannies, God Botherers, Taffs, Yanks, Frogs, EyeTies, Lefties, Righties, Gippos, Muzzies, Gingers, Yids, Darkies etc, etc, etc.

How many of the above have I really offended?

Why does everybody want to be so effing precious about it? Get a life.

And don't try and control what I say or what I think. You have no right. No right whatsoever.

JuliaM said...

"It's not an acceptable term."

According to whom? Where might people look up other terms, to see what is deemed officially 'acceptable'?

And are you going to march up to the next group of young men using this term, if they happen to be themselves Asian? I'd pay to see that!

TTGZ said...

I think that the reaction on this blog sums up the problem this country still faces with regards to racism, homophobia, sexism etc.

We are making progress in changing the way our institutions - be they the military, or our top universities - are run. We are trying to change the type of people who become members of such 'elite clubs'.

But what we have difficulty changing is the day-to-day, passive bigotry that afflicts our society. It's the bigotry of letting your 8 year old child describe something as "gay" to mean "bad". It's the bigotry of calling a friend a "paki". Essentially, it is the bigotry of inaction.

And this is why most people here, Iain included, seem to want to vilify the media for this - not because of the "OTT" response, or the tabloid orgy, or the hypocrisy of it - but because the media violated the golden rule of contemporary discrimination: they made something public.

I understand that it's a far more popular, and a far easier position to take, to simply say that it was "banter among friends", that "offence wasn't meant, and offence wasn't taken", that we should just "let it be". But if our goal is genuine social reconciliation: If you believe the crap about "broken Britain", and you want to fix it, then it requires action.

And we can start here, even if it seems trivial. If we make an example of something when it becomes a large public issue, then I believe it will go a long way to changing the million other similar events which all go unnoticed.

Andy said...

"And are you going to march up to the next group of young men using this term, if they happen to be themselves Asian? I'd pay to see that!"

That's the point...oh my...back to World of Warcraft dearie.

Jimmy said...


The fact that you have to ask demonstrates why so many people have difficulty believing your party, notwithstanding the sincere efforts of some, has really changed. If I were on your side, defending racial epithets is not the battle I would pick, but ultimately that is one of the many reasons I'm not.

JuliaM said...

"That's the point...oh my...back to World of Warcraft dearie."

Back to it...? I'm playing it simultaneously. That the thing with us women, we can multitask.

And I note that for such a fearless champion of 'equality', when backed into a corner by your own double standards, you have no hesitation reaching for what you assume to be a demeaning putdown, do you..? ;)

JuliaM said...

"The fact that you have to ask demonstrates why so many people have difficulty believing your party..."

What's 'my party', Jimmy? Do tell.

Twig said...

These are soldiers we're talking about. They're trained to withstand psychological torture. How is calling them a Paki going to upset them. If it does, then we're in deep trouble.

The creep who sold the clip and the NOTW are not in it for any noble reason, just cash - be in no doubt.

Andrew Marr was treating this on a par with murder, but the BBC forget that they pay people very large sums to be deliberately offensive and broadcast such behaviour over the air.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

"We are making progress", said "Transatlantic".

Who the fuck is "WE"?

We are building a religion.
We are building it bigger.
We are widening the corridors and adding more lanes.
We are now accepting orders for the pendant keychains.

It's bloody witch hunting hysteria "we" are making progress with.

If you tolerate this....

JuliaM said...

"And we can start here, even if it seems trivial. If we make an example of something when it becomes a large public issue, then I believe it will go a long way to changing the million other similar events which all go unnoticed."

Or maybe we'll end up with utter madness like this.

Keep your Brave New World, Transatlantic. I'll live in the real, albeit flawed, one thanks...

trinitylaw said...

This non-story exemplifies perfectly the lack of understanding by the popular press of the fact of humorously intended 'banter' between members of the armed forces. It is simply a fact of service life that soldiers say things to each other, and about each other, in jest that, if said by one stranger to another, would be horribly offensive, but, in the context of army life, is simply meant as friendly humour, often to lower the tension in dangerous combat zones. Prince Harry himself is doubtless teased by his comrades for being posh, upper class, royal, ginger, and goodness knows what else, and doubtless takes it all in good humour (indeed the video in which his alleged offences are shown concludes with him engaging in self-deprecatory humour, but when he dares light-heartedly to mock his comrades, the press feel the need to manufacture shock and disgust.

The sanctimonious News of the World (who published the story) simply fail to understand the way that soldiers talk about each other, and their crocodile tears over the incident shows they have little respect for the realities of life of our serving men and women. This, alas, is probably a reflection of a wider civilian lack of understanding about the army and how soldiers keep each others' morale up through joking and making fun of each other.

This story says far more about the failure of many in society to understand the pressures on soldiers, and how they deal with those pressures, than it does about a young soldier who, like his comrades, faithfully serves to protect the freedoms which the News of the World puts to such odious use.

TTGZ said...

@Weasel: 'we' are society.

@Julia: "I'll live in the real, albeit flawed, [world] thanks..." --do you really mean this?

I could equally say the same thing about your Bristol example: "come off it, guidelines like that are just the real world. Get used to it and move on."

But we all seek changes - presumably for the better. I'm guessing you would like to see simplified and common sense guidelines for the council in Bristol. I would like to see an end to bigotry in all areas of society.

If you disagree with my vision, then say so. But don't pretend that you are opposed to all forms of change, and try to avoid the discussion altogether.

JuliaM said...

"I could equally say the same thing about your Bristol example: "come off it, guidelines like that are just the real world. Get used to it and move on.".."

That's the real world?

You think those kind of discussions go on anywhere in real businesses, as opposed to the taxpayer-funded sinecures of the civil service? Where people have nothing to do all day but think up new ways of being offended and massaging the 'equality and diversity' figures?

"If you disagree with my vision, then say so."

If by 'vision', you mean the pathetic 'let's not offend anyone' crap as exposed in that list, then yes, I oppose it. You have no right not to be offended.

If fewer people were advised of this fact, we'll all be a lot saner...

Jimmy said...

"Prince Harry himself is doubtless teased by his comrades for being posh, upper class, royal, ginger, and goodness knows what else, and doubtless takes it all in good humour"

And of course as Patrick Mercer so memorably pointed out, racial abuse is really no worse than being called ginger.

Jess The Dog said...

It was a stupid thing to say, and offensive, but there is a wider context.

Military life, particularly during early training, is full of banter - much of it personal or sexual. I went through this with the RAF in officer training, you need a sense of humour but - at the end of the day - there is no greater team in the world.

I know fine well how offensive the term "Paki" is, as I went to comprehensive school in the 80s. I doubt Harry has a clue. I suspect the training staff would have "counselled" him if they had picked up on this.

The military do take racism seriously. The one time I heard of a term of racist abuse being used the culprit was out of the unit within 24 hours and disciplined. I really hope this does not damage recruitment from minority groups.

Harry needs to take a hit and apologise, but this has a wider context (and probably an agenda as well).

Hypocrisy detective said...

I guess what really matters is whether the person who makes such a comment happens to share your conservative world view and/or form part of the establishment.

Nice dog-whistle journalism.

Dungeekin said...

In my seven years in the Forces, I served with the following:

Several Paddys, a couple of Micks (no, that wasn't their real name), two black guys, called 'Chalky' and 'Roots' respectively and an Asian lad called 'Cornershop'.

Were these racist names? Nope. They were good colleagues, good naval ratings and good mates. It's just a name. Intent is everything.

This is just something old and irrelevant for the Tabloid Gutter to get themselves aerated about - nothing more.


Ross Mackinnon said...

The hysteria is comical, and even some normally sane commenters have taken the PC bait for fear of being painted as racist.

The way I see it: for a term to be offensive, either the person making the comment must intend offence of those hearing the comment must take offence. Otherwise there's no offence, is there?!

This comment was made IN PRIVATE to a friend. No offence was meant, and none was taken. It was simply banter among young men who were about to put their lives in each others' hands on the battlefield.

Prince Harry has done absolutely nothing wrong, other than not have a scout about the room to see who was filming.

The Speaker said...

Dale feels his readers may dissapear. When i left a comment last night on this blog, regarding this story i thought i was excercising my right to freedom of speech. I yesterday created a blog and added the link alongside my comment. So Iain Dale deleted the whole comment so that readers of his blog do not go onto my blog. Well luukily here is the comment from that i published without my link.
Although the Prince did not mean any harm by saying these words, he has to take responsibility for his actions and the consequences that come with it. Unfortunately the term Paki is a term that is not very much liked within the Pakistani community, as this was according to my understanding a term of abuse used by the racist "skin-heads" in the 60's and 70's. In light of his highly respected position it is not good publicity and sends out a negative ethos of the Royal household, one which Pakistanis respect and regard as an epitome of greatness

Iain Dale said...

The Speaker, I did nothing of the sort. You left your comment on a different thread. Perhaps you;d now like to apologise.

I also made a note to add your blog to the TP Blog Directory and include it in my Ten New Blogs post. Perhaps I won't now! Joke.

Iain Dale said...

Forgot to add the link