I read in today’s paper that Riz Ahmed, an actor, had “shocked” a cinema audience by introducing the film Taxi Driver with the words, “The original film inspired the assassination attempt of Ronald Reagan. So, you never know, tonight’s screening might inspire someone to shoot David Cameron. We can only hope.” The actor, 27, apparently apologised afterwards, and said that his remark was intended as a joke – “Comedy is about taking risks and seeing the silly side to serious situations.”
So, do you think this is funny? Do you think it is acceptable? And what, pray, would the left had said, had a similar “quip” been made about either Mr Blair or Mr Brown? I have a particular reason for asking this. As some of you may know, I am currently learning how to become a teacher, and I have had occasion to observe precisely this sort of unthinking put-down of anything right wing. In a history lecture, when considering a list of the top ten greatest Britons, as voted for by the British public, the point was made that this represented a snapshot in time, and that were the list to be compiled now, Princess Diana would almost certainly not feature. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/2341661.stm ) What was then considered was an alternative list put out by academics, that included Mrs Thatcher – “Whatever you may think of Thatcher,” said our lecturer, “she did have an enormous influence that cannot be denied.” The implication was clear: that we, in the class, would rightly be shocked by Mrs Thatcher’s inclusion, and that only an appeal to historical influence would quell our undoubted objections.
A few days later, I attended an English lecture, in which the tutor had brought in some newspapers to consider the coverage of children by the press. “Be careful with my precious (her adjective) Guardian”, she said, giving it out. Another table got The Daily Mail. “I almost couldn’t bring myself to buy that”, she laughed. She is a very nice woman, and I like her a great deal. She is passionate about English, and is also interested in poetry. She is the sort of person you wish your own children had been taught by. And yet, here we are, on a teacher training course, where diversity and multiculturalism is to the fore and all are to be welcomed for their backgrounds no matter what they may be – unless, it seems, you labour under the impediment of being a little towards the right of the political spectrum. I am completely in agreement with the fact that none of us chooses our parents, and thus no matter what the individual background of any child, they should feel welcome in the classroom, and feel that there is no particular disadvantage in whatever their home circumstances happen to be. I would, however, point out that this applies not only to immigrant children who have sneaked into the UK on the back of a lorry, but also to the children who have the infinitely more unacceptable cross to bear of having a Conservative for a parent – and possibly, even, a Conservative councillor or MP.
I am mildly amused that in an environment where all consider themselves squeaky clean as far as tolerance is concerned, it is still acceptable to lob casual jibes at anything right of centre. As a conservative, perhaps I notice this more than I should – but really, there shouldn’t be anything for me to notice. It seems that tolerance only goes so far, no matter how Politically Correct one’s outlook.