Anorak News | Baa Humbug

Baa Humbug

by | 8th, March 2006

‘WELCOME, bienvenido, foon ying, witajcie and much else besides to our new feature on political correctness going mad.

‘Any more like you at home?’

As the Times reports, traditional nursery rhymes are being altered to avoid causing offence. Toddlers at the Sure Start nursery in Sutton Courteney, Oxfordshire, are singing from a new songbook.

Instead of “baa, baa, black sheep”, the children now ask the “Rainbow Sheep” if the gender non-specific animal has any wool. Not that a sheep should have only wool; sheep are just as able as the rest of farm animals to have leather, suede and fur. Let us not discriminate and revert to hackneyed and arcane stereotypes. Sheep are people, too.

But not everyone agrees. The Times says that critics will seize on this as an example of political correctness. And over in the Mail we read that the nursery rhyme has “fallen victim to the drive for political correctness”.

Stuart Chamberlain, who manages the progressive nursery, explains. “We have taken the equal opportunities approach to everything we do,” he says. “This is fairly standard across nurseries. We are following stringent equal opportunities rules. No one should feel pointed out because of their race, gender or anything else.”

Indeed. Why should the black sheep be asked for its wool – three bagfuls! – when there are plenty of white sheep in the field? Why has it been singled out?

Or might it be that the black sheep has pushed itself to the fore, realising that the only way for its kind to achieve any kind of status in the white sheep’s world is to become an entertainer, in this instance, a singer?

Either way, it goes against the grain of equal opportunities. Better if the black sheep gave one bag of wool to the master, the white sheep gave a bagful to the dame and the third homosexual rainbow sheep gave its wool to the little lad who lives down the lane. This routine would then change at regular intervals so sheep and customers aren’t accused of exercising bias.

Better even if the sheep started taking delivery of their customers’ human hairs, black, white and even ginger.

In the meantime, Gervase Duffield, a Conservative district councillor representing Sutton Courtenay and Appleford, is unhappy.

“It’s the sort of thing that people continually do nowadays — it’s become something of a curse,” he says. “Why do people waste time and money doing this sort of thing when there are far more important things to think about when it comes to educating our children?”

That’s a big question. It might even be bigger than “Have you any wool? And it should not just be directed to black sheep, but thrown open to the entire field…

More political correctness stories to follow…’

Posted: 8th, March 2006 | In: Broadsheets Comment | TrackBack | Permalink