Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"Strictly" leads race to the bottom of the class

Laila Rouass - click to read her story on the Mirror websiteJust when you thought it was safe to watch the sequins again, Strictly Come Dancing has had its first controversy of the season. The sister-show to America's Dancing with the Stars made the papers over news that one of the celebrity dancers, Anton du Beke, informed actress Laila Rouass, who had undergone the famous fake tan treatment, "you look like a Paki".

I can appreciate that the show's producers don't need this. Last year, judges Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli, Craig Revel Horwood and Arlene Philips made it clear that veteran political journalist John Sergeant, then aged 64, was not welcome on the show despite constant support from vJohn Sergeant with Kristina Rihanoff - click to read the story of his departureiewers. Even in the context of forgetting that it was an entertainment show, Arlene Philips went above and beyond the call of duty in briefing against Sergeant on Steve Wright's Radio 2 show shortly before Sergeant resigned, and then said she'd always supported him. This may explain her having been replaced by former Strictly winner Alesha Dixon, with ballerina Darcy Bussell to join the judges in later episodes, which then led the BBC into the mouth of another ageism row.

The Telegraph's showbusiness editor, Anita Singh, puts the reason for the public reaction to this row in a nutshell in the article linked to in the first paragraph when she quotes a protestor on the show's messageboard: "I'm not comfortable with Anton's continued presence in the show, especially when Carol Thatcher was sacked for making a similarly controversial remark".

Carol ThatcherCarol Thatcher was alleged to have compared somebody's hair to that of a golliwog's and was ostensibly sacked from the BBC's The One Show for this, although many - myself included - maintain that her crime was to be the progeny of Margaret Thatcher, Britain's greatest peacetime Prime Minister and BBC critic.

In defence of the corporation, it is part of an Establishment for which racism is the new Holocaust denial even as, ironically, deying the real Shoah becomes ever more acceptable through some of the media's wanton wooing of Iran's President Ahmadinejad.

Couple this with an administration so ideologically driven much of its members have lost control with reality, and you have the ingredients for farces Mack Sennett could only dream of.

Take nine-year-old Steven Cheek, who was branded a racist and made to apologise to his class for "offensive language". His language? I quote the Daily Mail's Peter Hitchens:
Nine-year-old Steven Cheek didn’t know what ‘racism’ was until he was reprimanded for playing soldiers. Now he knows it’s a word used by the ignorant and conformist to control thought and speech.

Some dimwit teacher knew nothing about history and even less about boys, and so concluded that for Steven to say ‘We’ve got to shoot the German army’ to a Polish boy was ‘inappropriate’. Why? I imagine such thoughts are often expressed in Polish schools, most of which had to be rebuilt after the German army passed by in 1939.
So you'd think, then, that schools would look favourable on teachers who take robust action upon pupils who act in what the board of governors perceive to be a racist manner. But Michael Becker discovered otherwise when he manhandled a 15-year-old boy who would not stop telling a racist joke out of the classoom and into an unlocked cupboard. He now faces being referred to the General Teaching Council of England or the Independent Safeguarding Authority, either of which can prevent him from teaching again. But...what if he finds himself referred to both, and they differ as to whether he can continue to teach? That will be a battle worth seeing.

Although the Government doesn't seem to have a problem with imagining what age is, as MPs tend to be elected after the first flush of youth, the problem is that one of the many things it has forgotten is what race is, outside of merely a social construct. It's the presence of discrete physiological differences marking you as being descended from a community which spent a long time in isolation from other communities. I'm not talking about the genetic accident of skin colour: rather, for example, higher vulnerability to problematic alcohol use in some Native American communities due to genetically-derived variations in the enzymatic pathway through which alcohol is metabolised; or an inability of membersthanks to Chris Madden for the cartoon: please click to visit his site of some communities from sub-Saharan Africa to fully digest cow's milk; or indeed - a more common one whose effects are seen from Japanese people in Hawaii to black people in the US and Scots and Irish everywhere - the propensity of people descended from communities that often experienced prolonged hunger to pile on the pounds when exposed to the modern western diet.

The Beatles' Apple BoutiqueWhat race doesn't consist of is a hanger in the Goverment's shop of shibboleths from which, as in the last days of the Beatles' Apple Boutique, anybody who wants to display the latest politically correct fashion can carry away what they want with no responsibility or desire to display the courage of their convictions when the buzzwords are given a stir.

Michael Becker will be sentenced on October 23 - as well as potential referrals to the General Teaching Council of England and the Independent Safeguarding Authority, he is due to be disciplined by Suffolk County Council, and could face up to 6 months in prison. Whatever happens, I predict that he'll be somethin of a celebrity by then. Now that the BBC is realising that there's life beyond 40 with the inclusion of 61-year-old Linda Bellingham in Strictly, I wonder if we might see Becker in the next series...?

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