“Political correctness gone mad!” says judge. You wouldn’t usually pay any attention to anyone uttering this banal cliché – invariably it’s going to be used by a Daily Mail type banging on about gay adoption or something. You’d be even less likely to pay attention to a judge using it – most likely he’s just outraged that women are allowed to join his golf club. But in this case, the man has a point.
A ten year old boy from the Greater Manchester area was hauled before a court, having been accused of racially abusing a fellow pupil. Clearly I am not condoning the use of racially offensive words: in fact they make me sick. But what kind of country is this becoming when a ten year old child – who probably has no comprehension of the true meaning of the words he is using – has to be brought in front of a court to be punished for his behaviour? I left school fifteen years ago, so things may have changed a little, but I distinctly remember a collection of people called ‘teachers’ who are supposed to deal with this sort of thing themselves. Perhaps – and I’m just thinking out loud here – they could have talked to this boy and clearly demonstrated to him how wrong and offensive and disgusting it is to use these words? To perhaps, I don’t know, teach him? Maybe get his parents involved? But clearly not. A ten year old child uses racist language in the playground? Let’s call the police – they’ve got nothing better to do after all.
How do you suppose the conversation went at the police station?
OK, what is there to deal with today?
Well sir, there was an armed robbery in Salford. . . a knifing at a night club in Oldham Street. . . loads of burglaries in Fallowfield last week. . . a fatal shooting in the Moss Side area. . . Oh, but hang on! What’s this? A child used some racist words at school!
Right. Put everything else on hold. We’re going in!
Judge Finestein adjourned the case until 20th April and asked the prosecutors to have a think about whether the case really served the public interest. Hmmm. Tough one. It also transpires that, since the incident took place, the two boys concerned have actually become friends – something that will teach this kid more about tolerance of other ethnic groups than any number of court hearings brought against him by hysterical PC mandarins.
Speaking of hysterical (please forgive the Daily Mail link – I promise not to make a habit of it), Chris Keates, leader of the teaching union NASUWT, accused the judge of “feeding the pernicious agenda” of right wing extremists. She went on to say that:
Judges have a responsibility to consider the potential impact of their comments. The timing of his remarks is particularly unfortunate. The local elections are imminent and candidates from the extreme right are being fielded in many cities.
Judge Finestein is Jewish, so you can see how he would want to further the cause of people like the British National Party. Ms Keates later regretted her remarks in this context – she had not realised that Mr Finestein was Jewish. Yes, it must have been difficult to work that out with a name like that mustn’t it? Finestein – that good traditional Welsh surname.
In fairness to the Greater Manchester Police, it turns out that they did not personally favour the case going to court, preferring instead to issue the boy with a caution – which still seems an unnecessary over-reaction. The boy’s mother rejected this approach as it would mean admitting that her son was racist. As if a ten year old boy can really be classified as being racist and be labelled as such for life. But under Home Office guidance, not accepting the caution automatically means the case must go before the courts when really, all that was ever needed was teacher and parent intervention to educate the child as to the error of his ways. Common sense anyone?
In the absence of Richard Littlejohn, I guess I’ll just have to say it myself: You couldn’t make it up.