Who's The Chimp?


In today’s world, the list of things that can go mad is literally endless: dogs, bureaucracy, Senator Bill Heffernan. But there is nothing in the modern world that goes mad as often, and as thoroughly, as political correctness.

To see the truth of this, one only has to read the letters pages of some of our finest Murdoch-owned tabloids, where "political correctness gone mad" has practically become a catchphrase. But there’s nothing amusing about the phenomenon; it is, without hyperbole, a cancer on our way of life, a metaphor I will probably soon be unable to use because of political correctness.

I formed the view that we have passed the PC-point-of-no-return when I heard of the furore that had erupted over a cartoon in the US, depicting the unfortunate chimpanzee who was shot dead simply for following his own God-given instinct to rip off people’s faces. This cartoon made the rather obvious connection between the dead chimp and President Obama’s economic stimulus plan, and for some reason this simple point has resulted in an uproar so enormous you would think somebody had accused Dame Elisabeth Murdoch of date rape.

Seriously, people. Let’s take a deep breath. Have we really come to this? Has our obsession with political correctness reached the point where we cannot call the President of the United States a chimpanzee without being scolded for being "offensive"?

So much for free speech. Time was when it was considered not only a right, but a duty, to compare one’s political masters with lower animals. In the 1980s cartoonists regularly depicted Ronald Reagan as an angry moose, and Margaret Thatcher as a snobbish raccoon. And of course even before that there was our very own Gough "Marmoset" Whitlam. But apparently today, if I wanted to publish a cartoon portraying Kevin Rudd as an economically profligate spider monkey, I would be savaged by the liberal media elites and forever labelled as some kind of fascist monster.

How did we come to this? How I long for the days when being politically correct merely meant you knew the answer to the question "What was the impetus for the passage by Alfred Deakin’s second government of the Papua Act of 1905?"

Oh, the idea of political correctness may have started out with a noble intention — to irritate Piers Akerman — but it has become something far more sinister. Somewhere we lost our sense of freedom, somewhere we let the leftists and the greenies and the do-gooders and the bleeding hearts and the unionists and the snivel libertarians and the technocrats and the pornographers and the Sydney Morning Herald subsume our sturdy Australian tradition of plain-talking — to the point where nowadays you can barely even comment on the Lebanese rapist problem without having some smelly tree-hugging, Bob Brown-kissing, unemployed dope smoker hauling out the rent-a-crowd for a protest march quicker than you can say "Africans go home".

So what happened? Was it Paul Keating’s fault? Bob Hawke’s? Kevin Rudd’s? Mark Latham’s? Gareth Evans’s? The answer to all of these questions is yes, but let’s not pretend it’s a purely local phenomenon. The Obama-chimp affair shows that even in that bastion of free speech, the USA, where once all were free to speak their mind and call a spade an ape, the situation has become desperate. When Rupert Murdoch apologises, dark days are indeed at hand.

I mean, looked at with calm reason and objectivity, what is the big freaking deal? If Barack Obama happens to resemble a mad chimpanzee, what is the sin in saying so? Is simple observation now "taboo"? What’s the terrible offence here? Saying the president is a chimp? Saying the president’s economic plan could have been written by a chimp? Saying the president rips off people’s faces? Saying the president should be shot to death? Christ, lighten up. I doubt Obama himself worries about people commenting on his looks or his intelligence or his suitability for assassination; why should we?

It’s like the whole thing with Christmas in schools. Once upon a time we celebrated Christmas with trees and Christmas carols and cutting Santas and angels out of stiff paper and ineptly colouring them in. But now traditional Christmas activities are "politically incorrect", so the schools have torn down the decorations and our children have to celebrate Christmas by sitting around eating pita bread and discussing how children celebrated Christmas in Machu Picchu. Hell, you’re not even supposed to say "Merry Christmas" any more, you have to say "Best Wishes" or "Happy pre-New Year’s Eve" or "Allahu Akbar" or some damn thing.

Race, religion … even sex is not immune to the creeping spectre of the "PC police". You can’t even give a lady a compliment these days, unless you want a faceful of mace and a criminal record. Time was a woman liked being complimented. "That dress really suits you," a fellow might say, and the lady would smile and nod her appreciation. "You look absolutely edible," a gentleman might opine, or "Bugger me, look at those", and the fairer sex would take this flattery in the spirit it was intended. It was a far more civilised time, before "equality" destroyed good relations between the sexes.

It was "equality" that made Christine Nixon Victoria’s police commissioner, despite myriad peer-reviewed scientific studies demonstrating that women’s bodies contain far too many hormones to allow effective police work. It was "equality" that gave us Amanda Vanstone, and a bunch of supposed "feminists" who are so lazy they started a political movement rather than spend an extra half-hour in front of a mirror. Thanks, "equality", thank you a frigging bundle.

It’s got to stop. We’ve got to stop labelling people "racist" every time they question immigration quotas, or labelling people "sexist" every time they admire a woman’s physical appearance, or labelling people "homophobic" every time they join the Catholic Church. We’ve got to get back to the way things were, when men were men and women were women and anyone who didn’t fit either category was properly institutionalised. We’ve got to stop worrying about stepping on the toes of those less white or western or masculine or non-perverted than ourselves.

We must, in short, find the strength to each release our own personal inner chimp cartoon. Tell it how it is, call it as you see it, straight up, no beg-your-pardons, take no prisoners. Stand up to the namby-pamby, freedom-hating, whale-watching, pseudo-indigenous nanny-staters, and tell them: this is my opinion, and I am not ashamed!

Because if we let ourselves be ruled by political correctness, the terrorists win.

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.