Saturday 24 January 2015

Even More Myths.

I love the English, we are a nation put together, expecting a life of adversity. We love to support the under dog, but more than anything else, without a scintilla of proof we are prepared to beleive the worst about anyone. Now don't get me wrong, this is not intended to 'whitewash everyone' or even to 'tar everyone with the same brush'. I love all the mixed metaphors. But like discussing the weather its a national pastime. But I digress.

But more than anything else, almost rivalling football as a national sport. We love to bash and blame the local political representatives. Either as individuals or collectively as the council. The council becomes the whipping boy for all ills. If that blame can also include some ethnic minorities - we enjoy the whole grand spectacle even more. 

I have spent a lot of time in and around Birmingham and to be honest - I love the place. Yet there is an oft repeated urban myth, that Birmingham City council tried to rename the Christmas event - in an attempt to avoid offending non Christians. In reality, what happened was that Birmingham city council came up with the phrase 'Winterval'. It was intended to be used to publicise a large number of different events taking place in the city over the winter period. 

The events for which Birmingham is famous for, included a series of New Year concerts. It also coincided with Diwali. Birmingham has a population which includes people of an Asion origin - so it was a good idea to include. Birmingham is also famous for the German Christmas market as well as the Christmas light decorations and Christmas shopping in general. However, a journalist put his own biased spin on the story and it was portrayed as an attempt to rename Christmas. 

But there have been other similar outlandish claims. In the twentieth century there have been several controversies an debates about political correctness. Claims such as schools being ordered by the government to change the wording of nursery rhymes.  

Baa, Baa, Black Sheep is an English nursery rhyme, the earliest surviving version of which dates from 1731. The words have changed little over the centuries. Theories have been advanced to explain the meaning of the rhyme. These include that it is a complaint against Medieval English taxes on wool and also that it is about the slave trade.  

This load of round spherical objects was based only on a rewriting of the rhyme in one private nursery. Done as an exercise for the children there and not on any local government policy. Baa Baa Black Sheep is the case in question - it was reported that to avoid causing offence to black people. The words were to be changed to Baa Baa Indeterminate Colour Sheep and a further version. Baa Baa Rainbow Colour Sheep. Further controversy emerged in the late 90's when reservations about the rhyme were submitted to Birmingham City Council by a working group on racism in children's resources. The items highlighted for editing were never approved or implemented.

Like the promise of a free meal - if it sounds too far fetched to be real - it usually is. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please put your name to your comment. Comments without a name may automatically be treated as spam and might not be included.

If you do not wish your comment to be published say so in your comment. If you have a tip or sensitive information you’d prefer to share anonymously, you may do so. I will delete the comment after reading.