Letters, Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

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It’s important to be ‘politically correct’

“IT’S political correctness gone mad.” How many times have you heard that, or said it yourself? But I believe political correctness is a good thing. I want to live in a PC world. Frankly I think the expression “PC gone mad” has been over-used by Conservative politicians and the right-wing press, and it’s become a convenient thing for people to grumble about. Most people don’t understand what PC is really about.

PC began as an offshoot of the feminist movement in the United States. Its supporters realised that to change bad attitudes, you have to change the language. Offensive words to go – the “N” word to describe black people, the “Q” word for gays. My mother was happy to call herself a housewife, but now I see how that term demeans women and stereotypes their role in society.

I accept there are times when this can see, ridiculous. For example, the word “fat”. Because it’s usually used as an insult, the PC invented the term “horizontally-challenged”. But it’s not very sensible to replace a short word with a hyphenated term with seven syllables.

Let’s banish racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, all kinds of intolerance, including rude personal remarks at work. When I hear people moan about PC, I wonder: is it because they secretly want to use offensive language about various minority groups? They grumble about how they are denied the right to free speech, but I’m suspicious about what it is they want to say. Maybe if the dictatorship of the liberal minority prevents people from being offensive towards others, PC isn’t such a bad thing.

Walter Halls, Longridge Avenue, Washington

More hypocrisy

IT is claimed the mess we find ourselves in with News International is Margaret Thatcher’s fault (Letters, July 26). Nothing new there then.

However, in the name of balance it would be worth knowing what Blair and Brown did to curb News International excesses during their 13 years in power? The answer is nothing. As long as News International supported Labour, they were happy. Did not Brown and his wife attend News International executive Rebekah Brook’s birthday party?

It would also be interesting to know what Ed Miliband suggested with regard to breaking up News International during his 15 meetings with them since becoming Labour leader. Nothing at all, I would bet. He was obviously happy with them as he tried to win them over until he saw a band wagon to jump on.

More hypocrisy on a grand scale.

Coun Alan Wright, Conservative, St Chad’s Ward

Boxing memories

MANY years ago I had a delightful correspondence with a grand Sunderland gentleman, N Callander, who was vice-president of Sunderland and District Ex-Boxers’ Association, ring No. 109.

At that time they met at the Hendon Gardens pub. Are they still an active body?

Sadly I was too young to see the great Jack Casey in action but was lucky enough to see Tom Smith fight around 1945.

I remember Jack Wilson (aka Jack Todd) coaching us boys at the first-class Lambton Street Boys’ Club and hope that young lads (and lasses) are still being encouraged in the noble art.

Alan Newman, (Ex-Southwick), Elton Road, Darlington

Waste plant plan

WITH reference to the Jane O’Neill’s feature (Echo, July 5) on the proposed waste station at Hendon.

I purchased land in Corporation Road some 25 years ago and built myself a home and later one each for my son and daughter there. One day I had hoped to see the gasometers disappear from the skyline and see Hendon become an “urban garden”, a term used by the late former council leader Colin Anderson to describe his vision for the East End.

I also recall Mr Anderson commissioning a feasibility study for redevelopment of the docks that included a waste recycling plant. Therefore, Eddy Moore of the Long Streets Action Group has a valid point in raising this issue as the plans for this (including road access) will still be gathering dust in the civic centre despite the report costing the public over £1/2million.

My neighbours and I already suffer the smell of sewage flavouring our meals when there is an easterly breeze, and now we find we may be threatened not only by other aromas but also long-tailed vermin. I recall one time when the Port of Health Inspector was affectionately known as the rat-catcher, and it is the port where these vermin should be restricted for easier control.

Others like myself took the initiative to regenerate homes from industrial wasteland without grants or other handouts and as fully paid-up community tax payers deserve more support from the council to make our area more livable rather becoming a mere existential vacuum.

Les Bute, St Cecelia Close, Sunderland

Genuine ‘fakers’

OF all of the recently documented depraved activities of the gutter press, surely none is more risible than the vicious attack on the disabled, emanating from the national sewage outlet in the last year.

These garbage generators produce perversion for tax-dodging profit, and, like the school-ground bully, look to the weakest for victims.

It has culminated in lurid headlines of “fakers,” referring to the Government’s policy of cutting life support for the most vulnerable to pay failed bankers’ bills. Most people who “read” these organs of bile will be (wilfully?) unaware that the taxpayer is giving £100million to a foreign company, Atos, to replace doctors with a tick-box form to get a “computer says no” clearance to wreck the lives of the genuinely ill.

One of those “fakers” was Larry Newman, whose terminal lung disease was shrugged off by Atos as presumably some kind of ruse. Man-flu, surely. Despite an avalanche of medical opinion, the Atos computer said no.

With astonishing British humour, Larry had the courage to say to his wife: “At least I’m fit for work”. He died a few weeks later.

In case you think this was a one-off mistake, 160,000 people who were deemed “faking” were in fact found on appeal to be really too ill to work. The tribunals have cost the taxpayer a further £30million. This goes beyond scandal and moves into pure evil.

Ian Hamilton, Boult Terrace, Houghton

Sad anniversary

AUGUST 8 will be a sad anniversary in one household in Ingushetia in the Russian Federation, because on that date in 2007 29-year old Ibragim Gazdiev was abducted by armed men.

Ibragim was a shop manager who had no criminal record- just an ordinary man going about his business. The men who abducted him have never been identified, but human rights abuses such as arbitrary detention, torture and extrajudicial execution by law enforcement officers are all too common in Ingushetia, so there is a suspicion that his abduction had official sanction.

A local court responded to his family’s call for an investigation, but the investigation has since been suspended, leaving the family in limbo. Ibragim’s father Mukhmed has received many letters of support since Amnesty International took on the case, as he acknowledges: “I received letters from many correspondents. I am not able to reply because I don’t speak English, but I feel the warmth they give off”.

Readers who would like more information about this and other cases of human rights abuses should go to: www.wearsideamnesty.org

Steve Newman, Secretary, Wearside Amnesty International Group

Planning call

I REFER to the report in the Echo on July 25 that Sharon Hodgson, MP for Sunderland West, is calling upon the Coalition Government to introduce a “competition test” into the planning system to prevent the decline of local High Streets

There are tens of thousands of her constituents in North-west Sunderland who wish Mrs Hodgson would be more specific as to how government interference into what she defines as “a level playing field” would affect the Sainsbury plan for the establishment of a supermarket, to serve the residents of Town End Farm, Downhill, Hylton Red House, Downhill, Wearview and Hylton Castle housing estates.

The obstruction and delay of planning permission for a new supermarket at Riverside Road by councillors on the planning committee, as recently as Thursday, July 21, signals Mrs Hodgson’s choice is to support Sunderland Council’s obsession with maintaining the profits of the city centre business barons and bus companies.

A supermarket in the midst of the above communities has been urgently needed for the past 30 years, if only to save (collectively) huge sums of money wasted on bus fares and petrol expenses … and, more importantly, time.

Where are these politicians’ green credentials when the avoidance of unnecessary travel is not a consideration?

Ron McQuillan

No fault of mine

THIS famine isn’t any fault of mine

It’s the rebels who burn my maize

They sell cattle for many dollars

Then shoot guns in drunken rage.

This famine isn’t any fault of mine

As silos are not so empty

When food there is aplenty.

The famine isn’t any fault of mine

It’s power led groups to blame

Corrupt politicians are numerous

With values quite insane.

The famine isn’t any fault of mine

As bodies lie dead in the heat

They haven’t strength to bury them

With so little food to eat.

Westerners have a conscience

They put shoulder to the wheel

Send essential goods and money

Which rebels promptly steal.

Alex Braithwaite, Chapelgarth