I’ve been reminded just why political correctness exists: Katie Hopkins of the Apprentice, the TV show that glorifies the entrepreneurial ideal and the psychopathic levels of self-confidence that accompany it. Hopkins is on a bit of a roll with her homespun wisdom. Late last week she criticised ‘lower class’ children’s names, saying:
‘I think you can tell a great deal from a name… I tend to think that children who have intelligent names tend to have fairly intelligent parents and they make much better playdates for my children.’
As well as also having a go at people with tattoos and fatties, she also quipped: ‘Ginger babies. Like a baby. Just so much harder to love.’ Her response on Twitter was: ‘Dear PC brigade. You smile in public, but in private you say the same things as I say. You are closet Hopkins.’
That’s why political correctness is popular. My elder daughter has red hair, and it does hurt when people say things like that. I certainly didn’t love her less as a baby or now; if you’re a new parent you’ll understand the overwhelming, frightening feelings of love. My own instinct is to be repulsed by Hopkins’s views — which perhaps explains why public culture is so averse to reality.
Years before the PC Brigade became a fully battle-ready unit GK Chesterton predicted it all in Orthodoxy, writing:
‘The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; and their truth is pitiless. Thus some humanitarians only care for pity; and their pity (I am sorry to say) is often untruthful.’
That is political correctness – pity without truth. The essence of what Hopkins says about naming patterns is not incorrect; they can indicate social background and people with certain names are more likely to go to Cambridge and others to Wormwood Scrubs, and before that cause disruption in school. That’s a trend, and trends are meaningful – but having healthy feelings of pity makes us appreciate that humans should not be judged by probability but as individuals. I’m sure there are lots of delightful Duwaynes and Merzedees.
It’s perfectly possible that tests could show that parents of ginger-haired children produce on average less oxytocin than the parents of other kids. Why not? The study of humanity often reveals dark truths that go against our liberal values about human dignity, and as a result academia and the media pretend they don’t exist. But that’s hardly surprising when so many vaguely right-wing people believe in truth without pity.