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Archive for January 11th, 2009

I am amazed by the fuss over Prince Harry using the work Paki – three years ago in a playful self-shot video of army life.    Sky News last night, in the wonderful way it does,  had ‘Breaking News’ scrolling across the TV in a ridiculously massive red font, as if the world was about to end.

In the 1970s, it was common to call corner shops run by Pakistanis, Pakis.   As in “I am going down the Paki shop for some milk – are you wanting anything?”    There was no malice or racist intent.    If you can remember New Year in Edinburgh not so long ago, absolutely nothing moved on January 1st at all – except that the shops run by Pakistanis were open.

Of course I accept that we have moved on, and there is a whole new set of words that we are rightly hesitant about using, simply to avoid causing offence.    Times have changed.

But I think that Prince Harry intended to be friendly rather than racist.   And what would have happened if he had called a Scottish army officer colleague ‘Jock’?     Red scrolly Breaking News on TV?   The Army dealing with the incident?    Race relations people looking into it?     I think not.   It is not so different, is it?

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