Media Beat Up

The latest media beat-up, picked up today by breakfast radio and television, along with various newspapers is the “NSW schools political correctness controversy”. The line taken by all media outlets is perfectly illustrated by Simon Benson, State Political Reporter for the Daily Telegraph, who wrote a short article entitled “’Mad’ bureaucrats censor Jesus Christ” on March 3, 2005.

The son of God has been written out of parts of NSW school English texts.

“Before Christ” (BC) has been removed from literacy test history books and replaced with “Before Common Era” (BCE) in what the NSW Opposition described as political correctness gone mad.

About 150,000 students who sat through the English Language and Literacy Assessment (ELLA) test on Tuesday were confronted with the new term in an extract entitled “The Surveyor’s Problem”.

It described an event which took place in 509 BCE in Northern Egypt where a Government surveyor had been ordered by the Pharaoh to find out why the Nile River kept flooding.

A footnote to the extract explained BCE means “Before Common Era” (also known as BC).

This story has been successful because it is really three stories in one. Firstly, the NSW Liberal State Opposition and Federal Liberal government get to sink the boot into the NSW State Labour government. Secondly, it’s seen as an attack on Christianity; it didn’t get to be the world’s dominant religion by taking this sort of thing lying down. And thirdly, it’s the familiar “meta-story” of “political correctness gone mad”, and a perfect opportunity to piss on the Australian “Elite” – which, surprisingly, doesn’t mean politicians, millionaire businessmen and media tycoons but rather middle-class teachers and public servants.

As Benson’s article goes on to mention, “…the BCE footnote is used in international scientific, academic and museum contexts”.

So the controversy boils down to a high school English exam using a term used by academics, and experts in the field, rather than the general public.

One morning TV presenter perhaps missed the point of English comprehension exams in general when he pointed out that the footnoted term might confuse students.

The argument that the term should not be used, as it is not understood by the general public falls over entirely when applied to any other high school subject.

  • Computer science – Every component inside a computer is now going to be called a “chip”, no matter what it is.
  • Physics – the term “mass” to be replaced with “weight”. “Centrifugal force” (even though, despite public opinion, there is no such thing) will take the place of “centripetal force”.
  • Chemistry – sucrose, fructose, glucose etc will now just be referred to as “carbs”.
  • English – “verb” will be replaced by “doing word”, adjective by “describing word”.

Benson and his knuckle-dragging cohorts in the media and State Opposition should leave academic standards alone and dedicate themselves to a task more suiting their Stone Age intellects…like, say, a quest for fire.

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One Response to “Media Beat Up”

  1. Aimee Says:

    Well played, sir. Well played.