In our modern, therapeutic world, we are all precious individuals, as unique as the snowflakes that used to fall during winter. As such, we are all mortally offended when others make absurd stereotypical comments about different ethnic groups, or about those who are somehow "different". Fortunately for those of us who love weird news, this does not stop the press from gleefully reporting on the most egregious violations of this moral code. January, in fact, was a very fruitful month when it came to reporting on politically incorrect behavior globally. From all four corners of the Earth, the first month of 2012 has provided us with shining examples of offensive cluelessness from all levels of our social order.
In North America, we have seen a city mayor upset the Hispanic community by claiming he might help them by eating tacos, as well as that community's pointed response. Meanwhile, teachers in the South felt that a good way to incorporate multiculturalism into the curriculum was to include questions on a quiz that made references to slavery, cotton picking and beatings. And in New York, a "urban youth" employed by a pizza parlor could not understand why putting "Lady Chinky Eyes" on the receipt of an Asian-American customer might give offense.
Yet America was not alone in this behavior. In the UK, students at the elite London School of Economics took a cue from Prince Harry and had a proper Nazi themed drinking game and party, complete with Heil Hitlers and the fascist salute. And they earned extra credit by beating and breaking the nose of a fellow student, who happened to be Jewish and was hence mysteriously offended by such behavior.
Moving on to the Continent (while continuing the Nazi theme), we saw a leading news magazine in Germany engage in all-out offensive warfare with Italy by asking its readers (original in German here) if they could imagine a German or British ship captain behaving in a manner similar to disgraced cruise ship captain Francesco Schettino. Even better was the editorial retort of the Italian newspaper Il Giornale, which, while owning up to the fact that Schettino was indeed Italian, managed to remind the Germans that they were responsible for Auschwitz and that Italy's cruise ship sins were insignificant compared to the magnitude of Germany's. Adding spice to the insult was the fact that the editorial with this inflammatory statement happened to be published on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Fascist leader and close Hitler ally Benito Mussolini was unavailable for comment.
Lest we think that such attitudes are a strictly Western phenomenon, let us continue on to China, where Professor Kong Qingdong of the prestigious Peking University has determined that residents of Hong Kong are "bastards", "thieves" and "dogs of British imperialists". Residents of the territory staged a protest a few days later, bringing their dogs along for moral support. Yet he was not the only member of the Chinese elite to make strikingly offensive comments. Terry Gou, Foxconn Technology Group Chief Executive Officer, likened his million employees worldwide to animals, stating "Hon Hai has a workforce of over one million worldwide and as human beings are also animals, to manage one million animals gives me a headache". Unsurprisingly, Foxconn later issued a press release claiming that "Mr. Gou's comments in Mandarin were taken out of context and do not accurately reflect the full scope of that conversation."
To round off our global tour of political incorrectness, let us now visit Australia, where Brisbane MP Teresa Gambaro suggested that newly arrived migrants be taught to use deodorant and to queue in line. As is to be expected, this caused howls of outrage and demands that she apologize. And as is to be expected, she claimed her quotes were taken out of context and that she regretted any offense that might have been taken.
These anecdotes are but a few of the many examples of political incorrectness that were reported in January and, if past is prologue, we can all be confident that the rest of 2012 will be equally productive.