Today - because I'm like that - I bought two English newspapers and counted the times the expression "political correctness gone mad" was used in one form or another. They were a tabloid and a mid range- I won't tell you which, because they both come from the rather sinister News Corporation who I have an irrational fear of. But anyway - FORTY TIMES. Forty times in one day's worth of news, which would lead you to believe that political correctness had somehow broken free from it's cell and gone rampaging through this pleasant green land, killing, maiming, committing fraud and what-not.

I completely understand that political correctness can be very annoying, particularly when it's used by hypocritical politicians who you just *know* go home and swear at the niggers and poofs all over the damn T.V. set. That's what baffles me though, when pioneering a new and interesting social concept - who decided it was a good idea to put 'political' in the name? And 'correctness' to me connotes the type of schools nuns run, full of hockey and sexual repression. It's no wonder people aren't into it.

I also admit there are times when P.C. can get somewhat pedantic. For example, there was once an article in The Guardian about an advert for a major ice cream company that was accused of being racist because it said on it, "Eenie, Meenie, minie, mo" I can't remember why. Anyway someone had complained because this rhyme used to say in it, "catch a nigger by the toe". Now I know I'm ridiculously young and naive - perhaps you all knew it used to say that. But it was news to everyone I knew and The Guardian even had to explain it! Trust me, The Guardian doesn't like explaining things they think you aught to know, it takes the edge of their smug, high brow tone. So lets take a giant leap of faith and pretend I'm right - look, it's my bloody essay - if nobody is aware of the rhyme's racist origins WHY BRING IT UP? Of course if the ad had said or referred to the word that's different, but it didn't. Why not just think, 'wow, society has really progressed since some wanker made that rhyme up, lets let the ice cream people use whatever methods they feel necessary to pump us full of chemically enhanced dairy goodness?'

Uh oh. Bringing my essay back to my point that political correctness is a good thing... What I'm failing to say is: I could say I were sick of the casual use of words like 'mad' and 'loony', and that it offends me as I have a mental illness. However, I realise that if these words were taken away we are left with very few socially acceptable insulting words, it would be a bit pedantic, and the Monty Python Black Knight sketch would not be what it is today. You would have every right to call this political correctness gone mad, if the thought of linguistic irony sends you into fits of illicit pleasure.

However, however, HOWEVER! If I were to point out to you that only 1 in 4 Employers would give a job to someone who had had a mental health problem, and say that because of this attitudes and media coverage on the issue must change - this is NOT political correctness gone mad. The point of political correctness is to stop your prejudices and preconceptions from affecting my life. (God, don't you just hate it when you accidentally alliterate yourself and it turns your serious point into something that might be used to advertise bingo halls in Blackpool?) When it is good, political correctness makes sense, if it means making sure people are treated equally by organisations and getting rid of derogatory words like nigger or cripple that give the wrong impression of a group. And yet some people, most noticeably tabloid editors, act as if all political correctness is automatically bad and repressive, because then it gives them an easy retort to shout whenever anybody questions their prejudices. Also, people may feel that whilst everybody is concentrating on so-called minorities the government is not making their life easier.

This attitude even persists - and I know you will find this hard to believe - in good old Wigan (where I live, you majority who haven't read my other essays. You should read them by the way: they contain even more bracketed comments and exotic punctuation than this one.)

There have been mumblings of discontent about plans to make the town centre more accessible. I even read a letter in The Daily Star (I'm a masochist) that was complaining about automatic doors! Don't automatic doors make life easier for everyone? Maybe not so much in America or elsewhere, but I live in the land of the stupidly polite. If two people want to use a door at the same time - shock! Horror! - this prompts about half an hour of smiling and head nodding and gesturing at the door, or, at worst:

"After you."

"Oh, no, you go on."

"No I couldn't, you go!"

"Look if you don't go through the door right now, I'm going to feel so absolutely terrible I will run home and ritualistically sacrifice one of my children so that God will forgive me."

Though things don't usually get that far, interactions like this always leave me feeling embarrassed and socially inept - and that's just not the feeling you want the entrance of your business to give people. And don't get me started on when you're walking towards someone walking in the opposite direction in the street - and you both accidentally try to walk the same way and then every time you try to move past them you end up moving the same way - and so you're both just stuck glaring at each other, wasting valuable seconds that could be spent at the bookies or the dirty videos shop or wherever it is you're trying to get too. GAH!

So to sum up, although political correctness has been misused, often by politicians who are just trying to make it seem like they are dedicated to equality without actually doing anything, I believe that the general attitude that it is out of control and unnecessary is not true. As much as we like to believe it does, society in Britain does not treat everybody equally, and if people would stop fussing about the smaller things but be genuinely dedicated to the bigger things we might be one step further towards that.

Furthermore, since most of the essay hasn't actually been talking about that I will sum of my digression: I REALLY like automatic doors. I like knowing that buildings are moving for ME, I like that it gives me an opportunity to quote hitchhikers guide, and I like the really old, crappy ones that leave it until the very last second to open, so you don't know until you walk into them whether they are broken or not.