Thursday, 12 February 2009

In Defence of P G Wodehouse by George Orwell

This essay was written in 1945. In it Orwell defends P G Wodehouse from the vilification which was heaped on him after he, as a German captive, made broadcasts on the radio in Berlin. Orwell makes his case well for Wodehouse as a political innocent and unwitting tool of the Nazis.

However the most interesting paragraph for me is the end one. Part of it states that, "Few things in this war have been more morally disgusting than the present hunt after traitors and Quislings. At best it is largely the punishment of the guilty by the guilty. In France, all kinds of petty rats -- police officials, penny-a-lining journalists, women who have slept with German soldiers -- are hunted down while almost without exception the big rats escape. In England the fiercest tirades against Quislings are uttered by Conservatives who were practising appeasement in 1938 and Communists who were advocating it in 1940".

In effect it would seem that punishment is often heaped upon those whom it is easier to punish. I think this has relevance to today's culture of political correctness. Perhaps I should say, of excess political correctness, because of course it is right that offensive language should not be used and that people should not be discriminated against. However when you get cases like children being removed by the social services from caring parents of low IQ, while in other cases those known to be guilty of abuse or neglect are allowed or even encouraged to keep their children, it makes you wonder if discrimination is being practised here in the very name of political correctness. Or you get the case of a woman being fined for putting the wrong rubbish in her bin, while as Orwell says above, "the big rats escape". Some bankers have caused havoc, for example, yet seem to be rewarded by bonuses.

What do you think?

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