Political Correctness gone mad

January 3rd, 2010 at 9:20 am by David Farrar

The SST reports:

AN AMERICAN academic missed out on a top university job because of a letter she wrote to New Zealand Listener magazine lamenting the Kiwi habit of going barefoot in public.

The incident has been highlighted in a new book which looks at the rampant “” that is said to infect many American campuses.

Erin Mackie, a lecturer in English and cultural studies, worked at Canterbury University for six years, and wrote the letter to the Listener in 2006. The letter (itself a response to a Listener article which made fun of a no-shoes/no-service policy in a Texan food store) described New Zealanders’ public shoelessness as “not only backward and uncivilised, but dangerously unhygienic and repulsive to North Americans”.

Trouble started when Mackie returned to the US. According to US author Cary Nelson, university staff had found out about Mackie’s letter and decided it was an attack on the Maori people and thus racist. On those grounds, Mackie missed out on the job.

The ironic thing is the racists are the US professors who decided her complaints about people in bare feet being uncivilised was automatically a reference to Maori.

Incidentally I love walking about in bare feet – but only on beaches and lawns!

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41 Responses to “Political Correctness gone mad”

  1. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    This is one of the problems of secular educated elites the worldwide.

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  2. MT_Tinman (3,105 comments) says:

    The bare-foot in public phenomena must be a Pig Island thing.

    Most I see (except for young ladies on a night out when their fashionable but bloody ridiculous choice in footwear catches up with them) wear jandals.

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  3. s.russell (1,603 comments) says:

    This would be hilarious if it were not so stupid. And tragic.

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  4. Chthoniid (2,035 comments) says:

    Hmm, not sure I want to be taking on the veracity of an SST article about a book that someone wrote on someone else at first glance. Even the US university said to have not employed her, has not been named.

    In the world of university politics, said lecturer may have been unpopular, difficult to work with etc. This may have been just a convenient way to avoid employing her (if the story is true).

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  5. Andrew W (1,629 comments) says:

    Given the quote I’d bet she’s got other issues that may have been a consideration.

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  6. KiwiGreg (3,234 comments) says:

    The Americans (well many..) ARE incredibly anal about bare feet. It’s illegal in parts of Atlantic City, many places frown on it big time (I’m told the origin was due to some tic or disease one could get from grass). I never where shoes if I can avoid it, even in the office.

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  7. Gulag (146 comments) says:

    The US professors will live in well off suburbs completely out of touch with the day to day living of the “oppressed”.

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  8. francis (712 comments) says:

    Going barefoot is associated in America with hippies, who were and are overwhelmingly caucasian, so I’m a bit surprised the university review committee would see the letter as racism – unless she made some specific reference to Maori.

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  9. kowtow (8,198 comments) says:

    Serious question on PC. I have a dim recollection of Steve Maharey, when he was a govt minister referring to “no man’s land” as “no person’s land”, can anyone remember that and the circumstance?

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  10. peterwn (3,239 comments) says:

    I spent some years of my young childhood in the UK. According to mum I went out barefoot one day. A lady came up to me and wanted me to take her to our house. It turned out that she worked for a charity that provided shoes for poor children and she thought she had found a customer!

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  11. JC (942 comments) says:

    Who cares. The woman was dumb in 2006, and the university is dumb for concocting racism. Par for the course with American liberals and their institutions.

    JC

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  12. BlairM (2,314 comments) says:

    The silly bitch should have missed out on the job. You can’t be a lecturer in cultural studies and make stupid bigoted ignorant comments about New Zealanders’ love of going barefoot! And screw the racism against Maori, what about the racism against NZ pakeha?!

    Conversely, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. Here in the armpit of Texas, there are “No shirt, no shoes, no service” signs everywhere, so it’s not an option. Fortunately, jandals/flip-flops are acceptable, even in bars.

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  13. kiki (425 comments) says:

    I was carrying my bare footed 2 year old in a train to Detroit and they wouldn’t serve me in the food carriage.

    America just had so many rules I wondered where they got the land of the free from. Unfortunately we are following.

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  14. malcolm (1,952 comments) says:

    Interesting. My US in-laws think it very strange and comment so when I step out of the house in bare feet. Going shoe-less is one of life’s little pleasures.

    I even used to ride and kick-start my old Honda CT90 in bare-feet.

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  15. dad4justice (8,097 comments) says:

    Silly yanks Don Clarke could kick a ball over the posts from half way in bare feet. Gridiron girls.

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  16. kowtow (8,198 comments) says:

    University of Otago Prospectus 2008
    “Admission to Laws 101 is unrestricted,but admission to 2nd year law is restricted to 200 places.Students are selected on the strength of their academic record at university,with emphasis on the mark for The Legal System. Under the Alternative Entry category students who are of Maori ethnicity may apply to have this taken into consideration along with their academic record.”
    So its not just silly Yanks is it
    And in Canada there is a provision in the sentencing guide that a defendants status as an indigenous be taken into account when being sentenced
    A Uni in Scotland gave Mugabe some award while he was whacking opponents some years ago in Zim.
    They’re all full of it.

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  17. reid (16,227 comments) says:

    According to her facebook page, if it’s the same Erin Mackie, she used to work at Columbia University. Which hosts the Institute for Social Research, formerly known as the Frankfurt School, the home of political correctness.

    How ironic.

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  18. Sector 7g (240 comments) says:

    Can we stop calling this “political correctness” already?
    Let the world know it’s real name…”Left Wing Bullshit”

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  19. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    When I was at Uni doing my engineering degree I went barefoot (at Uni) for three years. The only exceptions were in the labs (had to wear them), and when I came and went on my Yamaha RD250.

    No doubt this woman would have been terrified, as would much of the States, with such ‘inappropriate behaviour’.
    Still, it seems a bit severe that she missed out on a job based purely on her opinion on this topic. There must be more to this story than we’re being told.

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  20. malcolm (1,952 comments) says:

    His name was Chris also. Actually I think his was an RD350. Twin.

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  21. Jack5 (5,014 comments) says:

    Great link in reid’s 1.38 post. This is excellent on political correctness and multiculturalism.

    It throws some light on why NZ’s MSM is so stuffed. Our MSM is the product of the dozen or so taxpayer-funded training schools for journalists. One of them is led by a prominent Trotskyist.

    Nice one Reid!

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  22. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Malcolm 3:00 pm,

    Mine was the RD250 two stroke twin air cooled 1976, which was prior to the water cooled, which I think were the LC (liquid cooled) model and came out about 1980 if memory serves. I’ve still got mine up in the garage – needs a bit of a birthday, though.

    Both were classic bikes, and certainly had plenty of heave-ho for only 250cc.

    What years were you at Cantebury for your electrical engineering?
    I did my mechanical at Auckland: Intermediate at Vic 1981, 1st – 3rd Pro Auckland 82-84.

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  23. Alan Wilkinson (1,868 comments) says:

    Stupid story, stupid woman. How do people like that get to teach other people?

    I can never figure out how they think shoe soles can be cleaner than feet??

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  24. Ryan Sproull (7,095 comments) says:

    The real story here is that someone used the phrase “political correctness gone mad” without it being a parody of people who say that things are political correctness gone mad.

    That’s the real story here.

    BUT WILL THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA REPORT ON IT? NO.

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  25. reid (16,227 comments) says:

    You mean like this or this Ryan?

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  26. Robert Black (423 comments) says:

    Check out the book The Human Stain.

    Quite good if you can get through it – a bit heavy going.

    I used to walk barefoot to school.

    Never saw much wrong with it.

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  27. Pete George (23,437 comments) says:

    As a kid I used to hardly ever wear shoes in the summer.

    In the seventies a tavern that had public bar downstairs and main bar upstairs had a a no working boots rule upstairs. I went in there one Saturday afternoon after a sports working bee with working boots on and the bar-young-lady said she couldn’t serve me. So I went outside and took them off and carried them in barefooted and she served me.

    My feet are a lot softer these days but I still go barefoot if it’s worth the risk.

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  28. Grizz (592 comments) says:

    Walking around barefoot is a pround New Zealand tradition. An Act carried out by all races. As a white person, I used to run around barefoot all the time and often wander around my yard at home in my bares. Bare feet are only unhygeinic if you do not wash them. I find a good hunk of pumice gets all the grass stains and dirt off my soles.

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  29. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Malcolm 6:41 pm,

    That’s the trouble with modern technology; you can’t strip it down and rebuild an engine very easily now with all the computerisation, sensors, and the way the Japs pack engines into cars thesedays. Modern bikes suffer from many of the same problems in this regards, too.

    I remember rebuilding a Ford Escort 1600 engine from the ground up. I selected a low overlap but high duration cam (Cosworth grind I think it was), put 3 litre Ford Capri valves in the Escort head, dowled and match ported the inlet manifold and head to suit the valves, and ported out the exhaust side to suit the extractors, and severely lightened the flywheel. I also used a twin choke progressive Weber carb. Awesome performing motor: I never dynoed it, but reckon it put out at least another 50% on the basic motor rating, and yet mum could drive it down to the supermarket with no issues. Hit about 3000 rpm and the cam came on, the second choke of the carb opened up and she was all go. I used to beat V8s going up Ngauranga Gorge on a regular basis in the mid 80s. Ah, the days before traffic cameras, lasers, and pressure pads in the road.

    Most modern kids have no idea of even where to start with an engine, which is sad – we learn best when doing I have always found.

    Regarding engineering degrees:
    I’m glad I did the intermediate – it was about 50% common with the 7th form, but also 50% new material, so it was a nice easy transition to Uni. It allowed you to adjust before the pressure really came on when you hit 1st Pro.

    You make me feel old assuming from your years of attendance that you’re about 9 years my junior. I guess you’re only as old as your thinking – which means I’m only about 30 heh.

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  30. Brian Smaller (4,007 comments) says:

    I am sure everyone has a barefeet story. I ahve two. One in a hotel in Washington DC. I whipped down to the lobby to get som emilk for tea and coffee. I had barefeet. The hotel security stopped me and said I couldn’t go through the lobby in barefeet. I told them I was a cultural ambassador for my country and it was traditional for us to wear bare feet after the sun had gone down. They relented.

    The other was when I popped around to visit a mate. He has a foreign born wife. When I left his place, she asked him if I was extremely poor because I didn’t have shoes.

    I prefer barefeet, and go barefoot as much as I can. It has little to do with my wealth and lots to do with comfort. Sure, they get a bit dirty but that is what showers and baths were invented for.

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  31. KiwiGreg (3,234 comments) says:

    We also (this is going back many many years) had a note slipped under our door at an English B & B asking us to put shoes on for breakfast as “other guests might be offended by bare feet”.

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  32. malcolm (1,952 comments) says:

    Kris, interesting story. Thanks. I’m 36.

    My father had been a mechanic and had a carrying business so I was always around split truck engines, old lawnmowers, concrete mixers etc (horrible Briggs and Stratton engines), Villiers two-strokes etc. And unfortunately he had a bias against Japanese cars so we had to suffer Cortinas, Escorts (better) and a Vauxhall Viva.

    I got my first Honda CT90 when I was about 10. Was out loading up sheep with dad at a farm and the manager had just cleaned out an old shed. They had put the CT90 with a pile rubbish and he saw me looking at it and said I could have it. But I was too shy to say yes. We rang back later and got it. The engine had glued itself up with gunk but after a strip down and basic rebuild it went like a charm. A new piston cost $13 and a set of rings was less than $10.

    I rode it around for quite a few years. Absolutely indestructible and a lot of fun with the hi/lo ratio. You could ride along flooded ditches in winter with the engine completely submerged.

    I can still remember the absolute revelation it was to see how beautifully made and advanced those little Honda engines where. My only other experience of reconditioning little engines had been Briggs and Strattons which in comparison were utter crap. B&S really deserve a kick up the arse for inflicting those crude and unstartable engines on generations of lawnmowing and rotary-hoeing public. The carburettors were an absolute travesty.

    I agree about the inaccessibly of modern engines and machines. That’s why I’d like to get an old CT110 for the kids and let them give it a basic recondition and then experience the fun of a beautifully-designed little machine. I want to ride it as well!

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  33. skip90291 (1 comment) says:

    Hm. I guess I have to count myself in the minority on this one–I wouldn’t have given her a job either for saying something like that. A would-be tenured professor who takes the time to write a letter such as hers, a letter which is so out of touch in her choice of words, just doesn’t reflect well on her ability to navigate the world of academia or function as a source of knowledge and mentoring for students. It’s not that she “disagrees” with anyone that’s the problem for me. It’s that her words smack of such blindly held prejudices that I too am taken aback. If she were joking, well then I could live with that. I’m not so over-sensitive that I wouldn’t allow even an academic to make rude, callous, obtuse, narrow minded jokes. They’re jokes. And humour is difficult to interpret. But this was apparently a legitimately held belief (I don’t care whether she likes going barefoot–it’s her unsettling choice of words that would give me true pause in hiring her for a position in a modern academic setting). Let’s face it, in the 1950’s, she would have no problem saying what she said and getting the job. This ain’t the 1950’s…and thank gawd it ain’t.

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  34. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Malcolm 9:40 pm,

    Kris, interesting story. Thanks. I’m 36.

    My father had been a mechanic …

    I was close – 11 years difference, I’m 47.

    Another coincidence; my old man was a mechanic, too.
    I originally toyed with doing electrical during my intermediate year, but settled on mechanical.
    Think I enjoy designing plant and equipment for manufacturing processes, etc. more, and so I’m glad I went down the mechanical route in the end. Although I’m sure I would have enjoyed electrical, but maybe not as much as mechanical all things considered.

    Why did you go down the electrical route with your bent toward engines, etc?

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  35. malcolm (1,952 comments) says:

    Hi Kris, I can’t really recall exactly why I chose electrical, but it might have been because my older brother was still in the mech department doing a phd. If I had my time again I’d like to have done civil as I have an enduring interest in water and concrete :-).

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  36. John Ansell (874 comments) says:

    One of the reasons my wife decided to come to New Zealand from Taiwan was that she saw people walking down the main street of Newmarket in bare feet.

    To her, bare feet was a sign of freedom.

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  37. Robert Black (423 comments) says:

    That is a great post Ansell as here in China no one goes barefoot, I mean no one.

    Not even the lowest beggars.

    Must be something to do with Chinese history and Culture.

    Be interested if your girl could dig that one up for me.

    My Chinese gf shouts at me if I ever even take my socks off and don’t wear slippers at home.

    It’s dirty!

    Odd.

    They have a bit of an obsession with the feet and its parts I feel.

    That is why foot massage is so huge here.

    Like it’s their second brain.

    Hey, I know where my second brain is.

    It takes over when my first brain has had too much to drink.

    Happy New Year from Beijing!

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  38. Murray (8,845 comments) says:

    I feel offended… but I’m not sure why and by whom. It only happened when I got to the bit about them thinking it was about Maori and may be linked to the question of why did they assume it was about Maori anyway?

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  39. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    ” To her, bare feet was a sign of freedom.”

    Has she realised her mistake yet??

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