Oh Captain, My Captain!

As a captain in the so-called politically correct police, I’ve learned that there are arrogant types who use offensive language to assert some kind of superiority. And there are well-meaning types who just get it wrong.

Hugh Muir, of course, would always count himself amongst the latter number…

On Sunday, preparing for What the Papers Say on Radio 4, I wrote a script which said protesters in Hong Kong were angry at China “welching” on a deal to preserve human rights. “You’d be advised to change that”, said the producer sagely.

Really? Hugh was nonplussed, as I would be.

I’ve looked it up. And found that the phrase has long been considered derogatory of the Welsh, perpetuating an old English stereotype that the Welsh are untrustworthy.

Of course, like other words, there’s considerable doubt on the derivation:

As is usually the case with history and vocabulary, the derivation of welching is debated. There is a version that says it was born of English bookies who owed money fleeing over the border into Wales to escape their creditors.

Another, apparently credited to AJP Taylor, suggests the first man to use the Gaming Act 1845 as an excuse to escape paying gambling debts was a Mr Welch.

So, did Hugh brave the ferocious seea of political correctness? Reader, he did not:

Whatever the truth of it, “reneging” worked just as well in the script. Who wants to give offence?

People who don’t want to be told to change their writing style to suit the offendotrons, perhaps?

15 comments for “Oh Captain, My Captain!

  1. ivan
    October 8, 2014 at 11:34 am

    So he welched on his standards and capitulated – one more step down the path to mediocrity, will the country ever recover?.

  2. October 8, 2014 at 11:50 am

    What else can be expected from a Nation of Wellington-wearers and sheep-shaggers?

    • mikebravo
      October 8, 2014 at 12:03 pm

      Tea spurted over keyboard!

    • James Strong
      October 8, 2014 at 6:13 pm

      What can be expected?
      You are a cliche-wielding fucking half-wit.
      I bet you weren’t expecting that, were you?

  3. October 8, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    an old English stereotype that the Welsh are untrustworthy

    Um … er … from where do stereotypes come? Is there perhaps some teeny weeny tad of truth in there somewhere or are stereotypes total fiction?

    [Kinnock?]

    Not wishing to offend or anything.

    • James Strong
      October 8, 2014 at 6:16 pm

      Yes, you are wishing to offend.
      If you’re gloing to try to offend don’t be such a coward and try to hide behind humour or disingenuity.
      Idiot.

    • October 8, 2014 at 6:17 pm

      Around the turn of the 20th century many Welsh migrants to London became notorious for theft, hence the rhyme which starts “Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a thief….”

  4. October 8, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    Similarly, the use of the word “rat” or “ratting” should cease. All those who happen to be born in a Year of the Rat are not only stereotyped but insulted by this use of such wording. Let alone the human rights of ordinary rats everywhere.

    • Radical Rodent
      October 8, 2014 at 7:02 pm

      Good point. Who can I sue?

  5. James Strong
    October 8, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    I’m Welsh, and I’m never offended by the word ‘welch’ or ‘welsh’ when used to avoid debts.

    • Anonymous
      October 8, 2014 at 6:23 pm

      Good, because being Welsh thee’s a good chance that some of your ancestors were hanged for stealing.

    • mikebravo
      October 8, 2014 at 10:33 pm

      But you are offended by being stereotyped along with New Zealanders?

  6. James Strong
    October 8, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    And if anyone gets upset at my offensive comments, well, you shouldn’t dish it out if you’re not prepared to take it.

  7. Twenty_Rothmans
    October 8, 2014 at 11:46 pm

    Officers generally (snork) carry a pistol or a sword, not a spear.

    Whenever somebody makes a ‘convict’ reference, it doesn’t bother me – and unless you rub up against an Australian with Issues, nor will he. This makes us superior to people who would.

    I’d hate Hugo Muir if he was the colour of the most beautiful pink rose I’d given a lady. I’d hate Hugo Muir if he could trace his family tree back more than two generations in this country.

    I hate him because he’s a shabby, useless waste of skin blaming the colour of it for his ineptitude.
    FTA: “One would always wish to do better than Gove”
    Looking forward to it, ingrate.

  8. Viscount Rectum
    October 9, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    There is only one reason for the creation of Political Correctness, that is to humiliate the English.

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