An Edinburgh Festival Fringe performer was “questioned by police over accusations of inciting racial hatred by using the word ‘Paki’ in his act” (your report, 19 August).
This is an example of the slippery slope we all find ourselves on these days, since anyone can find anything offensive and make a complaint.
Thus, the performer, who was born in Pakistan of Pakistani parents, was complained about by another Pakistani! This makes a mockery of the idea of free speech.
This means that if one who uses terms which have long been used in both friendly and unfriendly banter, such as “Taffy”, “Jock”, “Sassenach” and “Yank”, one could, quite conceivably, end up being reported to the police, which is clearly absurd.
There is no doubt that, in some people’s minds, there is nothing worse than an insult, which in less cosmopolitan days was shrugged off as often as not.
Certainly, in my youth, being able to take an insult was simply part of the process of growing up and one developed a thick skin.
Let me give an example, however, of how to cope with this sort of insult.
During the 1970s, the IRA and its supporters in Northern Ireland wanted to insult the British Army and those who espoused unionism.
They came up with a name which they used as an insult and they hurled this term at those targets. What name did they use? Oddly enough, it is one which our own separatists, like finance secretary John Swinney, use as an insult.
However, the insult is totally ineffective, as it was, instead, adopted by us and we wear it with pride. That insulting term is “Brit”.
If only people these days were not so thin-skinned, perhaps they could all just get on with life and leave the police to solve crimes instead.
Andrew HN Gray