Some Questions (1) Epilogue

I would have liked to write more tonight, but I am absolutely knackered. Not only have I been working twelve hours (ending up with a car being cut open around me), but I then have to go to my brother's house in order to help him install the huge TV he's just bought. I expect a big birthday present in two months time brother…

Tomorrow I get to do it all again.

So I'm afraid I shall just have to tell you a little about the post yesterday. You see, there was a 'secret' question in there, one that only I knew about. It wasn't to trick you (because I really am interested in hearing people's views on the numbered questions), but it was to see the reaction of my readers.

A few of you picked up that I mentioned that my patient was a 'new European', and commented on it. The reason I mentioned the patient's race was to see what comments would be made. Those of you who have read my blog a lot know that I don't mention race a lot on this site – it's too easy to be misunderstood and be accused of racism. I only tend to mention race when it is important to the story.

The reason why I wanted to see what people might say when I mentioned his race was because, of late, it seems almost allowable to disparage Eastern Europeans.

It seems fine to say that they are the cause for a 17 fold increase in drink driving, and while I can't find the link for it, another police chief today has said that he has trouble dealing with the heavy drinkers from Eastern Europe. It would be unusual to hear a police chief bemoaning Bangladeshi killing each other for feuds that start in their home country. Or that South American's like beating their wives (see the comments…).

I've always been a believer in the 'substitution rule' (before you ask, yes I am a Guardian reader). This rule says that when talking about a group of people you should replace the description with the word 'Jew'. Then see how distasteful it sounds.

So go back and read the post as if I'd written that my patient was Jewish. See if it makes sense, or see if it sounds acceptable.

That is why I tend not to mention race in this blog. Despite what I might think, it's a thin line that I have to walk between reporting the truth and being seen as racist. My views on my being racist are pretty much unchanged from 2003. I hate everyone equally.

So is the stereotype of the hard drinking Eastern European correct? Maybe it's something that can be researched and perhaps I should make note of the country of origin of all the drunks I pick up?

Should we be 'race blind', or should we target certain parts of the population with education or behaviour changing publicity?

(See: Female circumcision, Belladonna in the eyes, black on black gun crime, honour killings)

Right – I'm off to bed before I fall asleep on my keyboard and wake up with a pretty keyboard pattern on my face and drool gumming up my laptop…

I shall leave you with a teaser for an upcoming blogpost – Rule #1 – When an EMT fights a 90 year old, it is the EMT who ends up bleeding…

27 thoughts on “Some Questions (1) Epilogue”

  1. I'm also relieved, I was quite disturbed to see the blog descending into a sub daily mail level of debate and generalisation! It's a great idea to target resources according to whatever social grouping works to tackle problems in the most effective and efficient way. It's obviously not fair to label entire groups (poles, africans, old, young, gay whatever), nationalities as stupid, selfish, greedy or otherwise somehow inferior to people who by some fluke were born in the UK to white parents.

  2. Don't ask me, I can't involve myself despite the fact I'm not at all racist (scumbags come in all colours, countries, etc) – I can't type more.Who would wish to commit on the internet to an idea that may be (legally) used against them?

  3. Who would wish to commit on the internet to an idea that may be (legally) used against them?Well if someone were to say, “all X are scum”, then yes it's racist. But if it is a reasonable discussion about targetting resources or undertaking research then I can't see how it's racist.

    It just seems a little strange to a liberal like me that in the current news cycle it seems acceptable to be rather rude about Eastern European migrant workers – like the recent news articles that they are all benefit thieves, or all drunk drivers.

    It's just my sleep deprived brain throwing this idea out there for discussion.

  4. I have no problem with targeting certain segments of the population to curb their behaviour if they are actively doing things that are illegal or harmful to others, such as drink driving, assault or murder. And let's face it there aren't a lot of honour-killing Poles or drunk-driving Iranians for example, so it's not like everyone is tarred by the same brush.Hopefully “we” (and I use that term a bit jokingly as I am an immigrant myself, though nobody thinks I am as my country of origin is a first-world one with a majority-white population & its own immgration issues) will also be smart enough to know that we could stand to be improved in some ways as well.

    There are things that immigrants do better than the British do, and perhaps your culture can be enriched by this new blood rather than just forcing everyone new to conform (so of course they hang together defiantly instead of with you). It would do nicely to be less isolated and have more of a community feeling, something that has been lost in this age of electronic communication. It would be nice to let go of the rampant consumerism that is plaguing us and learning to value family and friendship more (if not to the extent of setting them on fire) rather than stuff. These are probably stupid examples, but hey, I need educating. 😉

    BTW I am not looking forward to the citizenship exam. What a stupid idea, have you seen the questions for this thing?

  5. I've finally registered so I can comment on this. I'm very relieved to hear you say this … I too have noticed how it has become okay to stigmatise East Europeans, and I was a little disappointed to see you apparently succuming. Phew!Now – how about rehabilitating Americans as well? Because everybody seems to think it's okay to be rude about them…

  6. I think I stereotype people as a way of making sense of the world; otherwise absolutely every single person becomes a free floating bit of information; thats too much information and my brain crashes! So for me stereotyping is a filing system, I am however more than happy to have the files reorganised, reviewed or deleted on a regular basis.Tolerance and Take em as I find em is easiest when you have contact with various groups, however it becomes much trickier sifting the facts and information from the media.

    (Tom, did you have a tip off on todays article in the Guardian? About migrant workers? On the Margins),,2177131,00.html

  7. Another Graund reader who can spell!I use “Who's they, the cat's mother? to people who just haven't considered what they're saying.


    PS Thank you

  8. It somewhat reveals how my brain is wired that I had real trouble typing that sentence…I am such a sappy liberal.

    That and around five years of writing this has made me acutely aware of such language.

  9. I think you're absolutely right about this…but it seems to me this is reflecting the way the media and thereafter the public make sweeping and usually derogatory statements about certain groups of people, perhaps a form of one upmanship rather than race.But, as a Jewish Catholic British girl of Eastern European and Irish immigrants, who doesn't drink, I thought you might find this interesting

  10. Heehee, me too in many ways. Good work.From my studies I learnt that there is evidence that the way language is used does have an effect on the way people think generally about things and groups, the way the media bandy terms around sometimes really makes me squirm.

  11. I haven't read the other comments, so forgive me if this is redundant. Honestly, I don't think you should be “race blind,” because your patients' race and culture will often change what the best way of dealing with them appropriately would be. Not from a medical standpoint, of course, but what you say and do may terrify someone of another culture, when to us, it's something perfectly normal. I'm trying to think of an example of this….Oh yeah. A nurse in an Arizona or New Mexico hospital thought it would be nice to bring a patient a vase of flowers, because the patient who got them given to her originally, they made her sneeze or something. Well, this patient (receiving the 2nd hand flowers) was from a certain Native tribe, and took this as a sign that she was going to die, and the flowers were for her funeral! She immediately became withdrawn and anxious, and in fact her health went down hill. Until things were explained when her relatives, who spoke pretty good English, explained the misunderstanding and percieved meaning.But anyway, I really do think you should pay attention to all the demographics, and use it as a genuine tool.

  12. This is the thing – in the article they mention that the driver is Polish, they'd never mention that the driver was a native British would they…

  13. Yes, I've seen the questions (one of the hospital receptionists was sitting it, even having been in the country for over 20 years).I'd need to study in order to pass it…

    (Not that I'm saying it's not a bad idea, as the study lets you learn a bit bout the British culture. Of course I haven't seen all the questions, but some of them do seem a bit…well…daft).

  14. No tip off – that's an interesting article, although in my experience I wouldn't say that it is the same in London. Here the Lithuainians tend to beat each other up.(And it would seem that hardly anyone has insurance or a driving license, regardless of race)

  15. Yep – I agree with you there.But then is there a point where you draw the line and say that a certain cultural practice is unacceptable?

    Or to put it bluntly – why is Ramadam acceptable but female circumcision isn't? The veil is acceptable, but multiple wives isn't. Halal butchering is fine, dog fighting isn't.

    (And yes, I know that's a horrible mix of examples – but I hope you see my point. That and I need a cup of tea before I can write more better)

  16. No, I agree they'd be unlikely to mention the driver was British, but I do think they'd probably make something of it if the driver had been receiving benefits (whether that were legitimately so or not) and use it in a derogatory way, if they were disabled, or if they had been a doctor, dentist, or anything else the media could use to try and 'scandalise' the situation.I suspect that may be more at the core of this, something to do with a journalistic desire to make the story more dramatic with any details they can find regardless of the wider consequences.

    However I do feel there are issues surrounding racism and more often the ability to label as racist (or any kind of anti P.C) to avoid consequences.

    Like this current case of the Muslim dentist, who complained against a particular police officer whom he accused of racism (whilst filming him on his mobile phone) thus leaving the police officer who from the footage wasn't being remotely racist with the complaint on his record and the dentist has now been given a 'slap on the wrist' by the GDC for his practice of 'requesting' female muslim patients put on a headscarf before he would treat them.

    The Daily Mail unfortunately was the most mainstream media I could find (although the bbc have covered this in a surprisingly well balanced way)

    Bendy Girl

  17. I know this question belongs in a bigger context, but my take on one part of it is this: “why is Ramadam acceptable but female circumcision isn't?””Female circumcision” is irreversible mutilation, with risks of serious complications, including death, designed to control someone's experience of life and of their own body: Ramadan is a conscious choice to fast and can be negotiable if the person is sick, travelling, young, or (perhaps most importantly) ceases to practice Islam.

    Also, fasting is required in the Koran by any person who wishes to follow that faith, FGM (I understand) isn't required, and happens outside Islam.

    So my yardstick would be, that which is the person's free choice is acceptable (no matter how odd it may seem to someone outside that faith) and that which is imposed and cannot be reversed, isn't.

    I don't find halal, or kosher slaughter particularly humane, but compared with the gross abuses (we're talking about pigs and chickens scalded to death, cows skinned alive) that are documented in western abbatoirs, it just demonstrates that no-one's hands are clean where animal slaughter is involved.

    Ultimately IMO it's not down to us to police people's choices (and to my mind that includes wearing a full face veil) but it is down to us all as human beings to prevent abuse of those who cannot help themselves – whether they're a small girl being mutilated, or a sheep being shipped across Europe with no water, trying to stay upright on two fractured legs and not fall down and get trampled to death.

    And when it comes to what's acceptable culturally, there's usually some grey area involved – in our own culture binge drinking is the norm, and socialy acceptable to many, while cannabis and amphetamines are not.

  18. Oh, well. There is a nice way to cheat the “substitution rule”, it's called the Beeb way. Simply put “Israeli” instead of “Jew” and you'll be able to say anything you want as long as it's bad.Sad but true….


  19. Race doesn't have to enter into it – it's the crime that should be targeted (honour killings, female circumcision etc) not the race.The fact that many of these crimes are considered a cultural norm for some races will lead to cries of racism, but the bottom line is that they are illegal in the UK and if you choose to live in a country you cannot pick and choose which rules you obey and which you don't.

    That is something that is not made clear these days for fear of being branded a racist.

  20. Surely that would in fact be xenophobism – not racism ?The idea behind this obviously pedantic point is that while both are vile, language is important. Using one word as a replacement for lots of similar ones tends to devalue it – which is why Google don't like you saying googling rather than searching.

  21. They're on a losing streak though – because it's so much more FUN saying “I googled him” than “I looked on the internet via a search portal for mentions of him” after a date….

  22. I believe what worries Google is a specific form of devaluing, in that if the word becomes commonly used as a generic term, they lose the right to it as their trademark, and will become unable to stop anybody else using it to sell their own services.

  23. I will suggest to learn quran yourself and you will find the truth. Quran guide us towards nature and show us the path where we all are one. Quran teach us how to convert our individual thinking into collective thinking so that peace prevail in our society.

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