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Saturday 31 December 2011

Political Correctness And A Green Man

Slow news days coupled with agenda driven hackery combine on occasion to produce stories that one instinctively knows are nothing more than the by-product from the northbound end of a southbound bull. One such began life in the Lincolnshire town of Boston yesterday morning, and rapidly found its way onto the websites of the usual suspects.

The county council has clearly been concerned that some pedestrians do not wait for the “green man” to appear before stepping into the road. So plated signs have appeared at some crossings to remind users. So far, so routine, but the wording “Only CROSS with GREEN figure” (not “man”) has set the Political-Correctness-gone-mad-why-oh-why brigade off.

Thus the story went from the Boston Standard to the Maily Telegraph, then to the Daily Mail, and eventually (as it’s cheaper) to the Daily Express, the latter being so tight that the photo from Boston has not been included in the copy. The Telegraph asks “whether the change has been motivated by political correctness”, while the Mail tells of “a move branded politically correct”.

The Express, which like the Telegraph and Mail does not credit the original story, says the “green man” “seems to have fallen victim to the politically-correct brigade”. So has Lincolnshire County Council gone all PC with its light controlled pedestrian crossings? We can check this out by looking at their Pedestrian Crossing Leaflet, available online (see it HERE [.pdf]).

And what is immediately clear is that the leaflet refers not to “green figure” for Pelican and Puffin crossings, but “green man”. So no PC there, then. But a more detailed inspection of the leaflet shows that there are other kinds of light controlled crossings, the Pegasus (where horse riders cross) and more common in Lincolnshire, the Toucan (“two can”) for both pedestrians and cyclists.

For both Toucan and Pegasus crossings, the signal to cross cannot be termed a “green man”, because, well, it isn’t. So the county council would have to produce a different set of plated instructions for both, if it had used the term “green man” at Pelican and Puffin crossings. Then the why-oh-why brigade could call them out for waste, showing its ability to work this into a win-win situation.

But by using the term “green figure”, the county council can use the same plated instructions at all light controlled crossings around its patch, but with the penalty of being called out by the why-oh-why brigade over “political correctness” that does not exist.

No change there, then.

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