Guest post by Nick Johnson
The thing that gets me about the latest Prince Harry furore is the way many have put the case for the defence.
Firstly, apparently it's all ok because the army has different standards and you behave differently in the military to ordinary people. So it's fine for the army to be racist then is it? At a time when the armed services are still struggling for recruits from ethnic minority communities and are in no way representative of British society in the twenty first century, this hardly seems the best recruiting technique.
It's bad enough to give the impression that its fine for minority recruits to be called ‘Paki’ or ‘raghead’, but that is then compounded by the feeling that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Where do Prince Harry’s defenders propose to draw the line? Different treatment for different races? And if it's ok for the army to behave in this way, what about the police? Ten years on from the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, I doubt whether any police officer would be able to keep their job if they were seen calling a colleague by one of these insults.
The armed services have as much responsibility as any other British institution to be fair, inclusive and promote equality. For that alone, they need to be take disciplinary action against anyone using abusive language. Far from being treated more harshly because of who he is, it seems to me as though Prince Harry might well get away with behaviour that would find a less famous colleague punished.
Also prominent in recent days is the ‘political-correctness gone mad’ brigade who say the insults are merely the equivalent of calling someone a ‘Yank’ or a ‘Brit’. What utter rubbish. When was the last time that either of these was used as an insult as rocks were thrown or a punch and kick landed? Both ‘Paki’ and ‘raghead’ are derogatory terms with a historical association of violence and intimidation. Civilised society has deemed them inappropriate. Are we really saying that this shouldn’t include either the Royal Family or the Army?