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UK PUBLIC HEALTH & POLITICAL CORRECTNESS HEARINGS

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Blog by Richard Heagy

The setting is a barge at Docklands near Canary Wharf in London, rocking gently in the River Thames as it waits for a tug boat to be hooked up. Something like a worn, prefabricated structure sits on the barge, which was previously used as a venue for a small theatre company—SUMMER THEATRE ON THE THAMES. The structure is filled with about forty persons of various description, age and ethnicity, some looking serious and others agitated. Today hearings will be held on the subject of political correctness. There is a difference of opinion as to which committee of Parliament should receive the report of these hearings. The choices are: (1) The Committee on Public Health and Diseases, or (2) The Committee on Universities and Free Speech.

Persons in attendance include a student union representatives, one reporter, a few students and members of the public; they are seated in rows of wooden folding chairs from a previous era. At one end, the front for purposes of this temporary forum is a long table that resembles a slab of wood resting on two sawhorses. Behind it are two chairs for representatives of the Parliamentary Committees concerned and an empty chair in the centre for the Chairman. At one end is an additional chair for the Clerk. On the wall behind the table is a hastily attached portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in a gold frame. There is a loud clunk, accompanied by a jolt as the barge connects to the tug boat and starts moving slowly along the Thames. The Clerk enters, followed by the Chairman, who heads for the chair in the centre. They are both wearing black suits, the Chairman dressed for court except for his wig.

CLERK: All rise … except Jeremy Corbyn.

CHAIRMAN: I don’t think he is here.

(Everyone, except Jeremy Corbyn, who is not present anyway, stands)

CHAIRMAN: That’s not necessary. Please be seated.

MP BIDDLECOMBE:  It’s about time we got started. I was beginning to get seasick just sitting here, rocking back and forth. It doesn’t pay to be on time.

REPORTER (standing): I have a question.

CLERK:  Questions will be taken in due course, when permitted by the Chairman.

REPORTER:  I just want to know why this hearing is being held in the middle of the River Thames.

CLERK:  I am not privy to that information.

LORD STRONG:  We wanted to limit the number of persons in attendance to minimise costs.

REPORTER: Looks like you are trying to keep out demonstrators.

LORD STRONG:  Not at all.

CLERK:  Sounds like a good idea to me.

REPORTER:  I wasn’t addressing you.

(There is a murmur in the audience and the CHAIRMAN bangs a gavel several times)

REPORTER:  Another thing, these seats are uncomfortable.

LORD STRONG (to REPORTER): If you are unhappy, hard cheese—you are free to leave.

REPORTER:  How can I leave? We are in the middle of a river.

CLERK: What’s that got to do with it? You can walk the plank.

REPORTER: I have never been so insulted.

CLERK:  Hard to believe.

CHAIRMAN (to CLERK):  Kindly apologise to the REPORTER.

CLERK:  I apologise, as the barge has no plank, but we do have life vests and large inner tubes from lorries.

LORD STRONG (to REPORTER):  Well, are you staying or leaving?

(The REPORTER sits in his uncomfortable chair)

CHAIRMAN (to CLERK):  Proceed.

CLERK:  Today’s hearing is about whether political correctness unreasonably restricts free speech.

LORD STRONG:  You mean suffocating free speech.

CHAIRMAN:  You may express your viewpoint later.

MP BIDDLECOME:  Seems to me that the first order of business is which of two Committees of Parliament should receive our findings. One view is that political correctness is an infringement of free speech and stifles ideas so the Committee on Universities and Free Speech is the correct one. The other view is that political correctness is a rapidly spreading disease which should be regulated by the Public Health and Disease Services.

STUDENT (standing): I object because you failed to give a ‘trigger warning’.

MP BIDDLECOME: What are you talking about?

STUDENT (shaking nervously): You know, a trigger warning, that you are going to mention something that I might find offensive or make me feel uncomfortable.

LORD STRONG: What kind of codswallop is that?

MP BIDDLECOME: It’s some kind of political correctness twaddle from the States that unfortunately has been endorsed by a majority of universities in the UK.

CHAIRMAN (to STUDENT): What was said that upset you?

STUDENT: The word ‘disease.’

LORD STRONG (to STUDENT): Haven’t you ever been sick?

STUDENT: I am also sensitive to that word.

MP BIDDLECOME: The word disease is no doubt going to be repeated many times. As a matter of fact, we are going to discuss whether or not political correctness is a disease. Why don’t you just cover your ears?

STUDENT: If I cover both ears I cannot take notes.

MP BIDDLECOME: We all have problems, but they probably don’t teach you that at university nowadays—just about retreating to safe spaces—where you can cuddle-up far away from the big, bad world.

LORD STRONG: I read that these some of these safe spaces have cookies, stuffed animals, calming music, pillows, colouring books, games and toys—even Playdough.

MP BIDDLECOME: Another asinine idea that seems to have drifted over here from the States.

STUDENT: I again object to not being given a trigger warning.

CHAIRMAN: It’s a little too late for that, and we are not obligated to do so in any event.

STUDENT: Then, I insist on being provided with a safe space while the current topic is discussed.

MP BIDDLECOME: Your bargaining position is not very good – out in the middle of the river.

LORD STRONG (to STUDENT): I believe that is the only solution we can offer, unless you want to swim.

CHAIRMAN: I’m afraid that option is not available. It’s illegal for anyone to swim in the Thames without prior permission from the Port of London Authority, at least between Crossness in east London and Putney Bridge in south-west London.

LORD STRONG (to STUDENT): I assume that you have a mobile phone. Would you like to call the Port of London Authority for permission?

STUDENT: Of course not.

MP BIDDLECOME (to STUDENT): I think we may be able to accommodate you. Why don’t you wait in the men’s toilet until we finish. If you put the seat down it shouldn’t be any more uncomfortable than the chairs out here. The space is not very big, but there’s a small window you can open if the smell is too much for you.

LORD STRONG: Of course, if someone knocks on the door you will have to let them in to piss or take a crap, maybe for a minute or two, or possibly longer. You never know.

STUDENT: I am used to a much more comfortable safe space than you are offering me. I will definitely report this to the National Union of Students.

LORD STRONG: You can report it to the Sun or the Daily Express as far as I’m concerned.

STUDENT: Those are some of the newspapers banned at my university.

LORD STRONG: More evidence of political correctness stifling free speech. Universities are supposed to be about learning, free exchanges of ideas and debates. They are turning into day care centres.

MP BIDDLECOME: I am sure there are some other students in the audience. Do any of you have a teddy bear that you can loan the STUDENT to keep him company in the toilet and help relieve his emotional stress?

(A female GRADUATE STUDENT comes forward and hands her teddy bear to the STUDENT who holds it tightly)

GRADUATE STUDENT: I only have one more term to finish my PhD; I never would have made it this far without my Teddy.

(The GRADUATE STUDENT pats Teddy on the head, then the STUDENT, and returns to her seat in the back)

MP BIDDLECOME: Very nice gesture.

GRADUATE STUDENT (to STUDENT): Oh, don’t leave the window open all the way; I don’t want Teddy to come down with anything.

LORD STRONG: I don’t know if there is any toilet paper in the loo. Take your notepad with you, just in case.

(The STUDENT reluctantly walks over to the toilet, opens the door and pulls on the light switch string once, then again and again. After being advised of the problem, MP BIDDLECOME yells over to the STUDENT that the barge hasn’t been used for several months and no one remembered to replace the light bulbs. The STUDENT puts the seat down, opens the window and closes the door)

CHAIRMAN: Getting back to business, the choice of Committee will be deferred. I don’t think that we can properly decide the most appropriate Committee until all of the issues have been discussed.

MP BIDDLECOME: Agreed. May I make an opening statement?

CHAIRMAN: Proceed.

MP BIDDLECOME: Ladies and Gentlemen.

REPORTER (interrupting): You can’t say that any more.

MP BIDDLECOME: Why not?

REPORTER: The TfL has issued a new prohibition against saying ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’ on public transport.

LORD STRONG: Bollocks. It reinforces the need to hold these hearings.

MP BIDDLECOME: In addition to being the dumbest thing I ever heard, we are not on public transport.

LORD STRONG: Furthermore, the TfL has no jurisdiction over these Parliamentary hearings.

CHAIRMAN: That is correct.

MP BIDDLECOME (to the CHAIRMAN): May I continue?

CHAIRMAN: Proceed.

MP BIDDLECOME: Ladies and gentlemen … excluding a certain member of the press … I wish to emphasise the importance of today’s hearings. Professors have been ostracised and speakers prohibited from appearing on university campuses in increasing numbers for trying to present points of view that do not agree with University officials or more often the objections of student unions. Newspapers, books, songs and words are banned and students are expelled based on mere allegations that their views are controversial. Emotion now governs over reason, with universities quickly caving into the latest moaning of ultra-liberal students coddled from birth. Maoist conformity is enforced with student codes of conduct and student unions dictate the establishment of safe spaces furnished with the most coddling amenities.

LORD STRONG: These restrictive policies and actions are not limited to on-campus activities or speech, but extend to extra-curricular student political and social activities. Students and university staff are encouraged to report what other students or professors say on Twitter. This is reminiscent of Nazi Germany where each block of apartments had a Block Warden whose duties included spying on fellow citizens and reporting them to the government about any unfavourable comments about the regime. Even friends, neighbours and family members reported each other to the Gestapo. If this trend continues, the only thing missing will be the brown shirts and jackboots.

MP BIDDLECOME: I have with me a copy of the 2017 Free Speech University Rankings, a spiked project that analysed campus censorship on 115 UK universities. It found that 63.5% of them actively censor speech and 30.5% stifle speech through excessive regulation, based on the policies of the universities and students’ unions.

CHAIRMAN: I can see that the Committee on Universities and Free Speech is the proper committee to receive our report of this hearing.

MP BIDDLECOME: Maybe so, but political correctness may also equally be viewed as a rapidly spreading disease, which unchecked will impede the minds of students and destroy their ability to think and reason. The well-known comedian George Carlin once said that political correctness is fascism pretending to be manners, but I prefer to say that political correctness is merely a euphemism for censorship. Some of the tactics and policies are nothing less that mind control. This is a matter to be regulated by the Public Health and Disease Services.

LORD STRONG: Another aspect concerning public health and the spread of disease recently occurred at Strathclyde University after cleaning staff complained about encountering poo in bins and showers, as well as finding used toilet paper where it shouldn’t be. A memo sent out to the University’s multicultural population stating that although different countries have different practices, the accepted practice in the UK was to use the WC, was disowned by the University after it received a substantial backlash from students who were offended.

MINORITY STUDENT (standing, in a loud voice): Damn right; it was insulting. I come from a country where several hundred million people take a shit outdoors everyday—helps fertilise the crops too.

MP BIDDLECOME: I think that you will find the UK quite green as a result of frequent rain, rather than people shitting outdoors everywhere.

MINORITY STUDENT: You won’t even find the words toilet paper in our language, or the dictionary for that matter.

MP BIDDLECOME: You might do your fellow students a favour by inventing such a translation in your country’s language.

LORD STRONG: Be that as it may, you have to make some adjustments to your lifestyle when you live in a foreign country. For example, you cannot graduate from a UK university if you cannot write or speak English. Furthermore, hygiene and sanitation are matters of public concern that prevent the spread of disease.

MP BIDDLECOME: I believe that Strathclyde University is in the process of reaching a compromise with its cleaning staff, which has resulted in the following proposed policy:

Effective immediately all staff and students are free to piss or take a crap anywhere on university premises. In order to respect certain cultures, men will be allowed to shit in the university swimming pool only on Monday, Wednesday and Friday—women may relieve themselves in the pool on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The pool will necessarily be closed on Sundays for extensive cleaning.

CHAIRMAN: I think our report is equally important to the Public Health and Disease Services, but because of the corrupting effect that political correctness has on poisoning the minds of students rather than poo at Strathclyde University, although that is a serious health matter.

LORD STRONG: There is a much bigger health problem than poo at Strathclyde University

CLERK: Especially if you step in it.

CHAIRMAN: You need not state the obvious.

CLERK: It’s even worse when you slip on it. You could end up stinking up the inside of an ambulance.

MP BIDDLECOME: You sound like you are speaking from personal experience.

CLERK: As a matter of fact ….

CHAIRMAN: I’m sure that it’s an interesting story, but some other time, if you please.

LORD STRONG: As I was about to say, we need to be concerned about the mental health of students. Apparently many of these mollycoddled students are truly distressed at hearing anything the least bit contrary to their views. This may result in psychological problems with long-term effects.

MP BIDDLECOME: That is certainly something for the Public Health and Disease Services to consider. Even the words free speech or democracy will throw some hypersensitive students into a tizzy.

CHAIRMAN: Another negative aspect of political correctness is rewriting history, something that authoritarian regimes the world over have done repeatedly.

LORD STRONG: Or erasing history, such as the protests to remove the statute of Cecil Rhodes at the entrance of the Rhodes Building at Oriel College, Oxford. Some African student started a big brouhaha to remove the statute after helping himself to the benefits of a Rhodes scholarship.

MP BIDDLECOME: Biting the hand that feeds you—kind of like modern day cannibalism.

LORD STRONG: Interesting analogy, but I wouldn’t go quite that far. It does seem quite hypocritical though.

MP BIDDLECOME: What is their point that the money to build Oriel College was stolen from Africa in the first place? Should we tear down the Rhodes Building and ship the stones and bricks to South Africa? They could build a mausoleum celebrating the death of free speech.

LORD STRONG: Maybe the scholarship money should be repaid to Oriel College by the offended recipients and then sent on to South Africa.

CHAIRMAN: Let’s move on. In this age of conformity and snowflake insanity another danger is the well-entrenched practice to dis-invite or prohibit speakers from appearing on university campuses, including men and women who are well-respected in their profession, if any overly sensitive student or group of campus censors protests that they would be uncomfortable, although speakers promoting anarchy are not. Others who do make it on campus are shouted down at the slightest improper comment.

LORD STRONG: As political correctness sweeps across university campuses in the States and the UK, students are constantly being brainwashed and bullied. It’s not only speech but behaviour that is being regulated by the political correctness brigade. Professors are being bullied online by students who are easily offended by opposing views. This is criminal but you are not going to get any convictions.

CHAIRMAN: I think we have finished talking about disease and sickness. Maybe we should advise the snowflake that he can come back now.

(The CLERK, after being directed by the CHAIRMAN, goes over to the men’s toilet and knocks on the door. The door opens and the STUDENT comes out holding his notebook in one hand and the Teddy Bear in the other. The GRADUATE STUDENT rushes over to reclaim Teddy. She wrinkles her nose, sniffs Teddy)

STUDENT: I’m sorry but we had an accident. When I reached up to close the window I slipped and Teddy fell into the toilet. There wasn’t any water in it but it does stink a bit.

(The GRADUATE STUDENT, wearing a T-shirt which says ‘Peace & Love’ slapped the STUDENT in the face and returned to her seat. The shocked STUDENT turns to go back inside the toilet, reconsiders and takes a different seat on the end of a row of mostly empty chairs)

MP BIDDLECOME: We should discuss is the obsession with ‘cultural appropriation’ by students and capitulating universities.

LORD STRONG: What the bloody hell is that?

MP BIDDLECOME: In a nutshell it’s moaners from other countries who complain that food served by UK colleges misrepresents their culture. Pembroke College, Cambridge recently came under attack by students complaining that it was serving culturally insensitive food.

LORD STRONG: No doubt started in the States.

MP BIDDLECOME: Yes, started by the student Stasi in the States condemning the action of someone from one culture who borrows from the culture of another.

CARIBBEAN STUDENT: This is a serious problem—serving a fake dish called Jamaican Stew. It doesn’t even have the right ingredients-beef and mangos.

UNIVERSITY COOK (to CARIBBEAN STUDENT): Can you list the ingredients in my Jamaican Stew or give me a complete recipe of an authentic Jamaican Stew?

CARIBBEAN STUDENT: Not off of the top of my head, but I know when it tastes right.

UNIVERSITY COOK: Have you ever spent more than ten minutes in a kitchen or cooked any Jamaican food of any kind?

CARIBBEAN STUDENT: Course not, my Mom does the cooking.

UNIVERSITY COOK: So you have no clue how to make Jamaican Stew. Let me tell you something, there is not one official recipe for it. When you go back to Jamaica, visit ten different restaurants or ten different family homes and you will find that each one makes Jamaican Stew a bit differently even though most of the ingredients are the same.

CARIBBEAN STUDENT: Who says I’m going back?

CLERK: Sounds like a good idea to me.

UNIVERSITY COOK: I got online to search for recipes for Jamaican Stew and found dozens of recipes for ‘authentic Jamaican Stew’ and the one that I selected just happened to use beef and mangos. We try to make food for students more interesting by providing a variety of dishes from around the world.

CARIBBEAN STUDENT: That’s not the way I see it.

UNIVERSITY COOK: You don’t have to eat what we serve. You could bring your own sandwiches, but you probably don’t even know how to make one. Many students ate our Jamaican Stew and everyone seemed to like it, except for a few moaners who are too lazy to furnish us with a more authentic recipe.

LORD STRONG: It’s about bringing cultures together, not appropriating cultures. Only a fool would think that all of these recipes from around the world were 100% authentic in all cases, especially in a university café or food hall.

CHAIRMAN: In a way it’s like puffery—making things sound better by using fancy words to sell real property, used automobiles or vacations—such as the best pizza in Shoreditch. Most consumers do not take these exaggerated statements seriously.

MP BIDDLECOME: There was an article recently in one of the liberal newspapers by some bore claiming that barbeque is a form of cultural power and that by eating it you are insulting Africans.

LORD STRONG: Bollocks. What does this clown want the government to do—close down all restaurants serving foods from other countries? No more Chinese, French, Italian, Greek, Japanese or Indian restaurants or pizza parlours? In addition to the stupidity of so-called cultural appropriation, look how many jobs would be lost and small businesses closed down because of a few easily offended bozos.

MP BIDDLECOME: There is at least one Chinese restaurant in almost every city in the world. Should all of them be closed down except for the ones in China? They are run by Chinese owners, and many of the dishes have been westernised to suit customer taste.

LORD STRONG: I would be hard pressed to find that cultural appropriation, and certainly not racist.

CHAIRMAN: This cultural appropriation nonsense extends to much more than food. One student union at the University of East Anglia stopped a restaurant from handing out Sombreros to students. A university in Canada even banned yoga classes because it considered them cultural appropriation.

LORD STRONG: Looks like it is better to be politically correct than healthy in Canada, not that I would ever go there.

MP BIDDLECOME: Racism is used blatantly as justification for political correctness. The latest example of this insanity comes from Oxford University. The university’s Equality and Diversity Unit recently lectured students in a newsletter that if they avoided eye contact when speaking to another person they were guilty of the crimes of subtle racism and racial micro-aggression, no doubt felonies worthy of incarceration in the Tower of London.

STUDENT UNION REP: You are not taking cultural appropriation seriously, especially as it concerns food, which affects minority students more than other types of appropriation.

MP BIDDLECOME: What university does your student union represent?

STUDENT UNION REP: I’m not required to answer that.

LORD STRONG: Afraid of your own shadow are you?

(Suddenly there was a commotion in the back of the room. A young GIRL WITH GLASSES screamed as something jumped out of her backpack, which had been sitting on the floor beside her chair. It was a small white rabbit intent on not being caught and returned to the backpack. The rabbit ran back and forth, then up to the front and was cornered under the table)

MP BIDDLECOME: This is outrageous. What is a rabbit doing here?

GIRL WITH GLASSES: It’s my comfort animal. I take him everywhere.

(She finally scooped up the rabbit and held it close to her body)

LORD STRONG: I hope your rabbit is not going to poop on the floor. We have to return the barge in the same condition. Did you bring a plastic bag—just in case?

(The GIRL WITH GLASSES did not answer, just spoke quietly to her rabbit and returned to her seat, still holding the rabbit instead of returning it to the backpack. A few of those nearby went over to see the cute little rabbit. The CHAIRMAN banged his gavel several times)

CHAIRMAN: Please return to your seats. We have serious matters to discuss.

MP BIDDLECOME: I believe the STUDENT UNION REP was about to say something.

STUDENT UNION REP: Definitely. You need to take cultural appropriation more seriously because many students are truly offended, especially about misrepresenting their native food.

LORD STRONG: Do you have any suggestions as to what we should do, or just complaints?

STUDENT UNION REP: You could start by banning culturally offensive food from university cafés and food halls.

LORD STRONG: How should we define culturally offensive food?

STUDENT UNION REP: Food from other cultures that isn’t authentic.

LORD STRONG: How should authentic be defined—recipes with 100% proper ingredients or 90% or 85%? How low should the bar be?

STUDENT UNION REP: You’re making this complicated.

LORD STRONG: Not at all. It was your idea, but it cannot be enforced without basic definitions. This requires thinking and making decisions, something you may not be familiar with. Food can’t be outlawed merely because of a few complaints.

MP BIDDLECOME: The university cooks also have rights. They are entitled to know with certainty what the rules are. Recipes would have to be compiled, probably from online searches, ingredients listed and compared to come up with an acceptable percentage.

LORD STRONG (to STUDENT UNION REP): I know that you have a problem with answering questions, but I will ask one anyway. Do you only care about the ingredients if food is identified as being from a particular culture?

STUDENT UNION REP: I don’t understand the question.

LORD STRONG: To make things as easy as humanly possible, let’s try some examples. Would you object if Jamaican Stew based on your Mom’s recipe were merely described as ‘Today’s Special’ without disclosing the country of origin. Try to focus on the question. It is not based on failing to give your Mom credit, but on the question of cultural appropriation.

STUDENT UNION REP: I’m not sure; that’s a tough one.

LORD STRONG: Let’s try another one. How about pizza not made the way it is made in Italy being described as ‘Italian Pizza?’

STUDENT UNION REP: Not acceptable.

LORD STRONG: What about a westernized version of ‘Chop Suey’ prepared by a Chinese chef with his own recipe?

STUDENT UNION REP: That doesn’t make it authentic Chinese food.

LORD STRONG: Fair enough.

MP BIDDLECOME: I don’t know that I agree. If the Chop Suey is not described as an authentic Chinese dish, how is it cultural appropriation?

CHAIRMAN: I find it hard to call a westernized version of Chop Suey cultural appropriation if it is served in a restaurant in Chinatown that serves mostly authentic Chinese food.

MP BIDDLECOME: Seems to me that any determination of culturally insensitive food, if we were to agree to such a classification, should be based on the particular name used to describe the dish and the percentage of authentic ingredients, irrespective of the nationality of the cook.

STUDENT UNION REP: So, are you actually going to do something?

CHAIRMAN: The hearings will adjourn for fifteen minutes while the Committee decides what recommendations to include in its report.

(The three Committee members step outside for a breath of fresh air and a smoke, deliberate for several minutes, and return to their seats)

CHAIRMAN: The Committee has decided what to include in its report. There are many issues about free speech, censorship, mental health, and the primary purposes of universities that must seriously be considered. Because the issues cannot be totally isolated from each other, our report will be submitted to both committees of Parliament—the Committee on Universities and Free Speech and the Public Health and Disease Services.

STUDENT UNION REP: What about cultural appropriation.

LORD STRONG: It will be discussed in general with reference to food, conduct and other aspects. There will be no specific recommendations except with respect to so-called cultural appropriation of foods from other cultures. In addition to the perceived complaints from sensitive students, this raises the issue of possible false labelling or advertising under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.

MP BIDDLECOME: Those regulations apply to business-to-consumer transactions. I’m not sure they apply to universities or colleges.

LORD STRONG: Even so, who owns or manages cafés or food halls on or near campuses might be relevant.

CHAIRMAN: Our report will also be sent to the Office of Fair Trade. They can decide who their regulations apply to and if there are any violations.

CLERK: Your report should also recommend prohibiting any of those crazy recipes from California.

MP BIDDLECOME: Thank you for your input, but are you again speaking from personal experience?

CHAIRMAN: Let’s move on and finish this hearing.

STUDENT UNION REP: I didn’t hear anything about what specific actions you are going to take to prevent cultural misappropriation of food from other cultures.

LORD STRONG: If you would be more patient, probably not your greatest strength, you will find out. The only action that we are going to take is to report the issues discussed here today and our recommendations, which will be forwarded to the appropriate Committees of Parliament and government authorities for consideration.

STUDENT UNION REP: So, when will your new rules to prohibit cultural appropriation take effect?

LORD STRONG (to MP BIDDLECOME): Did I say anything about this Committee issuing any rules?

MP BIDDLECOME: No—only recommendations, not rules.

CLERK: I didn’t hear anything about rules either—only recommendations.

LORD STRONG: Thank you once again for your input.

STUDENT UNION REP: I’m still waiting for details.

MP BIDDLECOME: Wait no longer. The following is a tentative list of our recommendations, subject to review before we submit our written report. The proposed restrictions are to apply to cafés, restaurants, food halls, pizza parlours and takeaway establishments that are located on any accredited university or college or within ten kilometres, whether or not owned or leased by them or others and irrespective of the nationality of the cook.

LORD STRONG (to STUDENT UNION REP): I’m sure that we can count on you to measure distances for compliance.

CLERK: I assume that distance would be as the crow flies.

LORD STRONG: You assume correctly.

MP BIDDLECOME: If I may continue, preferably without further interruption, I will list a few foods that we recommend as possible prohibited foods, those not likely to be considered culturally authentic – Belgian waffles, Chop Suey, French toast, Greek salad, Hungarian goulash, Irish stew, Pizza, Schnitzel, Swedish meatballs, Swiss steak and Tandoori chicken.

CHINESE STUDENT: You can’t do that. My parents own a small Chinese restaurant bordering my college and I work there part-time to help pay off my tuition loans.

STUDENT UNION REP: You didn’t list BBQ.

GRADUATE STUDENT: You can’t prohibit my favourite food.

STUDENT UNION REP: The student union will decide for you which foods should be banned as culturally insensitive.

GRADUATE STUDENT: You are an arrogant jackass as well as a fascist.

STUDENT: How am I going to stay alive without hot pizza in the afternoon and cold pizza leftovers in the morning? I’m feeling insecure already.

MP BIDDLECOME (to LORD STRONG): Sounds like some backlash to political correctness and Maoist conformity.

LORD STRONG: A nice sound indeed.

MP BIDDLECOME: And about time.

CHAIRMAN (banging his gavel): This hearing is adjourned.

(Everyone is jolted as the barge bumps into the dock from where the journey started. The rabbit jumps from the arms of the GIRL WITH GLASSES and the chase begins anew)

THE END