Political incorrectness gone mad

Offensive words get you elected these days, says Catherine Fieschi

The World Today Updated 8 February 2021 Published 9 December 2016 2 minute READ

Catherine Fieschi

Director, Counterpoint

Political debate seems to be increasingly conducted through the use of terms and expressions that would have been considered hair-raising, if not grounds for a lawsuit, a mere decade ago. Today, they get you elected.

This bonfire of democratic decency has been three decades in coming: Le Pen, Berlusconi, Farage, Palin, Trump … in their vocabulary and their respective stances, these political figures have challenged the status quo.

They haven’t ‘just’ tested political and social norms; they have created audiences that are apparently clamouring for this brand of rhetoric and posturing. Their trajectories seem unstoppable at times: what, if anything, will be a step too far? Sometimes it happens – the headline that tips the scales. Or it doesn’t.

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