Untimely Observations



"... to wear an improper expression on your face ... was itself a punishable offence. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime, it was called."

George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four


Like many other public organizations in Britain, Rotherham Borough Council approves the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Report's definition of a racist incident:

A racist incident is any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person.

The Council urges staff to report such incidents, which, according to them, include not only physical assaults and verbal abuse but also "looks" and "offensive body language." Evidently, if you work for Rotherham Borough, your inadvertent facial expressions or body postures may be enough to get you fired, provided that somebody or other perceives them as racist.

Another public body operating a strict policy on facecrime is The Crown Prosecution Service, the government department responsible for prosecuting criminal cases across England and Wales, employing around 9,000 people. The CPS web page Dignity at Work includes "facial expressions" in its "[e]xamples of harassment on the grounds of ethnicity," for which employees can be disciplined or dismissed.

If by now you are glancing nervously in the mirror for telltale signs of supremacist bigotry, let me assure you that these notions are backed up by rigorous scientific research. In a study entitled "The Subtle Transmission of Race Bias via Televised Nonverbal Behavior," psychologists at Tufts University in Massachusetts looked at facial and bodily interactions between black and white characters on TV soaps and concluded, "nonverbal race bias is a typical pattern on scripted television shows." Needless to say, they considered only white actors' behaviours. And regrettably, they offered little or no evidence of the generalizability of their findings to real-life social situations.

The prevailing academic culture at Tufts, as at most all U.S. universities, is one of heaping ignominy on majority Americans whenever possible. But it goes without saying that the researchers of "Nonverbal Behavior," being entirely objective and politically neutral, would in no way have been influenced by Tufts' rampant, all-pervasive political correctness.

Under "hate speech" legislation currently in force in many European countries, and in Canada, a person can be arrested and locked up just for saying the wrong thing. How long will it be, I wonder, before "facecrime" and "bodycrime" laws are widely enacted, enabling Western governments to further browbeat their citizens by the legal enforcement of "positive," "inclusive" physical expressions and postures in inter-racial interactions?