Complete the caption: “I wouldn’t say my mother-in-law is like the Daily Mail, but…”
“Mother-in-law jokes, once the bedrock of British comedy, have been banned by the London Borough of Barnet because they are ‘offensively sexist’ and disrespectful to ‘family elders’,” rants the Daily Mail.
They accuse the Borough authority of producing a booklet warning against the gags. They even dupe TV prankster Dom Joly into speaking out against the ‘ban’.
The story is, of course, massively exaggerated, and looks like an attempt to provoke ire (and bargepole in a list of mother-in-law jokes). Turns out that the ‘booklet’ is actually a handout put together by an independent trainer, who was simply suggesting that council staff be mindful of causing offence when using humour. “Barnet council does not have a policy on mother-in-law jokes,” said a spokesperson.
Tired of its ongoing campaign of classifying every inanimate object as either causing or curing cancer*, the ‘news’paper seems set on defining stuff as British and then disapproving of anything contrary to it. This latest piece doesn’t directly use the phrase ‘political correctness gone mad’, but you can almost see the subeditor’s red ink crossing out the words for reasons of repetition between stories.
As Daily Mail Watch says: “Remember: when the Mail says something ridiculous has been banned, what it really means is that someting ridiculous hasn’t been banned. At all.”
*Copyright, Ben Goldacre.