If you know you are not prejudiced, you can speak like a bigot.

Or:  Why reading newspapers can drive you crazy:

The Prince of Wales and his two sons call a polo-playing Asian friend by the nickname Sooty. The revelation comes two days after Prince Harry apologised for referring to a fellow former Sandhurst cadet as “our little Paki friend”.

The nickname Sooty is used by the princes to address Kuldip Dhillon, a wealthy property developer, ….

One member of the club, who asked not to be named, said that the sobriquet was a way of “putting two fingers up to political correctness”.** He added: “Charles, along with both of his boys, have called this chap Sooty because it is his nickname and he is perfectly comfortable with it. I suppose that we all see this as a sort of running joke about political correctness.” He added: “They [the princes] are no more racists than I am, and I use the word to address this chap whenever I see him, too.”

Last night Mr Dhillon said that the nickname was “a term of affection”. He said in a statement: “I have to say that you know you have arrived when you acquire a nickname. I enjoy being called Sooty by my friends, who I am sure universally use the name as a term of affection with no offence meant or felt.

It would be such fun to see Charles take a test on implicit bias.  But even supposing he passed, that doesn’t seem to be a good excuse for speaking with the bigots.

The article does bring in one objecting voice, and a palace spokesperson who seems to think that if you act to oppose racism, then you can speak  as you like.


**I take this to be the British equalivant of the North American  ‘giving the finger to’.

8 thoughts on “If you know you are not prejudiced, you can speak like a bigot.

  1. Hi JJ thanks for posting on this. It’s sparked a great deal of discussion here in the UK, which is probably a good thing, although as always some of the claims being made are nauseating.

    Such as the following, from another of Dhillon’ s polo pals:
    “They [the princes] are no more racists than I am, and I use the word to address this chap whenever I see him, too.”


  2. btw this is being reported on as a sort of add-on story to the main one that’s been in the press: a video came out recently of prince harry referring to one of his fellow soldiers–a pakistani man–as “our little paki”. (“paki” isn’t really a slur that happens in american english, i don’t think. so it should be said that it’s quite a standard, vicious term of abuse for people of pakistani descent in britain.) it’s also come out that the same price harry regularly refers to the enemy, as it were, in afghanistan as “rag heads”. this is the same charming prince who, a few years back, had to apologize publicly for an “error in judgment” after being spotted dressed as a nazi soldier (complete with combat boots and swastika armband) at a birthday costume party.

    don’t worry. the royals aren’t racist. it’s all in good fun. (!!)

  3. This reminds me of the recent Clint Eastwood film Gran Torino, in which the lead (a typical masculine role model) wields an extensive vocabulary of racial slurs in interchangeably endearing and hateful ways.

    The most upsetting part was hearing the audience’s reactions.

  4. Isn’t Sooty a little puppet on a long-run British TV show? Why is the name not simply a reference to the puppet? And what’s wrong with that? Are we to think “soot” is being used to describe the friend’s color…and if so, why? I don’t get the worry about the name, though PW’s on shakier ground with “our little Paki friend”.

  5. sooty (the puppet) was called ‘sooty’ because his ears were made dark with soot. when given as a nickname for the only dark-skinned man on the polo team, i think it’s pretty clearly a racial slur.

  6. Ahhh….my husband has a Sooty puppet dating back to his childhood in the UK, without sooty ears. I never understand the meaning of the name!

  7. I think the give-away is that all the defenders seem to recognize that it is connected to race, even if they don’t recognize that that’s not good.

    There is a children’s figure called Sooty which is a black cat.

  8. *Sigh* the Royal Family racist, never! Shock! (/sarcasm).

    Yep, ‘Paki’ is a nasty racist term of abuse in the UK – associated with actual racist physical attacks, aka hate crime, and stuff.

    Also…the guy in the video was asleep. Which does not indicate that this was an accepted nickname.

    And even if something is a nickname and the recipient doesn’t mind…are they just claiming not to mind to be liked and not seen as a tiresome ‘PC’ type? Like not-white people can’t internalise racism, anyway.

    (And yes, putting up 2 fingers here in the UK means the same as giving the finger. It is like a backwards ‘peace’ sign.)

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