Across the Pond: An Englishman's Take on Walmart and Political Correctness



Last weekend I went to Walmart for the first time.

Being British in California exposes me to many perceptions of English stereotypes: excessive use of the phrase ‘guvnor,’ being distantly related to the monarchy, being addicted to tea, etc.

Well, being in Walmart I experienced the worst of what American stereotypes have to offer. Upon entering the shop I saw quite possibly the fattest couple I’ve ever encountered in my life in the form of a man wearing a T-shirt emblazoned entirely by an American flag and sporting a cap with a bald eagle on it and the woman loudly complaining how the store was all out of a certain jumbo sized bag of candy while melting over a mobility scooter.

However, as I began to write this a wave of unease set upon me. Why, in a country where freedom of speech is guaranteed do I feel uncomfortable writing so critically? The reason is what I believe to be one of the largest culture clashes between England and the United States: the issue of being politically correct or “PC.”

Living in Long Beach I have seen political correctness gone mad on an almost daily basis. Don’t get me wrong, there are certain things that need to be kept in check such as attacks on people’s colour, religion, sexual orientation, for example. But when I’m being deterred from saying “Merry Christmas” in fear of offending other religions, or from commenting on dangerously overweight people I see in Walmart and recognising an obesity issue, then that’s when things are taken too far.

Yes, I know what you may be asking, and of course there are many instances of extreme political correctness in England, but 80% of the time if an American were to write an article about English people having awful teeth or how everyone on our tiny island is a snobby alcoholic, no one would care. Why? Because if nothing else, one stereotype about the British that is true is that we have very stiff upper lips. We also love a good dose of self-deprecating humour.

Of course, I’m not in any way suggesting that all Americans are overly sensitive, but the voices of the offended always drown out the voices of those who don’t give a shit.

Conclusively, I’d like to implore you lovely Californians to keep standing up against discrimination and unnecessary cruelty, but please be sparing with your political correctness, because there truly is a time and a place for everything. Oh, also America? If you want to shed the ‘fat’ stereotype you’ve gained over the years, then it might be a good idea to stop producing these: