Yesterday Trevor Phillips, head of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, said that he felt "physically sick" when he read that Labour MPs had mocked a Conservative MP with cerebral palsy. The case raises some interesting questions about what "equality" means.
The alleged incident occurred when Conservative MP Paul Maynard was giving a speech in the House of Commons. MPs from the Labour Party are accused of jeering at him and of making "exaggerated faces" in mockery of Mr Maynard's disability.
Now if it's true that members of Her Majesty's Opposition have resorted to such vile and vulgar tactics as mocking the disabled to put off their opponents then it only goes to show how risible and morally bankrupt they are.
However what is interesting is that the case highlights the fact that the ideology of political correctness does not actually seek "equality" as its proponents so often claim, but special treatment.
Before we continue however it is worth noticing that political correctness: though it has stifled freedom of speech and thought in this country, has encouraged excuse making rather than responsibility and has been the brain behind countless lunatic schemes and ideas; is not altogether bad. It has for example made racial discrimination, the mockery of the disabled and other detestable practices socially unacceptable.
But we should not pretend that the aim of the political correct is "equality". If Labour MP's were indeed making fun of Mr Maynard's disability they were in effect giving him exactly the same treatment as anyone else, in that they picked his weak spot and stuck the knife in.
Think of Iain Duncan-Smith during his time as leader of the Conservative Party. The "quiet man" of British politics was unfortunately not blessed with a booming and authoritative voice with which to command the House of Commons, but rather has a somewhat croaky way of speaking. So what did Labour MPs do at every Prime Minister's Question Time? Why they made frog noises and said "shhhhhhh".
One instinctively knows that such boorish behaviour does not quite reach the depths of that allegedly shown to Mr Maynard. However is it not similar in that both Mr Maynard and Mr Duncan-Smith were being mocked about aspects of their character they could not seriously hope to change?
One might even say that had the accused Labour MP's refrained from distorting their faces and even (heaven forbid) jeering they would not be treating Mr Maynard equally but would in fact be giving him special treatment.
Such special treatment would have been right, proper and decent but one cannot call it "equality".
Similarly when fanatics like Harriet Harman start calling for all women short lists (except for where her husband is concerned of course) or all black shortlists in the name of "equality" they do not seem to get the point that what they are actually asking for is preferential treatment rather than real equality, which would require women and ethnic minorities to prove their superiority over the white, middle aged man..
Incidentally it has always seemed rather odd that Ms Harman should be in favour of all-black shortlists when she represents the safe Labour seat of Camberwell and Peckham, an area with such a huge black population one would have thought that if anywhere should have a black MP, it should. However as she does not seem to have pushed for an all black shortlist in Camberwell and Peckham we can only assume that she believes that the concerns of the area's large number of low income black families are best represented by a white, privately educated woman with aristocratic relatives.
Back to the issue of equality vs special treatment and we recently saw former Apprentice contestant Katie Hopkins generate thunderous silence from a BBC Question Time audience when she said that women "couldn't handle equality if they got it". This was a somewhat questionable statement but she made the point that women like Ms Harman are not trying to create equality for women, but give them advantages over men.
Those who campaign with the word "equality" as their slogan are actually campaigning for something rather different and it would be nice if they admitted that. What would we be even better is if we realised that "equality" in its strictest sense is not something to be desired.
Some people need to be treated with greater respect and caution. For example there is no shame in holding back jeers and mockery from those with disabilities such as Mr Maynard. On the other side some people need to be treated, shall we say, less equally. For example those who deliberately break the laws of the land, sometimes violently, should not expect to receive the same comforts and rights (to vote for example) as those who work hard, pay their taxes and keep the law. When one thinks about it a society where everyone is treated equally may not be so attractive after all.