Golly dollAs some of you know my Weird Wednesday series is a commentary on the more bizarre side of the news. Regrettably some people won’t see this story as weird at all, but I was in disbelief about it myself.

This week it emerged that several shops in Belfast have been selling what have come to be known as “Golly Dolls” over the Christmas period. In case you don’t know, Golly Dolls are generally black with fuzzy hair and a smiley face. And, as usual, whenever you see the word “black” you’ll find the label “racist” somewhere in the vicinity. There are many problems afflicting Northern Irish society: worrying levels of dodgy cocaine are flying around the streets like snow in high winds, we have an increasing number of people killed on our roads, and a health service on it’s knees such that couples expecting a baby are rumoured to prefer treatment in the local butchers shops, to mention but a few. And yet despite these problems there will always be a bunch of raving mad do-gooders trying to keep us safe from the smaller things of life that will hurt us and our society more than we could ever imagine – things like plastic black dolls being sold in shops.

The dolls have proved to be quite a hit and have been best-sellers over Christmas. But one of the shops received a complaint and the matter snowballed to the point where local politicians, equality quangos, and other odious little busybodies were calling for an end to the sale of these “racist” and “offensive” plastic dolls. One shop owner has been bullied by the Politically Correct hoards into apologising and promising to remove the items from his shop for good straight away. An Equality Commission spokesman claims that the dolls are a “throwback to the 50’s” and “not appropriate,” Apparently: “The world has moved on a great deal and everyone should move with it.” Now these are rather odd sentiments. The Equality Commission spokesman has a haircut that looks very much like a throwback to the 50’s but you don’t see us complaining. What does it matter? And why should we change something just because the world has, supposedly, changed? Should the direction of civilisation dictate our personal tastes, morals, and intellectual convictions? Might the Nazi’s not have made use of that argument: “We kill Jews now. The world is moving in a new Jew-hating direction, so move with it!” Of course not. There needs to be a much better argument put forward that goes beyond “just not appropriate.” Appropriate for what exactly? The dolls, like most toy, are very much appropriate for playing with.

What should it matter that the toys are black? Shops sell white dolls, Chinese dolls, and Russian dolls too. And we Irish see ourselves parodied in many a doll/leprechaun figure. Silence. These particular Golly Dolls have nothing unpleasant about them. It’s not as if the blasted things come with a dagger and a voodoo enchantment that allows little wicked white kids to inflict pain on members of the black community. There has been nothing short of a total over-reaction on the part of “anti racism campaigners” who have nothing better to do with their time than continue indulging the victim complex of minority groups when in fact there is no cause and no persecution at all.

I have never understood the notion of being offended. I don’t think I’ve ever been offended in my life. Taking offence is an emotional reaction rather than a rational one. It’s the easy way out: rather than have to give actual arguments you can lazily say “I’m offended” and people take notice. How exactly does a Golly Doll offend, harm, belittle, or damage anyone? Regrettably we only need a few “offended parties” for people to start shitting themselves. In the above instance all it took was a handful of complaints. In other cases one complaint was enough. Last year two golly dolls were confiscated by police from a furniture shop. Were they packed with explosive? Did someone use them to smuggle drugs into the country? Did they contain hazardous substances? Were they stolen from another shop? No. A black man said they offended him. That’s it. That was enough for a police confiscation and subsequent investigation. Well fuck me if the lunatics haven’t taken over the asylum! What in God’s name was there to investigate? On closer inspection were the dolls found to contain some kind of offence causing substance? All this man had to do was take a few photos (that’s right he probably saw the damned things and came back with his camera a day or two later because he was so offended – by a fucking doll!) and make an official complaint to the police. It was enough that the dolls were “seen as offensive” to warrant police action. What a waste of time and resources – all to pacify the victim complex of a single man. The result of the investigation? No action would be taken and, thankfully for the sake of rationality, the dolls were returned. A similar case occurred when the police received a complaint about a man with a Golly on the front of his car: the item was confiscated, an investigation ensued, and the result was once again that no action would be taken. Shouldn’t police be given the power to say, “We’re investigating three robberies, a murder, a road traffic accident, a drugs bust, 4 rapes, a case of child abuse, and 6 acts of vandalism, so take your photographs of Golly dolls and shove them up your whiny arse!” And perhaps arrest the buggers for wasting police time while they’re at it.

Right. Let’s be libertarian about it. Shops should have the right to sell these dolls if they like. Several smart businessmen made a killing on them over Christmas, so there was obviously a market for them. If people are “offended” they are free to take their business elsewhere. Perhaps they could argue the case as to why we also shouldn’t shop in a store that sells items such as these. But until we hear some very good reasons there should be no shame levelled at any shop that sells such items, let alone the shameless bullying that occurred in this instance. If consumers don’t want them then the things won’t sell: and if consumers do then they will sell. If, as the monster-raving-loony-campaigners tell us, everyone is outraged by this episode we would have heard much wider criticism of the shops and the items wouldn’t have sold by the bucketful.

The truth is most sensible people see the dolls for what they are: dolls.