Email in praise of faggots cooks up an offal storm!

My Father-in-Law got involved with the 'Internet Law' and consequently managed to get on page 3 of the Daily Telegraph. His name is John Sanders. Below is the article by Martin Evans of the 23rd February. When Dudley councillor Pat Martin used her official email to chat to a friend about favourite childhood foods, she assumed no one would mind. But within hours of sending her innocent message, she was being warned by her bosses about using offensive language that could contravene the council’s code of conduct.

Confused, Mrs Martin, who served as Dudley’s mayor between 2009 and 2010, investigated further and discovered that, in discussing the famous Black Country dish of faggots, she had set alarm bells ringing. While in Dudley the term is universally used to describe a traditional meatball delicacy made from offal, the word has a wholly different connotation in other parts of the world. In the United States, where Dudley Council’s internet security software is designed, it is a derogatory term for homosexuals.

Mrs Martin immediately contacted the council’s IT department to assure them her conversation had been entirely innocent. But she said it highlighted how political correctness was being applied to the most mundane of situations.

Problems began when Mrs Martin received an email from a friend, John Sanders, prompted by a letter he had recently had published in The Daily Telegraph. Mrs Martin said: “I emailed him to congratulate him. The letter was about the availability of Gentleman’s Relish and we began discussing traditional foods from our childhood. “John mentioned his father’s hot-cross buns and his mother’s faggots. I didn’t even use the word, but when I replied the email was picked up by the Sophos internet security software. “I received a warning about using profanities, I was very puzzled, I had no idea what it was referring to.” The council’s IT department explained that the Sophos software was an American system and faggots was on its list of profane words.

Fortunately, they saw the funny side and accepted that the system was not necessarily tailored for the Black Country dialect and its local delicacies. Mrs Martin said: “It was quite funny in the end but it does highlight how innocent things can get blown out of all proportion.” Mr Sanders, 76, a retired solicitor whose original reference to faggots sparked the confusion, said: “I couldn’t believe it when I heard. My mother’s faggots were a real speciality. I think if she was alive now she would find it hilarious to think of her recipe causing all this fuss. I think it is a case of common sense not being applied. Something that is becoming more and more apparent these days.”