Pat Bottrill

A topic which pervades many others

Pat Bottrill

Postby Gavin » 05 Mar 2013, 18:28

Today I was reading Agatha Christie's Murder in Mesopotamia. I decided to read a little more about Agatha Christie herself. One link leads to another and after a little while I was reading about a nurse named Pat Bottrill.

I will quote the article in full because this really is an outrageous example of PC:

"Patricia "Pat" Bottrill, MBE, FRCN is a British nurse and was awarded fellowship of the Royal College of Nursing in 2004 for her outstanding contribution to the establishment and development of endoscopy and gastroenterology nursing in both the United Kingdom and internationally.

She was awarded the MBE in the 1997 New Year Honours list for services to nursing and health care, and was awarded an RCN Award of Merit in 1995, and was Chair of RCN Council until August 2002, resigning after making an "inappropriate and offensive" remark at a meeting when she used the term "10 Little Niggers", the original title of Agatha Christie's very atypical murder mystery, And Then There Were None. Botrrill always denied any racial connotation and stated that the term was not used in a racial context. She stated that the term was used when in a meeting the attendance was rapidly dropping off referring to the premise of the book, as one by one the individuals are killed, leaving only one person.

The issue raised the question of institutional racism in the Royal College of Nursing. It was stated by the RCN that one only needs to look at her career and years of advocacy for nurses to see this was an unfortunate slip of the tongue referring back to the title of a book that was once in common use."
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Re: Pat Bottrill

Postby Andreas » 05 Mar 2013, 20:32

It certainly looks like this was just a slip of the tongue, on only one occasion, but somehow it outweighed this woman’s years of work and service. Was there any evidence that this word reflected her real or habitual attitudes toward anyone?

As you said, one link leads to another, one thought leads to another, and the title of the Agatha Christie novel (there is at least one film based on it, Ten Little Indians) reminded me of another version of this children’s rhyme, in a rather more serious context. This was an “underground” poem that circulated during the Nazi period (with a rough translation):

Zehn kleine Meckerlein,
die saßen einst beim Wein.
Der eine ahmte Goebbels nach,
da waren es nur noch neun.

(Ten little grumblers
Sat drinking wine.
One of them imitated Goebbels
Then there were just nine.)

Neun kleine Meckerlein,
die haben sich was gedacht.
Der eine hat es laut gedacht,
da waren es nur noch acht.

(Nine little grumblers
Were thinking of something.
One of them thought it out loud,
Then there were just eight.)

Acht kleine Meckerlein,
die hatten was geschrieben.
Bei einem ist es rausgekommen,
da waren es nur noch sieben.

(Eight little grumblers
Had written something down.
One of them let it get out,
Then there were just seven.)

Sieben kleine Meckerlein,
die fragte man: "Wie schmeckt's?"
Der eine sagte: "Schweinefraß!",
da waren es nur noch sechs.

(Seven little grumblers
Were asked, “How does the food taste?”
One of them said, “This is pig food!”
Then there were just six.)

Sechs kleine Meckerlein,
die trafen einen Pimpf.
Der eine sagte "Lausejung!",
da waren es nur noch fünf.

(Six little grumblers
Met a young Hitler Youth member.
One of them said, “You louse!”
Then there were just five.)

Fünf kleine Meckerlein,
die saßen am Klavier.
Der eine spielte Mendelssohn,
da waren es nur noch vier.

(Five little grumblers
Sat at the piano.
One of the played Mendelssohn,
Then there were just four.)

Vier kleine Meckerlein,
die sprachen über Ley.
Der eine sagte: "Immer blau",
da waren es nur noch zwei.

(Four little grumblers
Were talking about [Robert] Ley.
One of them said, “He’s always drunk.”
Then there were just two.)

Zwei kleine Meckerlein,
die glaubten, es hört sie keiner.
Der eine hat 'nen Witz erzählt,
da war es nur noch einer.

(Two little grumblers
Thought no one could hear them.
One of them told a joke,
Then there was just one left.)

Ein kleines Meckerlein
Ließ diese Verse sehn.
Da sperrt man es in Dachau ein,
und jetzt...sind's wieder zehn."

(One little grumbler
Let someone see these verses.
He got locked up in Dachau,
And now… all ten are together again.”)
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Re: Pat Bottrill

Postby Gavin » 05 Mar 2013, 22:44

A chilling rhyme indeed...

Re. Ms Bottrill, yes, I would have thought an apology would have been sufficient, if anything. She is probably of a generation who were used to this book under its original title, and perhaps didn't even consider the word offensive. A forced resignation seems to me far too extreme.

It is odd, further, how black people are perceived to be so sensitive about racial terms that even the titles of old books (in this case the world's best selling mystery ever) must be changed, yet some are quite happy to use it in their music and make many millions doing so.

I don't like this word, but as you suggest, it is the intent that is most important, I think, and in this case it was probably entirely innocent.
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Re: Pat Bottrill

Postby Caleb » 06 Mar 2013, 03:30

It reminds me of The Human Stain (I've only seen the movie) and the how Anthony Hopkins' character loses his job (and the irony of that).
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Re: Pat Bottrill

Postby Andreas » 09 Apr 2013, 21:05

A case similar to Pat Bottrill's, in the Central Valley of California: ... qus_thread

This man's "remarks" were intentional, rude, unprofessional, tasteless, etc. However, he made them in an email not intended for the world at large (a surprisingly foolish action for a man in a community leadership position). So I agree that he is guilty of gross imprudence and very poor judgment, but is he really an evil racist? Based on some of the comments in the discussion thread, he appears to have provided good service to the community hospital board. Unless there is some evidence that he has actually said or done anything hurtful to black people during his career, or that this one remark is typical of his behavior, I think it should be enough for him to apologize for the remarks and not be forced to step down. What if the roles were reversed? If an email by a black community leader, with comparable remarks about a white president were made public, I doubt there would be the same reaction.
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