Debates Union Poster in Racial Controversy

Edinburgh Uni Debates Union poster accused of racism.

Edinburgh University’s Debates Union have removed a golliwog from one of their posters after the image invited controversy and criticism.

The poster was intended to advertise a debate over “political correctness gone too far”. The image was intended to represent the kind of thing that has been (or should be) curtailed by PC attitudes.

The guilty poster.

Fred Mackintosh, an advocate and teaching fellow at Edinburgh University’s Centre for Professional Legal Studies who was set to speak at the event, pulled out in response to the use of the image. Golliwogs are a racial caricature of Africans. They first appeared in 19th century children’s books, before being featured in a variety of media. They were possibly most when sold as toys. The word developed into a derogatory racial slur.

Whilst Mackintosh does not believe that the poster indicates anything “sinister”, he viewed the inclusion of a golliwog as “puerile and ill-considered”.

Marlena Valles, a law under-graduate on the debates committee, defended the poster, saying: “I recognise that for many people the image of the golliwog is deeply distressing, but I want to stress that an image in a debates poster is never an endorsement, but is a literal illustration of the consequences of the sides of the debate.”

The Debates Union has removed the image from the posters, with Euan McPherson, the union’s convenor, saying “we regret the image caused offence to some people, that was never our intention”.