The Left attempts to define Political Correctness

Kai Chang from the blog Zuky wrote a piece titled The Greatest Cliche: The Unexamined Propaganda of Political Correctness which sought to reclaim the phrase Political Correctness and to wave a finger at all those who have dared to strike back at the PC advocates.

It has been hailed as the definitive analysis of Political Correctness by a variety of Left wing bloggers while at the same time completely sidestepping its true nature. Kai manages to both deny and misguide when it comes to this issue. His obvious hesitancy in dealing with the PC movement is both striking and revealing.

The phrase “politically correct” can be used in two distinct ways: either with its original literal meaning, or with the mocking sarcasm that’s common these days. I’ll get to the former in a moment, but I’ll begin with the latter. As it’s commonly used, “PC” is a deliberately imprecise expression (just try finding or writing a terse, precise definition) because its objective isn’t to communicate a substantive idea, but simply to sneer and snivel about the linguistic and cultural burdens of treating all people with the respect and sensitivity with which they wish to be treated. Thus, the Herculean effort required to call me “Asian American” rather than “chink” is seen as a concession to “the PC police”, an unsettling infringement on the free-wheeling conversation of, I suppose, “non-chinks”. Having to refer to black folks as “African Americans” rather than various historically-prevalent epithets surely strikes some red-blooded blue-balled white-men as a form of cultural oppression. Having to refer to “women” rather than “bitches” lays a violent buzzkill on the bar-room banter of men preoccupied with beating on their chests and off other body parts.

Ah yes, the Left waxes indignant about being painted with the Politically Correct brush.

There is, of course, no mention of the thousands of examples of official persecution carried out due to Political Correctness. No listing of the campus speech codes, the corporate hypersensitivity, the frightened political figures and the cowed populace at large that cannot be denied. Yet not a day goes by where the news does not report yet another poor individual who has run afoul of the PC crowd.

What the Left fails to admit is that the ideologies that pursue PC policies are clearly advocating the silencing and censoring of the thoughts and actions of others. The little totalitarian reservations we refer to as college campuses reek of speech codes and censorship as the fascists of the Left seek to mold us into their Orwellian servants in preparation for the coming utopia.

They are all about free speech and tolerance and diversity and sensitivity and multiculturalism until one dares to openly admit to being pro-life, or a born-again Christian, or a believer in traditional morality, or that marriage should be between a man and a woman, or that Israel has the right to exist, or supporting gun ownership, or that maybe we should not allow in millions of illegal aliens every year. Once such an admission is made, suddenly all that great liberal love and tenderness is thrown out the window and all that is left is the naked viciousness and unmerciful intolerance of Political Correctness.

Freedom of speech to enforcers of the PC doctrine means hand-wringing over polar bear populations, condemning the detention of terrorists at Guantanamo, sounding the cry of climate change, tossing and turning at night over Abu Ghraib photos and bemoaning the oppression of all others by white males in modern society. Its logical conclusion is the broad brushing of nearly all of Western Civilization with the smears of patriarchy, misogyny and unforgivable perpetual oppression. Any other thoughts or speech that might challenge the official line is simply unacceptable in their eyes.

In practice, despite the protestations of Kai and his ilk, Political Correctness is unapologetic Orwellian Newspeak - an attempt to change the way people think by forcibly changing the way they speak. New speak, new think. But instead of just being used to perhaps benignly bring a bit of civility to the English language, it has become the bludgeon to silence the critics of the rainbow of ‘isms’ that exist on the Left and a powerful weapon to ensure the ideological conformity demanded by the disciples of the great secular religion of “Multiculturalism, Diversity and Tolerance”.

In practice it is stifling to debate, a purposeful minefield that makes any discussion of society, culture, morality or current events a frightening experience that, for many, is better left undone. And, unfortunately, its breeding grounds are the college campuses that once espoused the idea of intellectual freedom and debate, but have increasingly become mere mental boot camps to create the ‘progressives’ of tomorrow.

Christianity teaches and promotes the Golden Rule concepts of respect, decency, humility, love, acceptance, and civility, but in stark contrast to the PC ideologies it also teaches the concept of right and wrong, good and evil, morality and immorality. Political Correctness is the weapon used by the secularists as they attempt to impose their own version of a moral code on the populace with any hint of God removed. It cloaks itself in the intellectual concepts of tolerance, understanding, cultural sensitivity, human rights, and dignity, while suspending all judgments concerning morality. To our secular humanist/progressive friends there is no right and wrong, only ‘different’. ‘Compassion’ trumps common sense, and the right to not be offended has become the greatest human right of all.

I’ve seen it, I’ve experienced it, and I spent my college years fighting and exposing it. It’s not about calling Asian Americans ‘Chinks’ or women ‘bitches’ (red herring arguments at best), but about having the right to debate the issues of the day with full intellectual honesty. When debate is stifled and speech curtailed because of everyone being petrified of being labeled “insensitive” (or far worse) due to an innocent comment that may have offended someone, then we have lost a valuable part of what made us a great nation and successful civilization. Those who would perform a collective intellectual lobotomy, and their perpetually outraged cadres shouting bumper sticker slogans, are the enemy and we’ve labeled their speech codes ‘Political Correctness’.

Kai complains that the term Political Correctness has become the subject of ‘sneers’. It deserves every mockery and word of derision it has ever received. It is indeed true that the whiff of fascism can be detected in the air. It does not arise from the Right, but is the practiced ideology of the ‘New Left’ and their disciples. In our modern society, authoritarianism from the Right is disconcerting. When it comes from the Left, it is downright frightening. Political Correctness has no real root in America’s founding principles, law or jurisprudence. Instead, it is the intellectual equivalent of state sponsored mob rule. We have many rights in the United States. The right to not be offended is not one of them.

Perhaps novelist Dorris Lessing stated it best.

“Political Correctness is the natural continuum from the party line. What we are seeing once again is a self-appointed group of vigilantes imposing their views on others. It is a heritage of communism, but they don’t seem to see this.”

Posted by David M. Huntwork at June 14, 2007 1:15 AM
Comment #223167

Doris Lessing, one of my favorite writers, has astonishing pychological insight. She distrusts lazy thought in any of its forms.

David, you bring up Orwell. Orwell loved precise language. One of his most famous essays, “Politics and the English Language,” lambasted the vague, imprecise, and euphemistic language that characterizes much political discourse. Thought and speech are linked, Orwell said, and imprecision in one foments imprecision in the other.

Your essay, David, is nothing but overreaching generalities and. You provide no specifics. You soar on the wings of rhetoric far above the mundane world of circumstance. You leave no room for discussion. Those who already agree with you can nod their heads to one more confirmation of their views, and those who disagree can roll their eyes. No one has to think; we’ve all heard this speech many times before.

So what is the point of this article? If it is to be persuasive, it fails. If it is spark thoughtful discussion, it fails. With language Orwell himself warned against, you give us such overwrought banalities as this:

The little totalitarian reservations we refer to as college campuses reek of speech codes and censorship as the fascists of the Left seek to mold us into their Orwellian servants in preparation for the coming utopia.

The irony is overbearing; this is exactly the kind of writing Orwell rails against.

Instead of providing a specific instance of … anything… we could discuss, we get a blanket characterizations so slanted that we risk neck injury. What “PC” speech, exactly, are you talking about? Harvard President Lawrence Summers’ comment on innate differences between men and women? Bring up a specific and you might be surprised at the discussion; the “Left” isn’t monolithic.

You say the Left suspends all moral judgments, as if that statement actually meant anything. What you mean is that some people disagree with you. But rather than discuss something specific, we get these meaningless statements.

So you hate the Left. We get it.

Posted by: Gerrold at June 14, 2007 4:17 AM
Comment #223174

David & Gerrold

The PC folks are very oppressive in their narrow areas of power. They do want to shut down speech. But they really cannot shut down debate. College students regularly annoy their professors by being unPC. My dislike for Marxism was engendered by a Marxist professor.

The PC crowd is just unattractive, intellectually and often even physically. Wander into some of the most PC classrooms and you will immediately see what I mean.

The real danger of the PC crowd is that they cripple universities. We have a big investment in them. Universities should serve as the brain trust of our nation. Those are the places where ideas should be discussed, tested and manipulated. PC has made large parts of the social and political studies at universities irrelevant. Independent thinkers have had to drift to think tanks or at least management departments to develop innovative ideas.

Maybe PC is more a way to protect established mediocrity than it is a political ideology. You can survive in a gender or ethnic studies program w/o ever thinking at all, as long as you accept the angry ideology and go through the proper induction.

Posted by: Jack at June 14, 2007 8:29 AM
Comment #223178


Like much of what other people tell me about universities, I’ve never seen what you describe, and I was something of a professional student. In which gender or ethnic studies program did you enroll? Where can you be censured for saying that marriage should be between a man and a woman? I hear that view all the time in the classes I teach; students apparently are not cowed from expressing that opinion. I did have a student last semester use the term “faggot,” and I asked him not to (it never occurred to me to report him).

At any rate, David is making claims far beyond the college classroom. He says political figures are cowed, he claims corporations are hypersensitive — what does that mean? If a politician says something that turns off voters, then, sorry, that’s democracy. If corporations have learned that some people will object (and boycott their products) if they do or say certain things, then, sorry, we have consumer choice, in many cases.

Jack, we both read quite a bit. Which ideas can we not find expressed? I often see and hear vulgarity, racism, sexism in the media. It’s just a part of our culture. There are groups that try to limit what we see and hear, but I don’t think anyone would claim they are solely from the left. For awhile, whenever anyone criticized the War, he or she was was obliged to emphasize support for the troops because a standard tactic of the right was to claim, of course, that he or she did not. And if you want to be a politician in this country, you better profess religious views.

At any rate, it’s far more useful to talk specifics. When that happens, many of the stereotypes of the right and left tend to dissolve.

Posted by: Gerrold at June 14, 2007 9:27 AM
Comment #223179

This Zuky guy’s has a point: in the original sense of the word, the maoist sense, political correctness is based on agreement with the state.

He also has a point about just how silly it is for people to hyperventilate about being censored when their views are being heard loud and clear. The only person that could shut them up would be themselves, and they obviously don’t have that problem when it comes time open their big mouths or keep them closed. They solve the very problem they complain about.

Their problem is that somebody’s disagreeing with them, talking back to them. The nerve! It takes some gall for them to say that racism, sexism and homophobia are bad things. I’d say the same kind of nerve it takes for the anti-PC crowd to say that they are not.

Society’s always defined a certain etiquette for public behavior, discouraged certain language, certain slurs. The problem many on the right have is that things are not being redefined in favor of things that they want. Instead of facing the realities behind that change, and working out a civil compromise with that, they attack it as PC, and then launch into their anti-PC rants.

The irony is, by being so obnoxious about it, many on the right reinforce the perceived need for more well-mannered, diversity respecting language in the public sphere. They could make the point more softly, but instead they just want to beat people over the heads with it, even using government and political power to back their expressions and beliefs.

Which ultimately comes around to what that guy was talking about: that original political correctness was about saying what the government wanted you to say.

So what has this government wanted us to say for the past six years, pray tell? Maybe political correctness is more about force, about what language we forbid, what opinions we punish informally in the public sphere.

Maybe this all amounts to a disagreement on what constitutes discourageable speech. Ulimately, that’s not a fight anybody will every entirely win. That’s the kind of dispute that will run eternally in a country where theoretically you can say anything you want to, but in practical terms have to watch what you say to maintain status and respectability.

Me? I think if you have a politically incorrect sensibility by any definition of the term, it’s pretty useless to tell everybody else they are wrong, because they think the exact same thing about you. The challenge is to change people’s minds. to convince people that politically incorrect or not, what you say is true. When expressing an unpopular opinion, the challenge is to say what people don’t want to hear in a way they don’t mind hearing it.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 14, 2007 9:51 AM
Comment #223191

This discussion has illuminated just how wrong you are, on both sides. Neither ever give credit that there might be some truth to what the other says. Both sides go straight into their own dogmatic ideas of right and wrong. There is no longer discussion, (or thought) on these topics, only taking turns finger pointing and accusing.

We all complain about our elected officials and their inablility to compromise and then ape it our selves. As every one keeps mentioning the opinion polls show Bush has a 29 percent approval rating and the Congress has a 23 percent rating. Together they can barely make it above 50 percent. The two parties use this infomation to try and prove their point of view when, actually, BOTH ideologies are being rebuked.

It is appalling that people are ostricized for stating their views, sometimes without ever having put them into practice. How do we ever have a discussion without stating our view, and listening to the opposing point of view. The left wants to eradicate any mention of God,religion, or gender from our society. You are allowed to believe as long as you never mention it. The right wants to force that same religion on everyone for their own good. Even though the manual they use to formulate their beliefs says each individual has to choose for him or her self (Notice I listed both sexes to be politically correct).

I started reading these blogs hoping to gain some new ideas or perspectives on our politics and culture. I was hoping that somewhere people were talking together away from the bright lights of Washington and making some sense. Here we are falling in party line and refusing to budge, only looking for someone to misspeak slightly so we can use is a a club against the other’s intolerance.

I have formulated several comments over the past few days, on differents postings, only to delete them. I realized that I was not going to convince anyone by angry (empty) rhetoric. It seems to me that their are times when each side makes a good point and to always deny that is just wrong. Is our point to convince people, change their point of view, or just to congratulate ourselves on our wonderfulness and wit.

Posted by: Chef Phil at June 14, 2007 12:52 PM
Comment #223196


I could tell what you were driving at when your headline starts “the left…” This is going to be a diatribe against “the left.” Who are they? I have no idea what you mean, just as I don’t know what anyone means by “the right.”

Similarly, I have no idea what “PC” means. Some Republicans have started using the term to damN things that liberals or so-called secularists do. They have done the same thing before using the word “communist.”

The argument is simple and meaningless: All liberals use PC, or all liberals are communists.

How about forgetting all this name calling and sticking to a little logic?

Posted by: Paul Siegel at June 14, 2007 3:54 PM
Comment #223197


“The PC crowd is just unattractive, intellectually and often even physically.”

Oh come now, you debate better than that.

Posted by: Jon Rice at June 14, 2007 4:08 PM
Comment #223199

“As it’s commonly used, “PC” is a deliberately imprecise expression (just try finding or writing a terse, precise definition) because its objective isn’t to communicate a substantive idea, but simply to sneer and snivel about the linguistic and cultural burdens of treating all people with the respect and sensitivity with which they wish to be treated.”

I’d already come to a similar conclusion about being PC. But I can shorten it. PC is about having respect for others and having class for yourself. It isn’t necessary for anyone to be PC, but it isn’t required that everyone use good hygiene practices either.

By all means do and say whatever you want. I just can’t help but think that this anti PC wave some people are riding is just frustration caused by the lack of courage to be openly racist or sexist or whatever else being PC stifles.

It reminds me of Dawn’s article which described her frustration about seeing anarchist wannabees protesting openly while others were being comdemned for saying “fag”. ITS PATHETIC. Quit whining because you don’t have the guts to say what want.

Posted by: darren159 at June 14, 2007 5:21 PM
Comment #223204

Seems to me the very fact you can write this, publish it, and others read it, disproves your basic arguement. You are saying exactly what you want, and no one is trying to stop you, or muzzle you, or shut you down. The “liberals” you are describing - and there certainly are folks that fit your mold - are the very far left, i.e. the wackos. Now if you want to talk wackos, let’s talk about the wackos on the right and compare apples to apples. Or in this case, nuts to nuts. The fact is that most of us who associate with liberal causes in general, do not fit the mold you paint. I challenge you to find one “everyday Joe” who espouses the ideas you represent. You want to be a “pro Life” “Born again Christian”, great go ahead. I don’t know a single person in the real world who would object to that - extremists excluded of course.

You also seem to be saying that you should have the right to say and support ideas that are offensive to others, that might offend someone, etc. You claim that that is your right. Well isn’t it also the right of the liberal folks to do the same? Seems to me, you are trying to shut them down in their philosophy so yours can triumph. Exactly what they are doing. Personally, I don’t care for either of you on the extreme. You both have a “scorched earth” policy of destroying those who disagree with you and instituting your ideas of a “Utopian society”. All I see are 2 big kids fighting it out over lunch money.

Our country will only be great again, when we truly get back to the ideas that it was founded upon.

Posted by: Steve K at June 14, 2007 6:16 PM
Comment #223224

David M. Huntwork
I’m sorry for taking over your post - but I think you folks might want to read this.

Posted by Jerome Corsi on Worldnet Exclusive Commentary.
WND Exclusive Commentary Bush makes power grab
Posted: May 23, 2007

President Bush, without so much as issuing a press statement, on May 9 signed a directive that granted near dictatorial powers to the office of the president in the event of a national emergency declared by the president.

The “National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive,” with the dual designation of NSPD-51, as a National Security Presidential Directive, and HSPD-20, as a Homeland Security Presidential Directive, establishes under the office of president a new National Continuity Coordinator.

That job, as the document describes, is to make plans for “National Essential Functions” of all federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal governments, as well as private sector organizations to continue functioning under the president’s directives in the event of a national emergency.

The directive loosely defines “catastrophic emergency” as “any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions.”

When the president determines a catastrophic emergency has occurred, the president can take over all government functions and direct all private sector activities to ensure we will emerge from the emergency with an “enduring constitutional government.”

Translated into layman’s terms, when the president determines a national emergency has occurred, the president can declare to the office of the presidency powers usually assumed by dictators to direct any and all government and business activities until the emergency is declared over.

Ironically, the directive sees no contradiction in the assumption of dictatorial powers by the president with the goal of maintaining constitutional continuity through an emergency.

The directive specifies that the assistant to the president for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism will be designated as the National Continuity Coordinator.

Further established is a Continuity Policy Coordination Committee, chaired by a senior director from the Homeland Security Council staff, designated by the National Continuity Coordinator, to be “the main day-to-day forum for such policy coordination.”

Currently, the assistant to the president for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism is Frances Fragos Townsend.

Townsend spent 13 years at the Justice Department before moving to the U.S. Coast Guard where she served as assistant commandant for intelligence.

She is a White House staff member in the executive office of the president who also chairs the Homeland Security Council, which as a counterpart to the National Security Council reports directly to the president.

The directive issued May 9 makes no attempt to reconcile the powers created there for the National Continuity Coordinator with the National Emergency Act. As specified by U.S. Code Title 50, Chapter 34, Subchapter II, Section 1621, the National Emergency Act allows that the president may declare a national emergency——000-.html
requires that such proclamation “shall immediately be transmitted to the Congress and published in the Federal Register.”

A Congressional Research Service study notes under the National Emergency Act, the president “may seize property, organize and control the means of production, seize commodities, assign military forces abroad, institute martial law, seize and control all transportation and communication, regulate the operation of private enterprise, restrict travel, and, in a variety of ways, control the lives of United States citizens.”

The CRS study notes that the National Emergency Act sets up congress as a balance empowered to “modify, rescind, or render dormant such delegated emergency authority,” if Congress believes the president has acted inappropriately.

NSPD-51/ HSPD-20 appears to supersede the National Emergency Act by creating the new position of National Continuity Coordinator without any specific act of Congress authorizing the position.

NSPD-51/ HSPD-20 also makes no reference whatsoever to Congress. The language of the May 9 directive appears to negate any a requirement that the president submit to Congress a determination that a national emergency exists, suggesting instead that the powers of the executive order can be implemented without any congressional approval or oversight.

Homeland Security spokesperson Russ Knocke affirmed that the Homeland Security Department will be implementing the requirements of NSPD-51/ HSPD-20 under Townsend’s direction.

The White House had no comment.

Related offer:

Sen. Tom Coburn’s “Breach of Trust: How Washington Turns Outsiders into Insiders”

Related story:

Bush grants presidency extraordinary powers

Posted by: Linda H. at June 15, 2007 12:22 AM
Comment #223226

Linda, maybe there should be an agreement that conservative posters don’t cut and paste 1,000 word opinionated rants from in the blue column and liberals don’t do the same from worldnetdaily.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at June 15, 2007 12:48 AM
Comment #223228

Kai Chang completely misses the point about the backlash against institutionalized PC dogma.

The question at issue is not and never has been whether it should be considered acceptable to call him a “chink” or call women “bitches.” It isn’t acceptable, and conservatives already have a solution to this problem—it’s called having good manners.

Would it be un-PC in Chang’s worldview, to point out that calling women “bitches” in casual conversation is defintely not a typical behavior for “red-blooded” and “blue-balled” white men sitting around in bars, but for young black men? Oh, wait. We’re not allowed to suggest such things.

The problem arises when you begin policing good manners with insitutionalized punishments to such an extent that free discourse about certain subjects is stifled and individuals like Chang become empowered to step in, police thoughts, and punish not only dissent but perceived dissent with the support of insitutionalized authority.

Typically when this happens, individuals like Chang expect and usually get a pass to be totally hypocritical, and hence a large part of the resentment and backlash.

Isn’t it interesting that Chang, despite defending PC thought, actually has no problem whatsoever with using demeaning stereotypes of his own?

According to Chang, white men in bars are red-blooded, blue-balled, and given to beating on their chests and “beating off” other body parts.
He’s not even aware of his PC double-standard, and that his words are just as offensive as calling him a “chink” or making fun of HIS ethnicity with objectionable stereotypes about chopsticks and laundromats.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at June 15, 2007 1:27 AM
Comment #223230


Yeah, I agree with you about the double standard. It’s just too cute for privileged college students to claim that vulgarity is ok for their side but not the other because the other side has all the power. Much of the stuff on that site was too precious by half.

I wouldn’t mind a discussion of campus speech codes, actually.

Posted by: Gerrold at June 15, 2007 2:00 AM
Comment #223234

As I recall it, there was very little PC-ness about the rampant misogyny of rap music. When leaders complained about Imus, they complained about those folks as well.

The trouble is, the attack on PC is often used as a trojan horse for legitimately objectionable behavior. We’re told we’re just being PC when we object to racial profiling and monstrous misportrayals of people and cultures. Truth is, the more we stereotype, and presuppose things without evidence, the more we distract ourselves from what’s really going on.

There’s no need to contradict PC. Just relate the truth and relate it well. Truthfullness should be what’s important, not the ability to get away with offensive statements and attitudes.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 15, 2007 8:20 AM
Comment #223238


“Truthfullness should be what’s important, not the ability to get away with offensive statements and attitudes.”

Not being able to speak the truth without being labled, is one of the problems we “anti-PC” people have with this feel-good crap.
In PC fantasy land, stating the truth about select groups or not feeling how the PC crowd thinks we should about certain groups, is now considered offensive.

Using govt to force people to eventually conform to and accept your beliefs is NOT the role of govt in the US.

Posted by: kctim at June 15, 2007 10:11 AM
Comment #223242


I really think we need to get into specifics.

Most of us would I agree, I think, that the word “nigger,” for example, shouldn’t be hurled at black students in the classroom. Would you give the teacher any authority to put a stop to it? Or give the student being labeled any recourse but to hurl the word “cracker” back? If a class devolves into just a site for verbal abuse, wouldn’t that have a deletrious affect on education?

I am not talking about restricting expressions of support of heterosexual marriage, or of religious faith — we are talking about not calling gays “fags” or Catholics “papal ring-kissers” or veterans “baby killers” in the classroom.

kctim, I assume most of us would agree with what I’ve written so far. But speech codes that go further than restricting, for lack of a better phrase, “hate speech” in academic or work settings, I probably wouldn’t support. So let’s look at specifics. Some speech codes might go to far.

Posted by: Gerrold at June 15, 2007 12:14 PM
Comment #223243


IMHO, while PC is in the eye of the beholder, requiring people to be PC is tyranny.
On the other hand, hearing and understanding the truth, regardless of what the truth is, is much easier to digest if the speaker has the tact to get his point across to his listener without being offensive about it.

Personally though, I think that we Americans have become way too sensitive to petty perceived offences.
Still though, many people take the attitude that “if I offend you, that’s your problem”.

Communication requires a speaker AND a listener. If the listener is offended by the words chosen there is no communication, and thus, no understanding.

BTW, please e-mail me at

Posted by: Rocky at June 15, 2007 12:39 PM
Comment #223244

When a black (thats right I said black) baseball player says that the reason there are more Latin players is because they are easier to control the story goes away quickly. I’m glad, he can say and feel how he wants. But when a white player, John Rocker, speaks what he feels the media makes him into public enemy #1 and never lets go of the story.

Anyway I’ve found it to be advantageous to be anti-pc in my day to day and business life. You can show that you are not a phony and you earn trust. So I guess that would make me a conservative, take a negative and make it a positive.

Posted by: andy at June 15, 2007 1:11 PM
Comment #223245

Gerrold, it is what is considered “hate speech,” that divides people and creates problems.
Calling a black student the n-word would get a white student suspended and probably sent to some BS cultural awareness classes while calling a white student a “cracker” would only get a smirk.

But, not being able to use that kind of language in classrooms is NOT what people against all this PC crap care about.
It is the rules, regulations and laws that are created because of the fear of offending a certain group and the double standards that exists because of them.

Ever notice how “liberal” causes are seen as excersing free speech and all others are some type of ism or hatred and are taboo?
I’d love to get into specifics about that.

Posted by: kctim at June 15, 2007 1:13 PM
Comment #223247


Yes, let’s do get specific. There are some colleges that have speech codes that I think go too far. I was giving you an opening.

Posted by: Gerrold at June 15, 2007 2:00 PM
Comment #223248

I also believe some go too far. It is the bias in how they are enforced that gets me.
Teachers are asked not to talk about things that “might” offend certain people all the time. A friend was told not to mention Islam or muslims when talking about terrorism. Teachers have been told not to wear crosses because it might offend some of their non-Christian students. But guess what? Calling fellow Americans nazis and offending them, is free speech.

You cannot get specific if you are only talking about how a code or law is worded. You have to talk about how they are enforced if you want to be specific about real life.

Posted by: kctim at June 15, 2007 2:32 PM
Comment #223249

So called “politically correct” speech, along with the myriad laws designating crimes as “hate” crimes have served a useful purpose. As a nation we have largely avoided, at least in recent decades, the ethnic/religious struggles that have paralyzed so many other nations. At least a small portion of the credit for this should go to the PC crowd (I’m not even sure what that phrase means!).
Does anyone really think that the reason we haven’t had another terrorist attack is that w has done so well guarding the borders?

Posted by: charles ross at June 15, 2007 2:37 PM
Comment #223250


I’ve been a college teacher off and on for more than 20 years and no one has ever told me what I can and can’t say in the classroom. However, there have been some court cases that show, imo, that some speech codes go too far. I have to attend other business now, but tomorrow I’ll try to find the time to comment on them.

Posted by: Gerrold at June 15, 2007 2:49 PM
Comment #223257

This is a problem that doesn’t get much clearer when reduced to arbitrary soundbites. Context is important, because this is all about interaction.

A lot of these things get covered by manners, social skills and custom. There’s always been a need to keep a certain distance, a certain reserve, since we unavoidably operate in ignorance about most people. A lot of what you call PC is common sense and good manners.

Context is important. You remarked about how “nigger” gets a stronger reaction than “cracker”. Well, there’s a good reason. One word was used by those who had power and used it viciously, while the other was used by those who didn’t have power over the targets of their word. For one to mean something more offensive than another, there’s got to be more than just bad thinking, there has to be bad history, and what those calling whites crackers have is rather minor in comparison to what those using the other word have done.

There’s no cut and dried formula at work here, beyond the sense that we shouldn’t unnecessarily offend people we don’t know. Many of the anti-PC crowd lament the fact that they can’t be as free in espousing their views as they once were. That, though, is an unavoidable consequence of the rise of women, non-whites, and non-Christians in our society. You could afford to be much looser with such words when you were dealing with the much more homogenous workplace of the past.

That time is over, though, and minus a rollback of civil rights, feminism, and other social advancements from our society, it’s not coming back. The only way to get past it is to be more careful, reasonable and logical about your beliefs and your words.

One last thing: when you talk about folks not calling other folks Nazis, or disrespecting them for being Christians, are you not calling for a form of Political correctness there?

I think it would be for the best if we acknowledged that some degree of reserve and care is par for the course when dealing with the multicultural melting pot of strangers we find ourselves in from day to day in today’s society. Then the challenge becomes how when and where we negotiate the etiquette of our communication.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 15, 2007 6:20 PM
Comment #223305


i think there is a difference between being PC and being offensive. in so. cal. news shows have switched from using the term south central los angeles, to simply south los angeles because of the negetive stereo type associated with the former, or calling an illegal alien an undocumented immigrant so as not to offend. this is the problem, we’ve come to a point where we can’t be honest in our speech for fear we may inadvertantly offend someone. this is the problem i have with PC. it’s obvious that calling someone a kike, or a nigger, or some racial slur is intended to offend. calling some a jew or a negro, is not derogatory and shouldn’t be taboo. why should we not be able to be honest, or be forced to use PC terms when those i’ve mentioned above are simply the truth, but not nessesarily envogue. calling something what it truly is should not be offensive.

Posted by: dbs at June 16, 2007 7:20 PM
Comment #223308

that should be” being non PC, and being offensive.”

Posted by: dbs at June 16, 2007 7:46 PM
Comment #223323

Stephen and dbs, the backlash against political correctness is not essentially about what’s socially acceptable to say, although those issues are also important to discuss.

I’m extremely “PC” myself, I suppose, and it’s because of what I believe, not because I’m afraid of being punished for speaking my mind. I think it’s not only ok but usually desirable to socially condemn and marginalize people who insisist on giving voice to their moronic prejudices against others.

Social reactions and interpersonal relations are different, however, from INSTITUTIONALIZED punishments against those who don’t toe the PC line.

PC advocates are 100% right in their observation that society’s power dynamics are embedded in speech. They seem to have learned that lesson all too well, and PC dogma has itself become a potent means of grabbing power, shutting down debate and punishing opponents in order to further various agendas.

If the topic of affirmative action, for example, comes up in a classroom and a student states that he believes that merit, not race, should be paramount in hiring, college admissions, etc, what should be done? Some students in the class don’t like to hear this. Some of them are actually sitting there because of affirmative action. Has the student who spoke out created a hostile, racist environment in which his/her peers feel insulted and marginalized because of their race? Should he or she be punished? Should he or she fear that the grade they get in the course will not reflect the quality of their work but the beliefs of instructor? This is how the problem with political correctness is played out, and the reason for the backlash.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at June 17, 2007 12:23 AM
Comment #223326


In my classrooms, we’ve had such discussions. Some students do get exercised, but the goal of education shouldn’t be to merely confirm our preconceptions. As far as I’m concerned, any idea is fair game for debate; what matters it the quality of argumentation. I’ve had students become convinced I believed X when I didn’t simply because I take the role of devil’s advocate seriously.

I’ve taught at four different institutions, and am not aware of action taken against students at any of them for expressing opinions about affirmative action or any topic, as long as hateful slurs weren’t used. I’m opposed to institutionalizing such prohibitions.

When it comes to the public arena, though, many ideas will get instant condemnation and it’s not always easy to reduce the issue to Left versus Right. We have to be very careful when examining abuses committed by some soldiers to make it clear we support the troops. The same thing goes for police officers. Some groups one may insult at will — teachers for instance are fair game, as are lawyers. I know the latter groups don’t risk their lives; my point is that there are social norms for discourse that can’t entirely be reduced to Left vs. Right. Because these norms are not formally institutionalized, it’s difficult to see what recourse we have except to try to change them through discussion.

I liked your comments about power being embedded in speech. In an earlier comment, I tried to come up with a term as offensive to whites as a certain term is to blacks. “Cracker” was, pun intended, rather pale. We see the same thing with gender language — we have many derogatory words for women, but very few for men. (At the moment, I can’t think of any.)

Posted by: Gerrold at June 17, 2007 1:31 AM
Comment #223329

“I liked your comments about power being embedded in speech. In an earlier comment, I tried to come up with a term as offensive to whites as a certain term is to blacks. “Cracker” was, pun intended, rather pale. We see the same thing with gender language — we have many derogatory words for women, but very few for men. (At the moment, I can’t think of any.)”
Posted by: Gerrold at June 17, 2007 01:31 AM

I think I can kill two birds with one stone there! How about “angry white males”. Perhaps, Dems on the left aren’t as PC as they would like us to believe. Or, is it that nobody is out there demanding that they be held to a PC standard?


Posted by: JD at June 17, 2007 2:13 AM
Comment #223344


The thing is, I don’t think of myself as particularly politically correct. Look, I think people in formal settings shouldn’t be subjected to hateful slurs. But as a white male (and sometimes an “angry white male,” I suppose), I really don’t consider the phrase fightin’ words. Do you?

I have been able to come up with a couple of derogatory words — “dick” and “prick” and their derivatives — specific to the male gender in that they reference a particular body part. Of course they should not be used in the classroom, either. But there are many more of them for women.

Anyway, where do we disagree? I’m against institutionalizing restrictions to speech except in the narrow realm of hateful slurs in specific settings covered by contracts for the participants. I’m opposed to restrictions that prevent the flow of ideas. In other cases, libel and slander laws may apply. Do you oppose these laws?

Posted by: Gerrold at June 17, 2007 11:51 AM
Comment #223350

First of all, I am against Political Correctness and I wish you conservatives would cut it out. Here is something I wrote in 2003 on this topic:

Not only have conservatives co-opted the left-wing PC tactics of accusing people of race and gender bias, you guys have added new tactics of your own, like calling anyone to the left of George Bush a traitor.

So that’s enough about PC in general. The conservative critique of universities is quite skewed and narrow. The truth is that very few students major in anything inherently left-wing like gender studies. These kind of students are vastly outnumbered by business and similar majors.

You also have consider the variety of campuses. A place like Oberlin is going to be pretty PC, but the culture of a big state university is going to be about beer, sports, money, and poontang (not necessarily in that order). Professors can only dream about having the kind of influence people think they do.

Posted by: Woody at June 17, 2007 3:23 PM
Comment #223352
hand-wringing over polar bear populations, condemning the detention of terrorists at Guantanamo, sounding the cry of climate change, tossing and turning at night over Abu Ghraib photos and bemoaning the oppression of all others by white males in modern society.

These things really have nothing in common except being common liberal/left causes. The fact that you choose to file them under “political correctness” shows that you are using it simply as an epithet for people you disagree with.

Posted by: Woody at June 17, 2007 5:03 PM
Comment #223353
There is, of course, no mention of the thousands of examples of official persecution carried out due to Political Correctness.

Ok, I’ll bite. Where are these thousands of examples of official persecution?

Posted by: Woody at June 17, 2007 5:17 PM
Comment #223375


I’ve often thought the same thing, at least regarding the media. For a long time it was “politically incorrect” to say you didn’t support the war, although you might mitigate it with the support the troops rhetoric. You have to be careful what you say, if for example you speak out against animal cruelty, you’ll be a animal rights nutcase who “hates humans.” Al Gore is obviously a very pro-business Democrat, however because of his movie he’s now a radical tree-hugger. “Liberal” is now practically a swear word. The truth is the right uses a projection tactic, a propaganda method to keep the other side constantly on the defensive, ram their views down others’ throat, and shut down debate they don’t like not by rational argument, but by demonizing and smearing those with different views.

Simply accuse the other side of what you’re doing. Doesn’t matter what the evidence is, just keep saying it over and over. Now it turns out that the Bush administration has been suppressing and censoring scientists concerned about global warming, the right-wing denialist movement constantly smears anyone who cares about the truth. However the constant claim is that the “environmental whackos” have been suppressing and intimidating people who speak out against global warming, even though they can’t give a single shred of evidence (as far as I know). Has Exxon Mobil been spending millions on professional shills? Karl has a solution, keep saying the scientists only care about funding and getting money.
Want to effectively roll back the bill of rights and ruin America’s reputation (or at least be willing to for power or money)? Everyone who disagrees “hates America.”
A delusion president, who believes he’s guided by God and is pathologically incapable of admitting error or changing his mind? The guy who does is a pathetic “flip flopper.”

A good idea from now on whenever in the media the right is on the attack over some new liberal outrage, look if they can give any meaningful examples or evidence. If not, then it looks like someone doth protest too much.

Posted by: josh at June 18, 2007 1:57 AM
Comment #223531

“Look, I think people in formal settings shouldn’t be subjected to hateful slurs. But as a white male (and sometimes an “angry white male,” I suppose), I really don’t consider the phrase fightin’ words. Do you?”
Posted by: Gerrold at June 17, 2007 11:51 AM


We all know the context in which liberals use the term “angry white males”, now don’t we!
I would have to say that if my son was debating his teacher regarding the effects of liberalism on the Black community, and she said his views were just that of an “angry white male”, you can bet that would warrant an exchange of some “angry white male” words of my own with her and the principal, as well, for that matter. Or, is it OK for a teacher to use the Democratic conceived, politically correct term to call my son a racist bigot?
I do not advocate radical restrictions on speech, but there is a time and a place for everything. My bet is that in our quite liberal school systems today, she would probably get away with such. The problem is that which is acceptable depends upon the side of the aisle in which one stands!


Posted by: JD at June 20, 2007 2:18 AM
Comment #223532


People are amazingly sensitive, I guess — all the more reason we should not name call in the classroom.

Posted by: Gerrold at June 20, 2007 2:33 AM
Comment #223541

I don’t get some white males (a group I am part of). I grew up accepting that our sort were going to have to share power, share wealth, share opportunities with others. We’ve been spoiled by the system so long that we haven’t learn to compete. Now we have to. That’s life.

As for your son, it depends what he was saying. Angry White Male isn’t the worst thing you could be called, but it is an insult, and people should behave better than that.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 20, 2007 7:31 AM
Comment #223683

“I don’t get some white males (a group I am part of). I grew up accepting that our sort were going to have to share power, share wealth, share opportunities with others. We’ve been spoiled by the system so long that we haven’t learn to compete. Now we have to. That’s life.”
Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 20, 2007 07:31 AM

Stephen, you get most “white males” completely by the admission of your learning. It is not “our” competing that is the problem. We’ve all learned that helpful lesson in life. The problem is when liberals do not expect others to do the same, white or not.


Posted by: JD at June 21, 2007 7:39 PM
Comment #223907

Mr. Huntwork,

The PC movement has been DEAD for over a decade.
Most, if not all, Liberals finally perceived that it only gave rise to yet another form of relativistic bigotry.

There is another terrible argument out there that is potentially far worse:
It is the tendency among conservatives to build straw-man arguments out of OLD stuff or FALSE stuff or worse yet WHOLEY FABRICATED stuff in order to sound like they are arguing against the Liberals.

To anyone with a modicum of awareness and the ability to read and understand…

The rest are deceived by such dishonesty and that is sad for them, and sad for us all, since they can cast votes, too.

Posted by: RGF at June 23, 2007 3:36 PM
Comment #229970

lots of the usual right-wing screaming about not a lot.

Check here for my views and problems with “PC”

Posted by: James at August 20, 2007 7:10 AM
Comment #251317

I have few sympathies for those among you who feel compelled or forced to address fellow Americans with a modicum of common courtesy. I don’t ask or demand this “infringement of your personal expression” for myself, as I’d prefer to deal with you on the sure and level footing of reality. The Rules of The Real…or rule …is singular and simple: “NO CRYING”! My level of response to your right of self-expression is not covered by any great and historical documents or any imagined codes of even-handedness. It will be guided by my own arbitrary whims and/or primal urges. It may be based upon what I hear from you or it may evolve from…what I thought you meant.

But never…would I attempt to taylor your honest utterances to some academically codified precept of acceptibility.

Posted by: notty at April 24, 2008 3:50 AM
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