Here is another article from Jim Wilson:
My recent post on rhetorical standards received the following comment:
“It is clear you are afflicted with “political correctness” a disease that distorts reality into something it is not.”
This was in response to my argument that referring to other humans as “illegals” was in bad taste and that our presidential candidates should be held to slightly higher standards. Since, I don’t wish to repeat myself; here is a link to that piece (for those who are interested):
Anyway, I figured that this response was a great opportunity to clarify what I think of the concept of political correctness. Like nearly everyone I have ever talked to I reject the concept. I am a strong advocate of freedom of speech and strongly support saying what you mean and meaning what you say. I will happily stand up for the rights of racists, bigots, and religious extremists of all forms to say whatever batsh*t crazy things they want. I may not agree with what someone says, but I will firmly stand up for their right to say it. I will also firmly stand up for my right to declare whatever you are saying to be bigoted, stupid, ignorant or insane if I think it is.
I think the notion of enforced orthodoxy is completely opposed to the concept of free thought and skeptical thinking. I am of the opinion that no topics should be seen as taboo and no individuals or groups of people should be above criticism. I reject the notion that anyone has a right to go through life without ever being offended, and it is well known that many of the opinions I have expressed on this blog are quite offensive to many people.
That said, I also advocate, treating others with respect and dignity. I avoid calling people by demeaning, insulting or dismissive names. I tend to dislike it when people display rudeness or meanness simply for the sake of doing so and I believe we should call them on it when they do (as I believe the candidates were when they chose to call some people “illegals”). That is not to say, that there are not occasions where unkind language is not undeserved, for example calling Osama Bin Laden a murderous a#sh@!e is far too kind, as is calling Ted Haggard a hypocritical d@*#!eb@g. That said, I favor calling people by terms they identify themselves with, and treating them as individuals. I prefer that in our discourse we attack arguments and not the people making them, and I would like to see us showing basic levels of human decency. All this strikes me as common sense, but apparently doing so will land one with accusations of having a disease that distorts reality.
To me the whole concept is really bizarre and ambiguous and there seems to be strong disagreements of how to define it or what are actually examples of it. For example are the rules on this website and network television, forbidding the use of certain obscenities examples of political correctness? Was Sarah Palin suffering from the mind-disease of political correctness when she expressed outrage that Rahm Emanuel used the word “retarded” to insult some of his fellow party members? Or, how about when conservative media commentators, called for the boycott of the Dixie Chics after they criticized President Bush and the Iraq war? What about Bill Maher losing his, ironically named show Politically Incorrect, after disputing the claim that the 9-11 terrorist were cowardly? Was it a case of political correctness, when Helen Thomas’ career took a downturn after saying the U.S should get out of Israel, or when the Republican Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss fired an aid for saying all “All [gays] must die.” in a blog comment? What about Rick Santorum’s proposed war on pornography?
Last but not least, I was informed of a case where an officer candidate, within a week of graduating from Officer Training School, was dismissed from service for not saluting a black officer and saying to his pals, “I’ll never salute a n—-r.” In this case, I would have to call the dismissal fully appropriate, not because it violates some code of political correctness, but because it shows a huge level of both insubordination and disrespect for the rules of his branch of the service, not to mention a complete lack of professionalism.
It seems to me there seems to be some pretty big double standards when talking about this issue. Apparently enforced right-wing orthodoxy is just fine, but the minute people or (as is often the case) advertisers question someone who says something bigoted about some minority, they are accused of buying into politically correct dogma (and the person who says the bigoted thing is declared a free speech hero). Interestingly enough, many of the people who outraged by this, tend to be people who under other circumstances would no problems employers firing people, who go around saying things that hurt business.
I am tempted to write off the entire concept of political correctness as a highly successful and cynical effort by conservatives and reactionaries to re-frame and dismiss concerns about race, class issues, and gender issues. It seems to be, more often than not, a last defense for Americans who yearn for days when it was more socially acceptable to hold prejudiced, bigoted opinions or reactionaries who want an excuse for the failure of their ideas and values in academia and mainstream culture. If ideas like, creationism, holocaust denial and global warming denial are rejected by the people who studies these issues, they have and will continue to contend that it must be because political correctness gone mad, rather than because of some problem with these ideas.
Invoking political correctness is great for making reactionaries feel victimized and it great for making it possible to present any bigoted or prejudiced loudmouth out-there as a persecuted martyr. The stating of any stupid, ignorant, or fractally wrong opinion will be seen as heroic if it is prefaced with: “I know this is not politically correct but…” I have honestly never met a single person, who advocates political correctness on either the right or left, and both sides seem to want nothing to do with the term, and yet there are plenty of vocal people on both sides who claim that it is a rampant tyranny limiting what we can say and even think. I have yet to find any source advocating or enforcing such restrictions, but plenty of sources complaining about how victimized they are by it. In fact, a quick Google search of the term leads one to believe that it is one of America’s biggest problems. Apparently the “politically correct crowd” or “PC crowd” is just rampant and out of control and is enacting Marxian thought control on all of us.
Personally, I’m glad it is no-longer socially acceptable to say nasty, racist things, in public and I’m glad that doing so is not good for one’s career. I do not attribute this to there being a powerful, well-organized political correctness movement (I see no evidence such a thing exists), but to the fact our society has become more civilized and that as values change, some opinions will be less well received.