This straightforward and worthwhile concept ends up being railroaded by people who have their own agenda to pursue. It seems anything can start of good and be twisted into something sick and wrong. It's fair to say there are examples of language mangling done in support of political correctness that descend into madness. In some extreme cases it seems the desire to not say anything offensive devolves into not saying anything at all.
Having a point of view isn't wrong by definition. It's when you insist on the primacy of everything you think to the absolute exclusion of contradictory views that you end up in trouble. Except me. Everything I say is right. It doesn't take a genius to realise that if the left-wing political correctness conspiracy expounded by the right existed in any serious way, they'd really hate me.
And that's where I think the most common version of the political correctness bogeyman falls down. Try searching the net for politically correct and you aren't going to find a lot of sites pushing you to conform to PC edicts issues by our left-wing overlords. You're going to find a bunch of right wingers foaming at the mouth about how they're being oppressed. The fact that they are mostly white and mostly male should not, of course, colour your opinion of how hard their lives might be. There are also many non-white and female opponents (and non-white females, helloooo Michelle Malkin) but the driving force behind this is politically aggressive right-wing white males.
You could be forgiven for thinking the notion of political correctness was invented out of whole cloth by these rabid knuckle-draggers. I find it amusing how quickly these braying fools bury themselves without seeming to realise it. One proclaimed the horror of not being able to offend people, he was being crushed by the necessity to "avoid using words or behaviour that may upset homosexuals, women, non-whites, the crippled, the mentally impaired, the fat or the ugly." Yeah, that's a fucked-up goal right there. If I can't abuse every passing faggot, nigger, chink, dyke, retard or cripple, life isn't worth living.
Speaking as a card-carrying member of the loony left, I will admit that I take some trouble to not be gratuitously offensive to people based on race, gender or sexual preference. Oh shut up, I do so. Sometimes I probably go too far and spend too much time walking on eggshells. But I know the value of a good joke (I differentiate between a good joke and a joke intended solely to humiliate someone). And I know the value of stating uncomfortable truths when appropriate. You want to see a right winger oppress your right to speak freely? Try any of the following:
- Question the integrity or intelligence of George Bush
- Question the moral and/or strategic value of the Iraq invasion
- Question the strategic/political/monetary/moral value of unquestioning support of Israel
- Question any aspect of christian-centric worldview
The reason I bring this up is that I think that the majority of real PC behaviour on the left (as opposed to insane imaginings of PC dictatorships) comes from being worried that any acknowledgment of the failings of a particular minority will be blown up by the right to condemn all minorities. "Yes, many aborigines have substance abuse/addiction problems and don't have jobs" becomes "All abos are lazy, dole-bludging alcoholics". "Yes, that Mexican was an illegal immigrant who murdered someone so we would have been better off if we had stopped him from getting into the country" becomes "All Mexicans are murdering illegal immigrants and we should throw them all out and build a wall."
Last night ABC's "Lateline" (that's Australia's ABC) program ran an interview with a Crown Prosecutor (that's district attorney in US speak) from central Australia. She was speaking out against the culture of violence and sexual abuse that is prevalent in many aboriginal communities. The stories she told were truly horrible (don't read the transcript linked to above if you are easily upset), the worst imaginable tales of sexual abuse, assault and murder. The cultural norms she has observed seem to protect the offenders at the expense of the victims and she sees little effort, or even will, to change the situation.
It must have been hard for her to come forward, not only because they were horrible stories to have to tell. What I think came across as the most difficult part of her decision to raise these issues was the fact that this will almost certainly be taken up by tabloid muckrakers and racists as evidence that "it's all the abos' fault." There is a world of difference between saying that aboriginal people have to take responsibility for making changes in their community and saying white people have no responsibility in the matter.
But we all know how opposed right-wingers are to the stifling of public debate. Any evidence you have that they try to crush anyone who opposes their view is all in your imagination.