Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Politically Incorrect

Someone I know on YouTube asked me to do a video based on the idea "It's a PC world." That's PC as in politically correct. I think. Maybe he expected me to do a Mac vs. PC video. I'm not sure what he thought the outcome would be, actually. He's on the conservative side politically and he knows I lean left.

He got mildly upset at me once when I made a video about a jaguar named after George Bush. The jaguar, Jorje, killed his handler. Jorje had a twin that the handlers described as "the evil one" who came to be called Osama. But it was Jorje who turned out to be the dangerous one and killed the person closest to him. I suggested that could be a metaphor for the real George Bush. This guy is a Bush supporter and thought I was being disrespectful.

So I made a video based on something I'd already written. It ended up running over 8 minutes which I thought might be a stretch for some people's attention spans. So I uploaded it in two parts, which I present here for your viewing pleasure. I'm also including what's essentially the text of the video in case you aren't able to watch the video (or maybe you just don't like watching videos).

Anyway, I'm sure it will come as no surprise to regular readers that I have some real problems with the concept of political correctness. The most ardent advocates for it on the left and the most ardent opponents of it on the right both make me angry. I don't like being told what to say by anyone and both sides of this "debate" have a tendency to dictate acceptable language.

Actually, what makes me really angry is that at its simplest, what is described/derided as political correctness is being nice to people, trying to make everyone feel valued and included. 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.

I'm all for inclusiveness and not being unnecessarily belittling to people. I only belittle people when it's strictly necessary. That said, 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.

It's worth saying that 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 site 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.

Looking at the evidence, 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.

Oh yeah, I found a photo of the author too. He was a fat, bald, ugly, aging white man. I'd love a chance to fire off some non-PC invective into his face.

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. One good example is I rarely use the word "cunt" in this blog. I know I did several times in yesterday's post but I was quoting.

I've discussed this with fellow YouTube loony SeanBedlam who uses it all the time. I have no problem with him using it either in videos or conversation and I'd never dictate to him how he should talk. But I generally choose to avoid it because it's too gratuitously offensive to too many people in a way I choose not to be offensive. If that makes sense.

Sometimes I probably go too far and spend too much time walking on eggshells. I remember once trying to ask where the missing member of a group was. I couldn't remember her name and was desperately trying to avoid referring to her as "the black girl". As she was the only non-white member of the group that would have made it immediately obvious who I was talking about. But I tied myself in knot to avoid calling her "the black girl". I ended up looking like a dick.

I also 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.

Besides which, restricting speech is hardly a practice that's exclusive to the left. 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

Hypocrisy always pisses me off and that fact that PC is pushed as the ultimate evil by people who basically control the world… well, that crosses over from irony to fuckwittery. Which is totally a real word.

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."

For instance, there are very serious issues in some remote aboriginal communities in Australia, revolving around child abuse, alcoholism and poverty. There are already examples of this being 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.

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