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09:51 pm: Three Arguments Against Political Correctness

Before I start, an argument was made to me that Political Correctness is not the appropriate term for this issue. Having given it some thought, I think there is an argument both for and against this claim. I will discuss the matter in a different essay.

Now, to begin…

peanuts

1) In my recent discussions about political correctness, I ran into a number of people voicing some version of the following argument:

“When I am triggered, I react with anger. I shout and scream at people who I perceive as having said rude and hateful things.”

Now, am I wrong, or is the main argument against politically incorrect speech: it is rude and hurtful?

So…is rudeness acceptable?

Or is it not?

If rudeness is not acceptable in other people, shouldn’t we also not behave rudely ourselves?

If rudeness is acceptable in us, the triggered person—if it is okay for us to behave in an angry and emotional way toward the person who said the thing we perceived as offensive—then, must it not also be okay for other people to say offensive things?

For surely, we cannot have the standard: it is okay for me to be obnoxious, but not for you to be obnoxious.

That is hypocrisy.

 

2) A second argument I saw was: “People who complain about being attacked by political correctness are just babies who should be more thick-skinned.”

This answer delights me. 

I would love to see everyone be more thick-skinned.

But again, it has to be everyone or no one.

It is ridiculous to say: “Stop being a baby because you got attacked by five, or ten, or fifty, or two hundred people on the internet, who all screamed and shouted at you because they didn’t like something that you said that had not been considered offensive yesterday.

 And yet say: “It is okay for a person to take offense at a comment that was not meant as a slur.”

It wouldn’t be so bad if there were two or three offensive terms and we could all agree to avoid them unless we meant to insult. But it is not like that anymore. Now there are more and more ideas and words that are labeled offensive or hateful. And there is no authority. Anyone, at any time, can declare something hateful, and they will find no lack of folks eager to jump on their bandwagon.

So even a decent person cannot avoid being savaged by ravaging swarms angry PCers..

(If this were not the case, there would not be so many cases of strong supporters of Liberal causes—people who are known for really speaking up for them—being attacked by the ravaging hoards. )

Yes, our society would be benefited if more of us were courageous and thick-skinned. Both those who have been attacked by large groups of angry PCers, and those who have perceived something another person just said as a personal slur.

 

3) One of the problems with a society that encourages people to become outraged is: I know people who get really angry if you don’t use the latest politically correct term, and I know people who get really angry if you do use the latest politically correct term.

That must be horrible for companies trying to placate their customers.

Here is the argument I hear from the second group—those who hate politically correct speech:

It makes it harder for people to understand works written in the past. Whenever a new word is chosen as the “right “ word for any group or cause, the old word becomes a swearword. (You can’t get anyone to change to the new one, unless you insist that the old one is bad.)

Words that were perfectly polite at the time the book was written become rude. So books are banned for things that were not ever meant to be offensive.

Worse, once the new words take hold, the new generation doesn’t even get taught what the old terms meant. So, they cannot even understand the older works if they try.

(As an example: people in older generations know that Man often meant Mankind. Nowadays, children are taught that Man means male. With the result that they completely misinterpret many old works to have been written about males when they were actually addressing humans. )

For those of us writing now, this means that—no matter how polite or careful we are—the forces of political correctness might at any time take offense at some idea we included in our books, making them objectionable to future generations.

Also, it corrupts worlds. Because, in no time, the new word gains the same connotation the old word had.

This is why words keep changing: Negro, Colored, Black, Afro-American, African American; Crippled, Handicapped, Disabled, Special Needs—just to name a few.

If we insist people use a new word because we don’t like the connotation of the current word, all we do is ruin another word.

What is needed is to reclaim the current word. We need to help people change their image of the group of which, they currently have a negative image .

If we do this, we do them some real good. 

(End of section noting argument of political-correctness hating friends.)

 

Finally, in closing, the best thing I’ve seen to date on this topic was written by my Old School Liberal friend, Don, who said:

“Interesting semantic discussion — "political corrects" is what I would define as the silencing of people whose opinions might offend some one, yet the argument here seems to be that no one is fired for being politically incorrect, they're just fired for expressing opinions that offend someone.

Hmmmmm…..?”

 

Bonus:

And, for those who claimed no one ever lost a job due to political correctness:

https://handleshaus.wordpress.com/2013/12/26/bullied-and-badgered-pressured-and-purged/

Comments

 

Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

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Comments

[User Picture]
From:reziac
Date:April 20th, 2016 03:08 am (UTC)
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My brain hurts.

Politically Correct = Hypocritical.

There, that argument is much simpler. ;)
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From:marycatelli
Date:April 20th, 2016 03:56 am (UTC)
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The fun part is that they know "man" means "Mankind" so throughly that it never occurs to them to think it might be "male." I've heard someone "correct" that "werwolf" means "man-wolf" to "person wolf." when in fact that's male specific. The feminine would be "wifwolf."
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From:arhyalon
Date:April 20th, 2016 11:33 am (UTC)
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The sad thing is the younger ones don't seem to know the word Mankind at all. They've been entirely indoctrinated.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:April 20th, 2016 10:41 am (UTC)
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"With the result that they completely misinterpret many old works to have been written about males when they were actually addressing humans."

Oh surely not... It never occurred to me that this was the cause of "male privilege". Can we be so stupid? Is this the result of sending every little idiot off to college?
From:mobius wolf
Date:April 20th, 2016 10:43 am (UTC)
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Sorry, that was me. I didn't realize I wasn't signed in.
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:April 20th, 2016 11:34 am (UTC)
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;-)

I don't think it is the result of sending everyone to college.

I think it is the result of sending everyone to college with much of it paid for by easy to get grants...so no one is looking carefully at their investment.
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From:princesselwen
Date:April 20th, 2016 01:33 pm (UTC)
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I always wondered how those gendered-language people felt about Spanish, which not only has male/female pronouns in both the singular and plural forms, but also has gendered nouns! Do they think all Spanish speakers are being oppressed by their language?

I understood the use of 'man' in older literature. And I have used it myself in places like poetry and titles. In a poem, often only 'man' or 'mankind' will scan, while 'person,' 'people,' or 'humankind,' will not. And as far as titles go, I just prefer the sound of 'No Man's Pawn,' to 'No One's Pawn.'


Edited at 2016-04-20 01:33 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:April 20th, 2016 04:37 pm (UTC)
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What makes me sad is that Chinese has no gender. They have one word for he/she/it.

But it hasn't made them treat their women any better.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:April 21st, 2016 01:15 am (UTC)
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Technically, that's not true. Mandarin has different characters for "he" (他), "she" (她) and "it" (它). It's only that they are all homonyms (ta1), so that in practice when speaking they don't think about the distinction.

However, I like your example.
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:April 22nd, 2016 10:04 pm (UTC)
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They write them differently, but they don't say them differently.

My Chinese speaking daughter is outraged that we expect her to remember him and her. She just can't see the difference. ;-)
From:(Anonymous)
Date:April 23rd, 2016 02:31 am (UTC)
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[Smile]

Like you, I have an adopted Chinese daughter, though in my case she's growing up natively bilingual so she's not, shall we say, "gender confused" :)

I also teach English to Chinese speakers, and pronoun confusion is almost certainly the most common problem they have. It's not that they don't understand the distinction - the almost immediate laughter and sighs of despair that follows each infraction testify to that - but simply that their Chinese habits intrude. I have occasionally suggested to my students that they try thinking orthographically but they don't seem enthusiastic about the suggestion. Dunno why.

May I ask how old your daughter was when she started learning English?
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From:arhyalon
Date:April 23rd, 2016 03:14 am (UTC)
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Ping-Ping understands the difference...what she does not understand is why she should care about this difference. ;-)

She was almost 14 when she began learning English.
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From:keross
Date:April 20th, 2016 05:52 pm (UTC)
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That reminds me of a funny thing that happened to me. I was trying to work out the plural version of a not so polite word in Spanish. I got that "a" was used in the female version and "o" could be used in a bastardized male version* - depending on the gender of the person I was insulting. But I could not work out how to say "more than one". I dropped back to Latin base as asked if it would be "i" - except I mispronounced it and said "ee" instead. My brother-in-law, who is of Mexican/Spanish decent, and my sister about fell out of the car laughing.

Once they stopped laughing, they told me it would be "s". We still laugh about it a year later. :-D

*B-i-L has explained that said word [whore] is traditionally applied to women, but in our area it has come to mean something a little different and is used by both men and women to both sexes.
[User Picture]
From:headnoises
Date:April 20th, 2016 06:27 pm (UTC)
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I think it's more a result of some very nasty people finding excuses to attack people.

I'm sure there was, at one point, someone who really was hurt in some way by a mixed group being addressed as "hey, guys!"
It was probably long before I ran into the situation of half of my friends having a twitch where they had to focus on my being female and correct it to "--and gals" or something similar.

There are some people who like making others uncomfortable, and making them pay extra mind to there very presence. It feels a little bit like respect, I guess.
[User Picture]
From:juliet_winters
Date:April 20th, 2016 04:40 pm (UTC)

Trigger-happy people getting their own way

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By which I mean those who react as if triggered over small things, generally for attention... people who look for a trigger, not a conversation.

As a mom of now grown-up kids, I remember very well the days of button-pushing. The whining to get one's way, whether it was a fourth cookie, a necklace, or more play time. Faces would turn red. Screams in public places might be heard. Anything to get their way.

Sure, if they needed hurts attended to, that was done. Any real need was met. All the normal, proper things were done. But we learned that to give in to every whim and dictate and to treat every argument as rational was counterproductive. Maddening. Not teaching them nuthin'.

Getting visibly mad back, though, did not work. To teach them in the long-term, we had to be models of self-discipline. I'm afraid that's what's called for here. Outlasting the tantrum.

And remembering that Jesus said this would happen. The being hated.

[User Picture]
From:tinymammoth
Date:April 20th, 2016 06:03 pm (UTC)
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There's another argument against politically correct language. The more complex language taboos become, the harder it becomes to express a thought. I saw an argument among PC people derailed because one person referred to someone else being "blind" in the common use of "not understanding something," and another person interrupted to call him out for ableism. Whatever they were talking about went by the wayside, of course.

When people police their language this way, they become less capable of thinking clearly. Complex language taboos are a common tell for a cult.

Complex language taboos are also a way to show group membership and have an excuse to attack others and show your superiority to them.

I don't object to simple language taboos that prevent offense, such as using the word "retarded" as a slur or not using ethnic slurs. Normal societies also taboo sexual content and swearing. But tabooing very common, harmless words like using "blind" as a metaphor is a sign of cult thinking.

I'm disabled. Some left-wing friends were discussing about how they were eliminating the slang word "lame" from their vocabulary. I said I thought it was silly and also that I found it somewhat insulting they thought I was so delicate that I would be hurt by the word "lame". They were polite to me but I made no dent in their thinking. I seriously doubt that the average disabled person cares about the word "lame".

It's not about what the people who are described by these taboos actually want, it's about having a communal language ritual to show that they are more compassionate than others.
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From:juliet_winters
Date:April 20th, 2016 06:14 pm (UTC)
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Another interesting word is dumb. As in deaf and dumb, with dumb originally meaning mute.

But no one uses that phrasing anymore so when the Deaf community runs across it in historical context, they are hotly offended. I'm sure that it was used as a schoolyard slur, too, particularly since Deaf speech can be difficult to understand, so a lot of people don't bother with it and people hearing it might think there was some other problem going on.

I don't advise using it anymore as a phrase, but it is necessary to know what it meant historically.
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:April 22nd, 2016 10:03 pm (UTC)
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I am with you, in that I would rather not make a fuss about anything I know isn't meant to be offensive!
From:(Anonymous)
Date:April 21st, 2016 01:33 am (UTC)
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"Now, am I wrong, or is the main argument against politically incorrect speech: it is rude and hurtful?"

Technically, the way you've framed your example, I'd say the main argument seems to be not "What you said is rude and hurtful" but "My feelings were hurt", shifting the focus from righteous anger (anger on behalf of another who was wronged) to the subjective feelings of the listener, and thereby perpetuating all the usual problems with subjective standards.

There are legitimate arguments against rude and hurtful speech, of course. Just not, "It hurts my feelings".

(Apologies for the anonymous post; the login window won't pop up on my mobile device.)
From:(Anonymous)
Date:April 22nd, 2016 03:37 am (UTC)
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People who complain about being attacked political correctness are just babies who should be more thick-skinned.

Should this be?

People who complain about being attacked by political correctness are just babies who should be more thick-skinned.
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:April 22nd, 2016 10:07 pm (UTC)
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Yep.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:April 24th, 2016 07:39 pm (UTC)

Linus Was the Fanatic

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That graphic is utterly unfair to Franklin. I feel confident in saying that he would never have even thought such a thing, let alone said it. (Lt. Flap, maybe. Franklin, no.)
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:April 25th, 2016 04:23 am (UTC)

Re: Linus Was the Fanatic

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A good point. ;-)
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