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11:14 pm: Political Correctness vs. The Search for Happiness

A debate broke out recently about political correctness between myself and some of my fellow SF fans. (You can read Matthew M. Foster’s response here.)

I am very fond of Mr. Foster, but I must respectfully disagree.

dbz-zendo

Once, many years ago, I spent a week at a Rensi Zen monastery. It was housed in a beautiful estate in the Catskill Mountains in New York. The estate had once belonged to Harriet Beecher Stowe, (who happens to be, I am told, a distant relative of mine. ) The entire week was spent in quiet meditation and contemplation.

I had a lot of time to pray and think.

dbz

I was young, just out of college. I spent the week delving into the heart of my personal life philosophy. By the end of the week, I had come to a realization:

We all want to be happy.

To be happy, we must be wise.

To be wise, we must be free to make mistakes

or we cannot find our way to wisdom.

Because of this, I am a strong supporter of the great dialogue that is civilization. Were it up to me, nothing would ever interfere with it.

Political correctness quenches this conversation. Here are some of the reasons I say that:

 

* It replaces discussion and debate with Puritan-style disapproval.

You don’t explain to someone why you disagree with them. You speak so as to shut them down as quickly as possible.

 

* It keeps people from sharing politically correct views in a way that might convince.

Because of this, if the person who favors the politically correct position has a good reason for their opinions, the other person will not know, because debate has been silenced.

 

*It keeps people from sharing any other view.

If the person who does not favor the politically correct position has a good reasons for supporting their position—the person favoring the politically correct reason will never hear it, because he shut down the debate before he had a chance to hear the reasons.

 

*Rude people are rude anyway.

Most people who really want to be rude don’t care about political correctness, and they are still rude and mean—this means it is the nice people, the people who really don’t want to hurt others feelings—who get attacked and squelched.

 

*It gives a false sense of consensus.

Because people stop voicing views that are not on the accepted list, people who support the politically correct view are left with a false sense of the general public agreeing with them.

 

*It creates backlash.

If you have an opinion and your friend has a different opinion, you can have a conversation.

If you have an opinion, perhaps a mild or moderate one, and every time you voice it, you get slammed for being evil—by people who refuse to even consider your point of view, because they have already labeled anything that doesn’t agree with them as blasphemy…

After a while, you get annoyed.

Some people really believe their position, and they stick to it.

But many people…when their moderate position isn’t accepted, their response is to go the other way. To go rabid, so to speak.

And that is what creates people like Donald Trump, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Vox Day.

People get so tired of being shut down that they find it tremendously refreshing to hear anyone, even someone far extreme of their position, speak openly about whatever it is that is bothering them.

 

* It hides facts.

Once political correctness moves into science—and a few people lose their position for not voicing the party line (which has happened in both the scientific and educational fields)—people stop wanting to publish the truth.

I am sure there are scientists who support the global climate ideas, for instant, but I have yet to meet one. But I keep hearing reports of scientists in the climate field who are keeping their head down, unwilling to publish their results until they either have inconclusive proof of what they have found or the political climate changes.

That means the rest of us are being robbed of honest scientific debate.

One should never be afraid of debate…it’s a good thing, even if you were right all along.

It is a very good thing, if you were wrong.

 

*It encourages rudeness.

People who favor political correctness say it is about politeness. But the same people, so often, also favor shouting down anyone who disagrees with them. They pick a handful of opinions that they declare to be rude, then they shout and scream at people who don’t agree with those opinions.

But they are perfectly willing to be rude themselves on any other topic.

 

*It encourages intolerance.

Any time we decide that anyone who disagrees with an idea is automatically wrong, that is intolerance.

People who favor political correctness often defend themselves by claiming that their opponents are motivated by hatred. But, people can have hour long debates on topics as frivolous at pie vs. cake. It stands to reason that they might have reasonable but differing views on such important subjects as: abortion, race, gay marriage, etc.

Reasons that have nothing to do with hatred.

To automatically assume that any contrary opinion is wrong, without giving it a hearing, is intolerance.

Tolerance means listening to views we disagree with—not merely supporting ideas we think someone else (i.e. Christians, the establishment, the previous generation etc) doesn’t like.

Tolerance is hard.

But it is worth it.

Especially when, as often happens, the tables turn and, suddenly, our particular group is not the one in the ascendant.

*

So, to review: We all want happiness. To get it, we need to be wise. To learn wisdom, we need the freedom to fail, to be stupid, to walk the wrong way, and, yes, even to think wrong thoughts.

Lake at the Zendo

Freedom, particularly, Freedom of Speech, is absolutely necessarily to happiness. How about we all stop shouting and go back to the days of:

I may disagree with what you say,

but I will fight to the death for your right to say it.”

 

Comments

Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

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Comments

[User Picture]
From:keross
Date:April 5th, 2016 05:52 pm (UTC)
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I ran across this on your WP site.

Two thoughts:

First, what you describe reminds me of the scene in Fahrenheit 451 where the Fire Captain is talking to the MC about what happened to the books. Part of the reason they fell out of favor was, in today's terms, Political Correctness, and a fear of offending someone. (the part about technology is almost scary in its accuracy)

Second, my take away from Mr. Foster's page: If your opinion differs from the popular one, stay quiet, or accept the consequences - up to losing your job. Sorry, that's advocating censorship, imo.
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From:starshipcat
Date:April 6th, 2016 02:43 am (UTC)
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Especially when it's not just what you say or do on the job that puts you at risk of firing -- it's your whole life. Suddenly you no longer have a private life separate from your work life -- anything you say or do, anywhere at any time, can be grounds for stripping you of your livelihood if someone finds it offensive.

So we end up with a certain paralysis, a sick dread that even an honest misstep could ruin us. In the height of Requires Hate's campaign, writers reported sitting down at the keyboard and being overwhelmed with literally physical terror at the thought of making some misstep that would bring down the wrath of Requires Hate, and having to abase themselves yet again and admit that yes, they were horrible human beings and that they would try harder to be better.

What's happening is a sort of weaponizing of politeness, in a way that actually silences civil discourse, because certain people get to use the most horrible of terms to excoriate perceived offense, and nobody dares call them upon it lest they in turn become the target of the community's opprobrium. It was bad enough when you just got kicked out of the social circle -- if an ill-chosen word can leave you without the means to make a living, the stakes have gone way up.
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From:arhyalon
Date:April 6th, 2016 03:12 am (UTC)
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You put your finger on it exactly: You couldn't see it coming. You were always blindsided.

This is totally different from breaking a law or a moral code.

When you can be fired for stuff you do on your own time that wasn't objectionable when you did it...

That is not a society that anyone except the temporary elite want to live in!
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From:starshipcat
Date:April 6th, 2016 02:48 am (UTC)
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One thing I keep noticing with Political Correctness is a tendency to strain at gnats while swallowing camels whole. For instance, the obsession over microaggressions, picoaggressions, femtoaggressions, so-tiny-I'm-running-out-of-SI-prefixes-aggressions that only the Elect, the Guardians of Political Correctness can perceive, while they let megaaggressions and gigaaggressions slide by. Especially the ones being committed in certain parts of the Middle East under a black flag that doesn't have the Jolly Roger on it. While we are made to agonize and obsess over what we do or do not owe for slavery that was abolished 150 years ago, people are being enslaved and horribly mistreated every day Over There, but from the Political Correctness crew, not a peep.
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From:arhyalon
Date:April 6th, 2016 03:17 am (UTC)
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There is a story about a man who was bent over under a street light. When asked what he was doing, he said he was looking for a quarter he dropped.

After helping him look for a time and not being able to find it, the person asked, "Are you sure that this is where you dropped it?"

The man replied, "No, I dropped it over there, but the light was better here."

In the case of Political Correctness, the streetlight is the victims. Real opponents won't bow to their bullying tactics, so they need to attack cowards. Cowards, for the most part, aren't doing anything wrong, so they need to invent offenses.
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From:arhyalon
Date:April 6th, 2016 03:18 am (UTC)
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Recently, a liberal friend gave the best sum up of the problem I've seen. He said:

"Interesting semantic discussion -- "political corrects" is what I would define as the silencing of people whose opinions might offend someone, 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.....?"
From:(Anonymous)
Date:April 6th, 2016 03:38 pm (UTC)

Interesting

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I tend to be someone who substitutes "politically correct" with "polite" in my head. I don't mind moderating my speech to respect other cultures and experiences - and so I've had a really hard time wrapping my head around all the anger about political correctness. Your post is very enlightening and appreciated. "The freedom to make mistakes" is absolutely important to facilitating understanding.

Also, pleased to meet you. I am a geologist who supports the scientific consensus that CO2 emissions are precipitating a changing climate. I would be happy to discuss the matter with you further if you have questions.
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From:arhyalon
Date:April 6th, 2016 04:16 pm (UTC)

Re: Interesting

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Nice to meet you, too. ;-)

Sure...what in your experience leads you to believe that the C02 emissions are at fault. In particular, is there anything in your personal work you see that supports it?
From:(Anonymous)
Date:April 8th, 2016 02:04 pm (UTC)

Re: Interesting

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Hi, I tried to reply but I think it was marked as spam? I don't suppose you can retrieve that from the filters. In any case happy Friday!
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From:arhyalon
Date:April 8th, 2016 03:17 pm (UTC)

Re: Interesting

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I will look around and see if I can find it.
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From:arhyalon
Date:April 8th, 2016 03:20 pm (UTC)

Re: Interesting

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Went through everything I have...can't find it. ;-(
From:(Anonymous)
Date:April 8th, 2016 09:48 pm (UTC)

Re: Interesting

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That's a shame! I had a few thoughts for you, but instead of reiterating them, could you point me to the lines of reasoning you have found that does not support that climate change is occurring? I would love to look at your sources. My experience is the opposite of yours - I have yet to meet a scientist (I have been fortunate to speak with and attend lectures by glaciologists, isotope geochemists, and climatologists) who do not acknowledge the published research that shows an increase in CO2 and methane emissions corresponds to higher temperatures and can be traced back to human activity.

And in response to your earlier question, I am a geochemist who specializes in water quality. The best source I can leave you with is the Berkeley Earth Study, a critical, independently funded study of the climate science to date by physicist Richard Muller. You can find it by searching online (I think adding links doomed me to spam!) Dr. Muller's main point, which the lectures, discussions, and talks I have attended agree with, is that there is a lot to debate about the effects and rate of global climate change, but that the cause is well established.

Thanks!
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From:arhyalon
Date:April 9th, 2016 02:52 am (UTC)

Re: Interesting

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I did my initial research some years back. Last time I looked, I could not find it all, but basically: I started out completely believing some of it and just wanting to find out more, and then I started reading reports.

I was really worried about rising ocean levels. What I learned was that there were no ocean level scientists in the group that claimed the ocean was rising. The foremost scientist in this area disagreed with them. When he found evidence that the waterline had gone down in Australia, it was vandalized. He did explain why the islands everyone said were flooding were actually sinking.

After that, I began investigating more. I made one decision. Any time I had a choice between satellite or computer data and someone whose feet were on the ground, I took the feet on the ground guy over the other version.

Over and over again, whether it was high tide lines on the East Coast, or glacier activity in India, the guy with the yard stick on the ground reported contrary information to the guy with the computer models.

So, I began to reexamine everything. As I see it:

CO2 levels may be higher, but I am not convinced this is bad. In some areas, there is evidence of increased plant growth and crop yield due to this.

Temperatures are warmer in some areas...of course, they've been getting warmer since the Little Ice age. During the period of the most warming, about five years ago, there was evidence of warming on Mars and Pluto, too--that implies sun activity.

Warmer temperatures might be bad for some areas, but they are good for other areas.

One of the things in that email scandal a few years back was that Russia reported that its cities were warmer BUT its countryside was colder. I've heard reports about colder temperatures elsewhere away from cities, too.

It is clear that many areas have different climate than they did a few years ago, but no one has properly tested any of the models that claim these different changes are all related. Some might be for totally different reasons...like, say, damming the Nile vs. general warming, etc.

If CO2 were really a scientific problem, scientific answers would be suggested. I have seen a few.

Instead, what we get is "Shriek! We have to make quality of life worse or use tax money to force technologies on people that are not quite ready yet." That is an alarmist response, not a scientific response.

The amount of gasses from Mt. Erebus and other volcanoes is still reported, by some at least, to be more than all of humanity puts out in a year. If a change in the amount of volcanoes does more than we do...we can't be doing it.

All of the alarmist info is based on computer projections. No one has proved, even once, that these projections are correct...that there are not major factors that they have left out.

Last decade, they made all sorts of predictions about how things would be now. They did not come to pass.

What happened next was "Oh, now we've changed our model to include what is happening now. Before you get hotter you get colder."

The problem with this is: the model that says 'before you get hotter, you get colder' and the model that says, 'getting colder means something else' look the same, and not a single model being used has been proved over time to be reliable.

The Farmer's Almanac, which has a reasonable record and uses, I think, ocean temperatures, predicts a 50 year cooling period.

That's a few reasons.

From:(Anonymous)
Date:April 9th, 2016 03:34 pm (UTC)

Re: Interesting

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We agree on one crucial point - there is not enough data to know what the actual localized *effects* are. Some people do think there are potential beneficial effects, although I am not sure I agree (though that may be because I live in ski country.) There are valid theories that predict very bad outcomes - it is important to remember that a theory van be valid (aka based on what we know and can be predict to the best of our ability) and still be proven wrong. That's the whole point of science. For many people - and again I am one of them - it makes sense to take the predictions seriously for the simple reason that if we can act to prevent a potential threat, we should. It is better to be wrong than unprepared.

I understand your reasoning on choosing boots on the ground over computer models, but I would suggest re-thinking the value of satellite data. Satellites are the best tool for looking at the Earth as a whole, which is critical when talking about climate. It is tempting to look at local phenomena as proof in both directions. The truth is that we don't know if the drought in California, or increased crop productions, or the temperature in Moscow is a result of global warming. There are four global measurements we can make that I know of that are reflective of climate: the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, global temperatures, global land ice, and sea levels. Anything else is speculation.

The other important thing to remember is that when people get alarmed they are not talking about the Earth getting warmer since the last ice age - they are talking about the *rate* of warming. The same goes for sea level rise and melting land ice. The issue is not that it is occurring at all but that the rate is unprecedented as far as we know.

Here is the current data I am aware of: globally sea level rise is up 8 cm since 1997 (look up NASA sea level measurements). Land ice volume has decreased 130-280 billion tons per year in Greenland and Antarctica since the mid 2000s (NASA - satellite measurements). In 130 years of temperature data, the hottest 16 years on record have occurred in the last 20 (look up NOAA global temperature measurements). CO2 is currently about 400 parts per million - the highest concentration ever recorded (in an ice core from Vostok in Antarctica that dates back to 800,000 years) is around 300 parts per million. And while a single volcanic eruption can be significant, the average contribution from volcanoes is dwarfed by human activities (look up United States Geological Survey volcanoes and CO2).

I would still love to look up the names of scientists you have met or researched who disagree with the current climate science if you can provide them. Or if you have any data sources with global measurements that disagree with the data above, I would be very interested. Also, I am not aware of having temperature data for Pluto, much less historic data - after all we only just reached the planet with our first probe last year. Can you point me to your source?

Thank you! I hope you do not mind continuing the discussion, I am fascinated by this topic. In any case have a lovely weekend.
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:April 9th, 2016 09:40 pm (UTC)

Re: Interesting

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Back in 2009, I think it was, I read papers by Indian scientists relating to Indian glaciers. There was a paper prepared with satellite data. This was presented in Copenhagen.

Then, a second Indian scientist went to the glaciers with a yard stick. His findings were practically the opposite...vastly different from what the satellite info showed. But by this time, India, whose rep was in charge of the UN, I think it was, at the time, felt their reputation was on the line with the first presentation, so they ignored the second paper. (All this was easily discoverable on the web at the time, but I haven't looked for it since.)

Nils-Axel Mörner, who was, at least at one point, the top scientist in the world in relation to sea level, claims that satellite info for sea levels is, if not unreliable, at least unproven to be correct.

From:(Anonymous)
Date:April 10th, 2016 02:42 am (UTC)

Re: Interesting

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Thank you for letting me know about Dr. Morner! On an early investigation into his work, I have a few reservations - I am unable to access his raw data (if you are interested raw data is available from Berkely Earth and NASA), he appears to manipulate figures for convenience (in "There is No Alarming Sea Level Rise" he tilts a graph to show a horizontal trendline, tilting the axes at 45 degree angles) and the validity of his data sources is questionable (for instance, he uses the occurrence of a tree and a woman buried in coral to indicate historic sea levels at the Maldive Islands.) I will certainly look further into his work, and appreciate the tip.

Unfortunately I could not find any information about the Indian glaciers. I am still very interested in anything else you might have at hand - in particular I am very curious about that Pluto data.

Thank you for an enlightening discussion!
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:April 9th, 2016 09:42 pm (UTC)

Re: Interesting

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You have a lovely weekend, too!
From:(Anonymous)
Date:April 6th, 2016 08:26 pm (UTC)

Political Correctness

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Having read two very different author blogs posted by folks with very different views of the err, societal world; I have to say this has been a very good day for well spoken ideas.

Anyone who wants to see a very old essay debunking PCism (did I just invent a new word?) should read John Stuart Mill's "On Liberty" a classic work I turn to again as a source of inspiration.
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:April 6th, 2016 08:27 pm (UTC)

Re: Political Correctness

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I don't think I've read that. I'll have to look it up.

Thanks. ;-)
From:(Anonymous)
Date:April 7th, 2016 09:54 am (UTC)

PC

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What price did the co-creators of WisCon's racially segregated "safer-space" - Jaymee Goh and K. Tempest Bradford - pay for using terms like "sour dough-faced" and "cracka ass cracka" at white folks? What price has TorCom blogger Alex MacFarlane paid for using terms like "cis scum" and "cis peeeeooooople"? What price has Alyssa Wong paid for having a "white tears" coffee mug on her Twitter feed? I could list examples like that for a long time. Last I checked those folks have unswerving support among the feminist-run SFF community.

What price did Malzberg and Resnick pay for not doing anything like that... and Jean Rabe too? That goes for Tim Hunt and Jonathan Ross too. In fact I could just lump that all together as any straight white male for merely existing. The only way out of that is to virtual-signal you are a feminist "ally."

The truth is straight white males in SFF are treated as if they are a single immortal person who over the last 100 years has created racially segregated awards, rooms and anthologies, though that has never occurred.

On the other hand, the people creating racially and sexually segregated anthologies, rooms and awards based on spurious and self-serving excuses they've been Jim Crowed out of the genre act as if they don't. Feminists want access to neutral arenas they claim are not, and don't want others in segregated arenas they claim are "inclusive." Of course that depends on which neutral arenas. Feminists don't care about diversifying freezer warehouses or bombing runs over Nazi-occupied Europe. Let the boys have those "unearned privileges." Better - and safer - for "rape culture" innovators like radical loonies Shulamith Firestone and Susan Brownmiller to occupy the offices of Ladies' Home Journal in 1970 than draft offices; no threat of bombing runs there.

Foster doesn't know what he's talking about. A person who doesn't use facts can't be moved by facts. This cult stinks of political correctness, an act which is nothing more than serially lying put at the service of this ideology's tender fierce feminist colonialist feelings. They'll bake you a pie-chart about tech and books as much as they'll never do that about male suicides and military cemeteries.
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From:arhyalon
Date:April 7th, 2016 12:47 pm (UTC)

Re: PC

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I love the term "bake you a pie chart."

You are entirely correct about the double standard...one group can, and is encouraged to be racist and rude...the other group is punished for much smaller offenses.

[User Picture]
From:fosteronfilm2
Date:April 7th, 2016 05:19 pm (UTC)

Well, you know I disagree, but nice monastery.

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Well, you know I disagree, but I'll keep that mainly to Facebook, except to repeat, if you do want to converse with people who you disagree with, using terms like "PC" are not going to help that communication. Us "PC" people, as we have been labeled, don't buy the vague and many connotations connected to the term. So why use it unless it is to rile up the true believers?

On the other hand, the monastery looks nice. My cousin is a monk--before he moved for retirement he was in a lovely monastery. My folks stayed there for a week and loved it. Unfortunately, I never got to and now it is too late. But a very peaceful place.
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:April 7th, 2016 06:18 pm (UTC)

Re: Well, you know I disagree, but nice monastery.

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I had an insight about the PC name thing today during ballet...I will try to write it up at some point.

The Zendo is lovely! It's the Dai Basatsu Zendo in NY. My dad used to go there a lot. He had studied with Zen monks after he returned from WWII.

http://www.zenstudies.org/daibosatsuzendo.html
From:(Anonymous)
Date:April 7th, 2016 09:41 pm (UTC)

Re: Well, you know I disagree, but nice monastery.

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What's to disagree with? It's self-evidently true feminists in SFF as a group aren't anyone's boss, and just as self-evident they have railroaded people with public shaming witchhunts for doing things feminists themselves do. That is politically correct as opposed to incorrect and the two are divided by nothing more than hypocrisy. It's a pretty easy term to escape from: don't criticize segregated high school proms while supporting non-white "safer-spaces" and then blacklist a person for the one and give them applause for the other. What is so hard to understand about that idea or that our feminist cult in SFF is the only one doing that stuff?
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:April 8th, 2016 11:38 am (UTC)

Re: Well, you know I disagree, but nice monastery.

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One of my favorite people in the SF community was accused by a feminist of harassment, found innocent by the convention involved, and then a year or so later, banned from that same convention...because feminists were "frightened of him"...even though he had done nothing wrong.

There is no definition of good where that fits in.
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