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Political Correctness

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Brad
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since 08-20-99
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Jejudo, South Korea


0 posted 11-13-2001 09:28 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I have much to say about this topic but here's the article:

http://www.uexpress.com/johnleo/viewjl.cfm?uc_fn=1&uc_full_date=20011104&uc_d action=P&uc_comic=jl


"Now college administrators, responding to a tidal wave of patriotism, are starting to turn these policies against the left. Having no particular principles, the officials blow with the wind. So it is dawning on the authors of the anti-free-speech policies that they now have reason to worry. Did they think they would always be in charge of the repressive machinery they set up?"


Brad

[This message has been edited by Brad (edited 11-13-2001).]

Local Rebel
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since 12-21-1999
Posts 5742
Southern Abstentia


1 posted 11-15-2001 07:48 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

I think the article tends to point out the absurdity that absolute positions tend to present... left or right.

Being an extremist generally absolves one from having to think -- in all of these cases a little common sense would have gone a long way -- particularly if it was common sense according to moi  

I do think the author did a disservice though to the authorities that made the bus driver remove the sticker from the rear-view mirror -- they were trying to keep his view unobstructed -- it would seem -- which is a dictate of the DOT as to the size and placement of the rearview mirror -- his field of view was the issue I'm almost sure of it.
Denise
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2 posted 11-15-2001 09:52 PM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

Political Correctness attempts to censor any speech, attitude or thought that does not agree with current prevailing philosophy. It can just as easily come from the right as from the left, and it has. In recent years (some here are not even old enough to remember life before the current PC movement)it has been foisted on society mostly by those of the liberal persuasion who would have us believe it is necessary to reinvent language so as not to offend various minorities (who happen to have strong lobbyists working on their behalf). If someone is capable of having an independent thought or attitutude that differs from a decree of the liberal persuasion, one is branded a racisit, sexist, ageist, homophobe, whatever, fill in the blank. I think it all struck me as absurd when the term 'differently abled' became popular.

In work we had a class on Diversity Training. Some of it was informative, some of it seemed to be an attempt to control thought and attitude. I guess as with everything in life you have to take the good and discard the bad.

I think the most offensive example of political correctness to my sensibilities (anyone out there care about my sensibiities?....lol) was the outcry from the left about 'racial profiling' after the Sept. 11th attacks. Ummmmm......what is wrong with investigating people who fit the profile? Isn't that taught in Investigating 101?...lol. It would be a waste of time to check out white middle-aged Italian women, for example, as oppossed to young Arab/Islamic men. The next most offensive to me are those who forbid the displaying of flags, posters, pins, etc. (the type that don't obstruct safe driving....lol) because someone of another ethnicity or culture or nationality may be offended. Why would people living/working/studying in the U.S., availing themselves of its opportunities, etc. be offended by a display of its flag? If they're offended, maybe they shouldn't be here. We are a country, we do have a flag, we do have a right to display our flag. Multiculturalism should not obliterate our national identity. Would anyone dream of going to England, France, Germany, Spain, etc. and telling them they shouldn't fly their flag? How ludicrous!

Also, some seem to care more about the so-called violation of the 'rights' of non-citizens than they do about the right of protection of citizens. In my opinion, the only rights you have if you are in the U.S. on an expired visa or are here without a visa at all is the right to be shown the door and be made to use it.

If things continue on as they are, the current PC philosophy that is running rampant will be the downfall of this country, in my opinion. I don't think there has ever been a more critical time in our history than now for people to once again learn how to think independently. Wake up people, before it's too late. Think for yourselves, that's all you have to do, and keep thinking. Don't let anyone else do your thinking for you. Don't let the media, don't let your professors, don't let your government officials....it's your brain...use it.

Alicat
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3 posted 11-16-2001 03:58 PM       View Profile for Alicat   Email Alicat   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Alicat

That was an interesting article, and Denise, I agree with you. I guess I was PC even before the early 90's...I was raised to respect others. That such respect was made into law just goes to show how far this country has fallen with regard to respect. Unfortunately, in too many instances, these laws and rulings have gone too far...and not far enough. I've been called a racist before, for calling down a black private in basic training for breaking mess hall rules. My girlfriend was called a racist, removed from the EEO committee she was on at work, and investigated...the one who turned her in for 'culturally abusive language' is a Hispanic lady who routinely says worse about any and all races when representative individuals upset her. Sometimes, I can't help but wonder if the PC Movement was called into being to punish white people for being white.

As for Freedom of Speech and Expression, with all rights and priviledges comes responsibility...and repurcussions. Some good, some bad, some neutral, but there are always consequences for actions, even the act of speaking.

Now, I'm an Air Force brat, and have certain ideas about the displaying of the American Flag. Most of these ideas stem from Title 36, Chapter 10 of the United States Code. This is not to say that I will persecute, prosecute, or harangue people who don't follow this code. Shoot, I doubt that many people under the age of 40 have even heard of these codes. People have the right to express themselves with the US flag if they want to...but only if they accept the responsibility for their actions. And, as a judge once told me, 'Ignorance of the law is no excuse.'

Alicat
Brad
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4 posted 11-17-2001 05:00 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

First, I'm for Political Correctness in a certain way.

As I understood it, it was simply the ability of groups to determine their own labels in the same way that individuals can call themselves what they want. A woman wants to be called a woman and not a girl, an African American wants to be called African American and not black and so forth.

To me, it's simply the extrapolation of certain ideas that we already have with regard to profanity and racial epithets. I see nothing wrong with it.

Not only does this makes sense to me, it also contributes to a goal I believe in: the increase of conversation among members of a society and societies so that differences are explored.

However, the practice of political correctness on the individual and the social level seems to be hindered by a misunderstanding of theory and a misunderstanding of basic dialectics. This is surprising since it seems to be coming from people who are supposed to understand and are teaching the basic ideas of current theory and dialectics (literary theorists, feminist theorists, post-colonial theorests, Afro-centrists and so forth).

Why is that?

When I lived in Japan, I remember a certain group of friends and a few others coming into my place of work and correcting everybody and anybody on the proper use of politically correct English.  I used the term 'Eskimo' once and was immediately scolded for using the incorrect term. Instead of getting angry, instead of being quiet, I asked for information. The mistake, it seemed to me, was not in correcting me and teaching me that the 'Inuit' was a better term -- after all, if ethnic Alaskans (a strange term) wanted to be called Inuit instead of Eskimo, what was that to me? -- the mistake was in taking the opportunity to berate my ignorance on the subject.

But I was ignorant on the subject. Ignorance is not a bad thing, we are all ignorant in something or other and I'll never understand that term of derision, but in any case I pointed out that there was no reason I should know that the terms have changed.

I pointed out that my being scolded was an example of shutting down conversation, not an attempt to create a conversation opportunity, not an attempt to bring differences together, but to exclude them altogether.

The person who scolded me agreed.

Now, I've given a quick anecdote that makes me look good (and I'll conveniently avoid all the other mistakes I've made in similar situations), but it seems that self-righteousness is never limited to the Moral Majority and Falwell.

Political Correctness in practice is simply the attempt to take the moral highground and to shut down conversation.

It's a trump card.

But it's a particularly weak trump card because it undermines the very goals it tries to accomplish.

More later,
Brad  
Brad
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5 posted 11-18-2001 03:39 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Before I get into the specifics, please bear with me on one more excursion:

Since roughly the beginning of the twentieth century, philosophy has moved from an emphasis on experience to an emphasis on language as the determining factor of thought. There is nothing particularly earth shattering about this, it doesn't mean all that much -- except in philosophy; it's a shift in description, not a prescription for what to do.

But at the same time, language is now seen by many people as a system of different sounds or marks (or whatever) that work within it's own system independent of the objective world.  It doesn't correspond to the "real" world.

Don't jump on me yet, I'm describing a view held by many people (Yes, I believe it.) but I'm trying to show what the theory actually says, what the premises are, and then show the mistake that politically correct speech codes make.

Okay, so what I think happened was that people took the idea that language determines thought (trivially true; thought is always in language.) and combined this with a correspondance theory of language (language represents the real world; and in this view there's something outside actual thought that determines the language we use, thought determines language) and began to think that if we just changed a few words we could change the way people think, make them see that racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia and so on could be "fixed" by changing the words.

See the mistake here?

It's a confusion between seeing language as a group of words that represent reality and language as a SYSTEM of differences where no one word means anything except in that system.

As a result, you get people thinking that if you use the 'wrong' word, you are therefore sexist, ageist, racist, homophobic, etc.

But only a representational view of language, a correspondance theory of language, makes that possible.

In fact, language as a system of differences predicts the exact opposite. Whatever word (sound or mark) you use to replace the space in the overall system will take the place, more or less, of the previous word.

It doesn't change anything except the sound (important for poets but with no short term consequences politically).

And wonder of wonders, we have speech codes that tell you what you can and cannot say, we have "thought police" who run around listening for any deviation in the standard in order to make the world a safer place for humanity.

The problem of course is that we've always already had those.

Still more later,
Brad
Denise
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6 posted 11-18-2001 04:29 PM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

Yes, Ali, people should familiarize themselves with the codes for displaying and handling of the flag. I'm sure that is one of the things that isn't taught routinely in the classroom anymore.

I've found the best way to deal with PC in work is to keep my mouth shut and smile as much as possible....lol. I'm grateful that I'm not in a supervisory position in this day and age. I'm sure that supervisors have it especially tough, trying to do their jobs on the one hand, and having to worry about what they say or do being put under a PC microscope on the other. There doesn't seem to be a lack of individuals just waiting for the chance to interpret a decision or action as prejudicial to their race, age, gender, sexual preference, religion or ethnicity and to seek remedial action through the chain of command in the work place, union and/or in the courts. I'm sure that there are legitimate instances of prejudice, but there are those who are abusing the system for their own gain, proclaiming prejudice where it doesn't exist. They seem to be the majority, in my experience.

There is a great deal of difference between respect freely given and respect demanded and enforced. The first is genuine, the second is counterfeit (or plastic, the term we used in the 70's). In the same way that you can't legislate morality, you can't legislate respect. If you are a person who treats others with dignity and respect, you will be treated in kind, for the most part. We all experience disrespect at times by others. It's a part of life, something that you deal with when it happens, something that has the potential for further development of character if it is responded to properly.

I agree, Brad, PC in theory sounds like a good thing, while PC in practice shuts down communication. No conversation is encouraged because no conversation is wanted. A decree has been made and if you don't like it or agree with it, for whatever reason, that's just too bad. The mindset of the 'powers-that-be' is to arrogantly dismiss the unenlightened who dare to question them.

I've also heard of the PC proclamation that women don't like being called girls. Well, I for one love being called a girl and the older I get the more I like it!   What I hate being called is ma'am..lol..maybe I'll form a lobby to outlaw that word!  
Alicat
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7 posted 11-18-2001 06:12 PM       View Profile for Alicat   Email Alicat   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Alicat

Um...ya can't, ma'..um...sorry about that... um.. See, I was raised to called men Sir and women Ma'am, irregardless of age...which tends to really trip out people younger than me when addressed thusly. So, it's Sir (even to Dad), and Ma'am or Mm'm to Mom, even to this day....well, unless they really exasperate me, when I use their full name. Gee...wonder where I got that bad habit from.
Denise
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8 posted 11-18-2001 08:26 PM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

lol....I think that would really flip me out if someone older than me called me ma'am, Ali.   The use of Sir and Ma'am is common in a military upbringing. My husband's nieces were raised that way, too. It takes our civilian ears some getting used to when hearing it (it drives my mother-in-law up the wall when she hears her granddaughters having to say Sir and Ma'am...she feels they are being denied a warm and fuzzy, 'Dad and Mom' relationship). I believe that the relationship that you have with your parents doesn't have to be defined by the terms of address that you use.  A relationship can be warm and close or cold and distant, regardless of the terms, just as respect and disrepect can be found in relationships reagardless of the terms used. But I digress...due to your upbringing, Ali, and because you are younger than me, you may call me ma'am.   I'll even call off the lobbyists!

Brad, I can see how the combining of these viewpoints could lead to confusion and erroneous conclusions (I am so confused my brain hurts....lol). Yes, I agree, we've always had the "thought police" around. What is the remedy? Is it enough to stress the importance of thinking independently and standing firmly behind one's carefully deliberated convictions while maintaining an open-mind to the consideration of a variety of viewpoints?  Are people, by and large, still being taught how to think today? Or will we always have the "thought police" lurking about, with varying degress of influence on impressionable minds, no matter what is done?  
NapalmsConstantlyConfused
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9 posted 11-19-2001 11:48 PM       View Profile for NapalmsConstantlyConfused   Email NapalmsConstantlyConfused   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for NapalmsConstantlyConfused

yaaargh.
i think the Army figured it out. They started getting slews of "sexual harassment" complaints in the early 90's, which they adressed by making the penalties for sexual harassment stiff enough to turn your hair grey.
General officers reduced to grade of E-1!?! and jail time, dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of pension, and a really really stern talking-to.
Ouch!!
when the flood of complaints didn't slow, however, the brass realized that this was not a symptom of actual harassment as a symptom of over-sensitivity.
They then proceeded to institute something i think our whole society ought to be trained in - that being "de-sensitivity."
the result of the classes? very few legitimate sexual harassment complaints fall through the cracks anymore - but there aren't anywhere near as many spurious ones either.
Folks, differences exist. Great! Cope with 'em. If your crutch in life is " I'm a minority!" then you need more thorough help than i am willing or inclined to give you  
-Dave
hush
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10 posted 11-19-2001 11:50 PM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

'Are people, by and large, still being taught how to think today?'

No, they're being taught to learn.

Oops, sorry... that's my reactionary liberal side. That side's PO'd a lot.

What I really think is that a routine is imposed on us from the earliest levels of gradeschool on up- they are always preparing children for the next grade, and then for jr. high, and then for high school, and then for college, and on to the "real world". We are constantly being told that things work a certain way, and if we don't conform to those standards, we're SOL.

They teach us to learn the system. Some teach us how to work for it, some teach us how to work around it. None teach us how to work against it- because then they'd be working against it, and out of a job.

That's just teachers, though. Some people are taught to think by their parents... and usually by example. I actually heard a pretty disconcerting example of this today... a girl... actually a very nice girl... that I work with was talking about her misadventures in pulling knives on people she doesn't like... and proceeded to say she 'gets that form her mom' who often pulls knives on her boyfriends. She was not taught by example to think. She was taught by example how to survive, and beyond that, how to control.

Does she know why she wants that control? I don't know. Probably not. Does she think about why she wants that control? Probably not. Why? Because she is reacting to her mother's reactions. She is living by example.

What the hell does this have to do with being politically correct? Well... we are being taught, by example, to pull our PC knives on any bad word (or, more commonly, since inanimate words are hard to attack) the people who utilize these words. We don't think about why they use those words, in what context, and even if it is in a very obviously negative context, we still don't bother to ask why- we reach for the knives. We have been taught to react instead of getting all the information and coming to a conclusion.

Being politically correct means the conclusions have already been drawn, and fosters an "if you're not with us you're against us" mentality. You're either stabbing our being stabbed.

It's frustrating.

"this is not who I meant to be
this is not how I meant to feel" -Ani DiFranco

Brad
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Jejudo, South Korea


11 posted 11-23-2001 03:30 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I think Hush is correct in that people are taught to react (Pavlov's dog) rather than act upon any given situation.  I wouldn't necessarily blame it on the education system though, I'd blame it more on a general view of thinking.

Just the facts, Ma'm. Just the facts.  

--------------------

The military is an interesting example. I suspect this de-sensitivity training was more a case of offering role play scenarios that explain what is and is not a prosecutorial offense than it was any attempt to de-sensitize people. Given Hush's account of education in general, would it work in the civilian world?

I doubt it.

I doubt it because the military has a stated goal as a team, its objectives are privileged over the complaints of the individual. This creates a pressure on individuals to conform in a certain way as opposed to others.

As Alicat and Denise have pointed out, many of the problems of political correctness in practice involve the exercise of power for the sole purpose of power; I am powerless, I feel disempowered, but now I have power, I will exercise that power.

But it's a hollow victory.

It's hollow because it doesn't fulfill the goals of political correctness, it doesn't create a more harmonious situation in the work place or anywhere else, and perhaps most importantly you end up hurting someone else without anything to show for it. With very few exceptions, the 'speaker' is punished but the 'accuser' gains nothing, nothing material that is.

It's kind of like having someone fired for using incorrect grammar. That would be okay in a publishing house perhaps but is it always acceptable?

What's the solution?

No surprise here. Reverse the old standby, "You have to earn my respect," to "I respect you until proven otherwise."

Give most people the benefit of the doubt, realize that most are actually decent people, that you aren't going to change the world by changing a few words.

As long as people continue to use this game as a way to create false empowerment, they (and it's not limited to minorites, everybody seems to play this game) aren't concentrating on any real gains for themselves and others, they're actually hurting 'the cause' by diverting energy and action to cases that don't do anything.

Racism, sexism, ageism, and anything else won't disappear because you reverse the power situation, they'll only disappear when people start realizing how silly they truly are.

But it is not racist, sexist, or whatever to see difference.

We need to accept difference as difference, we need to discuss these differences, talk about them, attempt to understand each other, not as more of the same, not as really they're just like us. We need to stop reducing the world to ourselves and abberations, but to see the world in its diversity.

And to revel in it.

Multi-culturalism is a great idea. Maybe we should try it instead of hiding behind it.

Rant over,  
Brad
NapalmsConstantlyConfused
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12 posted 11-24-2001 05:14 PM       View Profile for NapalmsConstantlyConfused   Email NapalmsConstantlyConfused   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for NapalmsConstantlyConfused

hate to do it, brad, but i'm gonna rant right back.
the solution to ageism, racism, -isms in general, is not to "educate society to the perils" of whatever problem is in vogue this week, but to quit cultivating the psychology of the victim as a valid legal / ethical / political system.
if you don't like someone, for whatever reason, and they get in your face, and you say to them, for example "i don't like you. go away," to which they reply "you're just prejudiced against blacks / asians / the obese / the old / whatever 'group' is applicable"
so, since YOU didn't say any such thing, and THEY did, who, exactly, is being whatever-ist? the answer is simple.
an "ism" exists wherever someone ascribes traits and or characteristics to someone else merely because they belong to a group, and not because of any factual analysis or even any knowledge of the individual in question. yes, these exist. what is the most effective way to make it go away? to confront it IN ALL ITS FORMS when you see it.
thus:
"affirmative action" is racist. the AARP is ageist, given that they're prejudiced against the young. "reparations" for slavery, even though EVERY SINGLE PERSON INVOLVED IS DEAD, are racist, presuming that every white person in the world, even those whose ancestors were slaves themselves, owe some sort of "debt" to someone they don't even know and have never oppressed, merely because of their skin color.
yes, the KKK for example are racist, clearly. but even so, lumping all people of ANY group together and persecuting them as a whole is wrong. so the KKK is bad. i am white. does it therefore follow that i am racist, because they are? no it does not.
supporting "isms" of ANY kind is wrong.
allowing someone to have any claim over someone else merely based on skin color IS AN ISM. i don't care which direction it runs. it CANNOT be racist for me to do something which is not racist when it is done to me.
so:
the goal of political correctness is not to spare anyone's sensitive feelings. the goal of political correctness is to edit the language to the point that we can no longer express "negative" concepts, because we no longer possess the terms in which to describe them. the thinking behind this is, that "isms" will go away if we're no longer capable of describing them to others.
the fact, however, is that limiting the language can only have a deleterious effect. in plain talk: IT CAN ONLY DO BAD THINGS. limiting the ability of human beings to communicate is to limit one of the primary factors which makes us the top of the food chain. as such, it is a negative survival trait, to want to communicate in limited fashion. thus, since anything which is self-destructive is described (by the self-same authorities who push this agenda of anti-free-speech legislation) as "insane," political correctness is insanity, by the standards of those who promote it.
i don't know about you, but i am not willing to follow any philosophy whose adherents proclaim that their ideas are madness. political correctness is a con game, in which the trick is to get everyone so over-sensitized to everything, and so paralysed by the fear of offending someone, that they will be weak-willed and easily manipulated.
i cannot believe that so many otherwise relatively intelligent people can fail so thoroughly to see through this.
what a bunch of manure.
-Dave
Brad
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13 posted 11-24-2001 09:47 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Quickly:  We agree on much here. I also have a solution but it's probably about as feasible as yours (more on that later).

My solution is the same as the difference between saying a poem is bad and telling someone he/she is a bad poet.

Two quick objections:

1. I don't think your solution takes history into account.

2. As a result, I don't think you address the already in place power relations.

I hope this doesn't come off as curt, I just don't have time to address your comment properly.

Thanks,
Brad
hush
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14 posted 11-25-2001 11:58 AM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

Napalm-

'if you don't like someone, for whatever reason, and they get in your face, and you say to them, for example "i don't like you. go away," to which they reply "you're just prejudiced against blacks / asians / the obese / the old / whatever 'group' is applicable"
so, since YOU didn't say any such thing, and THEY did, who, exactly, is being whatever-ist? '

I don't think this is the really big problem that Political Correctness is trying to address. Yeah, it is a problem, it happens, but PC isn't so much concerned with that as with people using terms like nigger, slanty-eyed, fatty, or wrinkly. I think the main problem is that PC doesn't allow for the artistic use of such words, or at least for the artistic interpretation thereof- at least not by groups that they don't apply to. For example, Marilyn Manson got a lot of heat for covering Patti Smith's 'Rock and Roll Nigger' (which, no doubt, is why he did it... nevermind the original artist, who was all but disregarded in the 90's when goth-rock was big) while black musicians often use the word (modified into 'nigga') constantly and unrepentantly. It's okay, they are black, they can say it... I had a discussion with a friend of mine a few weeks ago because she lectured me on my new (radical) haircut, telling me everyone was going to think I'm a 'dyke'. Now... I'm pretty staunchly against social slurs like that, especially when it comes to gay rights- it's one of my buttons... so I told her the term offended me, and she replied "well... that's what they call themselves." I couldn't argue, even though another friend jumped in and said they have the right to... which I disagreed with- not that they have the right... they do, but I do think it's self defeating to apply a derogatory term you are trying to escape from to yourself. Anyway, back to the point, I ended the conversation by asking the friend who said I looked like a dyke if it's okay for me to call black people niggers... or, more appropriately, nigga, since they call each toher that. She was aghast that I would even dare say the word aloud without fear of reprimand, or, perhaps more likely, an ass-beating.

What it all comes down to is this- first of all, African-Americans have struggled harder and longer than gays for equal rights. There numbers are signifcantly larger- their cry for justice is louder. So we cater more to them than to gays, a group which is undenialy still victim (yes, victim) to many injustices because their claim to minority is held in much lower esteem than skin color.

'an "ism" exists wherever someone ascribes traits and or characteristics to someone else merely because they belong to a group, and not because of any factual analysis or even any knowledge of the individual in question.'

Here you assume that all 'isms' are prejudices and negative things. You can tack -ism on to almost any word... feminism, heroism, pacifism... the possibilities are endless. Furthermore, when used to classify a political or moral ideaology, it is indeed because of factual analysis- the person's ideas and thoughts are what place them in that group.... not skin color, age, or anything else.

'supporting "isms" of ANY kind is wrong.'

See above. My personal definition of an -ism is a cause... there are the not-so-worthy causes, like racism... and then the very-worthy, like feminism. I am a very strong supporter of the feminist movement... that's wrong? Without -isms, we would quickly stagnate into a dystopia... and I, for one, would much rather not be suitable subject material for a George Orwell novel. Without causes... where would we be? What would we fight for, or believe in? Nothing.

"this is not who I meant to be
this is not how I meant to feel" -Ani DiFranco

Brad
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Jejudo, South Korea


15 posted 11-25-2001 10:31 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

"to quit cultivating the psychology of the victim as a valid legal / ethical / political system."

--I agree but don't you think the opposite is happening? It seems that caucasians are simply adopting the same language game as previous victims.

--Why?

--Because it's 'feel good' method to avoid problems.

if you don't like someone, for whatever reason, and they get in your face, and you say to them, for example "i don't like you. go away," to which they reply "you're just prejudiced against blacks / asians / the obese / the old / whatever 'group' is applicable"

--Again, I agree. It's a silly response. Still, I'm hard pressed to see this as a real conflict -- Is this based on a real experience or just a hypothetical example?

"so, since YOU didn't say any such thing, and THEY did, who, exactly, is being whatever-ist?"

--The accusation is either true or false. I don't really understand where you're going here -- if you're simply reversing the situation, how effective is this as a strategy? 'You're a racist!" "No you're a racist," "No, you're a racist" and so on and so forth goes nowhere.

"an "ism" exists wherever someone ascribes traits and or characteristics to someone else merely because they belong to a group, and not because of any factual analysis or even any knowledge of the individual in question.

--That's not what I would describe as an 'ism' but I see what you're saying. You're limiting this to specific negative accusations. Be careful here, it's too easy to turn this into an argument against all forms of generalization.

what is the most effective way to make it go away? to confront it IN ALL ITS FORMS when you see it.
thus:

--I agree.

"affirmative action" is racist.

--So? Affirmative action should stand or fall on it's results, not on philosophical commitments. The question should be does it work?

the AARP is ageist, given that they're prejudiced against the young.

--nice dialectical touch here but what solution do you have to combat attitudes and frameworks that picture retired people as useless?

--There are reasons for these groups and programs to exist, there are problems, but the way to combat these groups and programs is not by labeling them, but by offering better and more effective solutions to the problems.

--We can do this, not be labeling each other, but by talking honestly to each other outside of the institutionalized political sector.

"reparations" for slavery, even though EVERY SINGLE PERSON INVOLVED IS DEAD, are racist,

--Well, the argument is for justice but I don't find it a particularly effective argument. It won't change anything.

yes, the KKK for example are racist, clearly. but even so, lumping all people of ANY group together and persecuting them as a whole is wrong. so the KKK is bad. i am white. does it therefore follow that i am racist, because they are? no it does not.

--Of course not, but I'm still not convinced by your reversal argument.

supporting "isms" [by your definition] of ANY kind is wrong.
allowing someone to have any claim over someone else merely based on skin color IS AN ISM.

--But how do you change the already instituted attitudes toward skin color? Are you sure your 'solution' isn't a politically correct reaction to political correctness? We shouldn't deny difference, we should celebrate the fact that we are different.

"i don't care which direction it runs. it CANNOT be racist for me to do something which is not racist when it is done to me."

--I'm confused here. On the surface, this seems true but I don't see what the point is.

so:
the goal of political correctness is not to spare anyone's sensitive feelings.

--I agree, it's a power play, but an incoherent an ineffective one. As Irving Howe said, "These people don't want to take over the country, they want to take over the English department."

--It's a nice dismissal.

the goal of political correctness is to edit the language to the point that we can no longer express "negative" concepts, because we no longer possess the terms in which to describe them.

--this, I've already tried to point out, is impossible at least in the way they're attempting to enforce their philosophy.

the thinking behind this is, that "isms" will go away if we're no longer capable of describing them to others.

--and it's an incoherent, rather inept, goal if you ask me.


the fact, however, is that limiting the language can only have a deleterious effect. in plain talk: IT CAN ONLY DO BAD THINGS.
limiting the ability of human beings to communicate is to limit one of the primary factors which makes us the top of the food chain.

--I think the limiting of talk is a reaction to a certain authoritarian enforcement of political correctness, not the goal itself. The problem is that people become self-conscious of their own speech patterns and so they remain quiet (with a smile). The problem is that they're using the wrong language game.

--The rest seems a bit too strong (I disagree that political correctness is the end of the world precisely because there was also an immediate reaction to it). On the other hand, aren't you being sensitive, aren't you playing the victim, in the very reaction you portray here? You're a victim of political correctness.

--My contention is still the same, political correctness is a different form of politeness and is therefore a good thing; the problem is that they're trying to change the world by misunderstanding a descriptive theory for a prescriptive one; they correct people in unrelated conversations (just like correcting someone's grammar at a bar; you want to anger people, try it some time  ); it's a good idea but an inept power play.

--and they don't even try to follow multi-culturalism except in a negative sense (Mainstream culture is bad). This is a mistake.

--My proof is the utter disgrace of second language acquisition in America.

Brad
Brad
Member Ascendant
since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


16 posted 11-25-2001 10:42 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Hush,

"I had a discussion with a friend of mine a few weeks ago because she lectured me on my new (radical) haircut, telling me everyone was going to think I'm a 'dyke'"

I don't think 'dyke' is the problem.

Would the sentence really lose it's force if she said,

"Everyone was going to think I'm a lesbian"

or

"Everyone was going to think I'm an individual who participates in alternative sexual practices"

The force of the sentence doesn't come from the individual word but from the context in which it was spoken.

Why is it that this sentence ALREADY implies a put down?

That, to me, is the problem.

Brad
Brad
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since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


17 posted 11-29-2001 06:07 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Here's some more information on some of the incidents regarding the extremes of political correctness. It won't change anyone's mind, it shouldn't, but we should always be leary of taking things at face value.

I suspect there's a little more to the Ethiopian who scolded Arab students as well.

http://www.urbanlegends.com/ulz/patriotism.html

From the text:

"Of the four incidents detailed, only one, the banning of 'Proud to be an American' stickers at Florida Gulf Coast University, was motivated by a desire not to "offend some individual or their culture."

The other incidents reflected the subtleties of American democracy: the balance between Church and State, the role of a free press and political dissent. It's hard to stitch them together into indictment of 'political correctness,' particularly when each incident was fully or partially rescinded in a very short time."


I'll keep looking,

Brad

[This message has been edited by Brad (edited 11-29-2001).]

Local Rebel
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since 12-21-1999
Posts 5742
Southern Abstentia


18 posted 12-03-2001 08:08 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

would a rose smell as sweet if it was called a crudstunk?
Brad
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since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


19 posted 12-04-2001 07:02 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Yes, but one can easily imagine a cultural/contextual context where a rose and its smell does not have the same significance as it does in the Western tradition.

Things still change, they just don't change in exactly the way we intend.  

Brad
Local Rebel
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since 12-21-1999
Posts 5742
Southern Abstentia


20 posted 12-05-2001 12:14 AM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

True, but, we're talking about the merits of nomenclature within a culture here -- and it's subcultures -- and the effects of the name on the behaviour of the named.

Anyone who's ever participated in focus group studies knows what the different effects in perception the name of a product can cause -- so like you -- I think there are some facets of 'political correctness' that are beneficial overall -- but I don't think this thread has really covered all of the facets of PC...
Brad
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since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


21 posted 12-08-2001 05:20 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

But focus groups concentrate on new products or at least products that are supposed to be new.

Isn't it the attempt to create a new space in the web of meaning, not simply replace one term with another?

Still, I like the idea. You're trying to entice, to persuade, a person to different thinking. PCers, however valid their goals, proceed by force, "You can't say that. Say this. Are you ignorant?" type arguments.

I suppose we haven't discussed the unsaid PC on people, the one where group dynamics take over and people control themselves without someone else saying anything. I don't think that's what people mean by PC though. It would be a different thread.

Is that what you meant?

What did you mean?

Brad
Local Rebel
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since 12-21-1999
Posts 5742
Southern Abstentia


22 posted 12-10-2001 09:52 AM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Focus groups are usually directed at new products that's true.. but quite often used with existing products -- some failed products have gone through name changes to gain more market share.

I suppose that what I meant by my comment is that most rational people would agree with the core intentions of PCness
-- that it makes no sense to call African Americans 'Niggers' if it offends -- only a few people would want to intentionally offend someone.

On the other hand .. the PC landscape tends to shift dramatically so as to use terminology as shiboleths... as a way to identify the ins and the outs... not as a way to advance better relationships or understanding -- but to accomplish the opposite...

I think that's what offends people about PCisms...
Sudhir Iyer
Member Rara Avis
since 04-26-2000
Posts 7206
Mumbai, India : now in Belgium


23 posted 12-11-2001 11:14 AM       View Profile for Sudhir Iyer   Email Sudhir Iyer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Sudhir Iyer

Maybe, I am getting sidetracked... Please bear with me and my honest opinion... and don't be cross with me, please...

It doesn't actually matter what term one uses, but what bothers is the way the words are spoken and acted upon. What is wrongly practised is the most hurtful.

Racism is, perhaps, the worst disease that mankind has seen, and slavery is probably the worst idea someone came up for trade.

I have myself been turned down entry to quite a few places, here in Europe, mainly because of my colour (brown) and race (Indian/Asian), and I was under the impression that Apartheid was dead! I simply don't have to go to those places, anymore. I am glad that doesn't constitute even 0.25 percent of the places that I have tried to visit. But, from what I have heard from my friends in America, they have had worse experiences. If this is what is being practised in one of the most advanced countries, it really hurts me. In fact, the stories and incidents are so many that I do not intend to visit USA at all, because I do not think that things will change overnight, and I do not want to go to a place where I am unacceptable. If this is the impression that rest of the world gets, in time, then maybe, most educated people from the developing world who form a cheaper workforce (and are necessary for American companies) will never enter American soil.

Of course, the ones who come also earn money and are well-provided for. But, at what cost? What is the point if they are labelled and marked even in the place which is considered as 'free world'.

Being self-righteous or indignant about this and similar issues will not help.

Even in India, the caste system and religious divide is causing hurt, particularly in places where education level is very low. (Only 40-45% of India is educated to read/write in preliminary fashion in one language) But if increased education is not going to be bringing acceptance to certain communities, well I shudder to think what can be done.

Anyway...
Political Correctness has its valid points particularly if the trend is towards Correctness in Attitude and behaviour towards another human.

True, it is not upto some people to decide for others what is politically correct and what is not. But, if a culture doesn't grow, someone has to provide a stimulus.

How much dosage of Political Correctness, one should accept is of course debatable!

Thanks for letting me scribble...
Regards,
Sudhir.

P.S. Denise says, "It would be a waste of time to check out white middle-aged Italian women"... I don't think so   I really don't mind getting to know Italian women... in fact any women... why should I check out men, any men?  

[This message has been edited by Sudhir Iyer (edited 12-11-2001).]

Brad
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since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


24 posted 12-13-2001 04:14 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Sudhir,
I agree with much of what you said (who wouldn't?).

A few more points:

1. Racism is a form of tribalism and that seems to be a part of everyone everywhere. No 'us' without a 'them', no 'we' without a 'they'.

2. In this sense, if we were all the same color or whatever, new distinctions would be made to keep the tribe intact (regionalism in Korea, the burakumin and Koreans in Japan, and, yes, the caste system in India). I don't know if we can ever be free of this but we can deal with it in different ways.

3. America isn't as bad as it sounds sometimes. We talk about it after all.  

4. If you have the time, take a look at the article I posted under the bell curve. It covers a lot of ground in this area.

5. Political correctness, if by this we mean those who accuse others of evil for the use of single words, isn't effective in changing people's attitudes. In fact, I think it creates the opposite effect but I think we all agree on that.

Thanks,
Brad
 
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