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pc? not me
a war of words
by juli mccarthy
4.13.05
general

I was talking to a friend about an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. (Yes, I am a Trekker. Laugh and get it out of your system, then let's move on, OK?) My friend expressed disappointment that the episode ended with two characters dissolving their romance because one of them switched genders, and was now a female, as was her romantic interest. My friend was severely disappointed in this ending, calling it a cop-out.

“Star Trek is usually so much more politically correct,” she opined.

I found out in the course of this conversation that political correctness is the order of the day, and that it was incumbent upon even the characters in Star Trek to adhere to those standards. She went on to explain that traditional majority opinion is passé and that political correctness requires us to change the way we think, talk, and act.

I am not as ignorant of political correctness as I pretended to my friend. I'd thought for a while that it was a just fussy fad that would pass. Lately, I have begun to realize PC is nothing but a pretense of uniformity, a bit of self-congratulatory propaganda we use to make ourselves feel enlightened. And it is insidious.

At first, it was all about words. For example, "disabled" has become "differently-abled" because we do not want to give the impression that there is something wrong with being disabled. But isn't everyone differently-abled? Way back when before we were enlightened, "disabled" simply meant that someone had lost a common ability -- vision, hearing, walking, speech. Now, it is an insult. We use long, detailed descriptions of people, with built-in disclaimers to congratulate ourselves on our awareness and our sensitivity.

Political correctness isn't just about the words we use anymore, though. Now it has come to mean embracing all viewpoints as equally correct. We ascribe to each opinion we hear the exact same degree of importance, lest we be accused of holding archaic viewpoints and being closed-minded. Anyone who expresses a non-traditional belief is lauded for his bravery; anyone who expresses a more customary notion on the subject is disdained for subscribing to outdated convention.

In striving to ensure that all people and all views are equally regarded as correct and proper, we have lost some of what makes us interesting. The French say vive le difference! but Americans say there is no difference. We seem to have convinced ourselves that in order for all people to be treated equally, they must all be exactly equal.

The sad part is, political correctness doesn't make us less aware of the differences between us. It makes us more aware, more self-conscious, and more separate. We used to just be people. We The People, a collective of persons united in common goals. PC divides us into smaller and smaller ideologies as we refine our definitions of ourselves to a fine point. The nation that cherished and nurtured individuality has become merely a nation of individuals, each in his or her own little community of one.



ABOUT JULI MCCARTHY

A whole gallon of attitude, poured into a pint container.

more about juli mccarthy

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COMMENTS

russ carr
4.13.05 @ 5:02p

You know the lyric from "For What It's Worth" that goes, "Nobody's right if everybody's wrong." The PC types would try to spin that the other way; nobody's wrong if everybody's right. But the truth of the matter is, nobody's right if everybody's right. Yes AND No only exists in the box with Schroedinger's Cat.

What galls me most is that someone else appoints himself (or herself, of course!) as the arbiter of what is, or isn't "correct." It's a prejudicial language, even as it purports to wipe out verbal bigotry. It's trading the elitism of the right for the elitism of the left, and demeaning anyone who dare not follow along.

If "traditional majority opinion is passé," I want no part of what society would remain -- an impotent, anarchaic muddle where nothing is achieved because decisiveness and common cause have been sacrificed for the cause of individualism. For truly, what is individualism but a lack of 'common sense'?

[edited]

tracey kelley
4.13.05 @ 5:29p

HA! Did my Diversity Police inspire you? Well done!

I don't have time now, but I will review and respond later.

jael mchenry
4.13.05 @ 6:43p

I'm with Russ on the "correct" thing -- what's so correct about it? Or political? It's sensitive and intelligent to respect other people's opinions and not to discriminate against them, but is it "correct" to go overboard to accommodate those who have taken a good thing way too far?

Also, I'd have to say that it's not necessarily a cop-out that the two characters ended their relationship because one of them switched genders. Characters are characters, and if the action was consistent with how these characters thought, felt, and acted, then it is not a "cop-out." The storyline and the characters deserve respect as much as any particular segment of the viewership does.

Oh! Light bulb! Is this about Dax?

juli mccarthy
4.13.05 @ 6:49p

Same alien race, different episode - a Trill was introduced in TNG as a love-interest for Beverly Crusher. Halfway through the episode, the host got ill and the symbiote was placed in the body of a female host.

(And before Joe gets here, let me just say, yes, I know I'm a nerd.)

[edited]

tim lockwood
4.14.05 @ 12:51a

We seem to have convinced ourselves that in order for all people to be treated equally, they must all be exactly equal.

Or as I would like to think, we're all created equal, but we're not required to stay that way. PC-ism taken to its logical extreme ends in the real-life version of "Harrison Bergeron".

juli mccarthy
4.14.05 @ 10:08a

Funny how both the dystopian stories and the utopian ones all start with the same premise - that all human beings will be "equal." It's scary to me that the dystopians seem to be more on target. I don't think it's paranoia at all to draw parallels between Harrison Bergeron or 1984 and, say, No Child Left Behind and Tracey's at-work diversity committee.

dan gonzalez
4.14.05 @ 1:51p

"Fine speech, like fine silk, all too often conceals excema."

PC, I think, is just an ill-conceived remedy for human flaws. The problem is that it is a cosmetic, not a cure. It's interesting and perhaps hypocritical how it attempts to unite all to the lowest common denominator via division: There are no Americans, there are -Americans. Harrison Begeron is the same concept taken from verbal superficiality to a socially-engineered reality.

I must say, I think individualism is the only hope for further positive evolution of humankind, and I don't understand what Russ meant by For truly, what is individualism but a lack of 'common sense'? It seems to me that individuals derive values from within their own consciousness. 'Common sense' would be any of those values which are similar to those that other disparate individuals derive.

tracey kelley
4.15.05 @ 4:45p

Look on the boards for the link Dan' posted about the fight over the color pink. I'm sorry, but that type of political correctness run amok isn't helping ANYONE or advancing ANY CAUSE.

dan gonzalez
4.15.05 @ 8:24p

Linkety

juli mccarthy
4.15.05 @ 9:17p

Ahh, yes, the Offenderati. People who have nothing better to do than bitch about everything.

Fighting about the words, the symbols, the bloody colors, detracts from the real fights. There's real bigotry and discrimination and there are real people suffering from these things. When those people start picking nits, they reduce their own causes to a punchline in a bad joke.

stacy smith
4.16.05 @ 8:35a

Political Correctness...*snort*

Any George Carlin fans around here? He sums up being PC rather nicely.

People that suffered from Shell Shock got better treatment than those that suffer from Post-Tramatic-Stress-Disorder.

I refuse to call a handicapped person "handy capable."

We have alot of midgets that live around here. My son called one of them a "little person" while on our way home one afternoon. Hubby got all bent out of shape and gave him this big lecture about how that is not nice or correct. I asked what was the PC term for a midget was and how did he know how they felt about the term "little person" ? He had no answer. My guess is that the PC term for a midget would be vertically challenged?

I do not buy running shoes, as I do not run. I buy sneakers.

If a doctor screws up a surgery and his patient dies, it is not a "terminal episode", it's malpractice.

And my person favorite. When people throw up, they throw up, blow chunks, hurl, or whatever colorful expression you use to describe the act of vomiting. Said people do not have involuntary protein spills.

Just the term "Politcal Correctness" is a complete joke and of itself as it's an oxymoron. Just another form of mind control.

tim lockwood
4.16.05 @ 10:38a

This is from the Little People of America FAQ page:

Q: What is a midget?

A: In some circles, a midget is the term used for a proportionate dwarf. However, the term has fallen into disfavor and is considered offensive by most people of short stature. The term dates back to 1865, the height of the "freak show" era, and was generally applied only to short-statured persons who were displayed for public amusement, which is why it is considered so unacceptable today.

Such terms as dwarf, little person, LP, and person of short stature are all acceptable, but most people would rather be referred to by their name than by a label.


That last phrase is about as common sense as you get.

stacy smith
4.16.05 @ 12:28p

Thanks Tim

My son didn't call this person a little person to be mean, nasty or stereotypical. He saw a small person and came out with "little person."

That didn't bother me. It was hubby's attitude and turning a perfectly innocent comment into something that wasn't intended and started with the PC crap.

The next time we see a "little person" and we actually have a minute to speak to him or her, I'm going to let the boy talk to them, as long as they don't mind a curious 8 year old asking them questions of course. That way, my son can get the answers in which he searches for himself from a person that has to deal with being very short on a daily basis as opposed to what a 6 foot big mouth thinks they would say.


I do the same thing when we come across somebody that is in a wheelchair as an example. As long as they don't mind explaining why they have to use one, I let the boy ask different things.

It seems to me that these people would rather talk to a person and explain why or how they ended up in a wheelchair, then being stared and gawked at. Or even worse, being given a name or label from the goverment.

In return, my son is happy that he had somebody new to talk to and understands that not everybody looks or gets around like he does and it's okay.


dan gonzalez
4.17.05 @ 7:23a

little person

Kids rule! Those bastards are 'little' and they're 'people'. The last time any of us was truly honest was sometime during childhood.

My guess is that the PC term for a midget would be vertically challenged?

I don't care if we're married. I gotta huge crush on Stacy, just for saying this!

juli mccarthy
4.18.05 @ 1:41p

I have a friend who uses a wheelchair (he's a friend of Tim's too). The friend, Rick, is way more cool about people asking him direct questions about why he uses the chair than he is about people calling him "handi-capable."

dan gonzalez
4.19.05 @ 9:34a

That last phrase is about as common sense as you get.

Ergo, PC itself is about as far from common sense as you can get.

tracey kelley
4.19.05 @ 11:05a

I think the PC thing stemmed from people just wanting to slap a label on something and call it done, instead of really trying to understand the person.

This is what I got yesterday from the Chief of the Diversity Police: a comment that 'married people have it easier because there are two incomes to draw from, whereas when you're single, you're responsible for everything."

Um, excuse me? I was quite insulted by that notion, and wonder if my pay will be affected by it because I dare to be married.

dan gonzalez
4.19.05 @ 11:13a

'married people have it easier because there are two incomes to draw from

A great example of the cluelessnes of the PC, as well as the inherent, hypocritical reverse bigotry. Not everybody married has two incomes. You get screwed if the incomes are close together. If you're working parents, day care kills you and you get less of a break on it. And don't get me started on SS, which rakes you and will actually get much worse, if the hardheads that support PC get their way.

roger striffler
4.19.05 @ 11:36a

"I do not buy running shoes, as I do not run. I buy sneakers."

Does this mean you sneak?

I always thought that the basic concept of political correctness was to show respect for other people's beliefs, background, orientation or physical/social situation. Somewhere along the line this turned into a competition, like recognizing some group necessarily de-values another.

I think that people have a problem allowing something that they don't agree with, or that makes them uncomfortable, exist in harmony with their own beliefs and world view.

Oh, and I think that really sucks.

tracey kelley
4.19.05 @ 12:22p

Roger, this is why I love you.

dan gonzalez
4.19.05 @ 12:42p

I think that people have a problem allowing something that they don't agree with, or that makes them uncomfortable, exist in harmony with their own beliefs and world view.

Do you mean people who support PC, or people who don't? Because brother, there ain't ever gonna be harmony as long as we're all divided as whatever-Americans.

juli mccarthy
4.19.05 @ 1:38p

Too funny: I was just at Walgreen's buying a case of Coke when I almost literally stumbled into a conversation between two women, one black and one white. They were discussing this very subject, so naturally I barged into the conversation. One woman said she works with a black woman who, when she gets pissed, says, "YOU OWE ME 40 ACRES AND A MULE!" The other woman pointed out that we've gone from completely stupid in one direction to completely stupid in the other direction. She said, "Boy, it would sure be nice if we could aim for, oh, I dunno - THE MIDDLE???"

dan gonzalez
4.20.05 @ 12:22a

That's pretty much my take.

Basically, we are what we do, not what we think, and certainly not who are parents are, or who we sleep with, etc. The rest is just brain stroking. Everybody just be who you are, do what you do, and let's get this thing on. I mean, let's raise the bar, raise some serious hell, and fix all this broken shit!

tracey kelley
4.20.05 @ 1:00p

Peace on, brother!

stacy smith
4.20.05 @ 7:15p

I don't care if we're married. I gotta huge crush on Stacy, just for saying this!

Woo-Hoo...I've got a fan club of one. LOL *wink*

Know what really gets me about this whole PC thing? We live in a day and age where there is pressure to be highly educated and such, but we have to speak in a completely different language just because somebody feels the need to get in a huff over a word or expression.

Last year I made it a point to wish people a Merry Christmas really loud just to piss off those that took offense to it.

People should get over themselves and mind their own business. Maybe then we wouldn't have to deal with kind of nonsense.




[edited]

dathan wood
4.20.05 @ 11:39p

The x-mas issue is the one that pisses me off. It’s gotten to that point where because not everyone celebrates everything, no one is allowed to celebrate anything. Dicks. I don’t even believe in Santa and I still celebrate x-mas every year because it’s fun and I like the whole getting presents thing. I celebrate Cinco de Mayo because it falls on my birthday. I can go to any Mexican restaurant in the city and there’s a party waiting for me. I’m not Mexican but god bless ‘em, being a Cinco de Mayo baby makes me an honorary vato for the day. St. Patty’s day anyone? I don’t have a drop of Irish in me but I’ll take a Guinness. So why do so many people get so pissy over x-mas?

dan gonzalez
4.21.05 @ 12:03a

I’m not Mexican but god bless ‘em, being a Cinco de Mayo baby makes me an honorary vato for the day.

Screw that, cabrone. You gotta earn that. Now go carjack a gringo!

I think people get pissy over Christmas because you're allowed to be intolerant of Christians in this country. Christians, honkies, and men: you can pretty much bash the hell out of any ofthem, and if you're all three, look out.

stacy smith
4.21.05 @ 7:15a

Well Dathan, if it makes you feel any better, I have enough Irish in me for the both of us.

Problem is, you'll have to accept being Russian, German, English, Indian, Scottish, Canadian, French Canadian, Polish, Swedish, and a whole long list of others. I may as well be considered almost entire frickin' U.N. thanks to ancestors that couldn't tie in a knot. Sheesh!

My Irish traits shine through though because I'm a fair skinned redhead, as well as my temper so I'm told. Everything else comes out in it's own ways I suppose.

Now if I could speak all of those languages, I could tell these PC people to f%$# off in atleast 20 different ways.

[edited]

roger striffler
4.21.05 @ 11:42a

Do you mean people who support PC, or people who don't? Because brother, there ain't ever gonna be harmony as long as we're all divided as whatever-Americans.

I mean everybody. Certainly, some more than others, but I think it's a natural tendency that most people haven't gained mastery over. People like the sense of security that they get by belonging to a group (which inevitably puts some other people outside the group), and they react with fear when they feel another group is forming without them.

The problem only goes away when people realize that it's all just one big group - with everyone inside, agreeing that it's ok to not believe the same things.

Unfortunately, that seems a bit far fetched, even for Star Trek.

juli mccarthy
4.21.05 @ 9:11p

You nailed it, Roger. We can't come together as a people until we stop making these arbitrary separations. The labeling must stop. The words we use shape our attitudes.

lisa r
4.22.05 @ 7:35a

I think the PC thing stemmed from people just wanting to slap a label on something and call it done, instead of really trying to understand the person.

Too bad there isn't some form of social Goo-Gone to remove PC labels.

I think it must be human nature to try to pigeon-hole anything and everything, each other included. Some time in the distant future, a biology etext will have a holograph of someone from today's world, with the caption: "Homo sapiens. Species of hominid known for its obsession with organization, compartmentalization, and standardized testing."

Why can't we as a species be driven by conceptualization instead? The bigger picture is always more useful than a regurgitated fact. We wax poetic about color variations in horses, dogs, cats, vegetables and flowers. We can accept that the red coat color in cattle is recessive to black, yet no one ever comments that red cattle are inferior to black. There's not a thesaurus in this world that equates the word "different" with the word "inferior". And yet all over the world people get the heebie-jeebies if somemone with a different level of melatonin in their skin pops up in their midst. Add a different eye slant, or a disability, and common sense disappears entirely.


[edited]

dan gonzalez
4.22.05 @ 2:14p

I'd like to agree, but the big picture is daunting as well. We're a narcissistic, discrimatory lot. The compartmentalization you mention, Lisa, is a form of discrimination. Existential uncertainty and fear of the unknown have plagued us for millenia. There is a long history of different-looking people storming into the hacienda and wreaking havoc. Imagine the effect the Huns had on Europe when they first arrived, the Saxons to the Celts. There were over 100 diffenent ethnicities in Vietnam when we got there, who looked very similar to us, but were extraordinarily discriminatory to each other.

Consider, a white zebra with black stripes, once up on a time, didn't shred us, but an orange tiger with black stripes did, for reasons that were labeled and categorized, but couldn't (perhaps still can't) be satisfactorily explained. So cautiousness with an orange zebra would have been called for, although thoroughly unnecessary. However, a lack of caution or fear of a white tiger would have been fatal.

That is a very basic analogy, but for primitive humans, who had to deal with all manner of complex inconsistancies, the need to discriminate was vital.

Thankfully we're beyond a lot of that now, but we do still have our brain stems and our fondness for ourselves.

[edited]

tim lockwood
4.22.05 @ 8:25p

I think the PC thing stemmed from people just wanting to slap a label on something and call it done, instead of really trying to understand the person.

If I may advance my own theory, and it comes somewhat from personal experience - I think it came from the twin desires of not wanting to offend someone, and not wanting someone saying something offensive to you or about you.

"Don't call me black, I'm African-American."

"Don't say I'm handicapped, I'm just differently abled."

Pretty soon, folks who went out of their way to be "sensitive" to others (often liberals, although there's by no means a corner on the market) started coming up with certain referential group labels that attempted to soften the differences between different people, even if the people in question did not ask for a "softer" label. It was well-intentioned to start with - but you know what they say about good intentions.

tracey kelley
4.25.05 @ 12:30a

WELL NOW -

Friday I was asked to be a part of the diversity committee, to take up where the former writer in our department left off.

I mentioned that I sometimes have a problem being on committees that are more concerned about making sure the labels are right, rather than the understanding. But another person on the committee (not anyone that's given me grief lately) said that they need a "leader" to help advance the goals that were set.

No. Not me. I'm not getting into this circus. I think it's too early for me to be setting policies when I've only been there a couple of months.

stacy smith
4.25.05 @ 9:10a

The goals that were set? I'm not sure I really want to know, but I am curious.

dan gonzalez
4.26.05 @ 9:48a

The goals that were set? I'm not sure I really want to know, but I am curious.

It's to cut you honkies down to size, Smith. You white devils have been climbing on the backs of blacks and browns like me for too long!

You did ask... ;-)

I do find Tracey's situation a tad amusing. They already have goals, but now they need a leader? Who set the goals, then? Presumably some non-leader, which alone tends to undercut confidense just a tad. This may be one of the big probs with PC in general: Who's running the show if smart, talented, and kind-hearted people like Tracey are properly reluctant to jump in and pitch in because the thing is so obviously screwed-up?

stacy smith
4.26.05 @ 2:58p

It's to cut you honkies down to size, Smith. You white devils have been climbing on the backs of blacks and browns like me for too long!

Feeling alittle fiesty today Dan? The least you could have done is saved me from the huge, disgusting grub I found in the back yard while you were running off your mouth. LOL ;)

I do agree that it is weird for a company to have a set of goals, but nobody to do something with them. Sounds alittle assbackwards to me.

dan gonzalez
4.26.05 @ 10:17p

The least you could have done is saved me from the huge, disgusting grub I found in the back yard

Now wait a second. Is that a Mexican gardening/yardwork rip?? You think that's all we're good for? See, people like you are why we need political correctness, Smith...

Aw Balls! I can't believe I just said we needed PC, what the hell's wrong with me? Holocaust Awareness Month must have finally gotten to me, I'm off for a tall coldie.



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