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Thread: Politically Correct?

  1. #1

    Default Politically Correct?

    Is it just me or do others get the impression that the expression "politically correct" is often looked at with a certain amount of disdain and ridicule? There may be a good reason for this attitude.

    The concept of being politically correct is loaded with good intentions but is an immature approach to a real social problem: the lack of common decency and civility in public affairs. It's the adult version of the childhood rule against using naughty words, and is too condescending to get much respect from most people.

    "Politically correct" is the Jar Jar Binks of modern vocabulary. I vote we erase it!

  2. #2

    Default

    Sorry, are we talking about the phrase or the concept? Because there's no chance of erasing the former without erasing the latter. And I wouldn't say that political correctness is a concept loaded with good intentions, since it seems to be born of two highly contentious ideas: firstly, that you have the right to get offended on somebody else's behalf, as if they aren't capable of speaking for themselves; and secondly, that speech should be censored just because someone finds it offensive, as if you have a right never to hear anything that offends you.

    Don't get me wrong, I don't believe that setting out to be deliberately and calculatingly offensive is legitimate free speech (though it may well, nonetheless, be legally protected free speech), but the sheer diversity of human opinion means that there's always going to be someone who genuinely believes in ideas that you find utterly abhorrent. Not to mention that, IMHO, political satire is an important tool for deflating the egos of those in positions of power (or who seek positions of power, even if it's for noble reasons).

  3. #3

    Default

    Political correctness really just means something is "not overtly offensive". Literally, it's the "correct" way for a public figure to phrase something because it's not notably offensive nor insulting.

    Therefore, a lot of the complaints about "political correctness being what's wrong" ring really hollow. It comes across as an excuse, where a politician says something offensive, then chooses to double down and attack "political correctness" - that it's not their fault that they said something really offensive, but society is just too "politically correct".

    Frankly, things that are broadly agreed upon to be offensive by a mainstream audience tend to have gotten to that level of broad agreement because society has recognized that they're actually legitimately offensive things to say.





    I'll add this: you can't "erase" political correctness. It's just a buzzword for how people carry themselves in public speech, pretty much by necessity if they intend to win popular elections. You can call it "political correctness" or "Jar Jar Binks speech" or "minimally-offensive speech" or "potato", but it's a concept that just exists no matter what you label it.
    Last edited by Fruitkitty; 10-Nov-2015 at 00:31.

  4. #4

    Default



    Quote Originally Posted by Fruitkitty View Post
    Political correctness really just means something is "not overtly offensive". Literally, it's the "correct" way for a public figure to phrase something because it's not notably offensive nor insulting.

    Therefore, a lot of the complaints about "political correctness being what's wrong" ring really hollow. It comes across as an excuse, where a politician says something offensive, then chooses to double down and attack "political correctness" - that it's not their fault that they said something really offensive, but society is just too "politically correct".

    Frankly, things that are broadly agreed upon to offensive by a mainstream audience tend to have gotten to that level of broad agreement because society has recognized that they're actually legitimately offensive things to say.
    Ideally, that should be the case. But there's always the risk that an over-opinionated and overly-sensitive minority can over-react to what would usually be regarded as legitimate and inoffensive speech, and thus have a chilling effect by causing people to err on the side of caution, for fear of being accused of bigotry. It goes back to a thread a few weeks ago - views that are actually held by a majority can be stifled because of an erroneous assumption among people who hold them that they are in a minority. What "politically correct" originally meant, and the connotations that it currently has, are two very different things.
    Last edited by Akastus; 10-Nov-2015 at 08:24.

  5. #5

    Default

    I would also add that there are different levels of political correctness as well as different kinds, those that vary from politicians having no meaningful content to asked questions, to a public school teacher telling a parent that their child shows promise when in reality, the child is pathetically stupid. Most of the time, we, as a society, try not to hurt others' feelings. Does this dress make me look fat? What one says about others usually says a lot more about who they are as a person than the person they're commenting on.

  6. #6

    Default

    I'd go out on a limb and say political correctness, at least to some extent is needed.

  7. #7

    Default

    Political correctness is often used a way to hide the truth. An example is Orwellian 1984 "Department of Love".

  8. #8

    Default

    I feel that most of the time, the people who are complaining about political correctness are just upset that society is more tolerant now and the fact that they can't make racially insensitive jokes about minorities or rape jokes without backlash is an example of how society is now "too politically correct". That's not to say there's no such thing as overly sensitive thin-skinned people who are too politically correct, but the vast majority of the time, what people are complaining about as "too politically correct" is no big deal and justified.

  9. #9

    Default

    Being polite is one thing. Political correctness has gone beyond that. Its now used to deflect criticism of bad behavior, and advance beliefs and political agendas that won't stand on their own merit. Make enough noise to get something thought of as politically correct, no one dares criticize it, even if its absurd. This is the essence of the old fable "The Emperor's New Clothes".

  10. #10

    Smile

    I thought the Wikipedia entry on "political correctness" was interesting. There's a warning that the perspectives in the article deal primarily with the United States, but I was really surprised at how loaded the American usage of the phrase seems to be.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_correctness

    In the UK, although the gutter press sometimes use "political correctness" in a similarly pejorative way, it can equally be used in a non-loaded way -- i.e. "We need to make this sound more politically correct", would be as uncynical as saying, "We need to make this sound less racist/homophobic/misogynistic." No one would think that avoiding racism is "political correctness gone mad"!



    Quote Originally Posted by Kenn View Post
    Political correctness is often used a way to hide the truth. An example is Orwellian 1984 "Department of Love".
    That's not political correctness at all; that's doublespeak.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doublespeak

    "Political correctness" is about presenting your opinions in a way that is not bigoted or cruelly insensitive. It's about respecting people for who they are without using pejorative slurs or unthinking prejudice.



    Quote Originally Posted by Gsmax View Post
    I feel that most of the time, the people who are complaining about political correctness are just upset that society is more tolerant now and the fact that they can't make racially insensitive jokes about minorities or rape jokes without backlash is an example of how society is now "too politically correct".
    I completely agree.

    Essentially "political correctness" lays on a spectrum with extreme bigotry on one end, "political correctness" in the middle and absurdist hypersensitivity at the other end.

    Journalists usually exploit lazy fallacies in their articles as they taps into our emotional responses, and this is more attention-grabbing than genuinely erudite journalism. As a result, "political correctness" is misrepresented as being at one of the extremes of the spectrum: either bigotry is supported and the phrase "political correctness gone mad" is used, or absurdist hypersensitivity is supported and we end up having ridiculous concepts thrust upon us -- like the idea that Christmas should be referred to as a "holiday season" or "Winterval" or whatever.

    Of course no one suffered such great offence that they demanded references to Christmas be avoided -- it's just lazy journalists trying to get people to feel enraged that their harmless beliefs/language/way-of-life is being negatively judged. That taps into our emotions, sells more advertising, and creates more profit.

    Don't forget that the fundamental purpose of the media is to sell our eyeballs to advertisers. News and journalism are just inconveniences that get in the way. An emotional reaction is FAR more important than truth or wisdom.



    Quote Originally Posted by Drifter View Post
    The concept of being politically correct is loaded with good intentions but is an immature approach to a real social problem: the lack of common decency and civility in public affairs. It's the adult version of the childhood rule against using naughty words, and is too condescending to get much respect from most people.

    "Politically correct" is the Jar Jar Binks of modern vocabulary. I vote we erase it!
    If you're suspicious of the merits of political correctness, just TRY doing away with the concept. See what happens if you address black people as "nigger", women as "bitch" and the wheelchair bound as "cripples". It won't end well.

    We need concepts such as political correctness to stop being such judgemental arseholes to each other!

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