Sunday, February 01, 2015

Ideas about "political correctness"

Apparently, Fredrik deBoer is out of ideas about what to do about political correctness.

deBoer tells some nasty stories about the abuse of political correctness. And I believe him, in the sense that he's not making up the stories, and I will even grant that they are representative of something larger. But what is that something larger?

I'm 50 years old, and I've been in college classrooms for five years, and I haven't seen anything at all even remotely resembling what deBoer describes. Of course, I live in one of the flyover states, not exactly a bastion of leftism, progressivism, or liberalism. And, although I'm a communist, most of my IRL friends are Economics professors, Econ and Math students, and English tutors. (Can you tell I study and work at a college campus and spend almost all of my free time there?) And I rarely hang around with leftists.

But my (lack of) experience doesn't mean that what deBoer describes isn't real; at best it shows what he describes isn't completely ubiquitous. (In contrast, for example, to some of the egregiously silly things they teach us in undergraduate economics.) But again, what is deBoer actually writing about?

deBoer is writing in response to Jonathon Chait's cringeworthy essay, Not a Very P.C. Thing to Say. The question is: are Chait and deBoer actually writing about the same thing? There are some superficial resemblances, but some notable differences. Chait argues that "Political Correctness" is pervasive, even ubiquitous, and seriously compromises public discourse. (Chait, is, of course, completely full of shit.) deBoer describes instances of bullying. Bullying is bad, to be sure, but they're simply not in the same league as what Chait talks about.

Money quote: The political correctness is "enforced by the children of privilege." So. We have privileged people bullying non-privileged people on the shibboleth du jour. Stop the presses.

deBoer wants ideas on what to do about this. Well, you do What do you do about bullying in general: you fight it or you walk away from it.

I can't stand most people in leftist organizations, and I'm a communist. Leftist organizations populated mostly by privileged, self-righteous, self-important dipshits. (To my friends who are in leftists organizations, I'm talking about them, not you, and I admire your ability to cooperate with the dipshits that infest left-wing organizations.) Even deBoer himself regrettably strays occasionally into self-important dipshit territory. I didn't see that much actual bullying per se in my experience with leftist organizations (and it's also true that I'm very hard to bully), but I saw enough egregious bullshit that I decided to walk the individualist road.

I'm sincerely sorry, Mr. deBoer, that some students and others you know had their feelings hurt. That shouldn't happen to anyone. But it does happen, and it won't kill them. They'll find groups and communities that treat them with respect and consideration.

In the meantime, there's nothing to do but take personal responsibility. When you see bullying, stop it. If you can't, then walk away and find some other more worthwhile use of your time.


  1. I've never had much use for PC.
    I like the definition.... PC = how to polish a dog turd to make it pretty.
    As in 'Scent of a Woman' the man was NOT visually impaired but BLIND!!! I'm visually impaired as I need glasses and getting cataracts.

  2. "Political correctness" is usually only simple politeness. It is, for example, extremely impolite to use the n- word, to call women "girls", to make racist jokes, etc.

    Every social standard of politeness, of course, can be taken to silliness, and can be used to bully or intimidate, but those are not reasons to abandon every social standard.


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