Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thursday Thoughts, October 28th

The Tyranny of Political Correctness
It is amazing how many words and expressions we are no longer comfortable with using. It seems just about every time I go to write something, or to have a good in the depth conversation, I feel the need to stop and carefully consider my words so that I do not unintentionally or accidentally offend someone -not that I’d need much help in that area as I often write or say things specifically intended to offend somebody. Being somewhat older than many of you (no cracks please) I can easily remember a time when political correctness was completely nonexistent. While attending high school we used to spend hours laughing heartily at stupid jokes that would easily get you sued these days. Usually ethnically based and very stereotypical, these jokes were never actually intended to hurt anyone’s feelings. Being Irish and having a brogue until my early teens, I was very often the target of some vicious joking concerning the reputation Irish people have for heavy drinking. I learned very quickly that it was best just to take it and to differentiate a good-natured joke from an intended insult.

As time passed my peer group changed and became more ethnically and culturally mixed. As that happen, and as a result of having endured ethnic based joking myself, I quite naturally started becoming far more careful about the jokes we made. Interestingly, the more ethnic jokes also lost their appeal and humor. I began to understand, instinctively if not consciously, that less educated people often actually believe some of the stereotypes in those silly jokes. Stereotypes such as black people associated with watermelons, Latin people associated with burritos, and/or Irish people and their drinking.

Up to this point it sounds as though I am actually painting a picture in favor of political correctness and I suppose up to this point, it does actually serve a beneficial purpose because it helps make us more culturally aware and keeps us from unnecessarily hurting people’s feelings. But, and here is the big but, our society has just taken this way too far! There is now a tyranny of political correctness that has taken over our civilization and is strangling open and honest conversation, stifling debate, and destroying our ability to discuss problems.

Let me give you a perfect example of what I’m talking about. Just today there was a story in the newspaper about a lady who is now in trouble and may even be prosecuted because she placed an ad looking for a roommate on her church’s bulletin board. In her ad she said she hoped to find a person who shared her Christian beliefs. Some idiot reading that ad decided that it violated the state’s laws against discrimination and filed a complaint against her. In all probability this complaint will get thrown out of court but the fact that it was even considered is absolutely ludicrous! What are we turning into in this society when you can’t even look for a roommate who shares your religious beliefs? Unfortunately, this type of incident is becoming an everyday occurrence.

Let me clarify something here. There are times when it is important to be clear and precise in your communications. For example, on 9/11 we were viciously attacked by fanatics. Those fanatics, those extremists, happened to be Muslim and tried to justify their murderous activity behind their religious beliefs. Those criminals represent a relatively very small number of people within the Islamic religion. To now say that we were attacked by Muslims on 9/11 may be technically correct, but, it is not accurate and it unnecessarily gives the impression that everyone of the Islamic faith had some part in, or responsibility for, that attack. Such a statement unnecessarily alienates people, creates hard feelings, and clouds the facts.

From both of these examples you can see that the question of political correctness is one that is important for us to get right. When used as a means to avoid offense and to ensure accuracy of statement and communications, political correctness is a valuable tool. Unfortunately, it can also be used effectively to silence an enemy, to confuse an issue, and to punish the innocent.

There is no easy solution to this problem. It is left to each of us to watch carefully for examples of this tyranny and to speak out loudly and clearly, when we encounter it. It is important that each of us, as individuals, take a stand against this abuse of our right to speak and express our views. Especially when the attack is being made in the name of political correctness!

On this day in history in Bill Gates (Microsoft Billionaire) was born in 1955: 1492 Christopher Columbus discovers Cuba and in 1962 Khrushchev orders withdrawal of missiles from Cuba, ending crisis

Here is a little political incorrectness for laughs:

Live Long and Prosper...


Ted Leddy said...


Political Corectness is at it's worst in politics. Some politicians are so afraid of being misquoted or taken up wrong that they won't really say anything, unless it's very safe.

Good point on Muslim terrorists. It has added significance since the Bill O'Reilly argument on the View. There are times when it may be nesecary to be blunt with the Islamic world. But to do so when it serves no purpose, and in truth, is meant only as a subtle insult, is iresponsible.

I don't mind Irish jokes either, I thought that recent episodes of "Family Guy" and "The Simpsons" that were based in Ireland were hilarious. I don't even mind being called a "paddy", unless it's by an Englishman, that can irk me !

Did you hear about the Irishman whose wife had twins ?
He went out with the shot gun looking for the other man !

Gary said...

Political Correctness has really gotten out of hand. One problem is that it can be used so effectively against an enemy for a simple slip of the tongue.

As for "Irish Jokes" -- I too enjoy them when they are said in fun. My Grandfather had a particularly dry wit and used to tell some really great "Pat and Mike" jokes. If I can remember them, I'll stick some on the blog - I am sure you'd get a laugh if you haven't already heard them.