September 27, 2009
I've fitfully tried to write this post since back in May when It began as a collection of capsule reviews of various films and TV episodes I'd seen at a friends house in Northern Virginia. However a brief conversation we had that afternoon is far more important..and frankly has been difficult to blog about.
Now my friend and I have a lot of shared interests and we tend to agree on a lot considering the considerable differences in our world view. He doesn't believe in the second amendment, nor the tenth amendment, and is for all sorts of restrictive zoning regulations....yet he calls himself a libertarian. Despite this intellectual incoherence he is a good man and I have developed a great deal of respect for him over the years. His views on matters of govt were likely formed from his upbringing in the urban Northeast, specifically New York City, where life is so interconnected and dependent upon public services that the notions of individualism, and self sufficiency range from being understandably alien to simply not being understood in quite the same way these concepts are in the rest of the country. I really think that the culture in that part of the U.S. is rather more different from the rest than is generally appreciated. My worldview, formed in the coastal southeast, is likely just as weird to him.
However, such differences in perspective as his and mine (and there are at least half a dozen distinct examples of this sort of regional outlook not to mention the myriad of ethnic perspectives) are one of the things that have given the US such a robust ability to deal with issues...but perhaps not for much longer.
You see, at some point during the evening the conversation turned to my experiences in school and I related that for the second time my being allowed into an upper level course was being questioned...that is for the second time in a couple of years I had a fellow student in one of my classes ask how a person with my beliefs was ALLOWED to attend an upper level class.
The specific example of college idiocy discussed is not really relevant and so is hidden behind this spoiler tag
My friend was quite appropriately appalled and we marveled at the ability of the myrmidons to miss the point of college. I joked that I had obviously missed my political correctness codebook...
....and at that point everything changed....
My friends mood changed, he gave me a stern look and told me that amongst his progressive friends, anyone who used the phrase "Politically Correct" was considered to be a bigot because they want to be able to say such things as 'ni**er' and 'fa##ot'. He went on to say that he agreed and anyone who used the phrase...he thought less of.
Now I should have said that on the rare occasions that I find anyone spouting such passive agressive Orwellian fucktardery I think much less of them.
But I didn't....I've known this guy too long and known him to be too good a person for that.
So, I defended my position but he cut me off and flatly said that he was not going to debate this....it is a sign of bigotry, and racism.... the end.
I almost walked out...
Being called a racist comes under fighting words.
If it had been nearly anyone else it would have ended right there, but I've known him for over a decade. He is a genuinely good guy.
His "advice" however, is not just wrong, it is destructive.
Here is why....
Courtesy is a very desirable impulse...but when it is enforced by government it is not genuine courtesy....it becomes Political correctness and that is just about the greatest threat to the nations discourse there is. While not quite as bad as it was a few years ago college is like walking on eggshells and its getting worse again. A viewpoint, an opinion, a word is declared intolerant..to protect someones feelings of course...the list expands because "feelings" are fragile things, especially if one loses an argument. Racial slurs are beyond the pale of polite conversation but now we have people looking for "code words" This is a power play...to control the floor and shut down debate. It is a testament to how far we have come that Americans, by and large are disgusted by racists, so much so that calling someone a racist is the equivalent of slaping them with a glove....but without the opportunity of a duel to clear their name...racists are quite properly pariahs in polite society. This gives the truly vile a tool in Political Correctness the number of "code words" and taboo viewpoints expands until finally....talking about POLITICAL CORRECTNESS defines one as a racist homophobe.
One could simply acquiesce and call it what it is, an Orwellian mind game to declare opposing viewpoints double-plus-ungood...of course in a matter of months my friends progressive acquaintances would inform him that the words Orwellian and double plus ungood are...well...the language of racists and homophobes...
This has been going on on for decades and a whole generation of students and now voters has learned to keep their heads down on this. Noted racist Dave Barry has some no doubt deeply offensive observations.
This has larger implication for our civics....
Infamous homophobe Gay Patriot has some thoughts about how this fear mongering is used to stifle political debate.
One result is that people who are worried by charts like this
and people who are give the Pyongyang creeps by this...
Now people who have been concerned about ACORN, an organization with ties to vote fraud, the mortgage crisis and...child prostitution....well those people are racists.
So..what do we call the actual racists now?
I suggest acorns.
The price of this fear driven newspeak is to cheapen the real atrocities and stifle freedom of expression. It is so pernicious, so pervasive that my friend, who quite rightly laments the Hayes code and CCA in casual conversation, made this post possible.
We can't communicate with each other or learn from one another if we are forever walking on eggshells.
Political correctness is a plague, a pestilence and it is frankly un-American. I walk on eggshells enough of the time at school. I'll damn well say political correctness if I please.
Just not when I'm around my friend apparently.
UPDATE: Well, the fellow read the post and sent me a long and thoughtfull missive via E-mail that included thoughts along the lines of: "How could you have thought I mea...Oh wait I guess I DID say that!" He pointed out that he managed to express almost the opposite of what he meant to say due in part to sleep deprivation. He also had other thoughts on the use of political correctness as a means to dismiss an argument, and the fact that the whole tone of such conversations has become depressing. His E-mail was quite well thought out and thought provoking....but being an idiot I lost it while deleting birther spam. NEXT TIME USE THE COMMENTS.
On a lighter note: What we had watched is not germane to the post but can be seen here
Boils down to one question, my friend. Are you willing to allow him to moderate what you believe is free and proper speech? If so, no problem. If not, force him to defend his position. Claim "hate speech" affects you like "political correctness" affects him.
And he's guilty under your definition. You owe it to him - or the unresolved conflict will poison your friendship. He may not back down and turn sanctimonious on you. Then you may mourn the loss of another freeman....
Posted by: The Old Man at Thu Oct 1 06:51:36 2009 (+LRPE)
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