Sunday, September 23, 2007

Why I hate "politically correct"

If I hear the words “politically correct” one more time I might throw up. I’m sure this phrase wasn’t coined by a liberal/progressive person or group. It’s a tool often used by right wing conservatives to try and silence, or at least marginalize, anyone who expresses an opinion they disagree with. But what I think is even MORE egregious is when alleged progressives use it as a weapon against other progressives.

I will not name names here, but this post was prompted by something I just read regarding Sally Field and FOX network. I’m not going to “out” the author, because I have met and like them – but I think their post is playing directly into a divide and conquer strategy that has worked so effectively for the Bush/Cheney/Rove political machine.

I don’t give a fuck whether or not anyone thinks Ms. Fields is an appropriate spokesperson for the anti-war movement. The bottom line is that she has as much right to voice her opinion about the war as anyone.

If I’m against the war, and I want that sentiment express in public as often as possible, does that make me “politically correct?”

If I think the Jena 6 are getting screwed by the justice system, and the actions against them are steeped in racism, does that make me “politically correct?”

If I think women should make decisions about their reproductive health care, instead of Congress and the President, does that make me “politically correct?”

If I think couples in love should have the right to be legally married, regardless of their sexual orientation, does that make me “politically correct?”

And if I think everyone in this country has a right to affordable healthcare, an opportunity for a decent education, and should receive a living wage for the work they do, does that make me “politically correct?”

If it does … then sign me the fuck up now! And if you don’t like it … that’s too fucking bad.

I do believe the adage “if you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.” If you claim to be anything OTHER than a neo-con, and you are baiting people with the “politically correct” tag … you are part of the problem.


FranIAm said...

Go sister! I could not agree more. We live in this world of labeling and name calling.

All things that divide. It is so wrong.

Politically correct, although it gags me to use it as well, would mean to me (if it had meaning) a quality of social justice and balance and community for all.

Anything less is not correct and just plain politics.

P.S. Despite meaning to do so each time I visited your blog, I finally signed the freedom first petition via clicking through your blog earlier. As someone who does practice their religion, I'd like the freedom to not have anyone else's put on me. And I sure don't want to put mine or anyone else's on anyone.

Thanks for the push.

BAC said...

Fran, thanks for signing the FFF petition! Please encourage others to do so as well.


Tengrain said...

Awwwww, BAC - you rock.


neuralgourmet said...

Actually the term comes out of Marxist-Leninist language and was used to describe the party line. Then in the 1970s left wingers in the U.S. picked up on it and it's here that it came to be a form of criticism of orthodoxy on the left by members of the left. I was a member of the Young Socialists in college during the mid-80s and remember it being in frequent use within the group then. The conservatives of course picked up on it in the 90s and turned it into a pejorative.

I wholeheartedly agree with you though. Unlike "liberal" which is a term well worth reclaiming, "politically correct" was a bad idea when it was incorporated into leftist language in the 1970s and it's a bad idea now. It should be confined to the ash bin of history.

Jess Wundrun said...


KELSO'S NUTS said...

Estimada BAC: Very well said. I'm 46 years old and was a college student in New England when the term changed from "radical chic" to "politically correct." There is something very important for everyone to know about this and it will explain why I fall into the trap of using the term derisvely sometimes myself.

The term "Politically Correct" was NOT invented by the right. It was invented as a good-natured joke by left as a way of laughing at ourselves, at how fractured we were. And language was at the heart of it. There were people who flirted with communism. People for whom divestiture of South African investment was a raison d'etre. People who focused on proxy wars in Central America. People for whom the environment was the number one issue. The urban free-speech absolutists like me for whom social justice was key. Feminists of every stripe. And folks who felt that no one had to be referred to by any name other than that which they wanted: if someone was offended by being called "handicapped" what the fuck was wrong with "physically challenged"? So, the joke was every faction had it's version of what was "POLITCALLY CORRECT" according to each faction's intensities. It was good-natured.

Then along came the odious DARTMOUTH REVIEW -- Dinesh D'Souza and Deborah Stone were the ones I think -- which appropriated our joke and turned it against us and used it to separate us even further. And fuck if we didn't go hook, line and sinker!

You are SO on the mark about this.

There are two ways to deal with this now. One, for all of us to reclaim POLITICALLY CORRECT as a badge of honor as you suggest...or (2) to turn it around on the right and accuse them of "political correctness" with regard to all things RELIGIOUS, WHITE, MILITARY, and RELATED TO LAW ENFORCEMENT.

There is also the option of doing both.

Nevertheless, we'll put. Thanks for the heads-up. I'm taking the hook out of my mouth now. And I'm going to use this term henceforth in service of something positive and uniting of all people who question or something very, very negative toward the control freaks who would silence us.

KELSO'S NUTS said...

How stupid am I for missing neuralgourmet's comment? We're both right. It did come out of Marxist-Leninist orthodoxy originally but it seemed so silly even to late 70s Marxists that we adopted it as our joke. And the fucking joke's on us. But not for long after your call to arms.

BAC said...

Thanks to everyone for the information. I sort of "checked out" for a while in the mid-70's ... not on drugs, but I had just come out and my life was pretty much centered on meeting women. I didn't really get back into activist mode until the mid 80's, so I guess I missed some of this discussion.


P M Prescott said...

I was once chastized by a number of women in class discussions, at one point I felt like telling one lady that if she wanted to be really offended there were a number of ways I would ablidge her. Instead I posted a countdown of comebacks to being politically corrected:
- Are we here to discuss ideas or quibble over words?
- I already have a Mother, thank you, and she is a big enough cross to bear without you adding to it.
- My wife is the only one allowed to nag me that way -- because she lets me sleep with her.
- who died and named you the God of my vocabulary.

Distributorcap said...

great post!

KELSO'S NUTS said...

PM PRESCOTT: I hear you, man. Look, imagine how it was for me going off to school. I grew up in New York City in a mixed neighborhood. I learned to speak Spanish when I was a little kid. The only White Protestants I'd ever heard of practically were Mayor Lindsay and Tom Seaver.

A city Left-Winger is not like a suburban Left-Winger. My parents used foul language. And racial and ethnic jokes were as commonplace as breathing. The issues were Peace and Social Justice. What the fuck was this whole "womyn" thing about anyway? Explain that shit to an 18 year-old boy who grew up with stuff like stickball and the ice cream truck and arroz con pollo or gefilte fish? Old Italian ladies blasting opera on Sunday mornings. And all the gambling and drugs. Of course, I felt as you did. My mother used the word "cunt" every sentence. What was up with all this?

I like to think that I evolved some during my college years. That I came to understand this was a cultural thing. Growing up in the city you naturally figure out who you are a lot faster. You don't have much of a choice. It's that or a world of hurt. I guess I figured out that a lot of young women I had the same arguments with that you did had come from the suburbs and were just discovering who they were. And maybe a more rigid linguistic approach than my own was something they could hang their hats on. I'm sure having gone through those arguments made me more gentlemanly. And it was pretty clear that we were on the same side of the issues. Feminists were not my enemies. I never felt that way to be sure. Things that were articles of faith for me may have been new for many of my classmates. That's all.

But BAC's post was an excellent reminder. I know that if I ever come back to the United States, I'll be faced with the same shit all over again. In the country where I live, skin color's not an issue and feminism is material and instrumental not verbal. There aren't two women in this city who'll think it even slightly strange if you say "chucha" or "culo" or "culear" or "puta". Their American equivalents? Not so much even today.

So, I don't think it's a bad thing to reflect on these things even though I'm 25 years past them. I may just have to relive them again!

fairlane said...

When I think of "Politically Correct" I think of the idea that people seem to believe no one has the right to "Offend" us. I wholeheartedly disagree.

As for Sally Fields, she can say whatever she wants. If Wingnuts can run actors for the Presidency, why can't "Liberal" actors/actresses speak their minds?

Back to the being "Offended" idea.

I've had several "Liberals/Progressives" attempt to Police me, and what I write. I ain't havin' it dog.

It's okay for me to call Bush et al "Assholes," but if I mention that I cannot remember the last time a "Liberal" did jack for this country other than lay down at the Chimperor's feet, I'm suddenly "Playing into the Wingnut's hands."


Those I love and myself are more important than the Democratic Party.

I see a lot of the same rigidity in the "Libs" as I do the Wingnuts, and me no like. Some of it is disguised as "Political Correctness."

KELSO'S NUTS said...


You're making this difficult for me because I agree with you but I am attempting to be diplomatic. I'm Old School. There are very few words that offend me. You have to be outright disrespectful to offend me. But you are pushing buttons here. My Dad used to always say stuff like "I fuckin hate liberals...they always want everything to be FAIR." And I'd say "but you're a registered Democrat and you used to be Red; what do you mean?" He'd explain it to me "Bubby, you got to be a Democrat that's not what I mean. It's these do-gooder liberals...nothing's fair...nobody gives you power; you take it..." And stuff like that. And all of the cursing: "...he's a meshumed cocksucker..." "fucking pizdietz" (Closest translation from Russian is "ass-over-cunt" meaning like a total fuck up or disaster). So, imagine how it was the first time for me outside of New York. Also, New Yorkers call women "darling" a lot. Just like dudes from Delaware or Maryland say "hon." It's considered a courtesy, like holding door open. So, believe me between all my cursing and saying "darling", I caught a lot of shit in college. Luckily, I'm a bit too old to have caught the time when the actual speech codes got put into place.

Fuck, I didn't know any of this stuff. I just knew, for example, like at CBGB's or something and it was crowded and you had to push by a woman you'd say "excuse me, darling." It was expected. Even kind of offensive not to do it. But certainly say "darling" to a women in NYC and you get a smile. It's just polite. So, I get outside the city and the first time I say "darling" this girl tells me that I'm "demeaning" her. I felt like I was on Mars. What a fucking SHOW I was. All streetwise but super-naive. I say to her "I don't get it what'd I do?" She goes "you called me 'darling' and you don't know me. You're treating me like a child or a piece of meat." By this time I swear I'm like on acid or something. I am not getting it at all. So, I say "look, I don't fucking want to DATE you. I was being polite." She says "fuck you, asshole." So I say "what's that all about? I didn't DO anything wrong." She goes "I'm a feminist; I don't want to be mistreated." So, now, I'm hopelessly lost. I say "my mom's a feminist; I don't get what you mean." She finally says "just fuck you, ok?"

Fortunately it was my only such encounter at school like THAT but it was really strange. Knowing then what I know now, I would have realized that it was a New York City custom and, Toto, it looked like I sure wasn't in New York City anymore. But the oddest thing about it was that my parents as foul-mouthed as they are, always stressed politeness and courtesies: "please," "thank you," "excuse me," and -- yes --"darling." And what made the whole thing ultra-double-plus-strange was that when I was in high school all the girls had copies of "Our Bodies, Ourselves," and didn't take any offense at the word "darling." Again, quite the contrary. It was a nice thing to say.

So, I figured I'd have to learn some new customs is all. Now, of course I wasn't using ethnic remarks with anyone who wasn't a friend but that seemed excessive.

But while I'm a free speech absolutist not everyone is and I suppose it's more a matter of finding the fulcrum of politeness.

fairlane said...

"But you are pushing buttons here."

In case you haven't noticed K, that's kind of what I do.

Liberals (not all of course) confuse/conflate/mistake kindness/politeness with "passivity." Gandhi was kind, but he pissed off an entire Empire. He was not passive. (Not that I'm comparing myself to Gandhi).

There's a huge difference between "Politeness" and "Political Correctness." Sure, I say "please," and "thank you," and "you're welcome," and "how are you?" etc etc. That's simply common courtesy.

But we're talking about big issues here not, "Please pass the salt. Thank you."

When people begin limiting language it snowballs. Wingdings now use "Political Correctness" to deflect criticism. "He's anti-Christian. He/She hates God. blah blah blah." It is virtually impossible to criticize or even question those who live in Wingdingatopia without being lambasted, and it's because of "Political Correctness."

A person should be able to say, "So what if I don't like Christians? That doesn't make my point any less valid. I don't like the Yankees either, but I'm right when I say they blew it when they signed Carl Pavano."

We're human, and we don't all like each other. I don't like Wingdings. I'm sick of them, and they're lucky I'm not king or I'd have them deported. Let them start a colony of stupidity on Mars or Atlantis.

Dems are not beyond criticism, and if anything I'm more disappointed in them than I am the Wingdingaroos because I expect nothing from the Cons.

Saying, "Don't criticize the Democrats it plays into the GOP's hands" is bullshit, and it makes me suspicious of what's really important to some of these people. Are they honestly interested in change or is it that they want to be the ones in power?

Unfortunately, I'm beginning to believe it's the latter.

Sorry to take up so much space on your blog BAC. (See, that was polite).

BAC said...

Not a problem Fairlane. Just to clarify, I have no problem with anyone criticizing Democrats. I do it all the time. What I have a problem with is one so-called "progressive" using the phrase "politically correct" to try and silence a progressive!

The person who set me off was basically saying that Sally Field had no right to make a political statement, particularly with her voice that "sounds like fingernails on a chaulkboard." The person was upset that no attension was paid to Kathy Griffin, who dissed Jesus in her acceptance speech (and who was also censored).

My point in this is why bash Fields, saying she was just trying to be politically correct and should instead stick to acting ... why not instead say ALL the censorship was wrong. In my opinion neither woman should have been censored, but the author of the post that pissed me off didn't see it like that.

Thanks for all the discussion on this topic, I've learned a lot.


fairlane said...

I know you don't BAC.

I think our ideas of "Politically Correct" are different.

Sally Field is more famous than Kathy Griffin, and if either of them is "annoying" it's Griffin. Griffin tries to piss people off, and that's why she's ignored.

Field is also more respectable,and comes across as "motherly." I can't imagine Kathy Griffin having children. Talk about "finger nails across a chalkboard."

BAC said...

I love them both ... Griffin's 'Welcome to the D-List' program is great. And what's not to love about the Flying Nun!