Sunday, November 12, 2006

And no, she said, anticipating, "politically correct" is NOT shorthand for "authoritarian." Either best, it's just tired. zuky has more:

However, there's one political cliché so popular, so omnipresent, so densely far-reaching, that it is without doubt the greatest cliché of our time. It is the One Cliché to rule them all: "political correctness" and its variants. What's striking about the repetitive droning complaints about "PC" (from both conservatives and liberals) is that the expression itself, and the concept it invokes, is as sloppily unexamined as it is pedestrian.

The phrase "politically correct" can be used in two distinct ways: either with its original literal meaning, or with the mocking sarcasm that's common these days. I'll get to the former in a moment, but I'll begin with the latter. As it's commonly used, "PC" is a deliberately imprecise expression (just try finding or writing a terse, precise definition) because its objective isn't to communicate a substantive idea, but simply to sneer and snivel about the linguistic and cultural burdens of treating all people with the respect and sensitivity with which they wish to be treated. Thus, the Herculean effort required to call me "Asian American" rather than "chink" is seen as a concession to "the PC police", an unsettling infringement on the free-wheeling conversation of, I suppose, "non-chinks". Having to refer to black folks as "African Americans" rather than various historically-prevalent epithets surely strikes some red-blooded blue-balled white-men as a form of cultural oppression. Having to refer to "women" rather than "bitches" lays a violent buzzkill on the bar-room banter of men preoccupied with beating on their chests and off other body parts.

...In this context, the conceit that "political correctness" constitutes a violation of free speech is particularly zany; as though society's marginalized groups wield oppressive power over the dominant mainstream. Actually, as far as I'm concerned you're free to call me "chink" and I'm free to call you "moronic racist loser"


and he's right (you'll see this bit if you go to the site) in that real political correctness means "alignment with the state," or the seat of (real) power. Saying the same goddam thing South Park or Sarah Silverman has just said on national television to the rapturous applause of millions of people, only far less funny or clever (which is what makes it more offensive, as boring the crap out of people is also offensive), doesn't make you some sort of Daring Darington, much less, like, a THREAT to the SYSTEM, POWER to the PEOPLE, BAYBEE! It just makes you, well, kind of a dick. An unoriginal, unfunny, unthinkingly racist/sexist/whatever, dick. Sadly, there is no shortage of your sort of person; no, you aren't special, either. Deal with it.

And yes, once again, that very much applies to the next oh-so-brilliant iconoclast who decides that photoshopping blackface onto the political target of hir choice is a really good idea.

I mean, at minimum: go see this movie, okay, and then come back and be one quarter as jaw-droppingly outrageous. You still might not be funny, but at least you might command a few more points for sheer chutzpah. Photoshop: not gonna cut it. Unless you'd care to include, like, compromising pictures of yourself and a few farm animals or something.


theohzone said...

hurrah! hurrah! hurrah! my white-gloved turn of the hand salutes you.

sarah silverman - do you think she's funny?

anyways. you do well at calling out idiots.

belledame222 said...

Meh. The funny part of course is that she's doing the whole thing in this wispy little waify girlie voice; it -was- kind of shockingly funny in "The Aristocrats." gets old real fast, though, i think.

emily said...

Sarah Silverman was alright on Greg the Bunny. But obviously it was all about the puppets.

Great link, on point analysis.

Alon Levy said...

I think Sarah Silverman is hilarious, but that's based on her take on the birds-and-bees talk.

Iamcuriousblue said...

Well, if the world were so simple that on the Bush administration/corporations/white males were capable of exercising authoritarian power relations, than Zuky would have a point. However, I've seen too many cases where "oppositional" forces have used recourse to State power in a manner that can only be called authoritarian.

Case in point (and somehow I know this is going to rub you the wrong way) – on my campus, the college Republicans held a rally in which they trampled a Hamas flag. The Palestinian students union is now trying to bring them up on charges before the campus administration (a State agency) on grounds that the Hamas flag contains the name of God, and the action was therefore an act of religious hatred.

The free speech implications of this are pretty clear in my book – attacking political and religious symbols of any kind is clearly protected speech, whether its trampling the Hamas flag, burning the American flag, or photographing a crucifix in urine. Protest, even censure, those actions all you want, but bring in State power to settle the difference, and you're engaging in an authoritarian power relationship – I don't care how "marginalized" and "powerless" you think you are, that's what you're doing.

"Political correctness", at least when used narrowly, is a term that mocks that kind of authoritarianism. Its used too loosely and reflexively, true, but I'll point out that in that regard, it shares something with leftist use of "racist" and "sexist".

But what do I know – I'm just a snivelly white boy who really should be made to keep his mouth shut.

belledame222 said...

Did you read the whole essay? He's not saying you don't have the freedom to say whatever you damn well please. He's saying 1) your "right" to call him a chink is not equivalent to systematic racism 2) sure, you can call him a chink; and he'll call you a racist asshole. Voila. Free speech all around!

belledame222 said...

and yes, he -also- talks about the narrower use of "poltiical correctness." What he's saying is, and I fully agree with him, that term has been so overused and abused that at this point invoking it is roughly equivalent to saying "jackbooted imperialist pig-dog."



...ironically enough.

If you think someone's being an asshole, then for fuck's sake just call them an asshole. No need to walk on eggshells just because they're ____. I certainly don't.

at the same time, it's sheer laziness to reach for the obvious (fill in the tired racist/sexist slur) just because the person what is currently bugging the shit out of you belongs to said demographic; -and- it says more about you than the person if you automatically reach for it anyway; and you deserve to be called on it.

It seems to me that when people bitch about "p.c." what they really mean is that they wanted to say whatever it was without getting any static about it.

and/or, they revel in the static, seeing it as some sort of validation of their -edginess.-

either way: ZZZZZZZZZZ

belledame222 said...

>But what do I know – I'm just a snivelly white boy who really should be made to keep his mouth shut>

Well, I don't know about the latter, but dude, yeah: that right there is fairly snivelly. 'Fraid so. Who's making you keep your mouth shut? You spoke; here's your response. Your turn.

belledame222 said...

as for the Palestinians/Republicans: meh, I'll wait for the response. I doubt they have a case, at least legally (no idea what's kosher on the actual college grounds under university rules, and tbh don't much care, I'm afraid). They certainly have a right to -try,- anyway.

and College Republicans are among the world's lowest lifeforms. no, I don't hold with the precedent set -if- it goes ahead that trampling the flag ends up declared verboten in the context they've set forth. Although it'd be pretty fucking funny if it were to go forth in -that- context, in -this- environment: a Palestinian flag trampled, offensive to Moslems! Yeah, good luck with that one, really. If anything, that ought to set the Christian theocrats who want to push equivalent cases back a step or two.

but as for whether that was a really nifty idea, that the College Republicans had there: well, um, NO. It's lame, deliberately provocative, certainly expressive of bigotry, and they totally suck for doing it. But then again, they already suck, as I've said.

College Republicans. brrrah. 20 year olds who wear dark suits and get all het up over Elizabeth Dole. maybe they all went through the Status Quo Solidifier or something.

belledame222 said...

put this another way:

-if- whoever it is rules in favor of the Palestinians, well, one, I'd have to know more about the legal intricacies to say whether that indeed sets any sort of precedent with farther-reaching implications.

but in general i'm feeling rather jaundiced about the suggestion that it's this sort of thing that's, like, the vanguard in knocking down the wall between church and state. After all the damage the Bush administration has done over the last umpty-years, if anything, -if- they win, I think it'd be just as likely to be an ironic commentary on just how far the Christian theocrats have come in their own legalistic machinations; many of which, i've no doubt whatsoever, a goodly number of those selfsame College Republicans would have and did have no problem with whatsoever. if they lose this one, well, again, i'm gonna need to see the details, but i -suspect- it may very well be capable of being read as a case of "hoist on one's own petard" (after all, those machinations were certainly never ever meant to give the -Moslems- a foot in the door, NO). and if it is, i'ma laugh and laugh and laugh...

belledame222 said...

...and now, having gone back to zuky's, I note that in fact the "snivelling whiteboy" business was in fact a direct quote from someone named "fire witch."

Since sie's the (only) one who actually said this, it strikes me as odd that you not only don't address her directly but come over -here- and bring it up, rather than over there, where at least the original author is more likely to see the quote and know what you're referring to.

Directness is a good thing, yes.

belledame222 said...

and, in case it does come over here now, I will note that sheerly on the level of flame warrage, "well, what do I know, I'm [your insult directed at me]" isn't terrifically effective, in my experience. Something more along the lines of, "yeah? well, fuck you, you fucking [something original, please], so's your mother" is better, at least strictly from an entertainment perspective, which is, at the end of the day, the important one, as far as I'm concerned, here on MY blog, at least.

(puts popcorn popper on, gets out lawnchair)

belledame222 said...

...jesus christ! AGAIN?

speaking of campuses. yeah, they're really bastions of slavering maoist p.c. police, those college campuses. jesus.

Iamcuriousblue said...

First – I wasn't consciously responding to any post when I made that "snivley white boy" comment, though I'm sure I must have come across it in the comments to Zuky's post and half-consciously quoted from it when I responded here. If I had meant it as a reply to that comment, I would have put it there directly.

Was my attitude snotty – sure, but no more than anybody who knows they're going to get hated on for honestly stating their opinion. But I think PC in general is a pretty fucked-up aspect of the Left, that keeps it going in a basically authoritarian direction and keeps it marginalized, so I don't feel like I should keep quiet in these latest rounds of the PC wars.

Second, yes, I did in fact read Zuky's post and I know he wasn't advocating state censorship (a point he clarified), however, what I find problematic is that the idea that PC only involves censure and comeback – I don't have a problem with that per se. However, I have seen too many other examples where people on what is broadly called the political Left, do resort to censorship and named an example.

Your response is that being Young Republicans, they basically have it coming. Hey, they're not my favorite people, either, but it seems if free speech doesn't apply to everybody, then it doesn't apply to anybody. Censorship sucks no matter who's doing it, and it sets a terrible precedent. I don't have much patience for the idea that civil liberties should only apply to people on "our side". Yes, that's a very "liberal" attitude, but "liberal" isn't always a bad thing.

As for your example of the "blackface" incident at Texas A&M, I'm not going to begin to defend that, but do I think the institution should be allowed to punish them. No, I don't think the institution should have that power.

I do have other problems with PC – it comes across to me as very Maoist. The whole apologetic "unpeeling the onion" attitude I'm supposed to have as a white person strikes me as dreary Maoist self-criticism. Considering how badly the Cultural Revolution sucks as a social model, I'm not terrible fond of any of the strains of the Left that emulate this.

belledame222 said...

well, like i said, we'll see what actually happens with that case.

i agree, i don't love the leftist strain toward authoritarianism either, believe me. At the same time, i do make a distinction between what people are -capable of- and what's -actually happening.-

I guess I've just heard one too many "outraged" conservatives making hay of the supposed hotbeds of Maoist repression that are U.S. college campuses whilst ignoring the rather ginormous beam that is the very -right-wing- repression that is -currently- all too much more pervasive and powerful.

does that mean we get rid of it by emulating them? no. but i'm not necessarily convinced that what goes on at a college (which does often tend to act in loco parentis in a number of ways; which in itself can be argued with, sure, but: this is not an isolated example of universities, state sponsored and otherwise, exercising disciplinary powers that the "real world" will not, for the same infraction) is a sign of some slippery slope toward 1984, either. and that if one does believe we -are already- on such a slope, well...again, I Blame The College Republicans, among others. do they "have it coming?" well--have -what- coming? A kick in the ass? Yeah, that, I think so. Jail time? No. A fine? No. Expulsion or suspension from the college, a slap on the wrist, a blot on the record? Well, -if- it actually went all the way to expulsion, yeah, that'd be a problem. At the same time: you'll forgive me, I just can't get that emotional at the prospect. What can I tell you. I am but as God made me...

and the reason i asked wrt zuky's piece is that he very specifically did talk about "political correctness'" roots in not just Maoism but probably Imperial Chinese authoritarianism long before; and that yes, there is a legit meaning of "political correctness."

His point, (well, the smaller one), and I agree with him, is that it is used as a kind of all-purpose ass-cover for being an asshole -so much overwhelmingly more often- that at this point any "real" use of the phrase is just killed ded, effectively.

If one is concerned with the world taking an Orwellian turn, best not to duckspeak oneself, I feel.

Cassandra Says said...

Maybe this is the "grew up in the Third World" take on the situation,but my feeling is that anyone who knows anything about Hamas and is still stupid enough to stomp on their flag is so stupid that their eventual removal from the gene pool was inevitable anyway (but then again they are College Republicans, so we already knew that).
I think that in the way it's typically used now "PC" means "Why don't I get to call someone a @!@#$@# any more? No fair!". It's a petty, childish response to what was originally a quite reasonable request, ie it would be nice if people could refrain from using racial/sexual/etc slurs in public discourse.
The dude who made the "oh poor little white boy me I guess I have to shut up now" response kind of proved the point, actually. There seem to be a number of people who really are mortally offended that they don't get to be assholes in public any more without being called on it.
For the record, Sarah Silverman = not funny. Not so much because she's offensive as because she's boring. Few things fall flatter than innefective satire.

belledame222 said...

oh, exactly, that, in general: boring IS offensive. yeah, you have a right to say what you want; that doesn't mean anyone else owes you the attention and adulation you obviously are desperate for.

what we really need is the return of the old vaudeville "hook," you know.

frankly if i were a Palestinian and a bunch of College Republican goons made a big display of stomping on my flag, given the current environment, I wouldn't feel "offended," I'd feel -threatened.-

yeah, I'm wondering now if they didn't go for the "religious symbol" business because actually that ultimately ended up seeming like the best way for them to get any recourse, for whatever reason (mebbe there's some sort of campus code against religious discrimination or hate speech or something?)

but you know: if they'd burned a cross whilst wearing white hoods, and then lynched an effigy of a black student? somehow i don't think "free speech" would hold much water. and i wouldn't feel much sympathy when they got the fucking book thrown at them, either.

belledame222 said...

>that they don't get to be assholes in public any more without being called on it.

yes, exactly: -without being called on it.- that's what it -really- is, most of the time.

assholes, if you're gonna be "provocative" then "provoking" people kind of goes with the fucking territory, you know? If you're provoking people other than the ones you actually wanted to provoke, well, maybe better take a harder look at what you're doing, 'cause it ain't working. If you actually didn't think you'd get any static at all--um, hello, welcome to planet earth...

The Infidel Sage said...

Ah yes, the Left waxes indignant about being painted with the Politically Correct brush.

What they fail to admit is that the ideologies that pursue 'PC' policies are merely advocating the silencing and censoring of the thoughts and actions of others. The little totalitarian reservations we refer to as college campuses reek of speech codes and censorship as the fascists of the Left seek to mold us into their Orwellian servants in preparation for the coming utopia. They are all about free speech and tolerance and diversity and sensitivity and multiculturalism until one dares to openly admit to being pro-life, or a believer in traditional morality, or that a family should consist of a man and a woman and any offspring they may have, or to being a born again Christian, or that Israel has the right to exist, or that private gun ownership is commendable, or that maybe we should not allow in millions of illegal aliens every year..... Suddenly all that great liberal love and tenderness is thrown out the window and all that is left is the naked viciousness and intolerance of Political Correctness.

I've seen it, I've experienced it, and I spent my college years fighting and exposing it. It's not about calling Asian Americans 'Chinks' or women 'bitches' (red herring arguments at best), but about having the right to debate the issues of the day with full intellectual honesty. When debate is stifled and speech curtailed because of everyone being petrified of causing 'perpetual outrage' due to an innocent comment or label that wasn't quite phrased right or may have 'offended' someone, then we have lost a valuable part of what made us a great nation. Those who would perform a collective intellectual lobotomy, and their goose stepping cadres shouting bumper sticker slogans, are the enemy and we've labeled their speech codes 'Political Correctness'.

It deserves every mockery and word of derision it has ever received.

belledame222 said...

Thanks for stopping by and sharing! We Value Your Opinion.

p.s. do you play "Melancholy Baby?"

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