Thursday, April 12, 2007

Politically Correct

When I talk about a subject that I feel strongly about, like this one, I get the feeling that I've blogged about it before, and in this case I suspect I have. Still, I'm going to write again, and hope I don't repeat myself too much (the other solution is actually searching my archives, but that seems far too much like hard work).

It really irritates me when the privileged complain that they have lost some of those privileges. White people, especially white males, who, it must be noted, are generally the ones doing the complaining, are uniquely privileged in this society. On average they are going to do better in every aspect of life than any other subset of society. Why? Well because we have controlled society for a very long time, and like tends to discriminate in favour of like, so society does not change for a very long time.

Now over time we have become a bit more aware of this discrimination, and have considered measures to tackle it. Positive discrimination is one, for example all women shortlists for some constituencies of parties. There are definitely problems with this- is the best way to cope with discrimination by consciously discriminating in the other direction, and also it can be somewhat patronising- I remember a lot of women in my A-level politics class were uncomfortable with the idea of getting an easier ride, but it must be noted that the party selection process is a horrid one often run by old men with older prejudices, which is why these shortlist exist. Whether they are right or wrong, there is one very important point here even if these measures exist, white people still have the advantage! After it was suggested that there be some kind of measure to recruit more state school pupils to university, there was quite a lot written by parents who sent their children to private schools worried about being discriminating against. Because, see, it’s very hard for an incredibly advantaged child to get into university, they need every break they can get. Notice here that I’m not saying that positive discrimination is necessarily correct; all I am saying is that it is absolutely ridiculous to claim that it suddenly puts black people/women/kids from state schools into an advantaged position!

So finally I come to talk about the topic of this post, political correctness. If there is one thing that has come under more attack, it is political correctness. There is an inherent problem in attempting to control speech, in that it is difficult to say how much is too much, which is why it is very easy to find examples of political correctness gone mad! Indeed, I’m sure everyone can think of a particular example, and I would have to nod and say, “Yes, that probably is too far.” But let’s not forget why political correctness was invented in the first place. It was a reaction to the attitudes and language of the past which was overwhelmingly racist. Words have powers, and the habit of speaking in that manner really has an effect on your patterns of thought. So yes, there are times when political correctness goes mad, but ultimately it is so much better than the alternative.

Finally, just a note to all white people who genuinely question why they can’t say the “n” word when black people can.

A- Are you really that stupid?

B-Why on earth do you even want to say it? Really? I can’t think of a sensible reason that is good enough to override the extreme offence you cause by using it.

Ultimately, always remember- we are the privileged, if we have to suffer some inconveniences then so be it.


At 1:49 pm, Blogger Hilarious Catastrophes said...

I generally agree with everything you say here. A concern that I have though, is that political correctness in itself serves, occationally, as a barrier. I don't mean the political correctness gone mad idea necessarily although it borders on it, but the idea that as individuals going about our daily lives we're surrounded by people who are from all kinds of different backgrounds, (don't forget the class system divides which still exist between British people) and if political correctness is something built into the way we behave, it makes for a ludicrous over-awareness of what we say. The classic example of this is the way that teachers are trained not to say "Black/White Board" but "Chalk/Pen Board". I just feel that it is obviously incredibly important not to offend anyone in our diverse culture... But when are people going to reach the point where they can can say "Black", "Yellow", and "White" in terms of a simple acknowledment of identity, with no superior/inferior conotations. Of course, in the adult world things are just to "complicated" for dreams such as mine to come to fruition, without sacrifices which, many people are unwilling to make.

At 2:27 am, Blogger The Venomous Bee said...

Well said.

I find the problem with political correctness is that it is something that people can hide behind. For example, I knew one young man, who got away with being incredibly racist because he used all the right words. He worked in a store in our equivalent of "the ghetto" (as ghetto-y as it can get in a city of 300,000) and would always talk about the dirty little kids who came in ... we all knew he meant the first nations children, but no one could call him on it because he never said "the first nations kids" or even "the indian kids" ... he'd complain about them using the right words, but he had the wrong intentions ... He'd only been trained to not say the things, not trained to not think that way.

At 2:28 am, Blogger The Venomous Bee said...

But that said, I admire your outspokenness about the whole issue, because it is something people get really defensive of.


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