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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 07:40 am:   

Political correctness strikes me as being a hedge against prejudice. Having been born and raised in the south, growing up in a household in which the word “nigra” was often used, I have a pretty good nose for prejudice; and now, living in a part of the NW where you can go for days without running into a person of color, I see a great deal of political correctness that has nothing to do with the reality of living in multi-cultural society and much to do to with masking prejudice. Crying “For shame!” when Mel Gibson goes on a hate binge is a way of establishing one’s egalitarian credentials, but it can mean nothing in terms of how one truly feels and thinks. Mel Gibson is a buffoon and he’s not the problem. The real problem is how America hides its innately un-egalitarian stance behind façades like such as PC and thus allows prejudice to flourish like mold inside the nation’s walls.

A case in point: the other night I watched an episode of the Amazing Race. This year one of the competing teams consists of a young blond woman of Rumanian extraction and her sister, who is afflicted with dwarfism or, in PC terms, is a little person. I call them Myrna and Schmyrna because I can never remember their names. If one accepts that the men and women who edit the show are doing so in a manner that reflects a degree of reality, then Myrna and Schmyrna are a couple of nasty articles. They are abrasive, devious, petty, and not terribly bright, and they are often, thanks to those qualities, hilarious in their shrill ineptitude.

The other night they were particularly hilarious. Forced to eat a two-foot long length of Polish sausage, Myrna (the shorter of the pair) labored manfully to complete the meal and then was shown puking into a bucket. Indeed, the camera lingered on her thick features and stupefied expression, on the string of drool and vomit hanging from her chin. Afterward Schmyrna engaged in a long bickering fight with a cab driver, while Myrna sulked and whined. This, too, was played for laughs. Then came the piece de resistance. The challenge was to put on a suit of medieval armor and walk a horse down a country lane. Myrna, clad in a little person’s armor, half-blinded by the helmet, intimidated by the immense horse, wandered in circles and took two pratfalls, virtual face-plants. The other contestants managed it handily, stepping along briskly, and when I saw that I realized that the challenge had been designed to humiliate Myrna.

Much is made on the show of Myrna’s courage, her refusal to quit, her resilience, traits that, it is implied, are common to all little people, and yet at the same time they ridicule her, they portray her as a squatty little bitch, a creature of low-comedy, the dwarf you’d love to toss. I have no particular problem with this. Most humor is mean-spirited, especially that aimed at groundlings, and America has become a nation of groundlings, a nation proud of its groundling status, aggressively ordinary and anti-intellectual. I admit that I laughed watching Myrna—I’m thoroughly middle class and not at all interested in establishing PC credentials—and I imagine a lot of little people laughed as well, though I’m certain some did not. What galls me about the Amazing Race and shows like it is their hypocrisy in presenting material that is clearly racist or sexist or size-ist under a PC banner…but that’s one of the perils of PC. It’s a lip-service kind of thing that can provide a shield for prejudice. Like an old Detroit friend of mine said, “Screw a buncha PC bullshit! Ain’t nothing going to change here ‘til we start talking about what’s real…and that’s gonna happen! Yeah, right!”
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PM
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 08:04 am:   

Thankfully I spare myself watching this...

I wouldn't deny the existence of hypocrisy. Folk saying the right thing but not believing it or living it.

It's a step forward to at least insist that folk say the right thing and hopefully over time this changes behavior.

For example, let's take the statement: "All Mexicans are lazy". As long as this is tolerable then folk will continue to influence others by saying it. For example, parents teaching their children, friends influencing other friends, schools, the press, etc.

When it is agreed that this statement is intolerable it doesn't automatically create assent. It begins a process. A process that takes time especially for those who refuse to abandon the position that all Mexicans are lazy.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 08:09 am:   

"It's a step forward to at least insist that folk say the right thing and hopefully over time this changes behavior."

I think it's bullshit. The point of the post is that it doesn't change things, it merely hides prejudice.
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PM
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 08:19 am:   

Well it doesn't change things when folk refuse to change their attitudes.

But giving the green light to folk saying, "All Mexicans are lazy" is just going to continue the process of inculcating that position.

It is a battle.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 08:23 am:   

We must agree to disagree...
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PM
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 08:28 am:   

Is your position then that we shouldn't object if folk go around and say, "All Mexicans are lazy"?

I'm using a concrete statement because prejudice is too big to talk about.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 08:38 am:   

people saying what they really think is always prefeable to the obverse. If we don't like it, we should say what we think. But this whole PC bit has given everyone an out.
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PM
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 08:51 am:   

I mostly agree with folk saying what they really think.

But folk have and continue to advance themselves by professing statements or joining causes/organizations without being true believers.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 08:56 am:   

That's my point. Nothing's changed by lip-servce.
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 09:09 am:   

I don't really think people should say what they really think actually. Let them keep it to themselves. People express themselves far too much as it is.

In Europe for example, people are much more likely to say what they think.

I have had to sit and listen on several occassions to people telling me just why it is that they think Jews love money.

These conversations end up making me sick to my stomach, angry - and very near to physical violence. I would prefer that they just kept it to themselves.

Of course it would be better if they were more enlightened. But they aren't, and so the next best thing is silence.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 09:14 am:   

well, at least you know where you are with them, right?
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 09:18 am:   

Yes, that is true. But I more or less assume that they are that way anyhow unless I hear the contrary. This is after all Europe, where racism is the norm.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 09:24 am:   

Y'see, over here we pretend it's not. And that's why I reacted.
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Dave G.
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 09:29 am:   

It's easier to fight prejudice when you can see it.

My experience has been that PC is very rarely about encouraging true diversity and quite often about advancing ignoble agendas.

I'll never forget my college experience (right around the dawn of PC) with a faculty administrator who was intent on taking away our radio station's independent status and giving it to the Communications Department. She seized upon a dj's playing of Robert Ashley's "Purposeful Lady, Slow Afternoon," a spoken word piece in which a woman describes a sexual assault (very powerful btw) as evidence that we were "not sufficiently sensitive to feminist attitudes" and rationale for placing a faculty advisor on our board of directors. She was so far off base it was ridiculous and couldn't have given a damn.

Show me something that claims a PC goal (ie, sponsoring a game show that exposes "diverse" teams to a multitude of cultures) and I will show you someone trying to sneak something contemptible (ie, ridicule of the disabled) past an ever-more gullible public.

Just consider the racially-divided "Survivor" teams, justified on the grounds of diversity; or the Pussycat Dolls' "Search For the Next Doll" series, justified on the grounds of "female empowerment" and you'll see what I mean. Pure race-baiting and tits-n-ass, respectively.
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 09:37 am:   

Being PC for PCs sake is not cool, I agree. But the alternative is often worse. The alternative is, essentially, neo-nazism, and other similar things. If the US did not have this PC thing going on, I have but little doubt that a many ethnic groups would simply be round up and shot.

Maybe that seems psychotically extreme, but I don't think I am that off base.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 09:43 am:   

What Dave said...

I don't know, Brendan. Neo-nazism has never gone over in this country, never taken a huge hold on the populace. That's one benefit of homegrown diversity. But I doubt PC has much to do with that.
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 09:48 am:   

Well, maybe that wouldn't be what it would be called. It would be called something else, like Patriotism, or Arizonans for Safe Borders, or Parents for Children. But the result would be the same. The ASB would go around shooting illegal imigrants, and after they have finished with them would start on the legal ones. Meanwhile the Patriots would quietly blow up mosques while the Parents for Children work on laws making all languages but Enlgish illegal under penalty of deportation and or sterilisation.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 09:57 am:   

We have those joints already -- we've always had them they just don't seem to get beyond a certain level of popularity.
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 10:04 am:   

That is where my PC theory comes in. I think that it is because people are ashamed of saying what they think. If they weren't....
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 10:06 am:   

But I do also agree with you that the PC thing can be annoying. I was told by someone (white) that I should not use the word Black, but rather African-American. I still use the word black, as I don't think it is negative.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 10:16 am:   

I just don't believe that the shame attaching to prejudice was any different pre-PC. There were segregationists, true, but they are always visible in one way or another, and the silent racists were always silent. PC just gives them the opportunity to become pro-active in their silence, to claim an egalitarian stance. Generally speaking, of course.
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 10:22 am:   

Hmmm. Ok, well, that could be. But lets say the situation were the opposite, and people were promoted to express their prejudices. What would happen?
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 10:48 am:   

I don't know, but that's not my point. Most people are prejudiced to some degree, and what PC does is give them an easy out, a means of persuading themselves that they're not prejudiced, and so they continue on in ignorance of their natures. As long people aren't honest with themselves, there can never be human progress as regards race. It's that, the hiding from oneself, that's the real problem. PC just muddies the waters a little more. I doubt anything will ever change in this regard, but PC is an obscurant mechanism, one of many, that enables this kind of blindness.
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 11:46 am:   

Yeah, I am not sure on this one. I know what you are saying, and I definately agree to some extent. I am just not sure that I want to know what people honestly think, or feel. Because honesty can also turn into something that people hide behind:

"Yes, you're a dirty kike. I am sorry for hurting your feelings, but I have to be honest with you."

or:

"No, you can't have my phone number. I don't date Koreans. Don't feel bad though, I just don't find Asian men sexy."
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Dave G.
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 01:38 pm:   

I distrust PC because it is an outgrowth of the "hide it and maybe it will go away" culture.

Indie rock used to have a "mean people suck" code that forbade criticizing bands, but many of them stank, whether it was publicly stated or not.

Nowadays, major news organizations discussing hate crimes say "the N word," libraries pull Huck Finn from the shelves, and cities debate ordinances banning the forbidden word's utterance like that will keep people from thinking racist thoughts.

Calling French Fries "freedom fries" will shelter us from unpatriotic impulses.

And folks are so much more likely to respect an "African American" or a "little person" than a black or a midget!

I agree with Lucius that there are already groups spinning PC justifications for ignoble ends. Just read the Congressional Record. The Defense of Marriage Act is an attack on gay rights, the Patriot Act erodes civil liberties, etc. Here in Washington, we are past masters at this.

PC is offensive because it is about doing the easy thing (ie, erasing the outward manifestation of an anti-social impulse) in order to avoid doing the real work (changing attitudes). It's a cheat, and that's why it is fundamentally bullshit.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 01:55 pm:   

Again, you said it for me. You're so much more articulate than I today.... :-)
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 01:58 pm:   

I wonder if you'd mind posting that on my blog under the Anazing Racists item. I want to start a dialogue and no one's biting. Here's the url...

http://community.livejournal.com/theinferior4/
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Dave G.
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 02:35 pm:   

Done. May I inspire a thousand flames...
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 03:14 pm:   

:-)
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PM
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 03:23 pm:   

Dave, that's a rather interesting way to describe PC as conservatives have railed against PC for years.
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ben peek
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 04:39 pm:   

i love midgets.

anyhow, i'm not a fan of the PC stuff, cause it just leads to people faking it. but mostly, by having it, it means that you don't have to address the real problems that exist--that most racism is an ingrained social problem that exists on a number of levels. now, if i thought PC language did lead to respect and change, i'd be all for it--but as it is, in a white dominated society, it mainly works to subtly and continually ensure that the divide between white people and the 'other' continue to exist. after all, you only need to be PC when you're referring to someone not white and straight...
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 04:48 pm:   

How about dwarves?

I agree completely. I posted the first post on this thread and not surprisingly people didn't engage, Looks like I stepped on their PC...
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ben peek
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 05:01 pm:   

i'm kinda not into dwarves. they don't have that midget charm.

a lotta people are worried that any comment on race gets you branded a racist or redneck. me, i reckon it needs to be taken on--a good healthy world conversation about race is way better than PC generated silence.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 05:10 pm:   

Yeah. Right on. People are such fucks.
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PM
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 05:46 pm:   

Well, I don't use the term dwarf or midget but I also let the person(s) decide what's appropriate.

So if someone says, "I'm a dwarf" or "I'm a midget" and they're ok with those designations then I'm ok saying it to them.

And actually knowing folk that fall into this category it never comes up. Which is to say that I don't mock their size or call attention to it because it's just not an issue.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 05:51 pm:   

In this, you are our exemplar.
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PM
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 05:56 pm:   

Well, my experience is somewhat/mostly different from yours. I don't deal with hypocrites as much as actual folk who have varying levels of discomfort and sometimes hate toward others.

And they're verbalizing it. Or verbalizing enough of it so that there's no question where they're coming from.
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PM
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 05:56 pm:   

I'll let Simon Templar be the exemplar :-)
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 05:58 pm:   

I've avoided The Amazing Race (although I sometimes wonder if it's related to Lovecraft's "The Great Race").

While reading this, I was thinking a bit of the April Fool's rant I linked to on the hate thread, especially the line about how April Fool's Day disarms spontaneity by pretending to appreciate it. PC strikes me as being opposite...it pretends to disarm racism, but just pretends the problem doesn't exist. We've got too many things that pretend to honor or appreciate things, but do the opposite.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 05:59 pm:   

Kill em all, I say, and let then lie on the city streets til their stench offends God in his heaven...

Or we can do it your way. ;)
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Dave G.
Posted on Wednesday, April 04, 2007 - 07:30 am:   

Our goal should be a world where nobody thinks "nigra". PC is content with a world where nobody says "nigra." Half-stepping.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, April 04, 2007 - 07:38 am:   

My parents were 48 when I was born, and they were born in another world...where nigra was a polite term among southern gentry, But yeah...

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