Many years ago, when I was still a teenager, my mother gave me one of those funny key chains that featured a picture of a gorilla and the following text: “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.”
That message seems to encapsulate the rather recent drive to create a Utopian society by imposing a vernacular corralled by the concept of “political correctness.”
Of course, my mother was not always so jovial or light-hearted, especially when it comes to politics. In fact, my mom makes most progressives seem like Bush-appointed circuit court judges. She is an avid reader and a regular subscriber to Mother Jones. She was one of the first people in Maine to carry a Working Assets credit card. She read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee as a bedtime story to me and my sister.
Okay, I’m sort of kidding about that last part, but let’s just say that my mother pretty much defines the word, liberal. May God have mercy on her soul.
It is without question that my political opinions and rantings have caused my poor mother many a sleepless night, wondering exactly where she went wrong.
Here’s where my mom went wrong: She had the temerity to teach her children about critical thinking. She taught us to question authority, and she loves us so much that she allows us to have our own voices, not merely reflections of her own pinko-commie-subversive thought process.
My mother, like most mothers, also had a handful of favorite adages that she never hesitated to repeat;
- “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
- “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” And my favorite:
- “Don’t put that in your mouth!”
Brave New World
My mother also encouraged her children to read; and to read voraciously. Although I caused my mother consistent grief, sorrow and disappointment, I generally exceeded her ingrained expectations about reading. I recall a lengthy conversation we had over Kentucky Fried Chicken about George Orwell’s Animal Farm, a study of the good intentions and the eventual pitfalls associated with the Bolsheviks and the Russian Revolution in 1917.
All of this brings me to my point (finally) and an admission that this post was written as a lengthy response to my eldest niece, Bre Kidman, a law student and Loyola graduate. (Also a card-carrying pinko, feminazi who apparently lives in a world where every little girl receives a pink pony on their eighth birthday.)
Actually, Breanne is one of the smartest people I have stumbled across during my near half-century of wandering this planet. She’s also a gifted writer and has a sharp wit. In essence, I am intimidated about tackling her logic. Bre had a visceral reaction to one of my earlier blog posts: Talking in Your Sleep That post highlighted my contempt and loathing of the politically correct model. You can read the exchange that took place over the next three days by clicking on the comments link at the bottom of that page.
While I find “political correctness” to be a dangerous hybrid of processes envisioned years ago by George Orwell and Aldous Huxley, Breanne bases her rection on the false premise that being “politically correct” and being “polite” are essentially the same.
PC is just another way to be polite?
Breanne and I agree that people should strive to be polite, respectful and courteous. These are laudable goals and foster an ability to absorb differing perspectives and enrich our lives.
Surprisingly, especially considering that Breanne is such a strong “pro-choice” advocate, she fails to acknowledge that political correctness is too often imposed; while being polite is basically voluntary. Although I will concede that a failure to be polite has its consequences, those consequences are typically more severe when one fails to adhere to the dictates of our “newspeak.”
Breanne challenged me to provide tangible examples of when a political correctness failure has “bitten someone in the ass.” (My words, not hers)
Roll up your sleeves, Bre. It’s about to get tense. I will start with the words of a black woman. Note: I did not describe her as an African-American, but please hold your criticism until you finish reading her thoughts on the subject of political correctness and its unintended consequences
Yvette Carnell, a former Capitol Hill staffer and now a blogger, published a piece entitled Why is Pro-Black Being Attacked? The Unintended Consequence of Political Correctness.
Carnell wrote her piece in response to the uproar caused by the hiring of a white editor by the publishers of Essence Magazine, a publication specifically marketed toward black women.
An excerpt: The real cause of cognitive dissonance here is the political correctness which has returned to devour the very little angel faced darlings it was designed to protect. Political correctness was initiated in an effort to soften language and expressions which could be interpreted as offensive to disadvantaged communities.
So instead of ‘black’ or ‘colored’, those of African descent were assigned the glossier, new and improved, Negro 2.0 category of African-American, and so on. A new school of words were employed to shave the jagged edges of the language which had been blamed for causing much of the emotional angst observed in the black community.”
Another woman, BJ Gallagher, writing in the Huffington Post, offers some salient food for thought in her essay: The Problem With Political Correctness
Excerpt: I wonder, do the TV talking heads understand the true definition of the labels they hurl at public figures: “racist,” “sexist,” “bigoted,” or worse — based on nothing more than a comment taken out of context, someone’s clumsy attempt at humor, or a photo or image that’s the artistic expression of a creative person?
How many of us understand these definitions when we call someone a racist or sexist jerk? Jerk, perhaps… but racist or sexist? Perhaps… perhaps not. Do we really understand the seriousness of those labels? Or, are we simply indulging in destructive name-calling based on political correctness?
Damn, I love Google! Let’s keep going for just one more because who doesn’t love a Top-10 list? For example: this list from Jay Carlson and our friends at the ListServe blog ( 10 Ridiculous Cases of Political Correctness,) is chock full of juicy tidbits, such as an office worker who filed a complaint and was deeply offended about the words “master” and “slave” to describe computer files.
You get my point, and I am confident that you can use Google without my biased guidance. But before you blather on about mind-numbing topics like political correctness, please at least acknowledge that its consequences are real, if only to force us into uniform conformity, like cattle headed for the slaughter.
Final note: If you think there are no consequences for living in a world that has gone overboard with a zealous push for political correctness, you may want to have a chat with four former lacrosse players from Duke University or the now-disbarred District Attorney who rushed to prosecute them under the pressure of political correctness.
Be polite, and try to keep your feelings in check because they are not facts and they belong only to you.