Politically Correct

Wed 21 January 2009

This from a reader of a newsletter sent out by one of my publishers:

First, quit being political by having garbage like this:

In the spirit of new U.S. President Barack Obama's call for service 
in our communities, we offer up this e-mail from SPTechReport reader 
Ted Tyree:

I didn't vote for that moron and it lowers your credibility and 
questions your intelligence by including this kind of stuff.

Once upon a time when I was a magazine editor, we used the phrase "politically correct." A natural desire on the part of an editor is to avoid writing that unintentionally offends (when you offend, you want it to be intentional and precise). "PC" was used when writing sloppily or unknowingly promulgated racism or sexism. It was generally used with an ironic tone to acknowledge the arbitrariness of language and sensibilities -- "That's not PC! Rugs are 'Oriental,' people are 'Asian'" ? to which the appropriate response was "Thank you for raising my awareness.")

As is often case, the irony was lost on the feverishly sincere. On the Right, "PC" became an epithet that allowed one to pretend that offense was solely the responsibility of the listener, not something engendered by the speaker. On the Left, I think it's now universally acknowledged that the fear of offense has been counterproductive to effective dialogue (who am I, a white male, to offer a perspective on race or gender?).

Now, we get this, true "political correctness." True, it is a political statement ("of or relating to your views about social relationships involving authority or power") and I suppose that a thin-skinned \<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Objectivism_(Ayn_Rand)"" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Objectivist might find a "call for service in our communities" repellant, but I doubt that is what is at work with the letter-writer (anyone who labels Obama a "moron" fails the "grounded in reality" part of Randian philosophy).

Instead, we see exactly what both candidates in the last election decried; the knee-jerk reaction that anything "they" say is imbecilic and anything "we" say is self-evident and stirring. We have to move beyond that.

Especially because in this post-W age, a conservatism based on anti-intellectual ideology is a losing position for at least a generation.