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Author Topic: Political Correctness=Manners 2.0
Cytania
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Billy Connelly claimed political correctness is 'the language of cowardice' and he's correct. Like modern manners PC tries to minimise potential offense by substituting words. So instead of saying 'Oi! stop shoving in front of me!' we use 'Excuse me, there is a queue you know' which is less likely to get a smack in the mouth. Cowardice yes, but vital for negotiating modern urban life without constantly having to defend oneself.

Likewise when people find themselves in a relaxed and informal setting political correctness and manners are dispensed with. We understand that a stand-up comedy club routine will break societal taboos in a way that won't happen in a court room.

Like manners political correctness is imposed most by the middle classes and resented most by blue collars. Manners simply have a longer history and are more deeply ingrained in societal norms.

Everyone seems to have a laughable tale to tell of 'political correctness gone mad' (most are little more than urban myths but that's not the point) and this echoes previous grandfather's generation laughing at la-de-da, oity-toity, high-falutin gentleman speak.

Already we have included much of PC into everyday behaviour; terms of racial abuse common to past generations are now the new taboo swearwords. All that is left is the whining of white anglo-saxon protestant types that they are having to bite-down more than minority groups, and in the end nobody likes a whiner...

[ April 04, 2006, 09:52 AM: Message edited by: Cytania ]

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SwampJedi
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I find it ironic that you denounce terms of racial abuse, and call white men (not some, but all) whiners.
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Funean
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I think the comparison between "PC" speech and manners is more than valid. At its most innocuous, PC speech is simply an awareness of nuance, connotation and history as manifested in language, and a sensitivity to the varying perspectives of others. At its best it helps us to learn how to see those other perspectives. At its worst, it is like the Duchess who crushed a valuable teacup to make the guest who broke one accidentally "feel better"--like manners, excessive rectitude has its own capacity for destruction.
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Cytania
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Hi SJ, well I didn't mention men in particular and I did also spin in a religious slant but white-anglo-saxon-protestant or WASP is a pretty common acronymic wording. You shouldn't confuse any discussion of race, culture or ethnicity using basic terms like black, white, latino, serbian etc with actual abuse terms (new or old) but in particular I think rightwingers like Hannity and O'Reilly run with the 'hey look how correct I have to be - you minorities got it easy' ball in a pitiful way.

So there, you're only a whiner if you're whining! ;-)

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Adjudicator
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I wonder if it is acceptable to slander shamanistic blacks in africa or Budhists in asia.

As Cytania demonstrated so well, political correctness has nothing at all to do with politeness and manners, and much more to do with shifting the acceptable target of bile from the traditional ones to a new set.

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Kit
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The big difference that I see off the top of my head is that manners are the same for everyone and are designed to smooth friction between people as individuals (please, thank you, excuse me, sir, ma'am, etc). PC on the other hand depends on who you are talking to and is designed to smooth friction between people as members of a group (differently-abled, african-american, vertically-chalanged, etc).
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Cytania
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Thanks Funean, you took my point the way I intended. I love the Duchess's teacup analogy too.

To answer Adjudicator, you can certainly knock shamanism, it's a cultural belief one opts into (often through dire rituals) whereas being black is a skin pigment you are born with. Part of PC is recognizing there are groups you opt into and groups other people rudely assign you to whether you like it or not.

It would seem ridiculous if some bar-room bore pronounced 'Typical Ohio! You're all the same. Anyone from Ohio is stupid, arrogant and mean'. You then reply that although you were born in Ohio you were raised and have lived your whole life in New York; 'Makes no matter, you're still Ohio trash to me'! [Razz]

PS. Ohio people are fine upstanding folk. That was an example.

[ April 04, 2006, 10:47 AM: Message edited by: Cytania ]

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Koner
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There are manners and there is political correctness, the two are not the same. Its fine to go through life with the desire to not want to offend anyone by inadvertantly making comments or statements that might raise thier ire. But it can, and is often taken to great extremes.

In an effort to help everyone "get along" better, my former commanding officer who happened to be black, I'm sorry I mean African-American held a "sensativity" training session for all hands. We were all gathered together into the command conference room at which point our CO explained why there is a difference between being referred to as black, or African-American. She then went around the table and asked each of the black/African-Americans (they made up 50% of the command personnel) which they preferred to be called. Two preferred to be referred to as "black" and two preferred to be referred to as "African-American". Not honestly understanding exactly why we were having this training I at one point raised my hand and asked "Is it ok if I just refer to EVERYONE as either Shipmate or Sailor, or by their rank". I then explained that I don't care whether someone is black, African-American, White, Caucasion, Asian-American or pink with yellow and purple poka-dots. I don't think in terms like that. I think in terms of "blueshirt", "Kahki", "Good Sailor", "Bad Sailor", "dirtbag", and "hot-runner". To me people are people.

I was later called into the CO's office and verbally reprimanded because I was being "insensative to the needs of the minority members of the command". It even reflected negatively on my annual evaluation later on. In my opinion I was not being insensative to anyones needs, but that my CO was being OVERSENSATIVE to her own needs.

This by the way is the same woman who took myself and two othe members of the command to the bank who she was trying to get a mortgage through to show off the white guys who worked for her in theu hope that that would persuade them to overlook her poor credit. She had the mortgage officer at the bank in tears calling her a racist because the poor woman was doing her job by asking for documentation on negative credit reports before the bank would approve the mortgage.

The point I am trying to make is that political correctness is fine, so long as its not taken to extremes as it often is.

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Dave at Work
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I have often wondered what box an African who has not become a US citizen but is in the US for some reason checks for race. Does he check African American or Other? African American wouldn't be true and Black is no longer a choice. For that matter what does a naturalized US citizen from South Africa who happens to be white check, Caucasian or African American? Both are true, should he check both?

I'm just pointing out that a lot of the new labels that we have adopted in our rush to be PC can cause confusion in certain situations even if those situations are not common for most of us.

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Everard
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Yup, a lot of the PC labels we have adopted can cause confusion. And not everyone within a group, as Koner points out, wants to be referred to in the same way.

On the other hand, Funean that PC is essentially an attempt to deal with the fact that different groups of people have different connotations for the same word.

About a year ago, I stopped using the term "christian right" because I found out that certain christians on ornery were offended by the term. Its still an ACCURATE term to talk about a certain group of people... but there's no reason to use it, if by using it I can't communicate effectively, of if I will anger a group of people who might be listening. I could be a stubborn jerk and keep using the term, but why?

PC is basically that logic, on a larger scale. And I think its good logic. But ultimately, its logic based in psychological understanding and social interaction. And that lends PC to being confusing, frustrating, and abusable, at times.

Doesn't mean there's a problem with being politically correct. Means we have to recognize that, sometimes, what we think is politically correct might not be, or what we think is not politically correct might very well be correct.

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MattP
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I can't stand the "African American" thing. "Black" is no more racist or insensitive than "white" so why don't we ever hear "European American" used to describe caucasians? Even blacks/African Americans don't agree on which term to use. Who's idea was that anyway?
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SwampJedi
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Cytania, to my understanding you said "PC is how it should be and how it's going to be. We're all so enlightened, and anyone who disagrees is silly and self deluded. Those whiney white Christians need to get over it."
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A. Alzabo
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MattP:
quote:
I can't stand the "African American" thing. "Black" is no more racist or insensitive than "white" so why don't we ever hear "European American" used to describe caucasians?
Because for a long time "European American" and "American" perfectly mapped onto each other, and other groups were excluded. Even so, you'll still hear "Irish American" or "Italian American".

quote:
Even blacks/African Americans don't agree on which term to use. Who's idea was that anyway?
It was originally intended to be an inclusive term, emphasizing the "Americanness" of historically excluded Blacks while also emphasizing a common ethnicity (Yeah, "African" --centuries of slavery will do that) rather than skin color. I don't have a problem with either term.
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Naldiin
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Honestly, I have no problem with political correctness when political correctness means choosing your words carefully.

But all to often political correctness doesn't refer to termnology but ideology. That was the origin of the term, political correctness refering to the ideologies of the many 'communist' parties, who were constrained by their Moscow funding to toe the Soviet party line. Politically Correct was what Moscow thought.

And no, I'm not accusing anyone of being a communist.

I don't have a problem with 'African-American' or whatever new term you want. I have a problem with allowed and forbidden terms being used to frame debate in Orwellian fashion so that certain ideas cannot be expressed.

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Wayward Son
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quote:
Cytania, to my understanding you said "PC is how it should be and how it's going to be. We're all so enlightened, and anyone who disagrees is silly and self deluded. Those whiney white Christians need to get over it."
Considering that she equated PC with manners and politeness, why shouldn't she? Are you against manners and politeness?
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MattP
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My problem is that once there was a universal term that I could use without fear of offense. Sure, some people did not like term, but no one could correct me for saying it or be indignant at it's use.

Now, if you have to worry about whether you're being offensive when you call an African American "black" or when you refer to a black person as an "African American."

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Funean
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Koner, sounds like your CO was a bit of a nutbag with a personal axe to grind that she wrapped up in racial issues.

She grossly mishandled that "sensitivity training," to begin with, and inappropriately reprimanded you IMO.

That's just managerial incompetence using political rectitude as its bludgeon, not an indictment of the recommendation to use neutral or inoffensive language---which lesson you seemed to have already understood going in.

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Daruma28
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Their is a world of difference between political correctness and manners.

Manners are the common socially agreed upon functions of interaction that signify that a person who abides by them considers him or herself a member of polite society.


Political correctness is the deliberate denial of uncomfortable truths so that it's adherents can feel like they are intellectually and morally superior to their "racist" or "bigoted" or "homophobic" fellow citizens.

About the worst example I can think of when it comes to PC being harmful was the whole Muhammed/Malvo DC Snipers in 2002.

Though eye witnesses told the police that the two suspects they sought were black, Mr. Politically Correct police chief Charles Moose refused to release any public descriptions of the suspects for "fear of black persecution." So Muhammed and Malvo continued their killing spree while Moose held press conferences showing sketches of a van and talking about how the typical FBI profile of serial killers were single white males.

Political Correctness is willful stupidity to conform to some kind of high minded ideal that does not comport with reality.

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Wayward Son
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quote:
Political Correctness is willful stupidity to conform to some kind of high minded ideal that does not comport with reality.
But isn't Political Correctness also using terms like "African American" instead of "black?" Why would you use the same term for these two different things?
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Daruma28
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No, speech codes are merely one aspect of political correctness.

When it comes to referring to someone in a personal situation, I default to manners...i.e. what the person would prefer to be called.

But if I had to file a police report on a suspect in a crime, I would use the term "black" because one cannot know for sure whether or not the person was American or some other nationality.

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cperry
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
I can't stand the "African American" thing. "Black" is no more racist or insensitive than "white" so why don't we ever hear "European American" used to describe caucasians? Even blacks/African Americans don't agree on which term to use. Who's idea was that anyway?

Actually, I was just in a seminar in which the terms "African American" and "European American" were used to describe people, respectively, with dark and light skin. I was not offended, but I was definitely put off by the EA handle, as I don't consider myself European at all, even though I do know that I have ancestry -- way back -- in Europe.

As others have mentioned, that's a problem with these PC labels: they can lead to some really inappropriate other terminology simply by the natural tendency toward parallelism.

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Daruma28
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Here's a humorous anecdote about political correctness from NRO editor, Jay Nordlinger:

quote:
one of my favorite moments in life. It occurred in 2002, during the Salt Lake City Olympics. (These were Winter Olympics, of course.) An American woman won a gold medal in the bobsled, and she was the first black woman to win a gold medal in the Winter Games. But the TV network — NBC — had no way of expressing that: because they can't say "black," or think they can't say "black." They have to say "African-American." So they had no way of telling people that this dear girl was the first black woman ever to win a gold medal in the Winter Olympics.

The announcers were reduced to saying, "She's the first African-American woman from any country to win a gold medal"!

lol
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cperry
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I don't know if this belongs here, but I've noted the interesting tendency for language changes to move from acceptable to unacceptable. For instance, it was once permissable to say "retarded," and that term was used to cover several disabilities. Then "handicapped" became the PC term, and "retarded" and its derivations became put-downs. Now "handicapped" is wrong; instead, we should use "disabled," preferably with the appropriate adjective. However, I've already heard kids using "disabled" as a put-down. THis also happened with "queer" and "gay." I know that "colored" was typical for some time, in place of Negro or it's offensive cousin. I don't think, though, that "colored" ever became a put-down; it just fell out of favor.
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LoverOfJoy
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This thread is interesting in light of my current situation. We have a 4 year old foster son (soon to be adopted son) who is black/african-american. He refers to his birth parents as his "dark mom" and "dark dad" and his old home as his "dark house". This isn't something we suggested. It's just how his mind made sense of it. I don't even know if he's referring to them that way because of the color of their skin or because it was dark at his "dark house" and those were his parents there.

We haven't bothered to correct him. Should we? At what point, if any, should we teach him to use "black" or "african-american"? He's learning his colors (he's a bit behind, developmentally, although he's learning fast) and he describes his skin as brown. My skin color is confusing to him. It's not quite white. It's not really yellow or pink and those are the "lighter" colors he knows.

He doesn't ever intend to offend. He just describes people as he sees them with the best vocabulary he knows. We've had to gently guide him to more polite words when he describes someone as a big fat guy although it feels weird correcting him when he talks about how he loves his big fat grandma since it just makes her smile (perhaps it privately hurts her but I doubt it). I have an 8 year old step-son and we have been able to explain to him better why certain words might hurt people's feelings. Fat is easier to explain than dark or brown. Why would anyone consider that a bad thing? My 8yr-old has been excited to show off his little brother to his friends. I've heard him proudly say to friends, "This is my brother. He's black!" I've privately told him he shouldn't introduce his brother that way. The color of people's skin shouldn't be their defining characteristic. Should I have publicly corrected him? On the one hand, it might have taught his friend and the little brother correct manners instead of just my older son. On the other hand, it may have resulted in more hurt feelings and it may have made the younger son become hyper-sensitive to something that didn't seem to bother him in the slightest (although, I'm a bit surprised he didn't correct him by saying he's brown). Later, my 8 year old said he wished he was black. When asked why he said that it was cool. When I probed further he gave two additional explanations. He said blacks used to be slaves and not many people here are black so people notice you more. It was interesting to hear this young child's take on it.

About every month or two I take my family down to Salt Lake City to visit my best friend and his wife. He happens to be black (his preferred term). I had mentioned by email that we had a foster son now but I failed to mention that he was black. When we arrived I could see a look of surprise on my friend's face when he saw that our foster son was black. Should I have told him first? I just didn't think of it. I guess I'm a bit like Koner in that it's not really how I think of him all the time.

I guess if I was asked to describe him over the phone I would probably include a physical description and mention he is black but in my email I was very brief and didn't give much description at all. I think I said something like, "we are currently caring for a 3 year old foster boy." His gender and age at the time seemed to be the most important characteristics and I didn't bother to go further than that. Yet, I found myself a bit embarrassed that I didn't tell my black friend that my foster son was black. In this case, I felt like political correctness did more harm to me than good. It got me worrying about something that shouldn't have mattered. It's not like my friend was actually offended or hurt. If anything he might have thought I was TRYING to be politically correct by not making race an issue. I don't know. But I found myself worrying about something that all past experience with my friend suggested I shouldn't worry about. The only thing that taught me I should worry about it is the cultural political correctness. Political correctness, for right or wrong, taught me to be hypervigilant on anything to do with race. Should the term black or african american be used? I don't know, so whatever you say, say it hesitantly and be quick to change how you say it in case this particular person gives any hint that they prefer the other way. Maybe in some cases that's a good thing and in other cases it's a bad thing.

I think ultimately good manners is about helping the people around you feel comfortable and welcome. I guess political correctness could be considered a subset of that but it feels a lot more ... codified? Sometimes that may be good. I guess if you're teaching it, there ought to be some method to the madness...some system. The problems come because not everyone is the same. Some people feel more comfortable and welcome with black than african american or short than "vertically challeged". For some things there may be no "correct" way so teaching some politically "correct" way may be counter-productive. Rather than worrying about what is correct in any given scenario, perhaps it is better to teach people to ask if they sense something might offend or tell if something is offensive to you.

In that sense I think political correctness is a bit of cowardice. Rather than force someone to build up the courage to politely ask, "hey, I prefer african-american" it tries to say there should be a rule for it so no one ever has to ask. The vast majority of people will change their wording if asked politely. If all americans had enough courage to ask politely and had enough courage to swallow their pride and change their language when asked then we could afford the flexibility that throwing away political correctness would give. One person likes black. One person likes african american. No biggie. We learn as we go and interact. If we just state things the best we know how and are brave that people will forgive us if we make a mistake and politely correct us then we may in the end help each other feel comfortable and welcome.

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LoverOfJoy
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quote:
Actually, I was just in a seminar in which the terms "African American" and "European American" were used to describe people, respectively, with dark and light skin. I was not offended, but I was definitely put off by the EA handle, as I don't consider myself European at all, even though I do know that I have ancestry -- way back -- in Europe.
If we go back far enough, don't most anthropologists agree that we are all of African ancestry? Aren't we all African-American? (at least those of us that are American)
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ngthagg
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The retarded/handicapped/disabled/challenged progression is an indication of where PC goes wrong, as I see it. They are all terms to describe a variety conditions, mental or physical. People have always mocked those who have a particular condition, and always will, because we will always have jerks (compassionately-challenged?) in our society. Whatever the PC term to describe these r/h/d/c people is, jerks will use it to mock.

There is reason to change our vocabulary, because a word like retarded has lost its original meaning to most people. However, if you call a mentally-challenged kid retarded because her growth is impaired by her disability, you are being accurate, not politically incorrect.

ngthagg

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Richard Dey
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Sorry, this was a sore spot and provoked an essay. You guys can skip it, but I had an urge to cash in my free speech.

I think in terms of "blueshirt", "Kahki", "Good Sailor", "Bad Sailor", "dirtbag", and "hot-runner". To me people are people. [Big Grin]

I'm not calling attention to the dysjuncture, Koner! I'm actually agreeing with it. A swabby is a swabby, a garbage man is rarely a woman and, indeed, as rarely a sanitary engineer. But turning people into acronyms or alphaphonics (which lead inevitably to a great deal of phoneyness) isn't always communicative either! I may look like a WASP but I'm not a Protestant.

I'm sure there are innumerable purveyors of societal neologisms who do honestly seek social justice and peace in our times, but it would be naif to suggest that any such moralistic objectives were in the minds of those responsible for the current wave of propriety.

The present wordsmiths with the magic wands are majorally former left-wingers trying to imitate Cytania's middle-class handwringers of yore. It's one of Bernays' marketing strategies, its called appellation: the seller imposes an unaffordable identity onto to somebody so they'll buy something on credit. The neologists are the same people. They're in marketing of one form or another, many of them in textbook marketing.

By calling a garbage man a sanitary engineer, he comes to trust you and vote your way. It's manipulative.

The garbage man today is not the garbage man of yesterday but that doesn't require anybody to call him Your Grace or Herr Dr Prof Sanitary Engineer Sir! Who doesn't know that the garbage man now has hazmat training, watches Antiques Roadshow, and has taken courses in hydraulics and in waste-disposal law (not enough of which is consigned thereto). And he's compensated for that because it is in the best interests of the public to have garbage men (and garbage ladies) who take their jobs seriously.

And who doesn't rank the garbage man head and shoulders above the sanitary engineer, the contractor CEO, and the union boss? The taxpayer knows who costs him money and who it is who saves him money.

We ought to note that those (mostly women, btw) who created what is rightly derided as political correctness never did get around to denouncing Marxist terms of social hierarchy -- which were clearly intended to praise some and damn others. Cytania is right to suggest to me that the purveyors of political propriety are the formerly helpless poor imitating the busy-body middle-class [Wink] and they wouldn't give up their rank in society for all the money in the world!

Changing the term secretary to executive assistant merely turned them into exec asses in the want ads. When men defined secretary, it was an honorable profession which might mean a file clerk or a company officer. When we suddenly called Mr Smith Frank and Miss Jones Janice, we didn't democratize the office, as I've said a thousand times; we made the inequalities more obvious.

It's the flag-waving problem, and our attempts to define patriotism.

Those who define words get to define what is said and what is said defines the world. PC not only "keeps the peace" for the non with nonce, but actually provokes violence for the simple reason that, while it makes some terms sacred, it makes others tabu. One example of many:

The Anglo-Portuguese detente dates back to the days of John of Gaunt. Both the Portagees and Yankees of New England are descended from him. Throughout this remarkable tale of trade, intermarriage, and friendship, which has extended to New England for more than 3-1/2 centuries, the English called them Portagees -- an intimate term suggesting common descent.

Suddenly, Portagee is an offensive term (1977-) at Houghton-Mifflin. "The Portuguese" are suddenly defined as "a minority", previously defined several times as "an oppressed minority". The younger generation of "Portuguese" suddenly get thin-skinned, and violence inevitably broke out in the 1990s due entirely to meddling busy-bodies in Cambridge.

It wasn't Portagees and Yankees who were "insensitive" to each other; it was the PPPs = the self-selected Purveyors of Political Propriety. The social engineers. They invented a "racial" confrontation out of whole cloth. See The Perfect Storm. It wasn't there.

The Novanglo-Portagee problem was invented by meddling maenads who insisted upon being called "textbook editors". I met them. They should have left well enough alone. What ...? Is some "Portuguese-American" in Dismal Seepage Arkansas or Willywaw Washington going to take offense?

Whatever names we give PC, it is just more propriety -- and propriety is by both nature and intent shockingly ignorant of the people that they themselves are labeling, as oppressive as Victorian corsets, and prepared to be as vicious as Hollywood scandal mongers to enforce their superior normative functions on society.

And who leaps on the PPP bandwagon? The self-righteous right that controls the Texas Book Depositories -- you know, the guys who didn't want to give up the word Negro once they'd strained their brains to learn it ...?

I reviewed a woman's lecture recently (which was excellent) but she referred to 'whites' and 'African Americans' in the same speech; I didn't hesitate to call her up on it. If one is distinguishing between blacks from whites, one does not use the terms white and African American in the same speech. No leveling of the playing field occurs when Caucasians are capitalized and blacks are not.

I think the blacks (and I would agree with Shelby Steele on this) made a mistake playing the word game, and I think the fags, contrary to Warren Blumenfeld, did it right. Rather than fumbling around for a euphemism for the truth, they decided to reclaim the truth.

It wasn't fags who insisted upon the disuse of the term fag, it wasn't it's victims; it was the peddlars of political propriety. And now the fags are dragging the PPPs through their own muck. You don't mess with the fags and their sense of themselves -- and come out looking proprietous.

The peddlars of propriety couldn't resist making propriety a necessity, a requirement, and, now, the law; the temptation to dictate, especially having been 'secretaries' as these princesses of propriety had been at Houghton-Mifflin, is irresistable. And that was their mistake, for they revealed themselves to be less than appropriate and merely appropriators of other people's culture.

As one Italo-American comic noted, "These PeeCees are tryin' t' put me outta business! I can't call me-self no guinea-wop nomore!" That wouldn't amuse us, but the Italo-American audience at the Comedy Club in East Providence found that extremely funny.

I would suggest that purveyors of propriety are less concerned about confronting a disagreeable shopping environment or less-confrontational highway than they are about enforcing their way of life on everybody else whether anybody likes it or not. As a bicyclist, I can assure you that PeeCees are amongst the most-aggressive drivers on the road -- with improprietous speech to match. They are hypocrites -- and PPP is yet another scam of self-indulgence our nation can't afford.

Our social scientists really don't have anything of importance to say -- so they wind up telling others what to say.

Is it any coincidence that Emily Post and Miss Manners never had real jobs? I'll take my speaking orders from Miss Behavior, thank you very much (a little nod to our polite Canadian cousins). At least Miss Spoken has a sense of humor about interpersonal relations and doesn't use a cooky cutter to turn us into paper dolls.

Did we not learn anything from Margaret Mitchell and her Gone with the Wind? Men right off the bloodiest battlefields in our history are expected to sit up straight, shake out their lily-white napkins, and place them discreetly upon our erections -- for the sake of propriety [Confused] . Did only the fags of our society get the joke about the ball gown made from a window drape?

I paraphrase Oscar Wilde, because he loathed propriety for its inherent hypocrisy, and would have creamed these manipulative do-goods for a souffle: it is fully appropriate to disguise the ugly, but it is always inappropriate to disguise the truth.

And the truth of the matter is that we have no Accademie Anglais to define our language -- and we won't have one because we don't want one and we don't want one because we don't need one. We will define ourselves as we see fit because we have the right to define ourselves. We have the right of free speech.

It is one thing to call somebody's attention to his impropriety, but to make our propriety law by taking his right of free speech away from him is something we ought to be discussing with the ex-Marxists. They, presumbably, have learnt their lesson on this issue.

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Koner
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quote:
I don't think in terms like that. I think in terms of "blueshirt", "Kahki", "Good Sailor", "Bad Sailor", "dirtbag", and "hot-runner". To me people are people.
I would just like to point out that in the context of the training I was in at the time those terms that I used all made sense. They are all terms that sailors use to describe other sailors regardless of the color of their skin. Their are others. Bubblehead, buttsnorkler, nuke, coner, tin can sailor, airdale, man there is a long list of names for different groups of sailors within the navy. LOL

I guess my point was that I tend to think of people in the context of what they do and how they do it rather than what they look like. A black/African American E-6 or below sailor is as much a "blueshirt" as a white/caucasion or asian sailor is. To me a sailor is a sailor is a sailor. And that was what I was attempting to impress upon my Commanding Officer who was making such a big deal about whether certain sailors should be referred to as black or as African-American.

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Fel2.0
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I was a resident adviser while in college and we were forced to attend the "Cross Cultural Retreat". It was quite eye opening. We were split into our "racial" categories. We got to watch a Cherokee woman burst into tears because she was the only American Indian. She attempted to join the Asian group but they wouldn't let here get near them (we let her into the white group). Then you had the African American/Black group get upset because a guy there was in the Latino group. He had to get up and explain to everyone that he was Dominican and felt he belonged in that group. Then there was a girl who protested being in the Latino group because she was Panamanian and didn't like the way the Mexicans always dominated Latino groups. Then several members of the Asian group made derogatory remarks to members of the mixed race group. Then the Asian group got into a debate about whether the Pacific Islanders should have their own group.

And, Cyntania - replace your white anglo saxon protestant comment with black and tell me that it isn't racist.

Being PC as far as not using terms that are offensive (although as demonstrated offense is hard to define) is fine. However, when it is used to divide people against each other or to prevent the telling of TRUTH (like the way the BBC won't call the Tube attacks "terrorist") it just gets in the way.

Also, realize that many use PC defined groups as a way to enhance their power (leaders of the X community....)

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SwampJedi
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quote:
Originally posted by Wayward Son:
Considering that she equated PC with manners and politeness, why shouldn't she? Are you against manners and politeness?

No, and that's a pretty large leap. I would say that PC and manners intersect, but one isn't contained in the other. I think that to say they are equal is to leave out a good piece of the manners set.

My policy is to call people what they're comfortable with, within reason. No "supreme masters" or any such nonsense. I am not a fan of hyphenated Americans, but I'll use the term if the situation calls for it. In the end, though, I'd rather not mention race at all. It just doesn't matter.

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Haggis
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I wish the term "politically correct" never came into the language. I still cannot figure how it is better than "politeness", except for bludgeoning people over the head with it when they turn an "incorrect" phrase. Plus, it has a somewhat Orwellian quality to it.

The people that bug me the most are the ones that go ape-sh!t when someone uses and "incorrect" term. When I was in college, I was in an RA Sensitivity inservice and one of the people speaking was in a wheelchair. One of the other RA's made the mistake of saying "wheelchair bound". Oops. The person in the wheelchair yelled at her "I AM NOT WHEELCHAIR BOUND! I AM A WHEELCHAIR USER!" To which I replied (on mic) "Does this mean I get to be a gravity user?" Needless to say I got into some trouble.

I don't mind when people tell me they would rather be called a "wheelchair user" than "wheelchair bound". I do mind when they are a-holes about it. It makes me want to call them "gimps" and everyone else in a wheelchair a "wheelchair user".

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flydye45
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After I scrolled over 6 inches of posting, I didn't even need to see the name to know Richard was back [Big Grin]
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javelin
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quote:
I don't mind when people tell me they would rather be called a "wheelchair user" than "wheelchair bound". I do mind when they are a-holes about it. It makes me want to call them "gimps" and everyone else in a wheelchair a "wheelchair user".
LOL
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Richard Dey
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Koner said:

"I guess my point was that I tend to think of people in the context of what they do and how they do it rather than what they look like."

Unless, of course, they look like their in a wheelchair tied to the mast.

We differentiate all the time, we discriminate all the time. We teach our children to differentiate between friends and to discriminate against strangers. My escutcheon is different from your escutcheon; we don't mate with our own escutcheon. It is necessary to survival to discriminate. There is no moral, no ethical harm in it per se.

The problem comes with enforcing discrimination by making discrimination illegal. It is a Catch 22 that only adds up to 21.

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Wayward Son
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Just for the fun of it...

The Wikipedia definition of Political Correctness.

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NobleHunter
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Richard, in one of his books L. E. Modesitt Jr, I think invents a quote regarding the demonization of the word discriminate as being the downfall of western civilization. I'd produce but I no longer have the book.

I think PC type awareness is necessary only in order to remove the language that is used to make people categories rather than persons; to make them lesser entities not worthy of equal rights. The rest is either manners or common decency.

Also, I think it's important to realize the different between a distinguishing characteristic and a defining one. Someone's skin colour necessarily distinguishes them from those of a different skin colour but does not define them.

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Kit
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NH,

I think that is the problem we see with many of the "PC run wild" situations. In many cases PC is intended to emphasize that something is distinguishing not defining. But the rigidity and emphasis on using the 'correct term' MAKES it a defining characteristic.

For instance, supoose I had a friend that I described as a tall, muscular, black engineer. If I was then corrected that he is an African-American then the corrector shows that skin color is a defining characteristic to them. Or at least it leans that way, because of the four things I mentioned that was the one that they focused on. That may not have been the correctors intention, but by being pedantic about it they have focused the issue on my friends skin color to the exclusion of his other attributes.

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Pete at Home
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Terms of racial abuse were frowned on long before the cultural left started working to gerrymander the language in its own favor.

But there is something to your analogy. Like other ethical systems, Manners systems are riddled with inconsistencies and self-serving hypocrisies. Just as courtly manners emphasized the rights of aristocrats over the rights of everyone else, PC "manners" emphasizes the rights of certain groups over others. It's OK to insult someone's religion, but not their sexual orientation. Certain ethnic stereotypes like cowboy and redneck are OK, while others are forbidden.

quote:
Originally posted by Cytania:
Billy Connelly claimed political correctness is 'the language of cowardice' and he's correct. Like modern manners PC tries to minimise potential offense by substituting words. So instead of saying 'Oi! stop shoving in front of me!' we use 'Excuse me, there is a queue you know' which is less likely to get a smack in the mouth. Cowardice yes, but vital for negotiating modern urban life without constantly having to defend oneself.

Likewise when people find themselves in a relaxed and informal setting political correctness and manners are dispensed with. We understand that a stand-up comedy club routine will break societal taboos in a way that won't happen in a court room.

Like manners political correctness is imposed most by the middle classes and resented most by blue collars. Manners simply have a longer history and are more deeply ingrained in societal norms.

Everyone seems to have a laughable tale to tell of 'political correctness gone mad' (most are little more than urban myths but that's not the point) and this echoes previous grandfather's generation laughing at la-de-da, oity-toity, high-falutin gentleman speak.

Already we have included much of PC into everyday behaviour; terms of racial abuse common to past generations are now the new taboo swearwords. All that is left is the whining of white anglo-saxon protestant types that they are having to bite-down more than minority groups, and in the end nobody likes a whiner...


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Pete at Home
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I love it when American PC-heads refer to black Jamaicans and black Nigerians as "African-American." Dude, they've never even been to America.

Good point on Discrimination, NobleHunter. Some Americans can't seem to discriminate between their [Confused] and their @

quote:
I think PC type awareness is necessary only in order to remove the language that is used to make people categories rather than persons; to make them lesser entities not worthy of equal rights. The rest is either manners or common decency.
I agree with removing gendered terms for power position, so I try to say Congress Rep rather than the more convenient Congressman. But when it comes to firemen and manhole covers, I don't think that preserving those terms turns women into lesser entities or persons not worthy of equal rights.

quote:
Also, I think it's important to realize the different between a distinguishing characteristic and a defining one. Someone's skin colour necessarily distinguishes them from those of a different skin colour but does not define them.
I agree, but that's where PCs have taken us in the absolute wrong direction. When you referred to a 5' black female, it was clear that you were speaking of her physical characteristics. But the PC terms "African-American" or worse, "Person of Color" are a transparent attempt to trap the person's whole identity into their skin color. PC language emphasizes division and definition along "racial" lines, and that is per se racist.

[ April 04, 2006, 06:07 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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Caliban
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Like the original poster I have also thought in terms of Political Correctness as just "being conscious of the impact of ideas and words for effective communication", very much akin to the polite morees we all use to smooth the interactions of our society.

I do not believe that the idea that these behaviours can also be used to purvey propriety in hypocritical and self congratulatory ways is an idictment of the behaviours themselves.

And in my mind the anecdotes of misuse and negligence in obfuscating the reality speak to the misuse and negligence. And the anecdotes of the violence or conflict that emerged could be interpreted as inadequate or misguided consciousness of the impact of words and language.

The parallelism presents a problem for me. As most people said, deferring to language that is comfortable for the individuals involved in private conversations is most appropriate. In unfamiliar or group or institutional contexts the goal of understanding the impact of language becomes much more complex in purely a numbers sense. It is easy to want to enforce parallel or symmetrical terms where that might not be the most effective. Alternately there is the idea of meaning migration discussed above since people seek terms that have only the meaning they want to convey and not nuances or connotations from the previous use of the word. And I think that migration on that basis only is undesirable.

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