PC attitudes

Topics: FreeSpeech
13 Apr 1993

From: ervan

> [ I abanonded PC today. ]

Glad to hear it. Was this the loose brick that brought the whole edifice down
or do you merely think that it sometimes goes too far?

> [ some PC friends did not want to play John Lennon's "Imagine"
> because others might be offended. ]

People should get upset by it; that's why it's a good song. My
approach to the matter is that no one has a `right' to be free of
offense. If I had that right, a lot of things would have to go,
like all copies of the Communist Manifesto ;-) But seriously,
that's the problem. Any such notion of a right is instantly
unrealizable because it presumes X can control Z and Y can control
Z in a different way.

Any such restriction is prima facie censorship when applied
at large (e.g. across campus and not just in someone's office). It
stifles the transmission of real information; even unpleasant
information has its place. I find it completely bizarre that PC'ers
believe making 'nigger' an illegal word keeps people from thinking it
or having the same reactions. Beyond the purely prejudicial terms,
things like 'differently-abled' deliberately obscure the reality of the
situation. Somehow we slip from not being able to hurt someone's
feelings to not even being able to discuss the situation. I don't
mean to say that we should run around babbling whatever we perceive
as truth, regardless of how it might hurt someone's feelings. But,
removing certain words or ideas from discourse altogether does no
one a service.

On a related topic, I saw a piece on PBS last night about genetic
testing of fetuses. Some woman in the German Green party was opposed
because it constituted de facto discrimination against the handicapped
by admitting that there was something wrong with being handicapped!
Well, there is. And, we should be able to discuss it.

Rob mentioned the other day how some of the fat people at his office
felt harassed all of the time by society. Well, of course, they are.
They should be. I know that some people cannot help it. Most can.
Society's disapproval is the message they should strengthen their
resolve to eat less. What would the PC'ers have us do? Not use the
word 'fat'? What do doctors do when discussing the term clinically?
This is not a trivial dilemma to solve. Are we also supposed to stop
seeing fat people as inferior in any regard? The problem is it's just
not true. They are less able to do many things and more prone to
health problems. Regardless of how we might like to paper over the
fact, they are also less desirable as lovers. Refusing to admit it
won't change the situation. Better that the bad news be available.

All people are not equal. This is not to say that any two people exist
in a clear inferior/superior reltionship. Maybe this is the key,
similar to deconstructionism, recognizing that there are no absolute
scales by which to judge people, or history, or truth, does not then
mean that all are equally good, correct, or valid.

I get grand amusement out of the numerous hypocritical homophobes
in the military who are upset that gays might be permitted openly. The
same (by and large) men who never gave a second thought about making
explicit passes towards or remarks about women are suddenly wanting
to preserve their 'right' not to be offended by a gay man making a pass.
Ha ha! They never had such a right in the first place. Even if they
did, they surely relinquished it when they joined the military.

> [ And the PC movement is in Berkeley, of all places. ]

It is ironic that Berkeley, the home of the `free speech' movement,
is now out front with censorship.

As usual, I've gotten on my soap box and babbled. Feel free to
disagree or ignore it as you see fit. I don't mean to be so hostile
as I sound.