What Does "Politically Correct" Mean?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by spidergoat, Jul 29, 2016.

  1. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    Is it important to be politically correct? Is it a scourge on society? What does it even mean anyway?
     
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  3. Daecon Kiwi fruit Valued Senior Member

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    I think it's about respect.
     
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  5. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Depends. Depending on your political orientation, it ranges from simple respect to a draconian societal meme intended to quash free speech.
     
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  7. mtf Banned Banned

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    It's certainly important to be able to correctly read various social discourses and to function in them; that's important for one's own wellbeing.

    Political correctness in its negative connotation is a symptom of a dysfunctional society. Merely changing the language away from political correctness (ie. speaking directly, openly, honestly) doesn't seem to suffice to undo that dysfunction.

    What exactly "political correctness" means seems to be hard to define.
     
  8. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    I believe the scourging and quashing came second.

    Political correctness was a term used for things one discovered had become societally unacceptable, but not entirely personally unacceptable.

    Physically disabled people were called "cripples" for a long time. Mentally disabled people were called "retards" for a long time.

    Society, with the help of a lot of education and championing, came to realize that these were labels that defined what people "are", rather than what they are afflicted with. A person is more than their disability.

    Some people understood that these terms were no longer in vogue, but resented the pressure to change what they thought was "always the way it was". They co-opted the term "Politically Correct" (invariably with the rolling of eyes) to say what was acceptable, though they didn't feel it.
     
  9. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    From my experience, politically correct roughly equals brain dead.
    (but, then again, to the best of my understanding, i ain't neither)
     
  10. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Hm.
    I infer from that that you apply it to people - a person is PC.
    I apply it to terms or ideas - an utterance is PC.
     
  11. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    But then, who utters the utterance?
    Must it not be a man?
    Man is the measure of all things.
    There are no absolute truths, only that which man deems to be true at the time of the utterance.

    One man's non pc utterance could be part of another man's joke.
     
  12. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    It doesn't make sense to me to call a "person" Politically Correct. Unless it is of the form "that person spouts political correctness all the time".

    But everyone has their prejudices to some moderate degree - even otherwise perfectly nice people. It's situational. One must judge the action, not the person.

    IMO. It has become a broad term, with many applications. This is just mine.
     
  13. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    OK
    I can buy that both ways.
     
  14. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Regardless of the history or background below, it's acquired a role at street level or everyday life. Traditional vulgarities and offenses have long since lost their shock-value due to overexposure. But fortunately "politically incorrect" expressions arrived in the nick of time to functionally replace them. The once prudish reactions and outraged responses reserved for the old stuff are now aroused by violations of the new standard for taboo. This is why various sports figures and entertainment celebrities (including Trump, of course) flirt with this kind of disaster to their careers. Whereas the reckless profanity of public figures in the 1950s made them appear rebellious and "sexy" then... Today it is their exercising of a new "foul mouth" deemed politically incorrect which strives to accomplish similar.

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    The origin of political correctness in the US was ironically an in-house "poking fun at" that later turned serious in one respect or another (depending on ideological POV).

    Amanda Hess: "Politically correct” was born as a lefty in-joke, an insidery nod to the smugness of holier-than-thou liberals. As Gloria Steinem put it: “ ‘Politically correct’ was invented by people in social-justice movements to make fun of ourselves.” In the ’80s, the Brown University student Jeff Shesol’s “Doonesbury”-esque campus comic strip, “Thatch,” introduced a cape-wearing vigilante called Politically Correct Person, who faced off against his archenemy, Insensitive Man. Shesol went on to serve as a speechwriter for Bill Clinton. But these wry liberals, smoking beneath the bleachers, unwittingly started a fire that engulfed the entire movement... --How Political Correctness Went From Punch Line To Panic

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    Usage in pre-1970s France.

    Michel Foucault: The French left has lived on the myth of a sacred ignorance. What changes is the idea that a political thought can be politically correct only if it is scientifically rigorous. And to that extent, I think all the effort that is being done in a group of communist intellectuals to reassess the concepts of Marx, finally to resume at the root, to analyze, to determine the use that we can and must do, it seems to me that all this effort is an effort both political and scientific. And the idea is to turn away from the policy of devoting themselves, as we do now, to strictly theoretical and speculative activities, I believe that this idea is completely false. This is not because we turn away from the policy we are dealing with theoretical problems so narrow and so meticulous, it is because we now realize that any form of political action can only articulate the most closely on a rigorous theoretical reflection. --"Foucault meets Sartre" (interview with J.P. Elkabach)

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    Origins in terms of bogeyman, conspiracy theory stuff -- the Frankfurt School.

    Bill Lind: In 1923 in Germany, a think-tank is established that takes on the role of translating Marxism from economic into cultural terms, that creates Political Correctness as we know it today, and essentially it has created the basis for it by the end of the 1930s. This comes about because the very wealthy young son of a millionaire German trader by the name of Felix Weil has become a Marxist and has lots of money to spend. He is disturbed by the divisions among the Marxists, so he sponsors something called the First Marxist Work Week, where he brings Lukacs and many of the key German thinkers together for a week, working on the differences of Marxism. [...] The stuff we’ve been hearing about this morning [...] all these things are branches of Critical Theory. What the Frankfurt School essentially does is draw on both Marx and Freud in the 1930s to create this theory called Critical Theory. The term is ingenious because you’re tempted to ask, “What is the theory?” The theory is to criticize. The theory is that the way to bring down Western culture and the capitalist order is not to lay down an alternative. They explicitly refuse to do that. They say it can’t be done, that we can’t imagine what a free society would look like (their definition of a free society). As long as we’re living under repression – the repression of a capitalistic economic order which creates (in their theory) the Freudian condition, the conditions that Freud describes in individuals of repression – we can’t even imagine it. What Critical Theory is about is simply criticizing. It calls for the most destructive criticism possible, in every possible way, designed to bring the current order down. [...] It is all coming from the 1930s, not the 1960s. --The Origins of Political Correctness

    Schiller Institute: Our universities, the cradle of our technological and intellectual future, have become overwhelmed by Comintern-style New Age "Political Correctness." With the collapse of the Soviet Union, our campuses now represent the largest concentration of Marxist dogma in the world. http://www.schillerinstitute.org/fid_91-96/921_frankfurt.html

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    The nature of contemporary complaints.

    Amanda Hess: But the new anti-P.C. isn’t so gloriously liberating as it purports to be. The right-wing verve for pointing out political correctness has emerged as its own form of speech policing. --How Political Correctness Went From Punch Line To Panic

    Ross Douthat: The critical response has ranged from the spluttering to the dismissive, with the latter being seemingly the sophisticated left-wing take: There is no such thing as political correctness, the term is just a tool used by privileged white men to marginalize the legitimate arguments of the less-privileged. Chait’s lament is the latest iteration in a long tradition of internet-era complaints from prominent columnists confronted with tough criticism from outside their comfort zone, except now the criticism making him uncomfortable is coming from Twitterers instead of netroots types, etc.

    Like Chait himself, who has a response to critics up today, I don’t think most of these rejoinders have exactly addressed the specific point he’s trying to make, let alone successfully defended the thing that he’s actually critiquing. He’s not really talking about left-wing rudeness, whether against his peers or against his own allegedly hyper-sensititive white male self. He’s talking about the particular tactic of trying to shut down debate outright on certain topics, using a mix of protest, harassment, “you don’t have standing to speak on this” identity politics (a tactic that some of his critics are basically just recapitulating) and strict taboo enforcement. As he put it in the essay, the thing he’s describing as “political correctness” is “a style of politics in which the more radical members of the left attempt to regulate political discourse by defining opposing views as bigoted and illegitimate. --Does political correctness work?
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2016
  15. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    "Politically correct" these days refers to an attached feeling of political coercion in ones choice of terminology or subject matter by the ostensible "left" or "liberal" as defined by Rush Limbaugh or Fox News. The personal feeling is what the term labels - no reality of coercion is necessary (although it may be present).

    "Politically correct" does not refer to the actual political coercion of one's choice of terminology or subject matter by the authoritarian Right as represented by the corporate ownership of the major US media. There is no term for that, and invention of one is de facto forbidden. Identification of such practices is termed "conspiracy theory".

    This holds only in the US. If you encounter an example of conflict over appropriate terminology and are unfamiliar with US political circumstances, the best and probably only reliable way to find out which position is the contemptible, fatuous, "politically correct" one is by asking an American.

    The Dixie Chicks, for example, were perpetrators of political correctness, not victims of it, because they were coerced from the Right. When all major newscasters were forbidden - on pain of their continued employment - to use the term "torture" when referring to what the W&C administration wanted them to term "enhanced interrogation", that was not political correctness because the coercion was not from the "left" or "liberals". Likewise when Bill Maher was fired from his media job for objecting to the use of the term "coward" for the 9/11 hijackers, it was Bill who was "politically correct", not the people who fired him for objecting to the politically approved words, because the coercion was from the Right. The public disparagement of Democratic Party politicians or officials for inadequate adornment of themselves with American Flag pins is not "political correctness" run amok, because it is from the Right. And so forth.
     
  16. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    The phrase 'politically correct' arose in the 1930's through the 1950's, when it referred to the line on various issues being put out by Stalinist Russia, that all Western lefties were pressured to adhere to (often by other Western lefties loyal to the CP).

    Today it basically means the line put out by left intellectuals and elite opinion leaders in the US and Europe, specifying how they believe the rest of us should conceptualize issues and events (sometimes creating new words and phrases for familiar things, 1984 style, hoping to endow the new words with new connotations and associations.). It tries to define what is important and what isn't about whatever happens and tries to establish what lessons the public should draw from (often highly revisionist) history. It's a whole set of rather tendentious assumptions imposed from above that are supposed to be accepted by every decent thinking person, and never questioned.

    In its way, it's nothing new. The church used to behave the same way in medieval and early modern times.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2016
  17. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Not to be confused with the line put out by the right intellectuals and elite opinion leaders, specifying how they believe the rest of us should conceptualize issues and events,

    who unlike the left have their own TV stations and secure, high paying jobs dominating the major media; and unlike the left, in the US most people actually hear and see them, or read their stuff.

    We need a word for that line. Here's an example of it, a description of an imaginary body of objectionable rhetoric that one is apparently supposed to react to as if it existed:
     
  18. mtf Banned Banned

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    Everyone in the position of power or striving for it does that.

    In my experience, this is more typical for the right-wing, though.

    And it still does. The church is usually associated with right-wing politics. In fact, in some religious circles, you aren't considered religious if you also aren't a supporter of right-wing politics. It's hard to be a Catholic in Europe if you aren't also a supporter of a right-wing party.
     
  19. mtf Banned Banned

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    Yes, so broad that it's confusing.
     
  20. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    That is a created, tactically useful, situation. Destruction of the terms of discourse favors those who wish to act in contravention of reason - and some of them know this.
     
  21. mtf Banned Banned

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    Not sure what you mean.
    It's evident that different people have different ideas about what this or that word means. From then on follow arguments from power.

     
  22. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    And that is not an accident, but rather a consequence of the efforts of those who most benefit from those "arguments from power".
     
  23. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    No, but it's important to refrain from insulting people, because not everyone readily turns the other cheek.
    If you miss racist, sexist, xenophobic, cruel and belittling terminology and the right of employers to refuse minorities and to harass female personnel; if you believe society worked better with discrimination, denial of opportunities to 30% of the population and wish for all the ugly slurs back in public discourse, then yes.
    It's been a positive influence on the society I experience. I don't miss blackface comedy or Polak jokes or dwarf-baiting at all.
    Almost anything anybody wants it to.
    For me: "common courtesy" - even to people who are unlike me.
     

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