What Does "Politically Correct" Mean?

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

  1. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    When you are done denigrating the college whiners, take a minute to remember that the modern political faction currently loudest and most insistent on the horrible imposition "politically correct" has been on their lives (but never "whining", of course),

    the modern Republican T Party, the Limbaugh and Fox crowd,

    was consolidated by Ronald Reagan, and one of the important, pivotal moments in that consolidation was when Reagan made a key speech at the Neshoba County fairgrounds not too far from that dam. He made a central point, in that speech, delivered in that place, of his intention of defending "State's rights".

    "States rights" was the politically correct term.

    And that's where all this modern hoopla about "politically correct" put down its first little roots, and began to take its current form. It's now a media meme by which the rich and powerful rightwing corporate authoritarians pander to bigots for votes.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2016
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  3. Dr_Toad It's green! Valued Senior Member

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    I think you misunderstood me. I agree with everything you just said, yet here we are, with this country in a fucked-up mess that neither I, you, or the people who profess to be in control can do a damned thing about.
     
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  5. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Well, maybe they have set things in moton to change all that.

    Perhaps, a month after the fall election, we'll all be fighting with sticks and stones over rat meat.
     
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  7. Dr_Toad It's green! Valued Senior Member

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    I've never tried rat. I think I'd rather go fishing..
     
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  8. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Drumpf will feed you Clinton gobbets and tell you it's rat.

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  9. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    Depends on why.

    For instance, my mother has, in the last couple years, taken to attending politics more closely than she ever has before, and, yes, part of it is the melodrama. The other night, she was talking about Trump's state of mind over dinner, and a good thing to mention was Eugene Robinson's↱ article Monday asking if Mr. Trump is simply "just plain crazy".

    (Counterpoint↗: Biographer Michael D'Antonio offered a piece earlier this week explaining that "Donald Trump isn't crazy", but, rather, an "alpha wolf".)​

    My mother's brow furrowed: Eugene Robinson? Yeah, WaPo, does msnbc a lot? Black guy, glasses, really deep, awesome voice?

    For my mother, the Washington Post ends up being irrelevant, msnbc frames the memory, black guy cuts to several, glasses cuts to two or three; the really deep, awesome voice is the clincher. (For her, by the time we're to black guy with glasses on msnbc, she's down to Robinson or former RNC Chairman Michael Steele; "really deep, awesome voice", in and of itself, remains insufficient.)

    There are, of course, other ways "if he is not the only man over there".

    Green shirt?

    Sahara sand desert beige cargo pants?

    Dreadlocks? Cornrows? Tight curls? That awesome James Brown straightened doll cut?

    There comes a point when the idea of skin color is important, but at that point, "black" is irrelevant. I live in a society that, in matters of life or death, apparently "black" is so confusing that people can't distinguish between light or dark, flat or burnished color, tall and short, tabletop or cornrow, Yoruba from Nubian, or either from Punjabi. Compounding this problem is the amount of superstition attached to the word in many such circumstances. To wit, "black" is, in my society, occasionally asserted as a behavioral type, and while I have only once that I can recall, encountered explicit utterance of the phrase "acting black" as if to imply it's obvious we should all know what the witness is describing―e.g., which stereotype? thug? shifty thief? wants to rape your daughter? &c.―it is also true that the underlying function of that indictment still exists significantly enough to cause disruption in American culture.

    At that point, honestly, it's probably best to find another relevant designation.

    There was a time at which the first obvious thing to mind was, "Down-low". Three drinks is no excuse, but strangely it worked. It wasn't just in the way his suit seemed to perch instead of hang on his body; it was also his eyes as he looked around, and something about the motion of his hand when he picked up the drink. The guy radiated queer, and was clearly the odd one out at the table. Every once in a while, we get away with one; it's not something one should ever say loudly enough to be heard by anyone other than the immediately proximal conversation partner, and in general probably shouldn't be spoken at all; I use "closeteer" or "closet case", most days―"down-low" was, functionally speaking, inherently racial and thereby racist.

    Or, perhaps: I recently used, "The sexy one", which is, of course, abysmal. But, again, it was clear that I was talking about the black guy. Three drinks is never an excuse, but I also remember it because it's the first time I can remember since coming out that I threw down that kind of objectification in front of people; I noticed immediately.

    And you'll notice I haven't even gotten to the part about gaytyping; the fact that some aspect of gaydar is apparently real doesn't mean that's what I'm actually perceiving. Fun stuff if you let it get to you.

    But in the end people are a lot more interesting once I learned to move past "black" being the first identifier; I don't do that to white people. It was always, beer-gut dude in red shirt, or, tan cowboy hat black and red band, or, body hair. And if the description required something about skin color, it was easy enough to say, "Freckles", and expect to be understood as describing a white person. "Blond hair, blue eyes"? The only reason, typically, you would mention skin color is if those traits occurred in combination with darker skin. You know, it tends to stand out on Isan, or Jamaican Igbo, and so on. (And if it became an everyday thing, we'd cease to notice so much.)

    I just figure skin color when it's specifically relevant and necessary; otherwise it's simply a matter of fairness in praxis. Given the stakes in my society, it seems more than simply reasonable―rather, it seems rather quite necessary and appropriate both in function and basic human dignity―to afford all people the same regard. It is, of course, an occasionally fraught affair.

    But even right now, when my awareness of blackness is heightened, I actually know the reason why, because it happens with men, and not nearly as much women. And having this opportunity to reflect on such questions, I suppose I ought to take some small measure of comfort that it's not blackness itself I'm noticing about these men, but, rather, particular physical features that are more commonly associated with African heritage.

    Beyond that, I should at least be capable of separating the influences of my lust from the necessities of reality. For most practical purposes, there are other secondary identifiers. With white people, the default status inherent in my acculturation makes those secondary identifiers primary. And while I can't ever claim to be over it, because I actually believe it is impossible to excise every last foul thread of this particular American fabric woven into my existential perception, it is exactly necessary―especially given the stakes of my society, if for some reason I should find assertions of basic dignity insufficient―that I learn to eliminate this "default" status and start looking at all people similarly. And, yes, there is, it seems, comfort in being able to perceive and analyze these changes in praxis.

    But there also comes a point at which I might worry about it too much. What about Asians? I'm half Japanese, half Nordic; by acculturation and practical custom, I am white, and nobody contests this status anymore. But it's not so much that Asians all look the same; I'm American, so I don't care. There are times when it is important to distinguish Viet from Laotian from Korean from Chinese, but they generally don't come up in my life; furthermore, I have no cultural ties to regional superstitions 'twixt peoples; and every once in a while I get to laugh when I realize I have no clue how I know that person is Japanese since I have no idea how "Japanese" is subdivided and have never bothered finding out. Every once in a while I see someone who looks approximately like me, and it's a trivial interest. Should I not extend the same courtesy of indifference toward whether I am supposed to think poorly of that Korean person over there to everyone else? Quite honestly if a Korean-American mother ever looked at me, then turned to her son and asked why he couldn't at least find a nice Korean man, I would probably be delighted to falling over at having witnessed such a moment. What the hell does it matter to me if the Japanese and Koreans aren't supposed to like each other some days? Or most. Or ... ah ... right. See, I don't care so I'm not sure quite how it works, other than a thin joke about being glad I'm an American given what happened.

    In between yesterday and progress there are always awkward periods; I had to learn to stop overthinking it despite recognizing for over a decade that overthinking it was itself a manner of racism.

    But getting over "black" as a primary identifier is actually one of the tougher tasks to identify, much less accomplish, in my society's comprehension of human rights and basic dignity.
     
  10. Godot Banned Banned

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    How easy is it for you to determine someone’s race based on their physical features?

    From the original color terminology, which colors are still used to label race, yellow, white, red, black, or brown?

    Everyone looks different, but are these differences racial?
     
  11. mtf Banned Banned

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  12. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    Honestly, that question doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Race is not a proper scientific construct, so the answer is essentially that the difference is racial if the person assessing the difference decides to call it that.

    Other than that, we use words like "race" and "racism" because those are the words that came down to us. They'll change, eventually, but most likely not before we solve the lion's share of the problems associated with race and racism.
     
  13. Godot Banned Banned

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    You used the word 'heritage'. How easy is it for you to determine someone’s heritage based on their physical features?
     
  14. gmilam Valued Senior Member

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    I know a guy who works customer service for a large cable TV provider. He told me that most of the calls he gets are from Detroit, and "you know what that means."

    I didn't really have a clue... "No, what does that mean?"

    "Most of them are black, you know what that means."

    Still don't have a clue... I guess black people don't have a right to want functioning cable TV. I'm still baffled by the exchange.
     
  15. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    Late Than Never (Part the First)

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    Hey, look! A black man! In truth, it's a really good, really depressing, curiously inspiring song.

    It becomes more difficult as time passes and diverse heritages continue to intermingle.

    To wit, my point about Asians. There are some Japanese people who look like my Japanese side, but most don't. Yes, it is possible to go back and study closely the recorded history; I could probably estimate within a small handful of families several hundred years ago just who, in Japan, I am more closely connected to. That is to say, somewhere in Japanese history I have ancestors; I have no idea who they are, but could probably get "close" in the context of a regional concentration or historical influx. It really isn't that important to me. And, in truth, if an argument about history ever erupts between Japanese and Korean people in my proximity, my job is exactly to stay the hell out of it.

    What about Africa? Honestly, I don't get the idea of lethal tribal conflict in the twenty-first century, but this is Africa we're talking about, and modern (ahem!) civilized society really hasn't treated the continent or its people very well; that is, it's easy enough to suggest economic development and human rights will fix much of the problem, but it's a long, massive, bloody effort. The longer we wait, longer, larger, and bloodier the prospect of African recovery becomes. If a dispute erupts around me between African-Americans or African immigrants regarding some tribal issue that is so obscure to me, it is once again my job to stay the hell out of it.

    This contrast, though, is merely setup.

    I'm American, and in my society there are myriad, dangerous societal tensions orbiting the concept of "black". There is a point at which "black" is an insufficient descriptor because our history is (cough!) shot through with examples of the wrong guy, and also a persistent dehumanization colloquially described as, "they all look the same".

    To the other, I really don't care about the differences unless there is a reason. You know, such as if I'm ever called upon to give a witness description in which the suspect happens to be black. At that point, the differences become a matter of life and death.

    But here's a different context: It's inherently racist, but the kind of thing we generally shrug off, when the first time a friend sees someone like me shiver swooningly over the sight of this or that black man, they ask if one has a thing for black men. The answer is somewhere between no and maybe. The approximate way it works is that there are, among whatever color, ethnicity, heritage, or however we wish to describe these basic superficial differences 'twixt people, certain aspects either more or less harmonious and pleasing with my―or anyone's―basic aesthetic perception and assessment. And some of it defies my own comprehension.

    To wit, I have no idea why among white men my eye draws toward the controversially-labeled subset, "bear". That is, neither do I have a specific thing for bears, but something about a certain set of features on a larger, hairy man does, for reasons I've never understood, click with me. Among Asians it has to do with either being the prettiest man in the Universe, like Hyde, or a set of features resulting in a slightly more sculpted appearance than some of the rounder faces. I've never bothered figuring out how this works, never identified the subgroups or combinations. It's all a pornographic fantasy, anyway, so I can't even remember the actor's name.

    As the bad joke goes, I wouldn't kick the other out of bed; that's not the point. To be explicit, yes, I would hope to hew to that bit about character and not appearance. There's a morbid joke there, actually, but we'll skip it. Insofar as what stands out and catches my eye in passing, yeah, some aspects catch me more than others. I don't actually think this is a particularly unusual idea; not all "white women" stand out to a heterosexual guy whose aesthetics ping for redheads, for instance.

    Black men? So it happens that a certain range of features more common in western Africa set me off about black men. But it's easy enough to say these features are more common in Nigeria (Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba) and Senegal (Wolof, Serer) than, say, Ethiopia (Oromo, Amhara). Still, though, such classifications are still too broad. In the context of overthinking it, just how important is it? Should I really learn the particular tribal lines, say, leading to the Yoruban portion of one of the most aesthetically attractive men on the planet? I can't figure out why it's that important. But the truth is that compared to the other approximate subgroups or collections of features that catch my aesthetic fancy, yes, these men have the strongest effect. (Thus, do I have a thing for black men? Somewhere between no and maybe.)

    Besides, I'm an American, and if I can recite more such African ethnic designations than the next white guy, it doesn't really mean much; I only know because I happen to like African pop music, Oliver Mtukudzi's↱ voice melts me, and it helps to know a bit about what I'm listening to. I have a joke that between Shona (Mtukudzi), Kinyarwanda (Dorothee Munyaneza↱), and Wolof or Fulani (Youssou N'Dour↱), I really need to pick an African language and learn it so that I can understand songs in their original language.

    There are times when identifying subgroups is helpful.

    Describe the suspect? "Black". How about, "Dark skin, broad, sculpted cheeks more like west Africa"? Even then it's a bit general, because not all broad-cheeked western Africans have flatter, broader noses, and there still remain are questions of chin, eye shape, and so on. And if I say, "Dark skin, round face like, maybe, Punjabi", I don't know, I would think it makes a difference. Still, at some point, move on; the hair, the clothes, distinguishing marks, the voice, &c.

    What catches my fancy? Quite frankly, guarding against objectification of the men whose mere appearances flip my lust switches stops me from obsessively parsing these things ends up stopping my plunge into these details. Do I really need to think, "Handsome, black, Hausa, [family/tribal lineage]"? Can it be enough to simply feel that rush of, Please get your beautiful self on and in me as fast and hard as you can? I mean, fuck, it's not like I'm actually going to go out of my way to bother the guy with it.

    Like, there's this guy who works at a particular business up the street from me, where I happen to go every few months when I require a particular service ... professional service ... you know, in my mood that sounds bad no matter how I cut it. He works at the garage where I get my oil changed. The fact that some part of him is black simply coincides with everything else; he's also part something in the range we tend do describe as olive. I mean, sure, his blackness is part of it insofar as this particular effect would not have occurred without those eyes, and those cheekbones, and that nose, and that mouth that smiles just so as to leave me trying to not quake visibly while figuring out whether I'm supposed to flirt or simply go on with my day but in either case I'm terrified.

    Given that the truth is ninety-nine out of one hundred of those fucks, regardless of the color or ethnicity of the top, would probably be pretty miserable, it seems well enough to leave it alone; there comes a point at which the precision of how I regard "heritage" becomes exactly futile.

    Then again, what am I supposed to tell you about someone who likes big white guys with blond hair because the first image to mind is disciplinary bondage, military attire, and denigration shouted in German? (Where I've encountered this particular bit, it even seems preferable to have a blonde French guy shouting in German than a dark-haired Bavarian actually from Germany; it seems purely superficial.)

    ―End Part I―
     
  16. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    Late Than Never (Part the Second)

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    "BLK Wiccan" Works well enough for me. Click to do it like that.

    Heritage can be relatively easy or difficult to identify in many cases, but the question is to what degree it matters. Honestly, if I was skeezy enough to, say, troll churches because I want to pick up _____ ethnicity, "Korean Baptist", or "traditionally black Methodist", are both far too general and far too specific.

    To the other, I do occasionally see "Ethiopian" in the church name; in my area, I don't see much for specifically Nigerian, Senegalese, or other west-African communities.

    And part of what I'm getting at is if these last few paragraphs seem far too complex―i.e., appear to overthink the question―yes, that's part of the point.

    What precision does the assessment of heritage require, and why am I undertaking that assessment?

    I mean, it's true that I can imagine the world becoming so intermingled to peanut butter and caramel that such assessments will be very general, like "Asian", having thus generally erased the phenotypical expressions separating Korean from Chinese from Lao, and so on. More realistically, as cultural and ethnic heritages continue to mingle, distinguishing precise ethnic heritage will become (A) a matter of mtDNA analysis, and (B) generally less relevant to anything.

    As it is, the main reasons for maintaining these distinctions as identity and pride are matters psychosocial and socioeconomic, and thus sociopolitical.

    For example, a recent study―absolutely terrifying―about HIV/AIDS in minority communites; the projection runs as high as half of gay black men. Rather than shunning black men for the sake of my terror, it seems much more important to understand what these numbers mean. Because it's not dark skin that one must avoid for health; it isn't a matter of Amhara or Igbo or Shona or Serer. It's a matter of what is happening on the ground where these people who happen to be black happen to be. After all, the projection is not uniform throughout the areas surveyed; there are any number of pockets, mostly in urban areas but also suburban and rural, where the numbers are simply apocalyptic. I've been through this before; when I moved back to Seattle from Oregon twenty years ago, I had my closet-case itch on, and if you ever need an excuse to stay in the closet without even thinking about it, all you have to do is read multiple news articles trying to explain just how my age cohort in my county is running one in four positive.

    But I'm not going to figure it out just by looking at "black". Nor am I going to figure it out by parsing a more precise ethnic hertiage any more than I will figure out a friend's battle with opiates by trying to parse the ethnic heritages of the white people in her circle of suppliers and addicts.

    For the time being, though, it's well enough to note that, say, the musician Seal was born in Paddington, and now lives in Los Angeles, but, honestly, if you were asked to describe him, "The English guy who sang that song for the Batman movie" isn't going to get you there. Neither, for the record, will, "The black guy who sang that song for the Batman movie". And you can always tumble down the ladder: "Kiss from a Rose? Crazy? You know, black guy with the scars on his face?"

    But, you know, sure, Seal is "black". So is Yapphet Kotto. Presently, in my society, "Afro-Brazilian" would be too mysterious a description of Seal for most; the general concept is not unfamiliar to Americans, but that spectre of sameness is in effect. "Afro-Brazilian" is still "black". "Yoruba-Brazilian", by comparison, is, "What the hell?"

    Yaphet Kotto is also "black". For the most part, and I'm uncertain just how many black people my age learned a damn thing about African tribal heritage, "Duala" also falls in the range of, "What the hell?" among Americans.

    And on the other side, it's also true I just don't care about such distinctions insofar as I don't care what the specific descriptors are for Zebra↱ Fucking↱ Katz↱; "BLK Wiccan"↱ works well enough for me, and besides, since the deal is that I would very much appreciate if he would bang me into the next dimension, it's generally enough to keep it to myself. I don't need to know his specific lineage to weaken and falter at the prospect of his beauty and lust, though I do shamefully confess those facial features with pale skin, red hair, blue eyes, and freckles would probably confuse the hell out of me at first glance.

    The question―"How easy is it for you to determine someone’s heritage based on their physical features?"―is by no measure inappropriate. The answer, functionally speaking, is relative. Right now, to a certain practical degree, it is "easy enough" under the circumstances I can conceive it actually mattering. But it is also very easy to overthink, to make things too important. I'm also an American liberal; it's really easy for us to insult minorities by paying too much attention according to a pretense of justice and compassion that, as I understand it, generally amounts to condescending, racist pity in the eyes of those subject to such treatment.

    Do I have a thing for black men? It's probably best to leave the answer somewhere between no and maybe.

    ―Fin―

    Postscript: This was too much fun to write, I admit that. I am, indeed, sorry I didn't get it up sooner, having failed to decide whether to trim the intial post or split it into two. Other issues intervened, and here I am two days later getting back to it. Sigh. But it was so much fun to write ....
     

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