Monday, August 29, 2011

Political Correctness is Retarded

For whatever reason, some people get really hung up on word choice. Sometimes I understand it. I hate when people say “thing” when describing how to do some task, especially if they make a habit of it. Like, stick the thing into the thing, but keep it away from your thing, or you might go sterile. Being specific is useful in technical situations.

In a sense, a lot of words people get upset about are like that. They’re sort of like filler words.

“Fuck” is certainly the most common one, and there are actually still people in polite society who act shocked when they hear this word. The multitude of uses for “fuck” are well attested to. But really, while “fuck” is generally considered offensive, it has little to do with the discussion of “political correctness.”

Political correctness is not about obscenity, per se. Political correctness is a sort of positive form of censorship. It’s positive, not in the sense that it has a beneficial effect on society, but because it concerns itself primarily of what you should say. Inevitably, there are terms that we are not supposed to say, but it’s because they lack the seal of approval. It’s not that you can’t say something in this system, but rather, that you are expected to use terminology that is pre-selected as being acceptable.

The problem is, I think this selection process is fucking retarded. Case in point: “retarded” is not politically correct. How idiotic is that? No one has a problem with “idiotic,” even though it has the same history as “retarded.” Both were medical terms for people with some form of mental deficiency, both were abandoned by the medical community, and both have entered common use as an insult for someone who clearly possesses a functioning brain, even if they don’t appear to be using it.

I’ve also been chided many times on how I address the gay community, which is discouraging for someone who supports gay rights. I was particularly stunned when someone told me, “You can’t say gay, that’s offensive. We prefer queer.” Really? That doesn’t make sense to me one bit. Gay doesn’t seem offensive to me at all. Gay means happy, and I think that’s a rather positive view of homosexuality. I’m a heterosexual, and I wouldn’t explain my experience with it as “happy.” It’s more of an embarrassing struggle, maybe a “fiasco.”

I just find “queer” to be far more offensive than “gay,” maybe because I never played “smear the gay” when I was growing up. I’m happy to call someone anything they want to be identified as, but I’m not going to make the brazen move of calling every gay person “queer” just because one over-zealous fan of obscure wordage thinks “gay” is sooo 2004.

Part of why I just find myself unable to really identify with any particular liberal movement is because you have to watch what you say around liberals. I like commenting on conservative blogs because I find that generally, conservatives actually let you say your piece any way you want. Liberals will almost always ignore what I say and just engage in the most inane assault on the way I said it.

I sometimes wonder if people who complain about this stuff have any conception of how counter-productive all of this can be. Many words have been unnecessarily empowered by this whole attitude. If you never use a word, you leave its use to those who use it the way you don’t want it to be used.

Instead, you should own the words that offend you. And I don’t mean the way black people own “nigger.” They got it all wrong, and it’s not really black people who did it. I think it was a small group of black activists and a large group of white liberals who came up with the idea of simultaneously damning “nigger” and inventing “African-American.”

Trust me: changing what anyone calls black people isn’t helping any black person, not even psychologically. There were no black people who woke up one morning and thought, “Ahh… I’m no longer a nigger, I’m an African-American, and things are finally turning around.” If you want to help black people, you need to make a tangible difference in a system that dumps truckload after truckload of shit on their communities. You can’t end oppression through vocabulary.

In fact, if you think about it, plenty of people get criticized constantly, yet they are doing great. Doctors, lawyers, and politicians are doing alright, but they’re the butt of more jokes these days than black people and women combined. And when was the last time you heard anyone say anything positive about white men? And yet, white men are doing just fine. We don’t need more positive messages for white males, because despite the disparity in society’s representation of them as fat idiots, you don’t need society’s approval to feel good about yourself, nor is success linked to being liked.

If anything, I wouldn’t want to be a part of any demographic that is too afraid to be criticized in public. That’s generally a sign of weakness, being unable to take a little ribbing. Those who have any self-esteem can take criticism in stride. I don’t mean they have to grin and bear it (hell, I encourage people to fling insults back at anyone, for any reason), I just mean that it’s pathetic if you resort to saying, “You can’t say things like that” in response to something you didn’t want to hear or read.

Instead, if a word offends you, use it every day in a different way. For example, why not use “nigger” as a synonym for “very.” For example, “Bill Gates is nigger rich,” or, “That new Tom Hanks movies is nigger good.” Don’t use it just for black people or black-related things, though don’t go out of your way to back-track if what you say might be perceived as racist, like if you say “It was so cloudy last night, it was nigger dark,” don’t draw attention to the fact that it could be misinterpreted.

That’s ultimately what political correctness has done, created systematized misinterpretation. Rather than drawing on overall context or the character of the person saying it (and forget about getting the benefit of the doubt), political correctness encourages misunderstandings. That is not only what political correctness was supposedly meant to stop (misunderstandings), but it runs counter to the very concept of language, because it seeks to attach a history and weight to words that the speaker never intended, defeating the very ability of people to discuss certain topics without the distortive lens of hyper-sensitivity.

I also notice that most people who get upset about certain words think nothing of using or endorsing extreme language against those they disagree with. I don’t see a lot of liberals getting offended by my verbal abuse of conservatives, nor do women hesitate to laugh at a gender joke, so long as it is at a man’s expense. It’s a classic double standard, where certain groups can be subjected to unabashed criticism, while doing so for others is taboo. It is actually a bit racist and sexist to treat groups differently, or so I have been told.

I can criticize a man for being a weepy little dick with grit in his urethra, but calling anyone (though usually a man) a whiny pussy with sand in their vagina is somehow magically “misogynistic.” I guess “misandry” is not a word discussed quite as often among feminist circles.

Maybe my ultimate complaint about political correctness is not that it misrepresents intentions and distorts communication, but that it points out and mocks the limitations of language.

My thoughts are my own, and I cannot share them with anyone. The best I can hope for is to put the intangible ideas from my head into words which I say or write. Once those words are out there, it’s up to those who hear or read them to interpret them, and there may be as many ways of interpreting what I say (and how I said it) as there are people on the planet. Try as we might, language is a poor substitute for truly peering into a person’s mind.

In any case, I could not bring myself to embrace political correctness, because it seems to encourage people to think the worst of others. That’s just a little too intolerant, even for me.

14 comments:

  1. I agree with you, completely on this one, Bret. Now if we can only convince the niggers. They're constantly riding me.

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  2. Me and niggers are cool, it's always faggots who bug me. Well, faggots and dykes. I know if I leave them out, I'll get e-mails.

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  3. I agree that political correctness taken to an extreme is retarded.

    But I also think there is a significant number of white middle class males that are scared they aren't gonna stay on top and are fighting a stupid trumped up and ultimately pointless war against political correctness, feminazis and multiculturalism.

    I don't think there is a real problem with political correctness being taken to an extreme except maybe at isolated colleges campuses and the inner circles of wiccan disabled lesbians for saving the whales meetings.

    I don't believe your gay anecdote. "Queer" is only acceptable among queers, just like "nigger" is only acceptable among blacks.

    Now by the rules of political correctness, you should know quite a bit about me by what I just wrote.

    I think you invented your gay example. That's quite dishonest. It you didn't invent it, the guy who told you that is either an idiot, or you're such a jackass he decided to fuck with you.

    Like the black friend of mine who told this stupid southern jerkoff how gross eating pussy was. We laughed at the credulous bigoted idiot for days.

    But you know the rules of PC are just social rules... they are designed to smooth relationships between folks from different backgrounds. If you don't mind being thought of as a bigot or an insensitive jerkoff, there is no reason for you to avoid the words nigger, faggot, dyke, spic, wop, kraut, rag head, cracker, red neck, okie, kike or what have you.

    But if you use those words in polite company, you can't really expect people to think of you as a thoughtful, intelligent and decent human being. Even if you really are.

    As long as you're ok with that, I say go for it.

    Sooner or later you'll run into a body building faggot on crank who'll take it the wrong way and pound your ass... and not in the good way!

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  4. But I also think there is a significant number of white middle class males that are scared they aren't gonna stay on top and are fighting a stupid trumped up and ultimately pointless war against political correctness, feminazis and multiculturalism.

    White men should feel threatened. Their gravy train is over, and we have to actually roll up our sleeves and try if we want to get ahead anymore. Oh the humanity...

    I don't believe your gay anecdote. "Queer" is only acceptable among queers, just like "nigger" is only acceptable among blacks.

    No, that happened. I assure you. In person, too, not online. I've also been told that "transsexual" is offensive or not the regular terminology, and that "gender queer" is the preference (my feminist wife, who actually studies gender for a living as a professor, told me that within the last year). I don't like saying queer; it sounds dirty and kind of mean, and implies that gay people are different and other. Gay guys are pretty much like me, they just love the cock, and in this respect, me and lesbians have even more in common than me and gay guys.

    It you didn't invent it, the guy who told you that is either an idiot, or you're such a jackass he decided to fuck with you.

    It was a she, and I wouldn't put it past her, but I really think she was trying to "help." I don't think she's an idiot, she just really hated the term "gay" because everyone says things they hate are "gay."

    Like the black friend of mine who told this stupid southern jerkoff how gross eating pussy was. We laughed at the credulous bigoted idiot for days.

    Don't even get me started on southerners... boy howdy.

    But you know the rules of PC are just social rules... they are designed to smooth relationships between folks from different backgrounds.

    And that is a noble goal. I wish people of every kind got along, or at least understood each other. However, the "rules" of political correctness aren't standardized and written anywhere (I have seen many different and conflicting sets, even among newspaper content suggestions, and over time they change quite a bit). This is why we end up with misunderstandings, and why either a) political correctness needs to go, or b) it needs a total overhaul.

    If you don't mind being thought of as a bigot or an insensitive jerkoff

    I am the latter, though I've been called the former.

    But if you use those words in polite company, you can't really expect people to think of you as a thoughtful, intelligent and decent human being.

    Challenge accepted.

    Sooner or later you'll run into a body building faggot on crank who'll take it the wrong way and pound your ass... and not in the good way!

    Honestly... that's a little offensive to body builders. And I'm way more afraid of getting beat up by a bull dyke, because I really doubt my resolve to fight back. Body builders are all glamor muscle, dykes have a solid core and do cardio, so they could catch me if I run and still have the strength to beat me to a bloody pulp.

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  5. The sad truth is that unless you have a family member with a disability you just don't get what the big deal is about the word retard or retarded used as pejorative. I believe you certainly have the right to use any word you choose. I also think that free speech means that you get to use the word retard and I get to say ouch. Hiding behind the p.c. argument is old. I think most people who don't use the word retard any longer do so because they have listened to what the Intellectual Disabled community has asked for (yes, they actually have opinions). Seems like a simple argument to me. No one is telling you not to use a word. Why are you making a big deal about it?

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  6. I don't mind the stance you take, since you're perfectly free to say you find the word offensive, but look what you just did there...

    I said that political correctness has a tendency to make people ignore the overall message and instead fixate on one particular word, rather than the work as a whole. I'm sorry the word "retard" offends you, but you kind of proved my point.

    If your were related to black people, you would be here telling me why I can't say "nigger," but by a complete accident of chance, you are here crusading for the mentally challenged. I don't think you should let the circumstances of your life dictate what issues you hold dear. Just a thought.

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  7. excellent blog and subject matter. I agree with you and I thought your post was nigger good.

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  8. Brett as a lesbian I really have to say - most of what you wrote in response is...wait for it...retarded.

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  9. What part of being a lesbian made my responses retarded?

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  10. I find that what you wrote was offensive. I understand why some people might say that the word, "retarded," is pollitically correct. It is true that in the past, people with disabilities were classified as, "mentally retarded." People might still use this to classify some disabled people. But connecting the word retard with the meaning of stupid or dumb makes people classified as mentally retarded feel as if the word is demeaning. People have a right to freedom of speech; however, there is a reason why homophobic or racists comments should not be said. Sure, you can use any word you like and use it for any meaning you wish, but words are powerful. There is a reason they cannot be used interchangably. Behind every word has a meaning shaped by society and it is important not to use word to describe people as a pejoritive term.

    Secondly, you raised the fact that some people identify as queer rather than gay. Both words mean different things in the same way lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender mean different things. Queer is a term used by those who reject distinct sexual identities like gay, lesbian, bisexual and straight. For the same reason you don't call people who are gay, straight, you shouldn't call people who identify as queer, gay. It is a matter of not identifying them properly.

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  11. You're all retarded.

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  12. But doesn't retarded actually MEAN slow, stupid, dumb...??

    It seems as though the people who object to the word retard are venting some misplaced anger over the unfortunate condition of their loved one. No matter what word is used to describe the condition, eventually that word becomes offensive because it describes an undesirable state of being.

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    1. I agree. "Idiot" was replaced with "Retarded" because "idiot" was too offensive. Nowadays though it's the opposite. I can say "idiot" "stupid" "dumb" no one bats an eye, but think of all the people who can't speak that you're insulting by calling something dumb (by that logic).

      My Aunt is retarded and she can't speak, but growing up hearing words like that never offended me because I don't take it personally. My immediate response is not, "You're insulting my aunt." It's "You're right. That is retarded." 'Cause I generally don't alienate the people I speak to simply because of vocabulary.

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  13. The major problem with political correctness is that while you can claim that it is to 'soothe over relationships' that is not how people use it. More often then not, it used more or less as a blunt instrument to try and dictate communication, not promote understanding. "You can't say that", "that's offensive to ____, you're such a ____ for saying that", more or less it used to discredit and accuse a person of insensitivity for disagreeing with someone elses point of view based soley on choice of words regardless of the context and tone the person is using rather then nuturing any growth or understanding of what was said. It draws attention away from the point of what is being said to focus on someones pet peeve about how THEY want to dictate language use. "Sure you came up with a way to solve world hunger, but you said huMAN instead of person, so your a bigot and everything you say is now worthless" Seriously, you can only control your own language, so if you want to be politically correct, that's your right, but the moment you try demanding everyone has to follow your own set of rules, your overstepping your bounds. You want people to change, set an example by controling your own language and let your own actions speak for you and people will follow you by choice, but the more you try beating people with a stick, the more likely your going to drive them NOT to listen to or respect you opinions.

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