What is Political Correctness: Responding to David Packman

Hey, guys! Long time no see. Over the last month, I’ve started writing a hundred different Disorderly blog posts and trashed them all. There’s just not that much I’ve wanted to respond to. Either someone else has done it better already or I have nothing new to add. But David Packman has literally just released a video that I think would be fun to respond to called The Truth About Political Correctness that is highly critical of the term and its usage. I’m subscribed to Packman–I think he makes good videos most of the time. While I wouldn’t call this video bad (it’s a topic that needed to be brought up, for sure), there are points where he delves into inaccuracy or “liberal condescension,” as it has so accurately been described.

I want to respond to it in one fell swoop, so get your coffee. It lasts a while.


Political correctness (PC) is a complicated issue, and there are serious misconceptions about it. And the term, much like ‘regressive left,’ is often used by conservatives to criticize realities that they simply do not like.

I agree. I don’t use the terms ‘regressive left’ or ‘political correctness’ all that often mostly because I think they’ve been overused by right-leaning commenters to describe anything that is vaguely liberal. A comment I received on my post about how I used to be more entrenched in SJW-culture was saddened because “I got it, but I didn’t really get it,” ie, I didn’t flat out become a conservative after leaving that scene. It’s just as condescending as the liberals who assume some kind of moral and/or intellectual deficiency in those who disagree with their talking points. I even unsubscribed from The Rebel Media largely because it’s fallen into the “everything vaguely liberal is just PC nonsense” trap.

I’m going to discuss what PC really means, and how we can make productive distinctions between overbearing PC and mere social norms that encourage us to treat each other with respect and common decency.

This is where he starts playing the part of the condescending liberal who implicitly associates his politics with basic human decency. A large part of Packman’s argument is that he questions how much empathy anti-PC folks have for other people who aren’t like them. Yet he rather blatantly makes no attempt to explicate the opinions of people who aren’t like him. He just says they are selfish and stubborn and lack basic human compassion. If you’re going to hinge the video around how important empathy for other points of view is, it would help to at least try to explain the opposing points of view, as opposed to just calling their politics on the matter bad and moving on. The original video is 15 minutes long. It’s not like he was trying to keep it brief.

The first uses of the term ‘PC’ in the US were by right-wing ideologues in the latter part of the 20th century merely to criticize the left. The concept of PC was originally just a ruse by conservatives to belittle progressive attitudes and policies. They said, “Oh, you’re just being politically correct if you support things like environmentalism, gun control, social safety nets, or if you’re anti-war or anti-death penalty.”

I have personally never operated under the delusion that political correctness is a left-wing phenomenon. While I think left-wing brand political correctness has more political clout now, I’m of the opinion that the uptick in leftist PC rhetoric should be seen as an over-corrective response to the huge amounts of right-wing PC rhetoric that dominated the discourse in the preceding decades. The left-leaning social justice warriors obsessed with -isms are nearly identical to the right-leaning pearl-clutchers obsessed with vague immorality. I have no love for either of them. Both of them are censorship-happy, dictatorial moralizers who use think-of-the-children rhetoric and offense as weapons, and who have a tendency to go after media that I like for “promoting bad morals/being problematic.” And, yes, ‘political correctness’ was originally thought up by post-McCarthyism Republicans to refer to hippies, mental health advocates, and racial integrationists. It’s questionable origin doesn’t exclude it from being a useful term, though.

It was a trick, a way of saying the mainstream media is liberal and conservatives are victims and progressives are just trying to control the conversation. The term is still used in that way today. Outlets like Fox News overuse the term to try to fool their conservative audiences to believe that the left is out to get them, that by opposing progressive ideas rather than phrases or vocabulary, they will be fighting the good fight doing a great dead.

Well, as of right now, the mainstream media is liberal, for the most part. What major news sources are right-leaning? There’s Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, and sometimes the Economist. The rest of the big, relevant news outlets are overtly left-leaning. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are–fairly unabashedly–in support of left-leaning politics and political commentary and against more conservative talking points. Packman has criticized the current state of media/social media before, so I’m not sure why he’s acting like the criticism of progressive’s having too much media influence is laughable and wholly unfounded. That being said, I do strongly dislike Fox News and its tendency to stoke its audience’s victim complex. Fox News, though, is definitely not the only news source that loves promoting inaccurate victim narratives to a biased audience obsessed with political labels.

I have to point out the irony that conservatives are just as guilty of promoting PC when it suits them, including language policing and so-called offensive speech. The War on Christmas, where Christian conservatives get ‘triggered’ when somebody says “Happy Holidays” or shows deference to the fact that not everybody celebrates Christmas, or when conservatives respond to critiques of our foreign policy or economic system by saying, “Oh, that’s anti-Capitalist or anti-American, or “You don’t support the troops.” This is the right-wing equivalent of shutting down debate by saying, “That’s offensive!”, something conservatives slam progressives for doing.

I agree. Right-wing pearl-clutching at its finest. Recent events have shown very clearly the hypocrisy in many anti-SJW individuals who love freedom of speech until the Republican party is put under the microscope. You have the Cathy Griffin incident, the controversy of a few right-wingers ruining a play they thought was problematic, the Hamilton incident where right-wingers wanted the cast punished for addressing Mike Pence, the typical evangelical aversion towards other religions being given the same pedestal as Christianity, and not to mention all of those #BoycottSomeRandomThing campaigns that both lefties and righties seem to have a mutual love for.

When people start getting confused about PC is when PC is conflated with simple decency. The idea of calling a transgender person “him” or “her,” based on what they prefer to be called, is not PC, it’s just not being a prick. If you meet someone named Timothy who prefers to be called Tim, but you continue to call him Timothy, you are now a jackass. How is it going to hurt you or hurt society if you address people how they want to be addressed, or treat them how they want to be treated, if what they’re asking is reasonable and imposes no undue burden upon you?

Yeah . . .

To get it out of the way before I get accused of not having simple decency: I have no issue with trans people. I think calling people the pronoun they want to be called is a polite, accommodating thing to do that typically isn’t too much trouble. I’ll even call someone ‘they’ if I know that that is what they prefer. Most trans people are not internet snowflakes who make no attempt to pass as the gender they want to be called, yet still expect people to get it right. Every trans person I’ve ever met has clearly presented as their preferred gender, making referring to them by their preferred gender relatively easy. I’m on his side, okay?

To provide the other POV: most of the people I’ve talked to who, as a rule, refuse to refer to trans people as their preferred pronoun do it because they believe that it legitimizes an unhealthy mental issue. If a woman has body dysmorphia that makes her obsess over how fat she is even if she’s only 110 lbs soaking wet, you wouldn’t indulge that and say, “Yeah, you’re so fat.” So there actually is an argument to be had and legitimate need for explanation to be given about why transgenderism, as an extreme sub-type of body dysmorphia, is regarded differently and treated as something that should have our support. In short, writing off critics of the preferred pronoun idea as “people who don’t empathy no good” doesn’t seem to be all that accurate seeing as how, from their perspective, they’re trying not to enable a mental illness that gives people lots of distress.

I agree with David that we should call people what they’d like to be called, but where does he think the line between basic politeness and political correctness should be drawn here? That is the problem with political correctness. Packman mentions multiple times that he’s against “overbearing” political correctness, but I’m not sure what that entails. Is intentionally misgendering a trans person something that can be taken to the HR department? To the legal courts? Is it harassment? Verbal abuse? A gender-based hate crime? How about unintentionally misgendering them? Is an employer who doesn’t fire someone who misgendered one of his trans co-workers participating in institutionalized marginalization? Should someone who called a trans person ‘tranny ‘ on reddit have his real-life place of employment contacted? Is legally compelled language imposing a burden on other people? Is it politically incorrect to point out that the majority of teenagers who call themselves transgender eventually wind up dropping the label by early adulthood? I would agree that just calling a trans person what they want to be called is the nice thing to do and shouldn’t be scoffed at a political correctness, but what about everything after that?

Your rights aren’t curtailed, nor your freedom of speech restricted, if you call someone a little person instead of a midget if that’s what they want to be called. It doesn’t change any conversation. It doesn’t oppress you. These are just matters of treating someone with dignity, not a matter of manipulating discourse or controversies in an overbearing or oppressive way.

The key term here is ‘if that’s what they want to be called.’ In so many instances of political correctness, everybody but the oppressed group of the hour was offended by the use of a mean word. In so many instances, people try so fervently to “treat others with dignity” that they forget that maybe they should ask what those others actually think about something before white knighting for them. For instance, one of my co-workers was a midget who absolutely hated the term ‘little person’ and who had to be brought into the HR office one day to explain that he didn’t care if people referred to him as a ‘midget’ because some anonymous third-party overheard him get called that and decided to take offense on his behalf and run to HR. Is that political correctness, by the way?

It’s no skin off your back if you call someone Inuit instead of Eskimo, if you call someone Native American instead of Indian, if you call someone transgender instead of tranny. Do you think it’s a bad thing that we no longer say ‘colored people’ or use the n-word and instead say ‘black people’ or ‘African American?’ No reasonable person would say it’s a terrible thing that we don’t call people Negroes anymore. The fact that we don’t use that word anymore isn’t because the left is trying to control society and manipulate people’s thinking. It’s because black people don’t want to be called Negroes, and because that term and the n-word are linked to a horrifying and undeniable reality of our country’s past called slavery.

Ugh, I gritted my teeth so hard at this part. Firstly, the correct terminology is “people of color” now, ya silly racist. *sarcasm* The irony of how close that is to “colored people” has not been lost on the whole of society.

I hate identity politics. You know I do. Anyone’s who spends two seconds on this blog will have that made very clear to them. So know that I do this with the utmost reluctance: David, can you please not sit there as a white guy and lecture your viewers on what black people want to be called? Please and thank you? For a little history lesson: ‘Negro’ and ‘colored’ fell out of style as the default term for black people explicitly for political/politicized reasons. “African American” wasn’t even pushed for by the black community, it was something thought up mainly by white Democratic politicians in the 1970s to appeal to the rising popularity of Afro-culture among their black voter base, and it wound up being cemented by becoming the official racial category on the American census. There are lots of black people now, myself included, who do not identify as African American on account of having absolutely no connection to Africa. I personally really hate the term and would rather just be called an American. The same census-related racial category renaming could also be said for ‘Native American,’ many of whom prefer the term Indian. I also find it personally very annoying that David says ‘the n-word,’ like saying the word ‘nigger’ when referring to the word ‘nigger’ is gonna summon Voldemort. To paraphrase Louis CK, if you’re going to make everyone think the word, you might as well say the fucking word.

The issue of ‘politically correct’ linguistics is very interesting. Linguistics is a huge part of what I majored in while in college, by the way. I’m not just talking out of my ass here. This is how it works: The typical cycle is that a word will have an official, clinically correct usage (like ‘cripple’ or ‘idiot’), that will eventually gain a negative connotation within the field it is used in but not the wider public (medicine and psychiatry, respectively). The term will then become outdated in the official sense but be shunted into public vernacular as the commonly understood terminology, the public not aware or not concerned with the new clinical word (the new politically correct terms within the fields being ‘invalid’ or ‘retarded’). The old words will then shift to more generalized meanings independent from their original clinical definitions and eventually no longer connotative of that original clinical definition because it’s taken on a strictly vernacular connotation. ‘Idiot’ is no longer automatically indicative of someone with a cognitive disorder, it just means someone generally stupid and it loses the association with cognitive disorders. ‘Cripple’ is no longer someone with degenerative bones, it means anyone who isn’t mobile for whatever reason and bone degeneration isn’t automatically implied. The “new and improved” official terminology will then be deemed by the institutions to be too negatively connotative as well, and the process will start all over again, with the old words either fading into obscurity as archaic slang or becoming more cemented as typical vernacular English.

I bring this up to show that language is a constantly evolving thing, with that constant evolution oftentimes depending upon words falling out of usage in one context and being picked up in another, gaining new meaning and connotations. I point this out because, later on in the video, David seems to be operating under the pretense that a word like ‘gay’ or ‘retard’ still invokes it’s tier-one connotation after moving on to the stage of common vernacular, when it usually doesn’t. I understand why he and many people think that because there’s usually a generational gap between what words’ connotations are considered to be. For someone David’s or my age and older, if you don’t regularly use ‘gay’ or ‘retard’ in their current slang form, chances are you’ll still associate them with homosexuality and mental handicaps, respectively. I am against automatically labeling the use of these terms as homophobic or able-ist, however, because they’re both at that point in their linguistic evolution where it’s highly indeterminate what their default connotation is. I’m not saying that they can’t be used in a homophobic or generally insulting context, but it’s really the context that is key at this point in time. ‘Gay’ and ‘retard’ can just mean ‘stupid’ without any deeper invocations, and labeling them as inherently offensive terms no matter what kind of just ignores how language works.

There were absolutely people decades ago complaining about how America had gotten ‘too politically correct’ when this word [Negro] started going away, and those people are analogous to those today who say they’re not going to call a transgender person “him” or “her” because it doesn’t sit right with them and they don’t want to change.

Okay, I know what he’s trying to say here–they’re a bunch of old fuddyduddies behind the times–but this is not the civil right’s movement. Black Lives Matter can in no way be compared to the original civil rights movement, and they’re in the same ballpark of talking about race issues. Comparing the transgender fight to be taken seriously as a demographic in the Western world with historical race issues where people didn’t have basic freedoms is rather tasteless, in my opinion. If anything, it’s comparable to the push for gay rights in the late 20th century where they campaigned against homosexuality being seen as a sexual disorder. And yes, there were people who went against that too. I once again feel inclined to point out that many black people at the time were critical of the obvious political pandering involved in shifting away from ‘Negro’ as a term. Were they a bunch of behind-the-times grumps too?

Who really cares? Just treat people with respect. Right now, we’re at a point in society where the transgender community is getting support and acceptance for the first time, in many ways. Calling people by their preferred pronouns doesn’t stifle your speech. Allowing people to define themselves doesn’t shut down political discussion. The result is a society that is more inviting to everyone, no matter who they are. We can see these changes from generation to generation. People have become more tolerant and pluralistic–less bigoted–over time, because of so-called political correctness. It requires the most modest of efforts to give a damn about other people.

Again: What does ‘respect’ mean? Does ‘respect’ entail giving someone legal recourse to punish someone who was too mean to them? Also, David is once again conflating his politics with ‘giving a damn about other people,’ which is not helping his case. I am as liberal as the come, and even I can at least acknowledge that people who are more socially conservative *gasp* think they’re doing the right thing and aren’t just being sociopathic assholes. And this is coming from someone who agrees with him that many anti-SJW’s views on trans people are uncomfortable and, dare I say, bigoted.

I still don’t know what so-called political correctness refers to. Yes, people have generally become less dickish towards those who are different from them (though, according to Buzzfeed’s low-hanging opinion, things are pretty much the same now as they were in the 1800s). Even so, after a certain point, his ‘so-called political correctness’ just muddies the waters. Insisting that black people are ‘people of color’ now does nothing to confront racist ideas or policies. A racist who learns to use the currently correct word-of-the-year isn’t going to stop being a racist. And the language policing that has been a key aspect of political correctness since its conception–for both the left and the right–has never done anything but turn arguments about legitimate issues into spats about what words you’re supposed to say. David says that language policing is the kind of detrimental political correctness he doesn’t like, but he makes no real distinction about what ‘language policing’ entails and where that line is drawn, and doesn’t seem to have any issue with it when he brings it up in regards to ‘gay’ and ‘retard.’ So is policing stupid slang only ‘so-called PC’ behavior? Who knows?

Doing otherwise usually just presents your mere lack of understanding of what it’s like to be someone else. Many people simply cannot imagine what it’s like to be black or gay or female, whatever. Anti-PC people often advocate for social justice for their own group, but not for others.

That horse you came in on to save me is a real beaut, David. Thanks.

You want to talk some more about how my skin tone and what’s in between my legs makes me such an alien creature that no other human could possibly understand me? News flash–everyone has a lack of understanding of what it’s like to be someone else, because other people are not them. Most people don’t even understand themselves. I am a black woman. I don’t know what it’s like walking around in the shoes of other black women, because our mutual melanin and vagina doesn’t make us interchangeable people with no significant differences. I’m no more difficult for you to understand than anyone else who isn’t you. Does David have a perfect understanding of the psyche and mental life of every other white guy there is because they’re oh-so-similar? This is what I fucking hate about liberals.

To get away from that rant, I agree that plenty of anti-PC people on the internet are hypocrites who deride identity politics, collective group rights, and privileges unless it’s their group benefiting from it. The rising tide of white nationalists who (rightly) hate white people being collectively stereotyped and homogenized by left-wing rhetoric but (wrongly) readily do that with other races is a good example.

People who spend all of their time talking about political correctness also often get confused about the idea of free speech. Many of them invoke the First Amendment in situations where it just doesn’t apply. The Amendment protects Americans against censorship by the government. A private citizen asking you to speak a certain way doesn’t violate your First Amendment rights.

Once again, I agree that there are plenty of MAGA hats running around shouting “FREE SPEECH!!!” every time they say something that gets them in social hot water. If you really want to push it you can say it violates their right to religious practice, if they’re so inclined to be against transgenderism for religious reasons. I haven’t heard that argument anywhere, though.

Even so, I’m getting a bit worn out with this “define the First Amendment” argument because it so often smacks of hypocrisy. Maybe not in David’s case, but in many others. To deviate from pronouns for a moment, the free speech issue is often brought up with social media ‘censorship’ and people being shouted down from their given platforms. All the people saying, “Well, it’s not technically a violation of First Amendment freedom of speech because it’s not the government doing it” would likely be singing a different tune much more concerned with the principle of the matter if it was a bunch of leftists Twitter accounts and college speakers being no-platformed by obviously right-leaning media figures and social networks. You would not hear the end about how their opinions were being censored and silenced and marginalized by their political opponents. But when it’s anything that doesn’t toe a very particular left-leaning line, “Oh, well there’s technically no censorship going on here.”

But even if you use a broader definition of censorship or free speech, like when it comes to censorship by non-government institutions, corporations, colleges, other administrative bodies . . . that sort of censorship can sometimes be overbearing too. But there is a difference between censorship and PC. The consequences of violating censorship are institutional and official. The consequences of violating PC are social. If you say “That’s so gay!” or “What a retard!” people may judge you and give you funny looks, but that is not censorship, that’s a social expectation about civility and empathy.

Does someone who says “What a retard!” in a private conversation outside of the workplace deserve to lose their job after someone overhears and calls their boss about it? Should a man who makes a stupid dick joke privately to one of his friends get fired from his job after a woman overhears them and gets offended? Should a 65-year-old woman who says some insensitive comments about the blacks in a Wal-Mart grocer line be dragged through the mud by millions of people and socially blacklisted and deplored as everything wrong with this country after multiple major networks decide to report on the video footage as ‘news’? Should a high schooler who got accepted into Harvard get that acceptance revoked because someone found out about a private joke between him and his friends? Should a college fraternity shut down and made to write an apology for promoting rape culture all because they have a pin-up calendar hung up in their frat house? Should a scientist be brought to tears on national television for wearing a shirt someone thought was insensitive? Should a video game developer have all press for his game taken away because years ago he tweeted that he wasn’t a feminist? I’m just wondering if these examples fall under people “getting funny looks” and being subjected to the totally acceptable social expectation of civility and empathy.

Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from the consequences of that speech.

Who decides what consequences are measured and proportionate? Who? This line has been beaten into people’s heads over and over again, but almost no one who has parroted it has brought up the situation of the consequences not being warranted.

And there are gray areas. We can have a conversation about the ‘ze’ and ‘zir’ pronouns and Canadian laws regarding speech and transgender issues there. I see the controversy there. There are some institutional, civic implications with regards to free speech, compelled, speech, with the government telling people what to say and what not to say. I understand why people have a problem with that, and I wouldn’t call someone bigoted for wanted to explore those issues.

Good.

But too much so-called PC, that isn’t by institutions and is just between individuals, arises organically and has been a natural part of our social history, just out of simple courtesy to others and their feelings.

What about offensive things that are just said between individuals? I hate to bring up the list again, but if the senile old lady talking about how she isn’t used to being around black people in a store said that in a one-on-one conversation between individuals, why is it the rest of the fucking world’s business to get offended by it and give her “funny looks?”

We’ve stopped using offensive terms to refer to minorities, women, and mentally disabled people. I have to question your basic capability to empathize with other human beings if you say those changes are censorship and are inhibiting your ability to speak freely. It isn’t thought policing. We’re talking about natural changes of lexicon and speaking habits.

Calling them “offensive terms” is a misnomer in the overwhelming majority of cases. ‘Negro’ wasn’t an offensive term for black people until it stopped being the term for black people. ‘Retarded’ wasn’t an offensive world for mentally handicapped people until someone decided to swap it out with another word. ‘Queer’ wasn’t an offensive word for gay people until people decided that they liked ‘gay’ better. David’s acting like these terms are inherently offensive and have always held the same connotation even when they were in popular usage. No, they’re only ‘offensive’ in retrospect, and it’s unwise to look back to the times when the terminology was commonly accepted and act like it was being used in an offensive context because now we’re smart enough to know not to say things like anymore.

There are people within those oh-so-alien marginalized groups who are also resistant to changes in language and the new ‘acceptable’ terms. When ‘post traumatic stress disorder’ became the new accepted nomenclature, the war veterans still called it ‘shell shock.’ There was an entire campaign in the early 2000s of people on the autistic spectrum telling everyone to stop caring so much about how mean the word ‘retarded’ was and start supporting organizations that helped mentally disabled people find jobs. There’s a video out right now of a bunch of gay 20-somethings scratching their heads over what LGBTQIA+ means. For someone so concerned with empathizing with people, he seems oddly oblivious to the idea that he’s ignoring the people that he’s derided other people for ignoring.

Once again, dude, stop implying that the people who don’t use the words you’d like them to use are sociopaths. Being slow to change and not being up-to-date on the constantly changing linguistics of personal identity rhetoric isn’t automatically indicative of someone just not giving a fuck about other humans.

Here is the fundamental question to explore with those who are endlessly up in arms about the so-called disastrous impact of PC: What is it that you truly want to say that you’re not able to say, because of PC?

“Black people commit more crime than other races.” “I don’t agree with feminism.” “Islam is causing some problems.” “Men are also victims of sexism sometimes.” “I don’t think race-based affirmative action should still exist.” “I don’t think diversity is important.”

Granted, I have the ability to say those things. But if I wanted to work in the video game or film industry, I sure as shit better not get caught on record saying any of them. Even in non-leftist circles, bringing up sexism faced by men gets you laughed out of the room or given dirty looks, and just try saying either of those comments about race to your typical black person. One who has never been on a college campus a day in their life would slap the shit out of you and call you an Uncle Tom. And on a college campus (at least the one I went to) all of these talking points are bound to get you labeled as the local alt-righter and have nothing you say be taken seriously ever again. So political correctness isn’t physically stopping me from saying those things, but it does stop me from being able to get a word in after I say them and even potentially ruins my chances at employment or recognition if the industry I want to get into catches wind of me not toeing the line.

And to appease the need for fairness: I can’t say that I’m an atheist whenever I’m back home. Because my home is the South, and I’ve lost friends and made people gasp in shock and been kicked out of houses for being offensive or being a “bad influence” just based off of saying that one sentence out loud.

There are still ways of speaking and not speaking that are just inherently growing out of our improving tolerance towards groups that have been marginalized historically. I also don’t understand why there are people who call themselves liberal and spend 99% of their time complaining about PC on the internet. Even if their complaints about PC are sometimes justified, it’s low-hanging fruit. Yeah, PC is sometimes a problem, and it’s sometimes used to warp debates or stop them all together. But, in of itself, it’s not the paramount issue that some make it out to be, and ‘solving’ PC, whatever that even means, is not going to improve the rights of Americans or other people of the world as much as tackling other issues would.

I don’t spend 99% of my time whinging about political correctness. The thing about it, though, is that when your criticize left-leaning politics, that is often what it comes back around to. You can’t talk about Islam, something I’m sure David agrees is a big issue, without talking about political correctness. You can’t talk about poverty in America without eventually having to discuss the political correctness it is steeped in regarded what needs to be done to fix inner-city ghettos and whether or not people should give a fuck about rural poverty at all. You can’t talk about domestic violence without eventually bringing up political correctness. You can’t talk about mental illness without eventually bringing up political correctness. You can’t talk about how to fix America’s broken two-party political system without bringing up how each party utilizes political correctness. You can’t talk about America’s education system without talking about the politically correct politics that go into school curriculum and affect teaching methods. You can’t talk about America’s skewed and untrustworthy media outlets without talking about how their stories are often shaped by, you guessed it, political correctness. I’m with David. I don’t want to talk about this shit anymore either, but it keeps popping up as a relevant facet that effects every “real problem” I feel like addressing–unless education, mental health advocacy, domestic abuse, wanting representative politics, the effects of poverty, terrorism, and media bias are all a bunch of non-issues now.

How about a little personal, anecdotal story to show David why I personally think political correctness is harmful? I just graduated from college, and I’m looking for jobs and the process gives me genuine anxiety attacks. Applying for colleges did too, for the same reason: I am a perfectionist with an absolute fear of failure and incompetency–I acknowledge those flaws about myself–and that insecurity is stoked to the nth degree whenever I apply to anything because I have the constant fear that I only get hired/accepted/recognized “because diversity.” If I get accepted into a program or am given a job interview or awarded a grant, there’s always a part of my brain that tells me, “You didn’t really earn this. You’re not really good enough. You don’t meet their high standards. You’re not as competent as everyone else they accepted. You’re the diversity hire. You’re the one they bring on board so they can tell all two people who care that they’ve got a black woman now.” That is what I think every single fucking time I achieve anything impressive. And it’s all thanks to a bunch of well-meaning, politically correct leftists insisting that I, as a black woman, probably wasn’t going to achieve anything of note unless affirmative action pushed me through the door. So I’m sorry for being so overly talkative about the thing that fucked me up mentally. I’ll try to talk about other things.

 

We also have to discuss the smokescreen of hiding behind the title of ‘classical liberal,’ and no I’m not calling out Dave Rubin here. Some so-called classical liberals have the idea that they’re the ‘real, original liberal.’ They bastardize the term ‘classical liberal’ and use it as an excuse to rant endlessly about PC and identity politics without seriously dealing with other issues. I also suspect that many of these people are just closeted right-wing libertarians and conservatives who want to hang out to their Liberal membership card and mask their social conservatism behind a word that sounds good like ‘classical liberal.’ Classical liberalism means free market capitalism, free trade, individual liberty–the ideas of John Locke, Adam Smith, and Thomas Jefferson. Classical liberalism does not directly translate to “Feminism is dumb, and I’ll call transgender women ‘he.'”

I don’t call myself a classical liberal. I’m sick of political labels at this point–I will call myself a liberal for expediency, but that’s about it. Something tells me that David had one Twitter run-in with a particularly vitriolic anti-SJW who didn’t want to use trans people’s preferred pronouns, calling David “a PC cuck” when David argued with him, and he decided to make this entire video in response. I also have no idea who he’s talking about or criticizing here, so I can’t really comment. He seems to be talking about particular people who are secretly conservative but just won’t admit to it, but I wouldn’t know who.

Domineering political correctness and identity politics are problems. I’ve talked about them. No doubt. But we have to understand what domineering PC is. PC Cultural creates a problem when it prevents us from having honest conversations about . . . Islam and terrorism for example. It creates an atmosphere where people are afraid to talk about the realities of things like martyrdom and religious dogma. That slows down human progress. It becomes counterproductive.

I agree.

However, letting people use whatever bathroom they want does not limit your individual liberty. Calling a person in a wheelchair disabled instead of a cripple does not repress intellectual freedom. Just like refraining from using ethnic slurs doesn’t either. Claiming that you’re a victim of the PC Police doesn’t exonerate you from being an ignoramus.

What is with this idea that people who decry political correctness are secretly just chomping at the bit, just foaming spittle and blood from the mouth, desperately wanting to hurl around racial slurs?

Refering to everything as PC makes the term lose its meaning like so many other terms already have so that it doesn’t have any power whenever its use is truly warranted.

I agree. That’s generally why I refrain from using that exact term unless it’s absolutely warranted.

Even more important, ridicule and demean people who abuse power, corrupt politicians, people who deserve it, not people who are just less fortunate or in a marginalized group.

Is the black woman who got a man fired for making a dick joke that she happened to overhear someone who counts as a “less fortunate, marginalized person?” The problem with this is that anyone can say that you’ve ridiculed and demeaned them, with it being very unclear as to when that statement should be taken as a serious offense against human decency and when it should be deemed actual political correctness. Unless David suddenly agrees that Muslims complaining about criticisms of Islam as being hateful are totally in the right and the person being labeled as an Islamophobe is just experiencing the justified consequences of free speech. The Muslims are a bunch of marginalized brown people, doncha know? Stop punching down, David. You’re a good liberal. You should know better.

Political Correctness on College Campuses and the Issue of Respect

This is the internet, and one thing that the internet is not and will never be lacking in is responses. Video responses. Blog responses. Published-in-an-actual-news-paper responses. Hell, this entire blog is almost nothing but responses. So, of course, whenever someone gets attention by the media decrying the state of political correctness on college campuses you can bet your sweet ass that it will get a million responses from huffy undergrads trying to explain away their borderline authoritarian mindsets as being helpful and progressive.

You saw it with the article by a liberal professor terrified by his liberal students. You saw it with the female professor accusing college campuses of “sexual hysteria.” You saw it with Christina Hoff Sommers apparently being so traumatizing a presence that people needed a childish “safe space” away from her and her mean, evil, dissenting opinion. You saw it with Chris Rock and Seinfeld who won’t even tour college campuses anymore because college kids don’t have a sense of humor anymore. And every time it happened, the internet exploded with lots of young twenty-somethings chomping at the bit to justify their future sociology and gen/sex degrees by telling the complainers just how wrong and behind the times they were and how anyone who complains about college campuses being “too PC” just doesn’t get it and/or is just unwilling to admit that they’re contributing to oppression.

I don’t get this. I just wish that people would own up to what they are. Be honest. If you’re so proud about your current state of being, why lie about your current state of being? Is that too much to ask? Am I being naive here? At least a neo-Nazi isn’t going to get all coy and defensive when you accuse him of thinking black people are inferior and try to justify it by backpedaling and being vague and constantly denying obvious things just to make himself look better. He owns that shit.

And you see this denial of reality all the goddamn time: Feminists insisting with their heart and soul that feminism isn’t a women’s rights movement but a gender rights movement that helps men too even though feminism objectively almost never talks about men’s rights. How about the Islam apologists who insist that Islam has absolutely nothing to do with violence committed explicitly in the name of Islam and we should just stop acting like it is? My last article was about people protesting cultural appropriation who were dancing through fucking hoops to avoid saying that they just didn’t want white people doing something because ‘fuck white people.’ Before someone calls me biased against liberals: The Koch brothers who insist that they’re totally not just out to squeeze every drop of oil money out of the country before people finally wise up, and how about the oh-so-concerned good Christians who can’t just admit that they liked it better in the 50s when being gay was a mental illness and you could slap your secretary’s ass without everybody getting all pissy about it.

That is what this is: People inexplicably denying the very obvious state of affairs for no well-defined reason. Colleges are PC places. Own up to it. Don’t try to justify it by insisting that “they’re not PC, you just don’t get it and want to complain about positive change.” Don’t make ad hominem attacks against people by implying that they only have an issue with it because they’re okay with -isms. Just own up to it. Colleges now have free speech zones and “hurtful speech” codes. They have college-financed safe spaces, and freshman orientations where you learn about preferred pronouns and cultural appropriation and privilege and micro-aggressions. It’s news every graduation season to hear about some new commencement speaker somewhere who got canceled for being some shade of “problematic.” It’s not uncommon for people or groups that disagree with the established liberal rhetoric of the campus to be escorted to their lecture hall with body guards. College campuses are very politically correct places.

I’m in college now. I have experienced all of those things above. I’ve seen people get kicked out for sharing a private joke amongst themselves that “enforced rape culture.” I’ve seen people demonized and abused for owning a “misogynistic” pin-up poster in their frat house. I’ve been there for people protesting the very presence of a speaker simply because they disagreed with him in a lecture that was ironically about the importance of discourse with those who disagree with you to the academic spirit. I went to the orientation event where I learned that if a guy hits on me when I’m drunk, he’s sexually pressuring me and can be reported to campus security. I’ve heard similar stories from my other friends, and we run the gamut of liberal arts college to research university to state school. The stories are not odd. They happen all the time.

I can see how this toxic idea of liberal progressiveness is affecting how people act, and I don’t like it. More selfishly, I can see very clearly how it affects me and people’s perception of me, and I don’t like that either. Maybe if it affected their perception of me in a positive way, I wouldn’t complain, but it does not. How about some anecdotes to prove my point?


My freshman (oh, I’m sorry, don’t want to be sexist) first-year . . . year of college, I started writing for our newspaper. My very first op-ed was actually about the PC culture I had experienced just being there a week and how I thought it wasn’t that great. Keep this in mind–I was a liberal from a small conservative, Southern town. I couldn’t comprehend a place being “too liberal” or “too accepting.” I wanted to be as liberal as possible and wrote off all of the comments on the internet saying that the place was out of control with its left-leaning politics as dumb. And even then, I was hit with how authoritarian “too much liberalism” could be. I didn’t want to criticize the place because I thought it was everything I’d wanted in a school, welcoming and accepting, but I was genuinely concerned enough to write the op-ep.

I’m not really a fan of the article–I think it’s rather amateurish and blog-y and doesn’t reflect my current “professional” writing style very well. That being said, the response to it in the comment section online was overwhelmingly negative. Not because it was blog-y and amateurish, but because ‘how dare I call the campus too PC, I must be a bigot and and idiot.’ I didn’t even know my articles could have comments on them, so I didn’t find out about the negative response until I got ten e-mails telling me I had to moderate the comments on my article. I read them and approved them to be seen because, as you can guess, I’m not for moderating comment sections and think that people can say what they want.

My general response was a.) giving almost no fucks, and b.) having the small number of fucks I did give just being amused by it. People were mean to me on the internet, oh my goodness, that never happens!!! If you hadn’t known what the comments were about, it would seem like I broke into these peoples’ houses, raped their dogs, and killed their families before cannibalizing the bodies. The sheer level disproportionate vitriol amused me the same way ridiculously racist YouTube comments amuse me. So I read the comments with my friends and had a few laughs over how infuriated people were for no real reason and pretty much forgot about it. . . . Which is why when people started being weird around me I had no idea why.

My editor was weird, some of my hallmates were weird, my faculty adviser was weird. It wasn’t because they disagreed with me, mind you, though they probably did. When I say they “acted weird,” I mean they treated me like a shake weight with a motion-sensing bomb taped to it–very, very, very, VERY delicately. One guy who wrote on the paper with me and was my hallmate finally broached the “touchy” subject of people being mean to me on the internet, and I’m fairly sure my jaw literally dropped over that being the reason people were so odd around me. It was two days ago by that point. Even if the comments had made me sad before, which they didn’t, who the fuck cares about mean things said to them on the internet for more than an hour, let alone days.

I then figured out that, because of the harsh comments on my article–comments that I personally approved, to remind you–people expected me to be devastated and traumatized and prone to bursting into tears whenever it was mentioned, I guess. They wanted to let me know that if I ever felt victimized, I could go to them for support and talk to them about it, and if I didn’t want to talk about the abuse I had experienced I didn’t have to, but they were there for me anyway. Dear god, I could’ve gotten one of them to follow me around with a fucking fainting couch, they thought I was that much of a fragile flower. Over mean comments on the internet.

I straight-up told my adviser that if I cared about people being mean to me I wouldn’t have put my opinion in a newspaper, and that I had even taken a screenshot of the best/worst comment because it was hilarious and I wanted to send it to my friends. The idea that I wasn’t rendered AWOL, curled up weeping in a corner somewhere because a stranger typed bad things at me was flabbergasting to them. Now, I appreciate that they cared enough about me and my feelings to offer their support if I was ever in need of it. I truly appreciate it. But GOD, you’d think I was a toddler with the way they treated me, like a strong wind would be enough to blow me over. I’m an adult. I have a backbone. If I didn’t, it was sure as hell about time to grow one, and that kind of coddling, hand-holding treatment wouldn’t help.

But, of course, that’s the kind of treatment I got. Because hurtful comments can hurt someone’s feelings. They’re very important, feelings. Having your feelings hurt is pretty much the worst thing that can happen to a person. Because women are so oppressed, so constantly victimized, that’s it’s only understandable that they’d need a fainting couch just to survive the most begin encounters with unpleasantness. It’s only understandable that anyone who wants to be a good ally would treat them with care. This is a safe space, after all.


How about another one?

I was in a small class of about fifteen people. It was the beginning of the semester and the beginning of what would turn out to be a really great and interesting class. Because it was so small a class and discussion-based, we all talked to the professor a lot and he talked to us. We learned where people were from, all that icebreaker shit. It was a three-hour seminar, so we had a break in the middle where people just lounged around and ate candy and talked about stuff. During one of these time, I and two other people were talking about word usage in TV commercials (I think, this was a while ago). Anyway, I made a comment about how I thought a certain phrase was more common than it apparently was, I don’t remember what. The professor then asked me if it was a common phrase in New Zealand.

For some reason, he’d gotten it in his head that I was from there. I don’t know why. Dude was British; they’re weird over there across the pond. My answer was “I don’t know, I’ve never been to New Zealand,” and then to make some jokingly sarcastic comment at him for forgetting where I was from because he was cool and that was the dynamic we had. I thought it was funny. He was super embarrassed and I didn’t get why. And the other people who heard the exchange were making that look–you know the one, the “something problematic was said and we don’t know how the victim is going to react” look.

So I tried my best to get it across to everyone that I didn’t care. I have an accent that is apparently incredibly difficult to identify. I’m from the South, and I thought my accent was clearly a southern one, but people think my accent is any number of random things. I’ve also made it my personal goal as an ambiguously brown girl to be mistaken for every race/ethnicity humanly possible, so that above incident was actually really awesome for me because I didn’t think I’d ever be mistaken for a Maori. I was killing it at Racially Ambiguous Bingo! No one else was going to be able to mark off that shit. But while I was internally celebrating over being mistaken for something so obscure, everyone else was just exchanging “the look” instead of just enjoying a funny moment for what it was. Because it was fucking hilarious to my TvTropes-wired brain, but there was no one there to laugh with me because they were all so worried about offense being taken. There was no one there who I could share a laugh with in a brief second of glowing camaraderie. One of my classmates even thought that I had only laughed because the micro-aggression made me uncomfortable and that racism has made it unacceptable for people of color such as myself to express when racism hurts us. I had to tell her that I really just thought it was funny.

Having to walk on eggshells all the time, even when benign, innocent mistakes that can easily be joked about are made, is just horrible. I’m sure all my classmates would have backed me up had I complained to the administration about my straight white male professor giving me such egregious racial micro-aggressions. Because college campuses are where easy-goingness and a sense of humor go to die, as Seinfeld so accurately pointed out. It’s apparently impossible for a black person to have a sense of humor. Any time I laugh at a race joke, it’s apparently only because I’m too uncomfortable to complain about it at that very moment. We must all have our delicate sensibilities protected, you know?


Those are just two anecdotes that I think accurately get across just how stifling college campuses can be sometimes. People who fit the “right” oppressed demographics are coddled like children, our reactions to non-issues being watched over like vultures to make sure that when offense is taken (and it is always ‘when’ with this mentality, never ‘if’) they can attack whoever necessary with the appropriate amount of “progressive” zeal.

Because of this overly-PC, identity-politics centered rhetoric being passed around through academia–probably originated in academia–people don’t respect me. They just don’t. They may pity me. They may ‘understand what I’ve gone through.’ They may ‘want to give me my voice.’ They may even like me. But they don’t respect me.

If they respected me, they wouldn’t treat me like a child. They wouldn’t treat me like a delicate little flower that needs to be guarded from the world because I’m not strong enough to stand on my own. If they respected me, they wouldn’t hover over me, just waiting for me to throw a tantrum over some imagined slight. They wouldn’t assume that I was disingenuous, that my words and my actions were just an act to cover up the real offense I must be feeling, according to them and their ideas. If they respected me, they wouldn’t constantly lower the standards that I’m held to because it’s apparently inherently impossible for me to meet the standards they’ve set for themselves. They may respect “minorities” as some vague, all-encompassing term. But they don’t respect me. And if they are a woman or a person of color who still stands by that mentality, they don’t seem to respect themselves either.

You don’t treat someone who you respect that way. And that’s one of the most horrible things I’ve come to see in this new left-wing mentality. It can talk all it wants about how it’s about equality and acceptance. But if it’s ‘equality and acceptance’ at the cost of losing all respect from the people who are supposed to be on my side just by virtue of being a woman with a darker skin tone, then I don’t want it.

At least the fucking Nazi will be disrespectful to my face.