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A driving force behind Political Correctness

This article was sent to me with the request that I publish it. I agreed with the proviso that I would accompany it with a counterpoint essay. My essay follows the one by Sage7.


A driving force behind Political Correctness
by Sage7
September 1, 2006

Asserted here is one simple principle, you can observe it for yourself.

Political Correctness (PC) has in effect become a new morality intended to displace Traditional Morality(TM) for the purpose of identifying who in society are the good people. TM focuses on matters of interpersonal moral accountability like do not do things that hurt other people, while all admonitions in PC are impersonal virtues like protecting the environment, animals, the under-privileged, and victims of social injustices, etc.. These are all good things, but they are all impersonal.

The common thread through PC is assertions or implications of moral superiority or acceptability apart from TM values. Note that this definition of PC includes not just language adjustments (as asserted in the Wikipedia), but any kind of impersonal morally good principle upon which a person can claim moral superiority without acknowledging TM. The objective is to allow a person to feel good about themself in spite of the fact that choices that person has made have had bad consequences for the people closest to them: family, friends, lovers, co-workers, and other associates. This is why advocates of PC are so often accused of acting out of guilt... it is because they are... guilty of something that drives them into needing to feel good about themselves without addressing the real issues regarding their behavior.

That displacement is intended is reinforced by the fact that people who are strident advocates of PC are also intent on diminishing TM in our society. That is because a PC society is less likely to hold people accountable for personal moral failures.

Evidence: PC's many policies designed to avoid hurting people's feelings, except for the feelings of people who advocate TM.

Evidence: PC advocate's purging the words 'sin' and 'evil' from the PC vocabulary. Whose feelings are being protected by this? Just those who do not wish to examine the direct and indirect harmful consequences of their personal life.

Evidence: PC advocate's efforts to distance society from TM institutions and language. (No other people group is so singled out by PC advocates.)

Note that this definition stands without the any force of religion. Religion only strengthens this definition. Unwise interpersonal deeds can and do bring sorrow to other people. Really "good people" appreciate constructive feedback and try to improve their behavior and to compensate those they harmed. In contrast, people who try to escape from interpersonal moral accountability pose a threat of harm to those around them. In effect they violate the fundamental contract of civilization... that we can live in close proximity if we agree to not hurt each other.


Point Counterpoint
Richard Harter
September 1, 2006
As a side note the term PC (Political Correctness) dates back to the early twentieth century in Marxist circles. The essence was to treat social and moral questions and issues as political questions with the reasoning used being based on Marxist doctrine. The term was both used seriously and as a jibe. Since the advent of the new age politics of the flower power revolutionary days it has mostly been used as a jibe by those who felt that the politics of protest were both ridiculous and irritating. The point of the gibe is to treat the politics being mocked as putting the politics of protest above people.

The above essay accepts the rather fraudulent rhetoric of the gibe without question. This is done with a rather simple trick. Two stereotypes, TM and PC, are introduced, each with a simplistic description. For example, TM (Traditional Morality) is supposedly about questions of interpersonal moral responsibility. But what actually is traditional morality? It is a conglomeration of mores and moral prescriptions. Philosophers write weighty tomes on ethics; theologians ponder deeply on questions on right and wrong. Much of traditional morality is simply a matter of folkways, social rules that make life run more smoothly.

Similarly the PC in the essay is a conglomeration of varieties of protest politics. The vague reification of PC dissolves as soon as we ask "Who actually is trying to get rid of 'sin' and 'evil' in our discourse." What is the evidence? The answer is that there is no evidence; there is simply naked assertion.

There are statements like, "The objective is to allow a person to feel good about themself in spite of the fact that choices that person has made have had bad consequences for the people closest to them: family, friends, lovers, co-workers, and other associates." Who are we talking about here? Who are these people whose objective is blah, blah, blah? How do we know that this is their objective? These are questions without answers.

They are questions without answers because the entire essay is rooted in a fallacy. Treating abstract social forces as people is a fundamenal mistake. People can have objectives; coordinated groups of people can have objectives; things like truth and beauty do not.


This page was last updated September 1, 2006.

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