Saturday, October 16, 2010

PC or not PC?

As soon as I even see the letters P and C together in a non-computing context, I completely lose interest in whatever I am reading.  (Yeah OK, in a computing context too.)  This goes double if they are preceded by "un-" or "anti-".   I say, the sooner we do away with these terms, the better.  Let's say what we really think and be prepared to suffer the consequences.  Let's stop hiding behind ridiculous terminology.  If you don't really care about something enough to actually do something about it, don't pay it lip service.  If you're going to be a cunt, then be one and don't try and flip it by accusing others of being too sensitive or not having a sense of humor.  I don't agree that everything we say outside the privacy of our homes should be sterilised so as to stay in line with what has been deemed appropriate.  But I also disagree with those who shoot their mouths off and then don't stand behind their own words.  When I lived in London, people (strangely enough, white male people) would constantly make the most ignorant, bigoted remarks/jokes then would tell me that they were just winding me up?!  I would then make it clear that I was now wound the fuck up and they should be prepared to deal with that.

Quite clearly I don't exactly have the most PG sensibility.  My language and sense of humor is not always for the faint of heart.  Sometimes I am just straight-up bitchy and shallow.  But I am always ready to back myself up or to apologise for being a dick.  I do try and gauge my audience and adjust my content so as to not offend the people I am directing my hilarious comments to, as well as those in my immediate vicinity.  Apparently that is what's known as being politically correct.  And I thought it was just not being a jerk.  What the hell is wrong with thinking before you speak?  Or just taking a look around?  I don't think that's being hypocritical.  You wouldn't tell your grandmother a dirty joke or your boss a drug-fueled exploit. (Actually get a few drinks in me and I lose all ability to be situation-specific content-appropriate.) It's just unspeakably arrogant to decide, without really thinking about it, that everyone within earshot should not be so sensitive.  I am constantly having conversations inflicted on me (usually at one of my temp jobs) that I am offended or irritated by but can't really respond to because they are not actually talking to me.  Doesn't always stop me but would my silence be considered acquiescence?
I have had an issue with political correctness for as long as I have been aware of the term.  It has always seemed to me that the wrong people get upset about it.  Because it is just a trick.  It's just lip service.  It's just using words to rename things, people and concepts without really challenging the establishment or making any real changes to the power structure.  It is alarmingly easy to appease those much lower in the totem pole by just giving their jobs more official-sounding names or magnanimously "outlawing" certain hurtful taunts.  A rose by any other name should still stand up for their rights.  Don't fall for that shit.  Just because they are no longer saying it, doesn't mean they're not thinking it.  I would rather know who stands against me.  I respect honesty above all else.

Of course, the worst thing about PC has been the backlash against PC.  Nothing annoys me more because somehow people have been given (or rather given themselves) permission to be more thoughtless, insensitive and obnoxious than ever.  Perhaps not ever but more racist, sexist and homophobic than has been deemed seemly in quite some time.  And while it may seem that this is the honesty I ask for, it is not.  Because it is underhanded, trying to deny the right to respond. A sphincter says what?    


  1. I agree. PC is just another made in the USA term that pisses me off no end. Common sense, empathy, civility, diplomacy, tactfulness are all established terms in our language, why adopt a silly PR acronym as a replacement? I believe in freedom of speech; but that freedom shouldn't be used to to offend others or incite violence. Common sense, I guess. Nice post Angeline :)

  2. Agreed, let's just all be grownups. Thanks, Joe.