April 28, 2004

Danger! Danger! PC crap ahead.

Just finished reading this article wherein the author both explains the PC phenomenon and provides several examples. Excerpt:

Milan Kundera's novel The Joke traces the fortunes and amours of a young student, Ludvik, after his exasperatingly earnest girlfriend decides to show the authorities a postcard he had written to her as a joke: "Optimism is the opium of the people! A healthy atmosphere stinks of stupidity! Long live Trotsky!"

As a result of this whimsy, Ludvik finds himself expelled from the Communist Party and the university and is eventually conscripted to work in the mines for several years. Among other things, Kundera dramatizes the dynamics of political correctness. He is especially good at portraying one of its signal features, humorlessness. One of the points of The Joke is that totalitarian societies cannot abide a joke; humor is anathema; political correctness is a kind of geiger counter that registers deviations from the norm of earnestness. Any deviation is suspect, any humorous deviation is culpable.

The allergy to humor that is integral to political correctness is one reason the art of parody has suffered in recent years. Then, too, a parodist, to be successful, must be able to count on his audience's ability to distinguish clearly between the parody and the reality being spoofed. The triumph of political correctness has long since blurred that distinction. Whose ideological antennae are sensitive enough to register accurately the shifting claims of victimhood and entitlement? A mayoral aide in Washington, dc, uses the word "niggardly" in conversation with a black colleague; the colleague takes offense because he thinks "niggardly" is racist; the aide promptly offers his resignation, which is accepted. True? Or parodic exaggeration? True, all too true.
Item: A school board in San Francisco seeks to require that 70 percent of school reading be books by "authors of color." One board member explained: "Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, for instance, has a bias against African-Americans. And Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, while a great work, has an economic bias. It characterizes people based on their class."

Item: A mid-level executive at a large bank is overheard wishing a colleague "Merry Christmas." Her superior takes her aside and gravely tells her that such language might be construed as offensive and warns her against indulging in such public displays of religious sentiment.

Item: A doctor I know at Good Samaritan Hospital outside Chicago writes a letter to the hospital's "Cultural Diversity Team." He points out that their Diwali Festival celebrating Hindu culture neglected to mention the appalling abuse of women that is a prominent feature of that culture. A firestorm erupts. The president of the medical staff informs the letter writer that "many individuals reading your words . . . have found them disturbing, insulting, and ... elitist" and warns further that "continued correspondence in the same vein . . . will be viewed as harassment and contributing to a hostile workplace environment." In other words, cut it out or get out--which is not, incidentally, a bad characterization of the PC understanding of dialogue.

On an even more ominous front we have the activities of the European Union, that bastion of political correctness, whose tax-exempt ministers are appointed, not elected, who seem to be accountable only to themselves, who meet in secret and issue binding diktats that affect the daily lives of people all over Europe. It is nice work if you can get it.

Read the whole thing.

Posted by Physics Geek at April 28, 2004 09:30 PM StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble It!