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View Diary: Some thoughts on PC (311 comments)

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  •  hmmm (none)
    Interesting comment.

    It's not about how "i feel" when people use certain words, or what I think they mean. It's not about dividing the world up into "good" people that use the "right" words and "bad" people that do not either.  It's really about equality, and how we get there.

    The goal of changing common useage to be respectful of everyone is a necessary to achieve equality. So PC useage is a means to an end, rather than an end in itself.

    To get there, I am recommending an anti-moralistic, pragmatic approach that stresses  that everyone in the US is FREE to speak however they want (within some very generous limits), and that we vigorously defend these rights. That does not mean there won't be consequences for the speaker. For instance, getting their asses kicked for being rude.

    Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others. Groucho Marx

    by markymarx on Wed Jun 01, 2005 at 03:13:57 PM PDT

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    •  I get it, (none)
      and I think we agree almost completely.  Demonizing the words themselves is of course pointless.  But the words represent and convey attitudes, and some of those attitudes are ones we want to discourage.

      I'm just saying you must personally be offended by the speaker, otherwise why bother saying anything?  And if that's the case, cut out the middleman and kick that ass yourself.

      I know, it's easy to say, hard to do.  Some of the more awkward situations in my life have been because I was the one on the construction site who wouldn't just laugh when the foreman said "Of course it ain't gonna work if you're gonna nigger-rig it like that," or the one on the Forest Service trail crew who wouldn't stop asking Joe what exactly he meant by "work like spics," or the one, or the one in the product meeting who asked his boss if we should set up a meeting with HR to discuss his public impressions of an Indian call center worker...which somehow morphed into Apu screaming "Get out of my store."

      You get the idea.  I'm considered by my friends--in Boulder, even!--to be one of the most laid-back folks you'll meet.  But I don't sit still for bigotry.

      The news is not the news. I support ePluribus Media.

      by ubikkibu on Wed Jun 01, 2005 at 03:33:02 PM PDT

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      •  We agree on the goals, but... (none)
        Claiming some homophobe will get their ass kicked in Chelsea if they keep talking a certain way about gay people will leave very little doubt about where you stand on the issue.  Trust me.  

        This is what I was trying to get at in the "history of PC" part of my first comment. I prefer the earlier, ironic PC to the more totalitarian version.  

        Humor, equality and liberation!

        Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others. Groucho Marx

        by markymarx on Wed Jun 01, 2005 at 03:56:01 PM PDT

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    •  I disagree (4.00)
      I've never believed that the whole point about changing common usage is to reach a goal of being respectful to everyone.  I've always understood it to be about developing the capacity for critical awareness and radical self-reflection, as well as keeping that capacity well-honed.  

      The point isn't to get people to stop saying nasty or insulting things, but to hold people accountable for the nasty or insulting things that they let go by without saying.   I've always believed that this basic misconception about what the point was, helped to fuel the right-wing backlash. I would never tell someone not to say the n word, or not to use the language of sexual brutality when describing people they don't like; I just point out to them how little respect I have for people who can let stuff like that go by without any pause or reflection for what they are actually saying. Speaking that way (uncritically and non-reflexively) is an action, and it tells me something about the speaker.  I simply remind people of that. Which is, I believe, all any of us has a right to do in a culture of "freedom of expression".  

      Its not about getting people to "say the right things", its always only been about getting people to be accountable for all the stuff in their own consciousness that "goes without saying".

      (And its also NOT about being humorless).


      In a democratic society some are guilty, but all are responsible. -Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

      by a gilas girl on Wed Jun 01, 2005 at 05:42:49 PM PDT

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      •  manichean moralism (none)
        That's a very subtle, interesting comment, but we do disagree.

        As an example of a turning point against PC, consider the whole Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas spectacle. The right-wing backlash occured in part because people thought it was about prohibiting a few specific words -- public hair on a coke can.  When in fact, that case was about principles-- equal rights in the workplace. As I was saying earlier, the words then, should be seen more as a means to an end--which isn't consciousness, it's equal rights.

        But for you this may be about consciousness, and that's fine--in fact it's great.  But I wouldn't want to confuse your or my spiritual and political development with politics. AND the effort that goes to divide the world up into bad peope and good people based on whether or not they use certain words is some sort of manichean moralism. Star Wars with words. I prefer a more laissez faire attitude towards other people's "consciousness," just as I would prefer other people--let's say evangelical christians-- leave me alone. I prefer this both for practical political reasons, and because of how I see the world.

        Note that a change in consciousness of sorts did occur though during and after the civil rights movment, but it took more than a generation. When people changed their outward speech, their kid's consciousness changed, often even if their own views didn't.

        Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others. Groucho Marx

        by markymarx on Wed Jun 01, 2005 at 10:03:18 PM PDT

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      •  What does that look like? (none)
        I like the thoughts but I'm having a hard time imagining how this would play out. Got an example?

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