Those of you who know me know that I like to hang out in conservative forums. I do this for a couple of reasons. One, because I’m generally interested in talking with people of different backgrounds. And two, because it’s a fascinating anthropological experiment to explore the depths of corporate special interest group marketing. This post is more about the latter than the former.
I know I’m not going to convince the most extreme. So I just try to understand and expose them to an actual liberal—unlike the people they’re told are “liberals.” One of the things that comes up a lot is “political correctness.” They are really angry about political correctness. So I wanted to hear what they had to say about PC. Instead of arguing, I asked, “What is it that you want to say but don’t feel you can?”
The first answer seems to be, we don’t want to say it out loud.
This isn’t “liberals” censoring anyone though. This is self-censorship. I mean, I’m pretty sure I know what this is all about. But I’d rather hear the ugly and get it out into the open.
We all care what people think.
This was a pretty good answer. I think what he’s getting at is that we all like to see ourselves as moral.
I wasn’t going to stop asking though. Because with many other folks on the forum, I know the answer.
You can’t call midgets midgets and you can’t call gays fagots (sic).
Well, now we’re getting somewhere. I’m not sure exactly why this is important but at least it’s honest. Some conservatives want the power to call people names. And, they want this power without being perceived as “immoral,” or as I put it, as assholes.
At this point, it was OK for me to call him on his behavior. Notice that I didn’t say anything about anyone until someone said something “assholic.” I could also have used homophobic or discriminatory, but “asshole” seemed more appropriate and powerful.
Now people didn’t like this. But I had the moral high ground. He’d acted like a tool so I had every right to call him on it.
If someone acts like an asshole, I have no issue calling out that behavior. Because what’s really going on is they want the power to be an asshole without being called an asshole. This is the real “political correctness.” The difference is that I have a legitimate action to point to. I can say you’re being an asshole because you’re being purposefully offensive. But I want to make sure they understand that what they’re really “angry” about is that anyone is challenging their assholic behavior.
It’s called society.
No, you didn’t. You acted like an asshole and then I called you one. If you don’t want to be called an asshole, don’t act like one.
Stop censoring me!
I’m pretty sure I’m getting it right. You want the power to call people names without being called one yourself. Just like you’re fine with censoring when it’s you who are doing the censoring. Just like you have no issue with government when government is doing what you want. See also: wars, handouts to wealthy, etc.
The only time “political correctness” matters is when someone is calling out their behavior. The moderators love “political correctness” when they’re doing the censoring. To their credit, when I’ve pointed this out in the past, it has actually gotten through. Change is hard. Especially if you think someone is trying to “take something away” from you.
But what about Christmas and Easter?
And now we’re getting to some of the fear. Much of it fake. I have no issue with Christmas and Easter. The issue has to do with separation of church and state. We should either teach no religion in school or teach about all religions from a historical perspective.
Refocus on what’s really going on. Pundits are telling these people that they are victims.
When you point out the lack of actual victimization in the right context it can be pretty powerful.
At this point it’s almost comical because they’ve stated that the fight is about them not being able to act like assholes in public. It’s also a little sad and easy to get angry if you compare it to the fight to keep police officers from killing black people. Or the fight for a living wage.
I can’t say what I want.
I’m sure you get the point though. PC is really just a way to pretend to look moral while shutting down any opposition.
All you have to do is be more moral. This can be tough though because our tendency is to want to throw facts at people. People often compliment me and say, “Wow, you really have a good handle on the facts of that issue.” I always find this funny because that’s not what I do. What I understand is morality and I know how to take strong moral positions that are easy to win.
How do you break through the PC trap?
One of the best tactics I’ve found is to simply hand conservatives a mic and ask them what they want to say. Especially in a public forum. They can’t seem to stop calling people derogatory, offensive names.
Let’s be honest, we all know the ugliness is there. Personally, I’d prefer it out in the open where people look like assholes. If it’s out in the open, I can deal with it by holding the moral high ground and asking them why it’s so important for them to be an asshole.
And there’s really nothing they can do about it.
David Akadjian is the author of The Little Book of Revolution: A Distributive Strategy for Democracy (ebook now available).