Our generation did not invent political correctness, but we can fight it

Political correctness is not a new phenomenon. The fact is that many dangerous questions are currently walled off by the baby boomers who dominate our universities (and large sectors of the media). Today’s culture war likes to scapegoat young people for the rise of the illiberal Left, but the responsibility really lies with the generation who came before us.

Each one of us has the ability to generate a hypothesis. A hypothesis simply comes from asking a question about the world and then using our imaginations to answer it. Almost every advance in human history first came from a person willing to look at the world, or the status quo, from a different angle. But if questions and hypotheses are going to have any impact they must be articulated. Questions have to come out of our minds and into the world around us.

The problem with P.C. is that it constrains the questions that we feel we can ask both of ourselves, and our superiors. It allows orthodoxy to creep in (as it always does). There is, however, a continuing perception that arguments against P.C. are only made by those wishing to go around calling people racist or sexist names. The question is often asked: what exactly is wrong with P.C. if it makes us more civil? The short answer is nothing. If that were all P.C. were about, no-one would have a problem with it at all.

If P.C. meant that fewer ad hominem insults were used in public discourse, intellectuals across the board would support it. If it meant that individuals were not clapped in the stocks in sadistic public-shaming campaigns, P.C. would be progressive. But in practice, those who enforce P.C. standards seem to specialise almost exclusively in ad hominem attack. Twitter mobbing, which quite literally destroys people’s reputations and livelihoods, is the apotheosis of P.C. justice. There is nothing civil or redeeming about it.

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After the transformation of society brought by the 1960s, a cohort of sentimental liberals naturally flocked to academia. Many of them set up shop in the humanities and social sciences and spread both post-modernism and blank slate fundamentalism (the ideological resistance to biology, genetics and evolution) far and wide throughout the academy. These two mutually reinforcing ideologies have had a massive effect on scholarship and the wider culture.

It would be prudent for us to remember that of the young people who police language and thought on campus today, many have not yet left home; their privilege has effectively kept them in a state of intellectual neoteny. While the political movements that their parents were involved in were creative, aspirational and good-hearted, many of these movements have now ossified into the most brittle of orthodoxies. P.C. students on campus today are simply foot soldiers for their parents’ ideologies. And before we attack young people for being censorious and priggish, we should remember that this kafkaesque political baggage is what this generation has to bear.

***

In 2005, when the president of Harvard, Larry Summers, hypothesised that women’s under-represention in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) might have something to do with men’s greater variance in IQ scores, his hypothesis was declared untenable. Touching on two taboos at the same time – intelligence research and sex differences – meant that he was met with the writhing apoplexy of the self-righteous mob. The scientific evidence was ignored, very few, even in the academy, defended his right to hypothesise, and he lost his presidency.

P.C. crusaders in the academy also have a long tradition of obstructing empirical work into sex differences. One psychologist repeatedly labels research looking at brain sex differences as “neurosexism” and “neurotrash”. And discouraging research into brain sex differences has very real consequences. In 2013, the drug administration of the U.S., the FDA, issued a statement instructing dosing for popular sleeping pills to be halved for women. Their decision implied that women had been overdosing on sleeping pills for nearly twenty years. Neuroscientists such as Larry Cahill, have described the situation as pitiful. P.C. dogma has stymied research into female neurobiology for years.

It is not my generation that is responsible for this kind of groupthink. Yes, original feminism was creative and brilliant in extending principles of humanism and universalism to women. But my generation were not bequeathed a political movement with an Enlightenment impulse. What we inherited was the intellectual equivalent of a dead carcass. Those of us born in or after the 1980s, who studied humanities at university, were told by our professors that “there is no universal truth”. We either dropped out – or became indoctrinated into a cult of epistemological nihilism. My generation did not bring the rot of post-modernism and blank slate fundamentalism into the academy. How dare the wider culture blame us for this. We are the generation left with liberal arts educations that have been trashed from the inside out.

***

It might serve us to remember that the enforcers of dogmas today would have been the enforcers of dogmas yesterday. Those who went after Dr. Matt Taylor of the Rosetta Mission for his shirt, would have happily brought Galileo before the Inquisition – and they would have thought it was for his own good. Whether they are warriors for God, or warriors for Social Justice, the moral certainty of holier-than-thou crusaders tends to remain the same.

Today’s “Stepford Students” are indeed disconcerting. But we ought not forget where and with whom their belief system originated. The Old Guard will eventually leave their postings in the academy (and the media) and it is up to us to make sure they take their P.C. dogmas with them. Of course, the baby boomers have made wonderful contributions –in art, culture, technology and science – but we should feel free to leave their orthodoxies, taboos and political baggage behind.

We did not invent P.C. but we can fight it. The first step is to drop our parents’ blank slate ideologies, including post-modernism, into the dustbin of history. The second step is to start asking questions, even if they offend. The third step is to get them down on paper (or the computer screen) and circulate them with other heretics. We all have the ability to generate hypotheses, and hypotheses are the engine of progress.

228 Comments

  1. Atlanta Man

    If you are going to write something so intelligent and well thought out, you should warn people. “Trigger Warning” independent thought will be in this article, may cause doubt about social justice dogma!

    Seriously though, great post.

  2. Mike Caputo

    ossified into the most brittle of orthodoxies

    love it

    writhing apoplexy of the self-righteous mob

    love it

    the moral certainty of holier-than-thou crusaders

    love it

    drop our parents’ blank slate ideologies, including post-modernism, into the dustbin of history

    spot on

    Have you read Steven Pinker? I think part of the strategy has to be cultivating relationships / followings of people like him because he can work on the rot from the inside.

    Great work. It’s always encouraging to see young folks who recognize the untenability of the leftist political culture.

  3. David B

    A breath of fresh air. I just finished reading “The Blank Slate” by Steven Pinker, and he hit on many of the same points. I only hope to live to see the end of this slavish and dogmatic approach to the social sciences in our universities.

  4. Si

    Excellent post. Many of us ancients think the vacuous nonsense of post-modernism and PC are a betrayal of the left / liberalism / feminism of the sixties / seventies. We should have tried harder. You’ll just have to take it back.

  5. royyman32

    My main complaint about PC is how it filters statements towards what is socially acceptable or defines something that is socially acceptable. Your points about sex differences and issues with feminism are also very important. Studying intent is sometimes as worthwhile as studying action and you did a good job with both. I enjoy your academic flavor of writing.

  6. A-leprechaunist (@aleprechaunist)

    Great post!

    I regard pomo and the “social justice warfare” that has sprung from it as a retreat from enlightenment values regarding the inherent worth and dignity of each individual. The essence of SJW thought seems to be that everyone can be reduced to a small set of dichotomies – POC/white, male/female, gay/straight, cis/het etc. – and once reduced to a set of labels, you are interchangeable with anyone else with the same set of labels. Not only your life experiences but your thoughts and attitudes are predetermined and there is no room for individual variation. I find it a horrifically reductionist and collectivist mindset which makes postmodernism a misnomer – it would more accurately be called premodernism.

  7. lazydakini

    Reblogged this on Ramblings of a Lazy Dakini and commented:
    ‘If P.C. meant that fewer ad hominem insults were used in public discourse, intellectuals across the board would support it. If it meant that individuals were not clapped in the stocks in sadistic public-shaming campaigns, P.C. would be progressive. But in practice, those who enforce P.C. standards seem to specialise almost exclusively in ad hominem attack. Twitter mobbing, which quite literally destroys people’s reputations and livelihoods, is the apotheosis of P.C. justice. There is nothing civil or redeeming about it.’

  8. Staffan

    Great post,

    The thing that still puzzles me is how young people embrace the orthodoxy of their parents rather than rebel against it. This seems like a new development. You write,

    “their privilege has effectively kept them in a state of intellectual neoteny,”

    but intellectual neoteny would include traits like curiosity, openmindedness and playfulness. It seems more like the opposite; that they were born old, already stuck in their ways. Why this is I how no idea…

  9. Lee Kelly

    Wow. Good post, and good point. The curious thing is why young people have embraced this secular quasi-religion rather than rebelled against it. I wonder, perhaps, if it’s related to declining birthrates and helicopter parenting. Essentially, this generation has been outnumbered and controlled by their parents and authorities from the moment they were born. They’ve had little freedom, and have lacked the numbers, to form a rebellious subculture like their parents once did.

  10. Jonathan Ferguson

    I am in agreement of some of what you say here, but I wonder to what extent an abstract notion like “postmodernism” can really cover the complexity of phenomena here. According to my understanding, there are things that (arguably) could be considered “postmodern,” but that aren’t along the lines of the more obviously ludicrous assertions like “mathematics is socially constructed” (whatever that means).

    As one possible example, it is possible to criticise abstract appeals to a reified “Humanity” as a substitute “God.” The argument that not everyone gets to be “human” (sic) is as subject to abuse as any other idea, but there is a lot of truth in it. My concern is that if the baby is thrown out with the bathwater, and the more reasonable ideas of recent decades lose favour, a resurgent form of what I tend to call “absolved modernism” might fill the vaccum.

    I mean, I am all for the “chastened modernism” of people like Isaiah Berlin and Karl Popper, which I believe to some extent can be in mutual assistance with the more “sensible” postmodern ideas; but what will happens if a more explicitly virulent, whiggish and interventionist modernism (could one call it “Neo-Modernism” or something?) takes its place.

    I guess it’s a tricky one. I’m aware of the Lysenkoist anti-science nonsense in some postmodern theory, and I agree that modernist scientific method is a better safeguard against eugenics and other atrocious policies and ideologies than the postmodern “New Science.” But even so, I am worried about the dangers of a possible retreat into a backward kind of thinking that would possibly contain the vices of 18th/19th century thought, with fewer of its virtues.

    I don’t suggest that you are advocating such a thing, but it’s something I do tend to worry about.

    Sorry for the length.

  11. tenuousgrail

    You touched on a possible reason with helicopter parenting. I believe the self esteem movement is largely responsible for widespread adoption of dogmatic political correctness by millennials.

    So many millennials have traits of myopic narcissism. What possible dogma enables such a warped worldview more perfectly? “I have a right never to be offended.” “You have to learn my personal pronouns or you are a bigot.” “Facts that upset me are just lies.” “You’re not allowed to express ideas that I don’t like, and I’ll shout at you until you go away or become silent.” These are childish, irrational, and most importantly egocentric beliefs. It would take a damaged or underdeveloped person to believe them and push them on others.

    I fear we will discover, through further research, that a significant part of the millennial generation was hamstrung in their childhood development by the unsound, dangerous parenting trends which were in vogue in the 80s.

  12. lberns1

    Whew! I used to point out to folks that it was going to take the generation of people born in the 1980s to poke a finger in the eyes of PC anti-intellectualism. Glad to see that day has finally arrived.

  13. Matthew_Bailey (@Matthew_Bailey)

    OMG! There ARE younger progressives who get this!

    I am very happy to see that the fight against Identity Politics, P.C., Post-Modernism, and other Leftist ideologies that are just as a anti-Enlightenment as the Far-Right (which these days seems to be the mainstream right, sadly) has begun to be picked up by more and more younger people.

    It is sad that PC began as a well meaning idea, but was quickly adopted by people with rather toxic agendas as a means of censorship and silencing their opposition (much as the word “Privilege” has become a means of shutting down opposing voices – the word describes a very real phenomenon, but it is now a poorly chosen word to describe this phenomenon. Yet it remains the only choice for describing this issue that is recognized)

    I shall be looking for future posts…

  14. Stan Middlebrooks

    Over the top of the trenches, it is time to take on P.C. in full battle and Ms. Lehmann is leading. Wonderful article

  15. ian

    As a baby boomer I’m not convinced it was our lot that were the problem. That said those of us that fed off the Whitlam largesse have a lot to answer for. Working in an industry totally constrained by PC’ness for 33 years (policing in the NT), as I approach retirement we have moved backwards with the streets resembling episodes of the walking dead. The problem we have is that it is difficult to discuss the issues without saying what we really think without being labeled for expressing an opinion.
    I care about my major client group (ain’t that a sterile description) however I am constrained by the fact that, if I say what I think, i will be labelled. A serious consequence of that is that the most victimised group in the country (Indigenous women) are not helped because we lack the courage to say what the root causes really are.

    What has my rant to do with identity politics – everything. Grumpy old pricks in postions of influnce are not courageous enough to stand up for what is right. Mea Culpa.

  16. StriderJim

    Reblogged this on Riding Metaphor and commented:
    I am breaking my rule of not “reblogging”. This is a substantial piece of work on “political correctness”. I hope you’ll take time to read it, and pass the link on. There IS hope!

  17. Jean

    I doubt the baby boomers are to blame for P.C. Many of us were babies or very young children when Third World countries were trying to throw off the shackles of their colonizing countries, women entering into the professions and more into universities worldwide (aka feminism), civil rights movement in the US which was very inspiring to other movements worldwide, etc.

    For every “fear” if we can call that against “political correctness” , is change in business /workplace language for the better: chairperson instead of chairman, Ms instead of Miss or Mrs. (Your marital status as a woman should never define your workplace competence. I found in the German language “Ms.” doesn’t exist –yet), etc. Is this the P.C.that everyone fears, gets angry about?

    Pffft…..

  18. Agonistes

    How about the non-PC possibility that God exists, and humans aren’t products of unguided evolution?

  19. Eli Hitler Razcon

    I agree with you. I hate political correctness, that’s why everyone is harhassing me because I write the plain truth without censoring myself. I don’t care if people get offended.

  20. kennynines

    The body politic, for good or ill, includes us all. If we are wealthy and privileged or poor and disenfranchised, even if we think of ourselves as apolitical, too bad. If you are part of the Human race then you belong to a political group of some kind and that means some kind of speech is deemed correct for your political group.
    If you belong to the group that adheres to the belief that God made the world in six days about ten thousand years ago and evolution is nothing but bad science, then the voicing of these views is completely appropriate and correct in your group. Selling the idea that the phenomenon of political correctness is a liberal invention or that it is in any way a new thing is nothing short of offering up a bill of shoddy goods. Nazi Germany (“If you tell a lie enough times to enough people, it will become the truth” Hermann Goering) was arguably the most PC place in the world in its time. The Nazis were certainly far from liberal, but they had a very definite set of ideas regarding appropriate speech. There are other examples going back through time, wherever group A has tried to coexist (On THEIR terms) with group B. The only new thing about political correctness is the term.

  21. Samantha

    “Whether they are warriors for God, or warriors for Social Justice, the moral certainty of holier-than-thou crusaders tends to remain the same.”

    Thank you! This is so true and I wish more PC pushers would realise this. I’m all for being polite, but I don’t agree with silencing debate.

  22. utahrob

    I’ve always considered political correctness a huge source of comedic material. This is one of the best pieces of writing I’ve seen on a blog.

  23. Into the mild

    I wish this thinking was widely accepted, the fear of offending ANYONE for any reason often killed what would have been important discussions at college. The problem with this mindset in our universities is that facts don’t care who is offended, and we are teaching our students to ignore facts while forming opinions.

  24. achilliad

    Hey, Nyet! Hillary and Bill Clinton are soley responsible for “political correctness” phenominon. Period. Don’t elect Hillary to the white house or it will get worse.

  25. Christ Centered Teaching

    ” Those of us born in or after the 1980s, who studied humanities at university, were told by our professors that “there is no universal truth”. We either dropped out – or became indoctrinated into a cult of epistemological nihilism.”
    As a Christian, I would welcome the fall of postmodernism.
    The truth is currently guarded by the lie of PC.

  26. backuphill

    I have been trying to teach my seniors all year that the U.S. Constitution guarantees a right to free speech (and by extension free thought). Nowhere does it protect a right not to be offended. Moreover, if we aren’t careful to protect those rights, we will lose them. The sad and unfortunate thing is that WE are doing it to OURSELVES. Should we use care in our speech, yes, but does that mean we should self-censor for fear of being attacked and silenced? No. PC has gone too far and this was an excellently written piece.

  27. where we are

    I agree with your premise that we have been too quick to tear down people who ask questions that we fear. Much of this is due to the media relentlessly playing headlines. However, it is important to note a couple of things. First of all, most of the time when I hear people complaining about PC, it is because they got yelled at for being completely racist or sexist. There is a difference between asking important questions and reinforcing stereotypes. As for the president of Harvard – someone in such a position has a very strong influence on the direction that research goes (as in what projects find funding and what reports are published). His comments were completely short-sighted and ill-informed of the research that has already been done. So while I think we do need people asking big questions and making hypotheses, there is still such a thing as a faulty (stupid?) hypothesis. And I certainly don’t want the president of Harvard pushing research in the areas of sex IQ differences without accounting for the centuries that women were not allowed to even express opinions let alone have access to education and employment, especially within STEM fields.

  28. killtoparty

    I believe the hallmark of hard leaning leftism is the honest belief that the majority of the world is far far behind- the result of this belief is twofold: for one, you get a majority villain to rally against, and two, this gives you a highly-valued sense of intellectual superiority. This is a generation of raving narcissists, so intellectual superiority is certainly their drug of choice.

  29. killtoparty

    You ever so carefully dip your toes into the dark waters of NeoReaction, pointing out the problems with post-modern discourse, while rightfully frightened of taking a full plunge.

    And this is a microcosm of the problem you describe.

    You call your reader to break free from the restrictive chains of the progressive while providing no realistic means of doing so outside of underground Internet forums and coded video on YouTube. Even on the very blog where you attempt to rally the troops toward ideology free thinking, the example you provide is as safe as it gets for identity-first politics. This was done deliberately- as a woman pointing something edgy regarding women is safe. Okay, fine, but when most aren’t willing to go beyond this kind of faux-dangerous discourse, what are we left with?

    Postmodern progressive discourse and a whole lotta nothin.

  30. davebarclay1954

    As a baby boomer who hates the PC indoctrination of stifling creative thought and hypotheses this is so well written it’s amazing. Well done, hope it can start fuelling the desire to challenge the status quo.

  31. drewdog2060drewdog2060

    I am visually impaired, (I lost the majority of my sight at about 18-months-old as a consequence of a blood clot). I have no “politically correct” objection to being categorised as blind, however it is not an accurate description in my case given that I can discern the difference between light and dark and see outlines of objects.
    A number of people have said to me they fear asking questions about my disability due to the desire to avoid giving offense. Perhaps this stems in part at least from so-called “political correctness”. It does also flow from a genuine and laudable desire to avoid prying into private matters and, of course from common politeness. I don’t mind people asking about my disability as it fosters understanding and I don’t want to live in a society where people are frightened to open their mouths for fear of offending me or someone else. It is, in the end all about tact. The person who randomly approaches me on the street (as sometimes happens) and asks me, without even having introduced themselves how I became blind, will receive extremely short shrift while the individual who, having fallen into conversation tactfully asks the same question will receive a full answer.
    Certain topics, for example eugenics arouse strong feelings but this is not a matter of mere political correctness. The crimes committed by the Third Reich, including the sterilisation and killing of people with disabilities casts a long shadow and many Conservatives (not just liberals) are repelled by eugenics. Kevin

  32. The Brain in the Jar

    This post is brilliant. It explains exactly what’s so wrong about political correctness: It’s dogmatic. It’s no different than ‘burn the heretic!”. After all, someone can say he finds non-belief in God deeply offensive. Wouldn’t it be politically correct to believe in God so we don’t offend him?

    Personally, I’m against censoring even racist and sexist opinion. If racism is so wrong, we can easily prove it. We don’t need to hide the racist opinions. We just need to show how silly they are.

  33. ReTreeve

    Its not what you say, its how you say it. Personally I hate it (PC-ness) – moreso with the re-introduction of the fairy tales I grew up with. So many have changed to reflect modern thinking that it makes a nonsense of the story itself.

  34. AthenaC

    There are a lot of good thoughts here. I’m all for being as tactful and sensitive as possible, but not to the extent that we wall off broad categories of dialogue; it would help significantly if more people would give the benefit of the doubt instead of immediately jumping to offended outrage.

    But on the other hand, actually navigating this in the real world can be tricky:

    – Some people that have survived trauma have strong emotional triggers over which they do not yet have control; it is a kindness to respect that and work around the pieces of them that are raw.
    – Some people are abusive and cause offense on purpose either for their own enjoyment or just out of habit; extending any sort of respect to them enables their abusive behavior and hurts everyone else.

    Unfortunately, there is simply no way to know which category, if any, a person falls in to ahead of time. I don’t think there’s any way around the fact that there are many issues that are worth working through (i.e. not automatically censuring any and all thought that doesn’t explicitly and enthusiastically toe the line) even if it means navigating more conflict in our dialogue.

  35. katherinejlegry

    If you really wanna rebel against your parents or your parents parents and so on down the ancestral line, don’t throw away their (your) histor(ies). You’ll need to know your enemy in order to not become your own.

  36. armenia4ever

    “Today’s culture war likes to scapegoat young people for the rise of the illiberal Left, but the responsibility really lies with the generation who came before us.”

    Thank you.

    I’m a millennial (26) and I always point out that is (1) the generation that raised us and (2) that determined what “curriculum” we would be indoctrinated with in the public schools that are responsible for this rise of PC culture which just keeps getting worse.

    (When I use the word “left”, no negative connotation is intended.) Even some liberals are starting to speak out against it – and of course are trashed by the Social Justice wings of the left. In fact you know it’s reaching a new level of insanity when self-identified leftists say they are more scared of the new radical left wing system of thought then the right-wing.

    Then again, we may have finally transcended this political dichotomy that really doesn’t represent the politics of today.

    Post-modernism however is deeply entrenched and those who question it are the new heretics. The only real way to fight back is to let them talk themselves into deeper insanity and expose it.

    You can really irritate some people if you point out the consquences of no absolute truths – namely that racism isn’t bad – just that a majority of people with power, money, influence, ect think it is. Sadly, we have essentially become what Nietzsche predicted in that might makes right. (Note that this scares them.)

    Essentially, you have to resort to extreme thought experiments like Phil Robertson did – but then you face the irate PC crowd who wield power that could cost you.

  37. achilliad

    However, I think your definition of “Political correctness” is wrong, Darling. Political Correctness says you cannot call “a spade a spade”, i.e. the advent of terms and acronyms like “ADD” instead of “retarded” et al….

  38. nosmallinjustice

    I liked it even though you used “kafkaesque” (soon to join “literally”, “normal”, “amazing”, “incredible”, “you know”, “alleged”, “person”, and “reality” as words without any meaning) and chose to cast Larry Summers (an educated imbecile) as a protagonist.
    Other than that I concur.

  39. List of X

    I think the point of the post is that we should be free to make any hypotheses, no matter how stupid or offensive they sound – so that we could test them out and reject them only after we determine that there is no evidence to support them. But if there is evidence, then the hypothesis obviously isn’t faulty.

  40. Vikas Acharya

    http://www.philosopherindia.com/
    Philosopher India is a collection of myths, especially one belonging to Indian religious or cultural tradition. Mythology can refer either to the collected myths of a group of people their body of stories which they tell to explain nature, history, and customs or to the study of such myths.

  41. ketaninkorea

    Great article!! I am not a big fan of P.C. myself; it does not seek to solve problems involving gender, racism, sexuality, etc., but instead point fingers and whine about them. By limiting language to what are “offensive words” and what are not, stifling such speech does not break down and change these problems in society. Maybe I’ve seen a lot of over-the-top posts on some websites (i.e. Tumblr), but these “social-justice warriors” who claim to want “equality”, really want to go back to the 1950s and separate things in order to “not hurt” others. Ugh! I have a feeling that the P.C. movement will be undone from the inside, as more vehement and derisive language and discussions are held, pushing otherwise interested people way.

  42. Mike D

    What’s so wrong with postmodernism? The English language itself is postmodern, made up of parts and pieces of other languages over time.

  43. Sally Ember, Ed.D.

    You misrepresent what drives Political Correctness (a term NOT used by those who seek to humanize and equalize speech, behavior, laws and policies), you misunderstand post-modernism, you deride generalizations while making dozens of them.
    Oy.
    Maybe you are “educated,” but you are not yet wise. Keep going.

  44. Jean

    I agree: It’s not a generational problem. It may be those who lack some perspective how hard it has been to get the law to change for better that allow in Canada: pregnancy leave and ensuring the woman’s job is not cut (by law), pay equity (women engineers getting paid same as male engineers, or doctors or teachers, on and on), mass media portrayals (more non-white, gifted models, actors and actresses on television, hired for those roles. Not blackface, etc.).

    I say to every woman: get university /college education, find your fulfilling fulltime paid career, get pregnant, see people’s reactions on how they value (or don’t really value) parenting (don’t kid yourself. A lot of people outside of home don’t want to hear about your baby problems), deal with aging as a woman when society values youthful beauty, etc.

    I say even more strongly if you half-black or half-Asian, you will confront the ugliness at some point of how the world treats you if you claim to be white vs. non-white. There are a number of bloggers who are multi-racial and their blogs focus very much on this ongoing problem by some people who insist on parlaying their stereotypes.

  45. TruLovExists

    This is beautiful because your message reflects what my website’s theme is. “Let your voice be heard.” I created my website for the new generation, my generation. So that we can show that we have a voice and our voice is powerful. It welcomes thoughts, opinions, & proposals from anyone. Yes, we have to forget our parent’s ideologies because not only is it a new day, but the fact that many of us grew up lost & confused about many things in this world, proves that the last generation really did nothing. So I extend out my website to all, trulovexists.com . It’s time for our voices to be heard.

  46. Christ Centered Teaching

    Mike,
    Postmodernism says all truth is relative.
    It makes arriving at THE truth almost impossible because it make principles into jello. Try to nail jello to the wall. That is like a postmodernism debate. It almost makes debate irrelevant.

  47. intellectual napalm

    First, I have a huge bee with this sentence, “A hypothesis simply comes from asking a question about the world and then using our imaginations to answer it”… No, hypothesis are not “answered using our imagination. That’s an idea. Hypothesis are tested, scientifically (even in social sciences), to parse out the true and false. You’re mistaking science for perspective. And as well written as this is, I’m not sure how that happened. You also stated, “The problem with P.C. is that it constrains the questions that we feel we can ask both of ourselves, and our superiors.” Again, that’s not true. PC neither eliminates nor discourages asking questions. It challenges context. That’s all. All content is on limits. You want to ask if Blacks are intellectually inferior? Have at it. You just shouldn’t say, “are niggers dumber than the Superior Aryan.” And it doesn’t seem like youyou feel that changing context is bad. That said, I suppose I’ll be the dissenting voice. You’re not talking about PC, you’re really talking about a lack of intellectual astuteness that you’re masqueraded as “liberal think tank” culture. PC is, quite literally, a burden born of White male guilt for their historic ills toward groups they still don’t care about. Then those same people jar open your “holier than thou” wit and wisdom by classifying anything that resembles a stab at your freedom or a perceived limit to intellectual responsibility as “unwarranted” political correctness. People who dissent from analysis don’t do it because they are PC liberals and are scared to offend someone. They do it because they’re idiots. Most of those people are Conservatives – and I’m a Republican. They’d be idiots with or without political correctness. But to redefine PC is no different than imposing your perspective on the definition of “creativity” or “genius” or “Capitalism”. You can place your values on anything you’d like but that doesn’t change what that thing actually is.

    Practical app. The other day, Perez Hilton (and I hate this guy because I believe he is ONLY a PC cop) posted fake offense at Jamie Foxx’s comic view of Bruce Jenner. What about that situation would decrease anyone’s ability to ask a “tough question” about the LGBT community? Literally, the ONLY problem with not having PC is that you’ll get the nuclear religious right chanting fags fuck fags. And that cannot possibly be okay. The reason that can’t be okay is because derogatory speech’s objective is to disarm intellect. Derogatory speech is not looking for an answer, it’s looking for a fight.

  48. kaciallen

    “Whether they are warriors for God, or warriors for Social Justice, the moral certainty of holier-than-thou crusaders tends to remain the same.”

    YES! And quite often both sides point fingers and the other for not accepting them, while they refuse to open their own arms.

  49. Mike D

    You must’ve learned about postmodernism at a bible college.

    Postmodernism is intentional irony. When Derrida said it and when someone like Baudrillard talked about the end of meaning their talking about the old definitions- every postmodernist believes in meaning. They are using many words in a system filled with extensive relationships, e.g. say “meaningless”, don’t you see the paradox and irony that “meaningless” actually has a real meaning? Take “nothing” for example- there is no such thing as “nothing” because it’s apart of a linguistic system, and “nothing” too has a meaning. The idea of “nothing” exists, but “nothing” is a word, and like all reality, words are existence.

    Language is a mutable system and just because someone says something doesn’t mean that’s what their actually saying…

    I can say I’m a black, paraplegic, lesbian, and those are the words used so it must be true, right? No. I’m none of those things but thats what I said. Irony.

  50. samueljm20

    Just so not happy with all the political correctness. You can’t get an answer out of our politicians here in Australia because they fear the might say the wrong thing!

  51. indeliblylucent

    Thank you for articulating this. I find it incredibly unhelpful that in our global community we are unable to accept someone else’s ideas without agreeing with them and hence causing offense at the slightest boldness or misstep. And while I’m comfortable with paradox I find it ironic that at university I was practically booed out of my tutorials when I suggested that the idea of ‘no universal truth’ was a bit ironic… Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

  52. Christ Centered Teaching

    Mike,
    Nonsense is nonsense regardless of how you force postmodernism contortions on the definition of nonsense.

    So since words have no meaning and but meaningless has meaning then you must be saying nothing, but there is no such thing as nothing so you are saying something?
    I rest my case. You cannot even have a “meaningful” conversation that will arrive at absolute truth with a postmodernist.

  53. Mike D

    See you do get it 🙂

    Nothing is a word with a definition and so is meaninglessness, and definitions are meanings. Irony is inherent as is paradox. And irony and paradox are words apart of the system too.

  54. pegoleg

    A refreshing and thought-provoking post on a problem that is stifling conversation across the planet. When discussing free speech vs hate speech (illegal in many western countries) with my just-graduated 23-year-old, her response is, “Of course I’m in favor of free speech, but…” What follows is a regurgitated, PC justification for squashing any speech that goes against the current norms.

    Truly frightening.

  55. marymtf

    Lovely post. I’m totally with you when you talk abut political correctness. PC is an idea that’s made a lot of positive changes in the way people think – of gays, for instance, women in the workforce, people of colour. Human nature being what it is, people are always wanting to tinker with political correctness and make it their own.

    Your opinions about the baby boomers being in charge and the parents with opinions you disagree with – well, there will come a time when your children will say the same of you and beware what you wish for when you wish the baby boomers out of academia. You don’t know what you will be replacing them with. As I am reading your article, I am thinking of Bob Dylan’s ‘the times they are a changing.’ and how times just repeat themselves. 🙂
    Congratulations for a well deserved Freshly Pressed.

  56. liberalthoughts88

    Reblogged this on Liberal Thoughts and commented:
    I was just thinking to myself the other day about how Political Correctness has caused many problems in this country today including but not limited to leading people to think that politics and religion should be taboo subjects. This not only limits the discussion on important matters, but it also has lead to an entire generation of Americans who have no political opinions and/or are afraid of expressing their political opinions. If we want to fix the problem of people not voting, we need to start by fixing the problem of Political Correctness.

  57. Richard Parr

    “We are the generation left with liberal arts educations that have been trashed from the inside out.”

    True, and we have been indoctrinated to not have opinions of our own, to accept the dominance of PC and to suppress our natural expressive and constructive state through compromising our boundaries and stances, which could be the ultimate display of submission. The liberal arts is an oxymoron. As a generation we have not created anything of substance, or liberated ourselves. What we have done is reversed the liberty and freedoms given to us through the widespread acceptance and preaching of political correctness. We seem to want free speech, only when it doesn’t offend. Political correctness has greatly hindered our ability to speak our minds objectively, stating facts and reliable sources, without the fear of offending or demeaning others. If one person’s opinion is true, even though it may be deemed offensive, it is compromised or not listened to due to its capacity to offend. We are up against a population of young people that have become irrational and emotional little children who cannot handle reality.

    A very well researched and enlightening article. Thank you Claire!

  58. Grasping for words

    I love your point about how in college, you either drop out of the class or become indoctrinated. I dropped out of a few that I could not handle and saw some become indoctrinated in front of my eyes. I questioned professors and wrote critically. I luckily found a professor that, although he still tried to indoctrinate, was open to another opinion and graded me on my work, not on my belief. (He still wanted me to come see him as he didn’t think I understood the point of the lesson even after receiving an A on all of my papers).
    My philosophy is simple. We’re all humans. If you’re an a-hole, you’re an a-hole. No PC talk needed.

  59. Lawrence Murray

    Political correctness is a tumor on academia. And yet the people who support political correctness often believe they are open-minded, quite ironically, as they are simply using the term as a synonym for “morally correct or superior”

  60. maggiepea

    I think we can say what we believe in a tactful way but PC has blown this all out of proportion. We are being censored right and left and by a group who doesn’t mind stepping on toes to get their point across.

  61. where we are

    You can nearly always find some evidence to support a hypothesis if you ignore other evidence. There is some evidence that sugar is good for you, but you would be ignoring a whole bunch of research/evidence if you decided to make that the hypothesis of your research. So I guess, yeah, you should be free to make whatever hypothesis you want – but everyone else is also free to say “that’s fucking stupid. You’re fired.”

  62. List of X

    Sorry, but that’s a terrible example. Your body actually requires glucose (sugar) to function, so if you were to take that research to say that sugar is absolutely bad for you and somehow successfully remove all sugar from your organism, you’d die. Too much sugar is bad and that’s what this research says, and the real question is just how much sugar becomes more harmful than beneficial. But the mere fact that you need sugar to live makes “sugar is good for you” hypothesis not so fucking stupid.

  63. where we are

    But my whole point is that sure, people can come up with whatever hypothesis that they want, but I think it is good for other people to check them or question them on it. Either they will be able to adequately defend their hypothesis or will recognize their error. What I think we are lacking is general decorum and flexibility. People should not be beheaded for having a bad idea or chastised when they “flip flop” on ideas (within reason of course). We all need to be given space to consider various ideas and then reject them when we are proven wrong. I agree with you that it doesn’t benefit anyone for people to be too afraid to say anything or ask a question for fear of offending someone. So I don’t wholly disagree with this post – I just think there is a different way to look at the situation.

  64. List of X

    But you did just suggest that people should be fired for making stupid hypotheses, didn’t you? 🙂
    So I think we may agree that people should be allowed to make any stupid hypotheses without fear of retaliation, but the onus is on them to prove the hypothesis.

  65. Davis Meschke

    Incredible view point. Like others may have said, I unfortunately don’t think that political correctness will die out with the baby boomers. Too many people our age have already been indoctrinated by their parents and grandparents. Instead of changing the people, I think we need to change the paradigm, especially when it comes to censorship and true free speech. Too much today those two things are stifled in the name of “protecting our freedom” . Thanks for sharing. Cheers

  66. where we are

    Eh, I’m still not against people being fired for it if they can’t explain themselves. I know that’s tricky and subjective a lot of times but it’s kind of the checks and balances on our leaders and research institutions.

  67. where we are

    I’m guessing we’re not going to get to the point of agreement on this either lol. I chose sugar because I thought it would be the easiest argument but it seems that everything can be argued. Take a more extreme example, though. What if the head of the medical association made the hypothesis that everyone should add 2 tsp of sugar to their breakfast every day because glucose is good for you. That would be a stupid hypothesis that is supported by some evidence (because as you said, our bodies do need glucose). But the general public knows that we all get plenty of glucose from real food and added sugar is not needed nor good for us. I totally support there being an outcry against a person who made such a hypothesis.

  68. eferrmt

    Agree with you but with some reserve since PC is just a term, it was never practiced, just like communism. Being from the 80’s, I find one basic tenet in your argument as missing… are people in power there because they forced themselves there or were they voted into power? PC is dead just like democracy but we are made to hold on to them as if they were alive and well

  69. David Teachout

    Delightfully well put. Recently wrote on the technological expansion of ego that is parallel to this. Glad to see more solid thinking on the negative effects of ideological allegiance.

  70. pjwmia

    As part of the “Old Guard” I would agree many of us lost our way probably sometime in the eighties when our incomes were rising and values declining. I hope your generation goes to step 2 and yells it from the rooftops.

  71. prestaeus

    My main concern with PC thought is that it excludes all religious ideals that fought against the left in the 60s. Given that I have tried to model my life around my faith, I have a knee-jerk tendency to reject PC criticism, valid or not. On reflection, PC is an attempt to mold society and in some ways does the right thing, it is just unpalatable to me in general, given the hatred it espouses for my faith. It would of course be no different if the tables were turned. It would be nice to have a conversation where the enumerated differences between men and women didn’t devolve into ad hominem attacks on my character, but rather produced meaningful dialogue about the complimentary and enriching experience of a man and woman together. PC sheep assume the religious are deluded, while we look at the PC culture and wonder how this half-baked pseudo theology took over the Western world.

  72. howitbegins

    Great article. I’ve known there has been something wrong for a while now, I’m 17 and a senior at highschool. This thinking could partially be due to the education system and how it taught students to act like robots with no original ideas and just to act how their told. I honestly hate how the system works and have been blinded by the bigger picture that lays here.

  73. taikuntrading

    Claire, I’m so glad you wrote this. I’ve been telling people close to me for years that PC has grown to the point that it allows certain mainstream misguided ideas to flourish since it would be unfashionable to pose an opposing opinion to them. It is a direct assault on free-thinkers and nullifies the checks and balances of ideas. To a degree, having an opposing opinion is fundamental to the functioning of free markets (of which I’m closely tied) and to a free society. I’m in the fight with you. 🙂

  74. travelswithadiplomat

    Interesting.
    I applaud the linguistic erudition in this blog (though the depth of intellectual vocabulary inevitably reduces the interested readership in a public forum. There is much to be said for keeping this level of intellectualism for papers and making it more accessible on a WordPress blog).
    That said, there are some rhetorical absolutes in the blog which I would question. Two examples:
    Firstly, lack of worldly experience doesn’t equate necessarily to intellectual neoteny on arrival at places of learning. After all, what should higher schooling be for if not to teach critical thinking? Students’ views (inevitably changeable during this crucial phase of intellectual growth) and understanding relies heavily on deciding whether to accept their contemporaries’ or peers’ viewpoints when they don’t have the time to analyse every single sentence uttered by an individual with oratorical purpose. So, if there is neoteny, it’s not one born of laziness or upbringing, rather an vital evolutionary development in human young. One that education corrects.
    Secondly: the supposition that all students are subject to “a cult of epistemological nihilism”. This is a sweeping generalization, though “cult” is a valid adjective given there is a socio-developmental argument for such nihilism, being based on factors like crowd-ethos or individual rebelliousness. However, most students go through a stage of intellectual nihilism because it originates in a species need to understand our origins; it doesn’t conclude in the extremism of solipsism.
    Of course, this article (like thousands both before and after) serve to remind us that the prevalent drive in human youth (other than reproduction) is to question, query, and refute their elders’ ways/advice/experiences. In other words, disillusionment with the establishment is a vital path to driving change. Change is what makes us curious and leads to advancement in our technology and culture. It is what has made us the dominant species on this planet. I would advocate, therefore, that to “drop our parents blank slate ideologies” is proof that our children will move us forward. Whatever ideologies our children come up with will be dropped by our grandchildren…ad infinitum. This article proves that.
    A well written blog with excellent critical thinking. Made me think hard about the concept herein. Thanks.

  75. Phil Ford

    I’m 51. Generationally speaking one thing I notice is that the 20-30 somethings are a lot more strident about their lefty PC philosophy. One thing that really stands out is that many of the children of my friends will call out the whole world on facebook and dare anyone to disagree with them on… Michael Brown, wage gap, gay rights, etc, etc and loudly declare they will unfriend anyone who disagrees with them. I have friends my age all over the political spectrum, but none of them act this way.

    And while you’re assigning blame to a generation you may want to keep a couple of things in mind. Firstly it’s the hard-left baby boomers who have taken over academia and created the monster (So take it easy on the other 80% of us). The other thing is that PC inanity has developed in other countries which don’t have the same convenient equivalent of the baby boomer generation statistically speaking. Worth keeping in mind.

  76. clockworkawind

    This post has such brilliant vocabulary, simply brilliant. Very powerful too. Political correctness roots with cowardice I suppose and to those whom it makes sense to and who accept and practice it need to understand that they are doing more harm than good. Nothing civil or redeeming about it.
    A brilliant read.

  77. jimiholmes

    Well said. I have been telling people about the evils of political correctness for some time and it’s almost laughable just how little they consider the repercussions of this narrow thinking. There are differences between sexes, races, and social castes and we should embrace them rather than hiding from them. Being PC doesn’t stop someone from being offensive, but it does require them to be more subtle about it. I say forget the subterfuge and say what you think. If it really is that bad, someone will hopefully tell you why and educate you a little.

  78. Mandy

    Love your post. I agree. Instead of PC being used as a way to be respectful and civil it is used as a fear tactic to control freethinking.

  79. mizukiemma

    Claire, I think this article is really well written, however, I do have a few thoughts about this. I do agree that the degree of PC-ness and its pursuit in academia, its obstinate presence in media…are harmful because they do shut out questions that should be asked even if they offend, like you said. I agree with your last paragraph whole-heartedly.

    However, I think this conversation can be more productive if we are not just reflecting back the blame on our parents’ generation. I believe that unfortunately, the perpetuation of the existing concept of PC is as much our responsibility as it is theirs. There are plenty of dogmatic people in our generation, who may or may not have reached that state through their parents or mentors. Either way, they have adopted it as their own thinking and we cannot cast that blame on anyone but those individuals.

    You are right, we should be fighting PC, not to become more offensive, careless people, but to push disccusions further than they are currently going. But I think it’s important to take note that this is a systemic problem that exists not only in older generations but in the current media, in extreme Rightists AND Leftists AND feminists AND even misogynists, etc…basically, everyone. I believe this “fight” and movement to deconstruct PC must come from all sides and from all people.

    I honestly don’t think the focus should be on who invented it or who didn’t, but on where to go from here and how.

    Thank you for writing the article!

  80. Maitreya Buddha

    ad hominem attacks exposed always loose when the attacked responds with balance. The winner is always the restrained, the winner is always the friendly intetion, the winner is always truth if we let it. Truth does not hurt, resistance to tuth hurts.

  81. dancinglemur

    I agree with what Mizukiemma says above, but with the caveat that I don’t think you meant to dump all the blame on the previous generation. I could be wrong, but that is just my impression.

    I believe that political correctness exists today in the way it does because of a systemic tendency towards it. In much the same way as some women complain when men DON’T open a door for them (because some men are cowed by the feminist movement), we (as scattered individuals) complain about political correctness while the main culture continues on with it. Take the examples you provided. The second article you linked to was enlightening to me by showing me the degree to which people will go just to call out non-PC individuals. I fear that it will be extremely hard for our generation to stop PC entirely. Great post overall!

  82. Scott Morrell

    Excellent and thought provoking post! I too hate political correctness as it indeed prevents the full expression of speech that our forefathers (or should I say “forepersons”) fought so hard for. However, although I totally agree with helicopter parenting, the millennials need to grow a set (oops again as that can only pertain to boys…my bad P.C) and start their own transformation and speak their minds. Just do it with a little respect.

  83. Alan H.

    These days a person’s career can be destroyed by someone taking offense to a single statement, regardless the context surrounding the issue. It’s as though there are pitchfork-wielding mobs sitting and waiting to burst into the streets at every perceived offense. Sometimes simply presenting objective facts can be the road to ruin if those facts are anathema to certain groups.

    This tendency to cry wolf at even the slightest suggestion of discrimination/insensitivity is bad for people who have suffered legitimate harms that should be addressed and remedied. When the public is so desensitized that it can’t figure out which groundswells of outrage are real and which are pure drama, nobody wins.

    Regards,
    Alan H.

    The Phlogisticated Mind / https://phlogisticatedmind.wordpress.com

  84. Christian T. Golden

    Brave, honest post! Thanks for sharing. I’m afraid, however, that yours is a grossly undervalued belief. It’s much more popular and comfortable to just ride the tide. Here’s to hoping that the tide does indeed begin to change. Good luck and be blessed.

  85. Baden Ronie

    P.C. is the bane of my existence. I need to be able to ask questions, even the tricky ones! I need to be able to question religion, poke at politics, argue about topics that others would like to leave alone.

    As a human one of the greatest things I can do is question.

    There’s nothing wrong inherently wrong with P.C., but it has gone too far and lost what it was supposed to be. Let me ask questions and voice my opinions, and if they offend then let those people reply, and tell me so. Let me say sorry, or say that’s stupid.

    Let me speak.

    B. Ronie, videogame journalist at http://wolfsgamingblog.com/

  86. Ron Giesecke

    Here’s the problem with the PC, ever-shifting outrage calculus:

    1) When Bruce Jenner was the nip-twigged, also-ran beta male afterthought on the Kardashians, it was okay to make fun of him.

    2) When he announces he is going to become the high-profile avatar for Transgender issues–a preposterous amount of spiritual gravity was accorded him—NOT okay to make fun of him.

    3) When he announces that his politics are nothing that Diane Sawyer would have expected–time for Bruce to suffer the rigors of the micro-aggression!

  87. progressivewatch

    Very true, political correctness binds the hands of independent minds. In this modern age of big government there is little room left for the concept of individual thought.

    Political correctness has created an environment where legitimate debate can be silenced simply by claiming that one side is a racist, bigot, or sexists. The PC culture forces us to allow disease ridden scum of DC make ethical decisions for us, for fear of coming under assault from the PC police.
    I could go on for years probably ranting against the failed concept of political correctness, but I can honestly say that you and I are in agreement that it is not something to be proud of or defended.

  88. progressivewatch

    Very true, political correctness binds the hands of independent minds. In this modern age of big government there is little room left for the concept of individual thought.

    Political correctness has created an environment where legitimate debate can be silenced simply by claiming that one side is a racist, bigot, or sexists. The PC culture forces us to allow disease ridden scum of DC make ethical decisions for us, for fear of coming under assault from the PC police.
    I could go on for years probably ranting against the failed concept of political correctness, but I can honestly say that you and I are in agreement that it is not something to be proud of or defended.

  89. progressivewatch

    Very true, political correctness binds the hands of independent minds. In this modern age of big government there is little room left for the concept of individual thought.

    Political correctness has created an environment where legitimate debate can be silenced simply by claiming that one side is a racist, bigot, or sexists. The PC culture forces us to allow disease ridden scum of DC make ethical decisions for us, for fear of coming under assault from the PC police.
    I could go on for years probably ranting against the failed concept of political correctness, but I can honestly say that you and I are in agreement that it is not something to be proud of or defended.

  90. progressivewatch

    Very true, political correctness binds the hands of independent minds. In this modern age of big government there is little room left for the concept of individual thought.

    Political correctness has created an environment where legitimate debate can be silenced simply by claiming that one side is a racist, bigot, or sexists. The PC culture forces us to allow disease ridden scum of DC make ethical decisions for us, for fear of coming under assault from the PC police.
    I could go on for years probably ranting against the failed concept of political correctness, but I can honestly say that you and I are in agreement that it is not something to be proud of or defended.

  91. progressivewatch

    Very true, political correctness binds the hands of independent minds. In this modern age of big government there is little room left for the concept of individual thought.

    Political correctness has created an environment where legitimate debate can be silenced simply by claiming that one side is a racist, bigot, or sexists. The PC culture forces us to allow disease ridden scum of DC make ethical decisions for us, for fear of coming under assault from the PC police.
    I could go on for years probably ranting against the failed concept of political correctness, but I can honestly say that you and I are in agreement that it is not something to be proud of or defended.

  92. empreb

    Its party why the subcultures of gaming and anime have such a strong grip on the young of my age and almost a decade older. Its our mediums and really like to just be left alone enjoying it together but random PC people(SJW’s too the old right) hate it or try to corrupt its heart. Explains certain events in the gaming online culture of late (#gamergate).

  93. Jim Cantrell

    Great post and I think you nailed a few things perfectly. “Stepford students” is awesome.

    I don’t agree with the notion that another generation was bequeathed anything. When referring to the political upheavals of the 60′ and 70’s, I would argue some ‘took it’ and others followed. Shame on your and my generations for not rising to the same opportunities.

    Nevertheless, you’re spot on. Great read.

  94. Name is unimportant

    You’re mostly right. I say mostly because on the face of your argument you are right. But I don’t see you acknowledging that just as these things are done to you and your generation, so too will you be doing to the next. It’s nice being on top. People and institutions don’t want to give that up. I think that maybe tradition is hard to overcome, and the best any of us can really hope for as a collective is to alter what we have inherited, rather than try to throw it out. Good article, just think of what you will be fighting for after you have succeeded. You may deliver a different viewpoint.

  95. cinemanaic

    An extremely well-written and articulate article. And spot on. Thanks for some great insights and not being afraid to break the lock-step. I love your literary tone/voice as well. I will have to read more of your essays.

    When I first read it I naturally assumed that it was written by an educated, American, white, married, monogamous, heterosexual male who doesn’t recycle, votes republican, smokes, drives an SUV, and wears misogynistic bowling shirts. Boy was I wrong! But it could have been I suppose and that would most definitely have killed the message in the minds of the PC crowd so I’m glad you are not any of those things so they might at least listen to your ideas.

    Political correctness is a bigger scourge on our society than religious fundamentalism or lack of education could ever be because it is nothing short of arrogant, self-righteous bullying of others to conform to your way or view of life. Whatever happened to live and let live?

    Disclaimer for the politically correct: the middle paragraph contained some sarcasm.

  96. Benjamin David Steele

    Political correctness has existed as long as language has existed.

    It would have been far worse in socially-conservative traditional societies. In the past, when you said something politically incorrect, you were beat up and lynched by a mob, thrown into a dungeon, tortured, publicly executed, sold off into slavery or indentured servitude, banished from the community, excommunicatd from your church, or simply became a pariah who fell into poverty and maybe homelessness.

    Even in 19th century United States, public censure could have some destructive consequences that it is hard for us to imagine today. Back then, the entire community was in your business. It was common for your neighbors to go snooping into your house if they thought you were up to no good and there was nothing you could do to stop them. For example, if they thought you were having an affair, a mob would break into your bedroom and try to catch you in the act, and then they’d drag you out into the street for public punishment and humiliation. Imagine how much worse it would have been if you had something politically incorrect about the local priest or ruling elite.

    Usually the worst that happens today in response to political incorrectness is you might lose your job, but that is extremely rare.

    It was only with the rise of liberalism during the Enlightenment that the worst strictly authoritarian and violently oppressive forms of political correctness began to wane. In the developed world today, you don’t have to worry about those most horrific of punishments anymore. That is quite a bit of progress. But we could always progress further, no doubt.

    Perspective is important. But to have perspective, you must take the long view of history. Political correctness is far from being a modern invention. We live in the least politically correct age in all of history. We have grown so sensitive to political incorrectness being punished because it has become uncommon relative to the past. We have taken this as normal and forget how unusual it truly is.

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