“The truth has become an insult”
Some time ago actress Gwyneth Paltrow chose to use the term ‘conscious uncoupling’ to describe her divorce. This amusingly benign euphemism reflects a dramatic new social and linguistic construct that has come to define the world of political correctness (PC).
The intent of political correctness is to encourage sensitivity to others’ feelings around issues of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. The intent is also to help avoid gratuitous offense or embarrassment to any person or group and avoid reinforcing stereotypes that perpetuate prejudice in a racially and culturally diverse society. The assumption is that the prejudice is real with the premise that a change in language brings about an eventual change in behaviours and attitudes. However, PC is increasingly being associated with frivolous issues that take away from our collective societal efforts against the concerns of patriarchy, racism, equality and social justice. PC is evolving into an oppressive misguided righteousness that, at the expense of the majority, panders to the racially, culturally and sexually diverse. It seeks to control all forms of social and business conversation that cannot, and should not, be considered even remotely hurtful or discriminatory. The definition of what constitutes as prejudice is becoming increasingly arbitrary and hyper sensitive. PC proponents assume that anything even unintentionally hurtful is a threat to society and must be regarded as condemnable act of aggression and public policy and laws must be implemented against them. This imposition of hypersensitivity to supposedly make the world a better and more caring place is an attempt to unfairly re-engineer society and is bound to backfire at some point. It is no surprise therefore that already 76% of Canadians and many Americans think that PC has gone too far.
One of the earlier victims of PC was the centuries’ old tradition of wishing “Merry Christmas” that has now been replaced with a meaningless and supposedly inclusive “Happy Holidays” so as not to hurt the feelings of non-Christians. The fear of being labelled intolerant prevents people from questioning the irrational notion of causing hurt by merely uttering Christmas greetings. A school in Seattle renamed its Easter eggs ‘spring spheres’ to avoid causing offense to people who did not celebrate Easter. People’s right of religious expression is challenged and controlled while similar religious festivals of other groups are fervently celebrated. The bizarre logic is that the majority Christians will not be offended by other religious greetings, but the converse is somehow true. People may have accepted the new and unreasonable politically correct norm, but not without silent resentment.
Universities and businesses are slowly being forced into using preferred gender-neutral pronouns to prevent the transgendered minority from being gender misidentified. Rather than work towards guaranteeing the constitutional right of freedom and equality, PC activists have instead focused on a word war. Made-up preferred pronouns such as “ze” and “hir” must now be used even though that means that the overwhelming majority can no longer identify simply as men and women. In reality, a linguistic redefinition is a cheap and condescending way to attempt to provide equal status and is also ineffective, but that has not stopped PC now being legislated.
According to Canada’s bill C-16 pronoun misuse may become actionable though Human Rights Tribunals and courts with monetary damages and therefore, once again, the majority must silently comply. Prof. Jordan Peterson at the University of Toronto was chided by the University for spreading “hate speech” by refusing to use gender neutral pronouns, an absurd connection. Prof Peterson’s constitutional right to free speech, and being targeted simply for using simple words like “he” and “she”, highlights the ridiculous lengths to which proponents of PC will go to force their thinking. Prof. Peterson is not alone. In New York, businesses will now be fined for harassment if they do not use customers’ desired pronouns in relation to questions of gender. In Oregon, a school district had to pay $60,000 to a transgender employee who demanded to be called “they” instead of “he” or “she.” It is hard for most to fathom how the use of a pronoun can be considered as discriminatory abuse. Pseudo intellectuals are taking this political correctness further by calling for children to be raised as gender neutral to create a future society without gender bias. They call the natural procreating binaries of being male and female as regressive. Some school books, in complete disregard for evolutionary biology, are being altered to teach children that they are gender-fluid, and can choose whatever gender they want to be. In several American states, any doctor who dares to look into the psychological history of a ‘transgendered’ boy or girl in search of a resolvable problem could lose his or her license to practice medicine.
This PC social engineering is fundamentally based on fantasy, disinformation, and disregard for anything but its own interest group politics. It is an assault on reason and liberty, dressed in the language of equality, fairness and tolerance. A new moral relativism is being defined and society is being turned into an over-sensitive and over-sanitized sanctuary where the intellectual challenge of debating conflicting views is denied because of the self-righteous censorship that PC brings. Diverging opinions are being denounced as ingrained prejudice or manifestations of self-interest which makes a serious discussion impossible. PC ironically does precisely what it claims to fight against – stunting and limiting human potential.
Regressive accommodations are being made to include unreasonable cultural requests and even patriotism is being toned down to “respect the feelings of residents from other countries”. The term “Founding Fathers” is being erased from school curricula because it is sexist and discriminatory, while students in “diversity” classes are taught that minorities are intrinsically incapable of racism. It’s also hard not to see that PC language is used, wherever possible, to create opacity and obscure plain truths that suit a certain narrative. PC is used to censor and silence everyone that does not share a particular world-view, with indignant admonitions. Those who don’t use the right buzzwords are ostracized and demonized as bigots and racists, much like the fictional state-controlled language Newspeak in George Orwell’s famous book, “1984”. Consequently, a Muslim fanatic gunning down fellow soldiers in the name of religion is “workplace violence” and coordinated rape attacks in European cities are simply “challenges of cultural integration”. The control of linguistic discourse is not error, but deliberate intolerance. PC activists, with the help of media, have taken on the mantle of moral supremacy to create opinions which quickly become sacrosanct and beyond questioning. Politicians are only too happy to manipulate this in their favour to come out looking good, but rarely is PC endorsed by the majority. Society needs to be open, but it has to be an intellectually honest openness, grounded in reason and open to debate between complex and divergent ideas. When conversation becomes impossible, escalation is inevitable.
The pragmatic value of political correctness is also questionable, since it inherently seeks to control language and not the underlying behaviour and thinking (at least not directly). It can be argued that political correctness gives people the erroneous notion that prejudice can be removed by naming it differently. In reality, calling a deaf person aurally challenged does not change the person’s condition in any way. On a lighter note, it is also hard to see how calling a nagging wife as a “verbally repetitive partner” changes anything or calling a bald man as “follicular challenged” will help grow a single strand of hair.
The insistence on political correctness also implies an inherent rejection of conventional moral injunctions, such as to accept one’s situation and work hard to improve it, to simply ignore an insult, or be charitable and civil toward those who accidentally cause offense, or with whom we disagree. Instead, PC illustrates a high sensitivity to slight, such that verbal offenses or even disagreements merit a serious response. Not only are denunciations hissed in tones of self-righteousness and contempt but the fundamental fabric of society and nations is being altered. This infatuation with sensitivity is being legislated through public policy and the constitutional right to freedom of speech is being sidelined in the interest of feelings and sympathy. The majority is being pushed to embrace a new contrived morality and we are failing to grasp the long-term and perilous ramifications of this new dynamic.
Modern society needs to re-calibrate and prioritize the real issues that it deems important, and collectively reject the linguistic controls and moral policing that political correctness now brings.