To What Extend Are PC Dogma Rules Based in Reality?

(This is part of a series on PC Dogma. For the main page click here)

This post will discuss the degree to which the rules of PC dogma reflect the truth they purport to reflect or further the goals they purport to further.

Rule 1: Don’t use certain words

The premise here is that certain words have such powerfully negative associations that no context justifies their usage.

It makes sense to disincentivize people from being hateful towards each other, especially if that hate is based on group membership.

Viewing members of our own society as ingroup or outgroup leads to unnecessary internal strife. Obviously America has had its share of internal strife based on outgrouping, as can be seen in the African-American experience.

Another example of pernicious outgrouping is the McCarthy-era red scare. This was, to some extent, outgrouping for the sake of outgrouping, and it turned many Americans against each other. It seems clear that significant negative consequences come along with this vicious in-country outgrouping.

For that reason, the general aim of this rule seems to make sense. However, the means are counterproductive.

Drawing these strict lines between groups furthers outgrouping.

When members of one race are allowed to say certain words but members of another are not, this makes the groups feel different from one another.

Obviously hateful attacks should be discouraged. But when a carful of people is singing with the radio and a certain race has to go silent when a certain word is sung, it does not bring the races together. It reinforces the notion that we are different. It does that on a very deep, subconscious level.

It is better to judge people on the contents of their statements than the words they use.

Rule 2: Define offensiveness objectively

The notion is that to avoid offending people, you must comply with a byzantine set of dogmatic rules.

Determining what is “offensive” is inherently subjective. What offends one person might not offend another. But this rule pretends that there is an objective standard. In other words, if you follow the letter of PC dogma, no person could be offended by you.

Clearly some people will be offended no matter what you do.

If you were to act in a way that no one could be subjectively offended by you, you wouldn’t be able to do anything. It is impossible to know what each person you encounter will find offensive. Following the rules of PC dogma won’t help.

So while seeking to avoid offending others is a reasonable goal, the notion that doing so requires adherence to PC dogma is not reasonable.

Rule 3: Grant favoritism based on ranking in oppression hierarchy

PC dogma holds that certain groups of people are deserving of more favoritism than others. This is generally described as an attempt to correct imbalances of the past caused by discrimination.

Correcting imbalances of the past is arguably a goal worth chasing, but it seems that in 2016 the discrimination issues are so clouded that they cannot be corrected in any meaningful way.

Recompense for the Japanese internment made sense. It could be tracked who was wronged and who the wronger was. There was a list of names the government had interned and they were all interned by the government. This was traceable.

Linkage to slavery, etc., is much less solid. Many American blacks have no slaves in their ancestry and most whites never owned slaves. At the height of slavery, only 2% of whites owned slaves, and there have been many waves of immigration since then.

Also, the American government didn’t own these slaves. The institution of slavery in America’s geographical domain existed before America was a country.

Jim Crow certainly set black people back, but again it is very difficult to trace. Where were you in the country, to what extent were you able to pass, etc. The answers to these questions will tell very different stories of discrimination.

This difficulty to trace blame renders the oppression hierarchy a largely theoretical thing, with little basis in reality. The ranks in the hierarchy are not objectively true, they are based on idiosyncratic historical patterns.

Somehow Muslim males are currently at the top of this hierarchy. This is hard to believe, especially since Muslim males are the most oppressive group today. (look at how women and non-Muslims are treated in the Muslim world).

Muslims seem to have gotten to the top of the hierarchy because Islamophobia is being presented as the biggest threat to society.

In summary, the overall goal of this rule may or may not be desirable (reasonable minds could disagree), but a just implementation is certainly impossible. For that reason, adherence to this rule does more harm than good.

Rule 4: Maintain a level of knowledge on certain issues

It is considered a violation to lack certain kinds of knowledge. It is seen as offensive to define racism in the dictionary or lay sense, and even more offensive to be unaware of the prejudice + power definition.

There are situations where lacking knowledge would actually be offensive. For example, if you were a white American making a point about the outcomes of black people in society, but were wholly unaware that slavery was a thing, some might reasonably find that offensive.

But the degree it’s taken to now is unreasonable. The example regarding the definition of racism is not even a knowledge issue; it’s more of an opinion. Obviously requiring people to have certain opinions is undesirable.

Staying up to date on trans or gender-non-conforming issues is nearly impossible, as the factors change week to week, but lacking such knowledge is still seen as a transgression.

Rule 5: Attribute noncompliance with PC dogma to malice

This is a fairly common pattern in outgrouping. Believers don’t just think the other side has a different point of view, they think the other side is evil.

That dirty jew doesn’t need to feed his family; he only ripped me off because he is a money-grubbing monster!

In reality, people are more similar than they are different.

If you favor consistent Constitutional interpretations over immediate marriage equality, despite having voted for gay marriage in your state, that does not make you a different species than the guy who supported Obergefell.

You two have shockingly similar positions, but PC dogma demands that the strict constitutionalist be immoral, and a bigot of some kind.

This line of reasoning does real damage. It pushes people away from each other. If I found out one of my friends was a literal Nazi, we would stop being friends. When I find out a friend has a different constitutional view than I do, we remain friends. PC people have a harder time with that.