Political Correctness run amok

I really don’t want to write right now.

Not that I don’t have anything to say. I just don’t know where to start. Or where to go. Or how to message it. Or whether I should message it. Or whether it matters. Or anything at all.

So.

I’m just going to rant and rave for a minute.

I don’t understand what happened to the United States. Strike that, I understand what happened. I don’t know why we are allowing it to happen.

Our country has always been divided. We are a country that is a collection of states. We are not one collective, but rather a collective of collectives.

As a result, we are always going to have arguments, strife, lack of empathy for one another, etc.

But here’s the point that I really have been throwing around in my head… why are we all so fucking angry about it?

I read this long think piece on Vox about the necessity to have private conversations in government. And it was focused really on the question of, “should governmental email be subject to FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests?” The piece argued, (I’m paraphrasing)“no it shouldn’t be, becasue we need there to be a place for people to have private conversations to do their work.”

And the reason is, constituencies aren’t willing to accept that someone they voted for might be willing to soften or change their stance on any given issue, because that issue is a vote mover for that citizen.

So the article is essentially arguing to create a safe space for people to have discussions that would anger their constituents while allowing for them to do their jobs and effectively argue for their points while being able to make compromises (which is the whole point of our government).

That’s the argument for how to fix the government and how we deal with things… and maybe I’m being idealistic here… but why fix the transparency rules, when what’s really WRONG here is that we think as voters that we should elect people who are unwavering in their specific stances and that cannot make a compromise? Isn’t that inherently more damaging than the idea that we could read all of the correspondence between people in government?

So I (begrudgingly) have a specific point where I actually think that I agree with Donald Trump (I know, I hate myself too): political correctness is a load of bullshit.

Now. Here’s where the difference is… I totally disagree with his definition of political correctness. He thinks that it’s being able to actively insult people, based on race, gender, class, etc. That’s not what it is. It’s that you try so hard to not offend people that you end up being toothless.

po·lit·i·cal cor·rect·ness
noun
noun: political correctness; noun: political correctitude
the avoidance, often considered as taken to extremes, of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against. (this is per a google search for “political correctness”)

So, let’s address two elephants in the room. First, Google throwing down, “political correctitude” is AMAZING. I mean. Let’s definitely start calling it that. Right?

Second, I’m picking this up after letting it sit for a few days. And now this seems a lot more prescient and important (full disclosure, I started this on Sept 10, it’s now Sept 12, and damn if a lot of stuff didn’t happen in those two days).

Anyway.

The whole point here is what are we really talking about when we talk about being politically correct? So let’s take two different statements and talk about the politically correct police and how they should police these statements (or not police them).

  1. Hillary’s Basket Full of Deplorables:
“You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? [Laughter/applause]. The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people, now have 11 million. He tweets and retweets offensive, hateful, mean-spirited rhetoric. Now some of those folks, they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.

On its face, you don’t want to insult people who you are trying to get to vote for you, or people that you’re actively trying to lead. But whatever, put that aside. Let’s think about this just from the perspective of, “should we criticize this just because it’s politically incorrect?”

This is really hard if you look at it on its face. Because on the one hand… Racists, sexists, homophobes, xenophobes, Islamophobes, etc. are not a “discriminated against” group, in that they are discriminators, not discriminated against. But is that just my opinion? I mean, there seems to be a general disgust and disdain by people like me for people like the “Deplorables”.

Which takes me back to why this is hard. Because I don’t believe they have any right to be upset about someone being politically incorrect about their beliefs. They are peddling in hatred and bigotry. Saying that out loud, is not bigotry.

I don’t know, this feel silly. And seems obvious. But then again my world view is very ridiculously liberal.

2. Speaking of being ridiculously liberal.. HEY DONALD TRUMP. LET’S TALK ABOUT ANYTHING YOU’VE EVER SAID HERE.

Nah, that’d take too long. Instead let’s focus on one really quick statement:

“She goes around with armed bodyguards like you have never seen before. I think that her bodyguards should drop all weapons, they should disarm. Take their guns away. She doesn’t want guns. Let’s see what happens to her… It would be very dangerous.

Alright. So. Hillary definitely was pejorative and speaking down to a lot of people. She did it willfully because she disagrees with them and thinks that she’s better than them. Sure.

But she didn’t imply that they should be killed.

Oh sure, I think some people out there are saying, “well… he didn’t really say that. He’s just trying to point out the hypocrisy!”

Sure. I get it. I know what you’re saying. And I can see how he would argue that and his supporters would argue that. And I can see them saying “STOP BEING SO POLITICALLY CORRECT!” But again, being politically correct isn’t what critics are doing here. They’re pointing out how language can be dangerous. How language can lead to action. How language, however inarticulate and ridiculous, has meaning.


So I guess this is my point, and a part of why I’m so disgusted by the discourse in our politics: I like words. I know what you’re thinking. I should love this election then, because Trump has the BEST words.

But no, really. There’s something majestic and wonderous in words. They can make you feel, think, move, act, and live. They can imply, they can elicit, they can evoke, they can emote, they can elate, they can enumerate. They can also do things that start with letters other than E. But that’s not as fun.

And then you see what’s going on in our debate. We’re talking about reality show stupidity. People constantly being tongue tied, or blatantly lying, or searching for words and finding boring platitudes.

I like words.

There’s no false equivalency here, though.

Hillary is often quoted as only saying pendantic platitudes plaugued by.. possums? I don’t know how to end that with a “p” word. But if you actually listen to full speeches, and watch her think about what shes going to say in press conferences… she’s incredible smart, uses coherent and thoughtful language, and is thinking about… words. How the words she’ll use will be interpreted, parsed, and crucified.

Trump… is… honestly just not very eloquent. He uses a lot of, “believe me”s, and “we don’t know what’s going on”s. He uses language that implies that he doesn’t care about language. Implies that he doesn’t read anything challenging. Implies that he doesn’t parse his thoughts or think before opening his mouth.

And, I care about words.

So. While we’re debating what the relative value of political correctitude might be… Think about words. Think about whether you want to have words that will lift your spirit and bring you soaring into your day, enlivened by the hope and belief that those words elicit.

Or, do you want to hear good words, the best words. I only have the best words.

And for some reason, think makes me think about the Heart of Darkness, as I often do (this is going somewhere, trust me). Maybe it’s the intesection of politics and language that leads me to Martin Sheen, which leads me to Hot Shots Part Deux, which leads me to Wall Street… wait.. no, to Apocalypse Now! Which leads me right there to the Heart of Darkness.

I always think about the concept of staring into the abyss, and wondering… does it stare back? Does it drive you crazy?

But his soul was mad. Being alone in the wilderness, it had looked within itself and, by heavens I tell you, it had gone mad.

I can only hope that this is what happens to Trump. That he finally looks inward, and realizes that… this is all vanity to him… and he doesn’t look good. He looks like a dolt. He looks like a bozo. He looks… like someone who is trying, so incredibly hard. And it’s not fun anymore.

[A]t the end, it’s either going to work or I’m going to, you know — I’m going to have a very, very nice, long vacation.

I think we’re all ready for you take that very, very nice, long vacation Donald. Looking forward to it.