No It’s Not About Good Manners – Kate Paulk
I recently ran across a blog post on something of next to no interest in this crowd (it’s a software testing blog, okay) where, in the context of a brouhaha that’s currently roiling through the testing blogverse, the poster mentioned that he didn’t see why people opposed political correctness because it’s really just about being polite and respectful of the other person.
I didn’t respond to that post for a number of reasons, but the assumption that PC is a way of codifying good manners and the anti-PC just want an excuse to be rude has been festering for a few days, building into something a little, well… a lot non-PC.
What we have here is a matter of framing. Of, if you will, successful propaganda. Political correctness is framed as polite and respectful and why would any decent person want to go against that? And of course no decent person would choose to be needlessly impolite – most of us are well aware that manners, at least in the form of basic courtesy, form the social grease that prevents friction between humans from becoming violent friction.
The fact that PC is neither polite nor respectful gets lost because of the framing and the way those who support it marginalize and exclude those who don’t, to deny not only their ability to be part of society, but their right to exist in that society. How often are screams of ____ist! used to shut down conversation or debate even when the group supposedly insulted or belittled by the allegedly ____ist speech repeatedly denies any insult?
Political correctness starts by dividing humans into groups based on characteristics the group members can’t control. It divides by sex (we won’t even touch the inanity of claiming women as a minority), by skin color (usually claimed as “race”, less commonly “color” or “ethnicity”, with “culture” getting used as meaning the same thing, although the last time I heard the amount of melanin in one’s skin and the proportion of red vs brown melanin has absolutely nothing to do with the language a person grows up speaking or any other cultural marker – there’s an old, old joke about this: an American rabbi takes a vacation in Hong Kong, where he meets up with the local Jewish community. An elderly ethnic Chinese woman grills him about America and his life, asking repeatedly, “Are you sure you’re Jewish?”. Finally, when he asks, “Why do you keep asking me?” she says, “It’s funny. You don’t look Jewish.”), and claims to be assisting each so-defined group by Balkanizing it into progressively smaller slices.
The individual who doesn’t meet the assumptions of whoever decides these things is presumed to be a traitor to their group and therefore evil. Worse, built into all of this is the notion that each defined group needs assistance from its betters in the form of the ever-so-politically-correct modern progressives (who are, almost exclusively, members of the same incestuous Marxist-elite cultural clique and have every intention of being the ones to send us dissidents to the gulags). Even the names given to the assorted groups (“minority” or “victim” groups) codes the eliteness in.
To those who doubt, I would ask: is it more insulting to be encouraged to work towards your goals, or to be told you aren’t capable of handling normal life so you’re going to get an easy ride, but so as not to offend you it gets called “equal opportunity”. Would you rather I said, “You can do this – let me know if you need any help.” or “You poor dear, let me fix that for you.”?
Too much “let me fix that for you” destroys people. A child who is carried everywhere will never learn to walk, and a person who is given an easy ride will never know what it is to struggle for something and succeed.
Worse, the Balkanizing effect completely ignores the impact of the individual. Each one of us has had a different path through life, and will view anything that happens in light of our experience. For many, there is a more or less common perspective, but not always. Some (yours truly among them) are just too stubborn to accept things as they stand and insist on trying to figure it out for themselves (and reach mega badthinky conclusions due to that horrible tool of the patriarchy known as logic). Others accept what they’re told and go through life believing that they can’t do things without the help of kindly superiors. Then they wonder why their coworkers resent them or don’t let them do the more difficult work. Or come to believe that it actually is ____ism that’s causing them to be unable to do the more difficult work, not the much kinder truth that due to someone’s fuzzy political correctness and sense of fairness they were promoted beyond their capacity.
This isn’t fair, and it sure as hell isn’t just. It violates the person who’s been advanced beyond their abilities and the person who didn’t get the advancement because someone undeserving got it to appease some politically correct quota. Sure, life isn’t fair, but life doesn’t tell people they can’t do something because they’re poor little victims who need to be protected from the world. Life doesn’t teach learned helplessness. Only supposedly well-meaning progressives (aka Marxists who are either too ignorant to realize that’s what they are or they’re hiding the fact that they’re Marxist behind a nicer sounding word) do that.