PC, Brah!:Why Your #Hottake on Political Correctness Sucks

I haven’t seen The Force Awakens yet. I’m a big Star Wars fan, but I hate big crowds so I’m waiting until the hype settles down a bit. This is a risky plan because I’m risking exposure to spoilers. Thankfully, everyone has been hyper-considerate about not giving away plot details.

Which got me thinking about the difference between spoiler warnings vs. trigger warnings. They’re pretty much the same thing; you’re basically letting someone engage with the material on their own terms. Yet, the usage of trigger warnings has become a lightning rod for free speech warriors as a nefarious tool for censorship.

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I wouldn’t describe myself as a social justice warrior (SJW). And I totally understand the frustration people feel when “check your privilege” is thrown around all willy nilly. But as annoying as I find over-zealous SJWs, persecution complexes are so much worse.

To me, the whinyness is intensified at each successive level. For example, maybe a famous comedian tells an offensive joke that goes viral. The SJWs criticize it, rightly or wrongly, but then then come the anti-SJWs, who are complaining that people are complaining. My issue with the latter is that they’re not really offering anything substantial to the debate, just that the debate shouldn’t even exist in the first place, and that is total bullshit.

It drives me nuts when I see someone bitch and complain because people were offended by an offensive joke. Do you understand the definition of “offensive”? The fun of telling offensive jokes is that you’re taking a risk. If you’re upset that your intentionally offensive joke offended somebody, you’re not really trying to push boundaries or indulge in the joy of free speech; you’re indulging in your privilege (yeah, I said it) and are childishly refusing to take responsibility when you get called out for it.

Of course, the immediate response is that these anti-SJWs are righteously defending the sanctity of free speech, but I’m not really buying that. I think there are a lot of legitimate threats against free speech presently (governments and corporations working together to shut down environmental groups, or militarized police attacking protesters), but feminist bloggers on Tumblr don’t rank high on the list.

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Take South Park for example. Recently, they’ve introduced a new character, PC Principal. In many ways, PC Principal is an ingenious character. He subverts the tribalism of SJWs by couching it in its antagonist, frat boy culture. However, I can’t help but feel there’s something very shrill about Matt Stone and Trey Parker yet again taking umbrage over political correctness. This is the nineteenth season of a series that has become one of the most successful television franchises precisely by being gleefully politically incorrect.

I suppose the argument is that the battle against censorship is never over, and that political correctness will find new manifestations and must always be beaten down like a whack-a-mole. But I must ask, who is your enemy?

Whenever I read these lazy, hyperbolic op-eds proselytizing that political correctness is literally destroying the fabric of our society, I just see a bunch of Chicken Littles.

Yes, it’s exhausting that no public act nowadays can escape scrutiny from at least some obscure corner of the internet, but this great PC Secret Police is a boogeyman. I don’t see it. So there are university campuses creating “safe spaces.” Who cares? Are you unaware the college campus has been a location for exceedingly liberal protests for generations? I’ve been on a university campus now for over ten years, first as an undergrad, then a grad, and now an employee, and I can honestly say that not much has changed.

Whenever someone offers some empirical example of political correctness run amok, it’s just some isolated anecdote. Like, how a feminist wanted to DJ at some shitty bar to stop playing “Blurred Lines.” Oh gracious! I wonder how Pharrel and Robin Thicke ever got over that?

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Meanwhile, language does play a role.

As I write this, Donald freakin’ Trump is leading the GOP leadership race, which is essentially a competition over who can threaten women, Muslims, and immigrants the most.

Recently, an egregiously falsified video of Planned Parenthood was taken up by Republican candidates. Some nutter got all worked up over “baby killers” and attacked a planned parenthood. The shooter was a white guy, so it was all whitewashed as “a troubled loner” etc. instead of being called a domestic terrorist. Yet, the guy had a history of engaging in the kind of misogynistic discourse that is so rife on the internet these days.

My point is that all this sound and fury over the great threat of political correctness is a red herring. In the very least, it’s much ado about nothing. At its worst, it’s a distraction from very legitimate claims of racism and sexism.

 

It’s sad that this keeps having to be reiterated: freedom of speech doesn’t entail freedom from backlash. You can go on Facebook and shit post about violent Muslims and lazy Aboriginals all you want. No one is going to arrest you (unless you post about Jihadism, then you’ll be monitored by CSIS or the NSA but I don’t see free speech warriors taking up that cause). But that doesn’t mean I can’t call you out for it or delete you from my friends list.

Cheers

-b

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~ by braddunne on December 23, 2015.

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