Saturday, May 28, 2016

What Does It Mean to Say "I Do Not Have to Be Politically Correct?" It Means "I Have No Duty to Care for the Harmed"

I have been puzzling over what people who object to "political correctness" are objecting to.  Donald Trump says he "doesn't have time" to be politically correct.  This seems to be the trait that his supporters most admire.

Jonathan Haidt's research on liberals and conservatives found that the moral foundation that most resonates with liberals is caring for those who have been harmed.  Liberals feel a special duty to  those who have been harmed by powers and privileges that liberals themselves have benefited from.  This, I believe, is the heart of what it means to be politically correct.

So what is it that Mr. Trump and his followers get out of rejecting political correctness?  They reject any ethical duty to care for the harmed.

They reach this conclusion by two routes.

The first is to deny that anyone has been harmed.  If everyone is an individual who can succeed by his or her own efforts, then whatever condition people find themselves in is just.  They deny that there are structures of power or privilege which benefit some groups and harm others.

The second is to claim that they, the privileged, have also been harmed - especially due to "reverse discrimination" by liberals trying to help those previously harmed by power and privilege.


Mac said...

I suppose it all comes down to who gets to define "harmed." Against what harm do you think you have the right to, and must, protect the rest of society at the expense of limiting someone else's liberty?

What those who dislike and oppose political correctness dislike about the idea is that one group of citizens have appointed themselves to monitor, supervise, and control the speech of anyone with whom they disagree. The last time I checked (2 minutes ago) there is no Constitutional right to go through life without being offended. Constitutional conservatives know that the First Amendment was intended to allow any and all speech, no matter how offended the weak-spirited might be by mere words. Liberals insist that they be allowed to define what is "offensive" and to then impose their definition on the rest of us. Humbug!!

Mac said...

Arrgh!! Used "dislike twice in one sentence....mea culpa.

Debra Boyd said...

It isn't about correctness, but respect, dignity, and inclusion. By choosing civility, we have the opportunity to include those historically excluded from opportunities. Women, African Americans, people born in different countries, people who worship in different ways, people who have physical limitations that we may not have yet, who can all still contribute to society. If you cannot be bothered to refer to me as a woman instead of a b_$%h, I am not sure you are really ready to join society much less help me build the Beloved Community that I aspire for you and me.

Mac said...

First, I trust that the following sentence was not directed to me: "If you cannot be bothered to refer to me as a woman instead of a b_$%h, ..." I do not know you and am quite certain that I have never referred to you in that way. Moreover, I would happily thrash any man who so referred to my beloved daughter.

You write, "By choosing civility, we have the opportunity to include those historically excluded from opportunities." All my life, I have striven to emulate Sergeant Major Robert E. Lee, USMC ( a black Marine) who taught me that there are no black Marines or white Maries--they are all green and each deserves to be treated fairly and with respect until he gives up that right by straying. I have brought that standard with me into the civilian world and it has stood me in good stead for 70 years now.

Unless you have found the mythical time machine, we are unable to re-write history, but certainly, bills of attainder and corruption of blood are no more appropriate today than they were in 1789. The idea that I or my children must be punished for the purported sins of our ancestors is as alien to the American dream as are your conclusions that such punishment is right and righteous, so long as the punishment is in the name of dignity, inclusion, your brand of civility, and prejudicial opportunity. I first heard that argument 30 years ago when the idea of "reparations" for slavery were thrown in my face by a black university professor whose earliest American ancestor arrived in the United States in 1873, 10 years after two of my great, great grandfathers were killed in action in the Civil war, wearing Union blue. When I suggested that my family's debt--if one there was--had been paid in full and in blood. The "civil" reply I received from that civil libertarian was that I was "just another f****** honky son of a b_$%h."

I will gladly treat any person with the respect and dignity he or she has earned and deserves. I object to anyone presuming to decide for me just when that standard has been reached and by whom. For example, the idea that someone can criminally enter this country and then demand the same rights and privileges of an American citizen or one who has obtained legal permission to immigrate is not deserving of either my respect or my acquiescence in his or her criminal act. And the idea that I may be pilloried or even criminally prosecuted for exercising my right of free speech just because another has a different view or is somehow "offended" by my view is exactly what my opposition to so-called "political correctness" is all about.

Moreover, inclusion is a two way street. The person who seeks "inclusion" by demanding that his or her aberrant or illegal acts be accepted, without also accepting another's right to call crime crime and evil evil has no place in a free society. You can dress up censorship in a pretty dress and put lipstick on its snout and call it "civility", but, in the end, it is still just a swine.

Brendan said...

Well put.

CJ said...

The way Conservatives see political correctness is the limiting of speech and discussion. Semantics, censorship, taboo research, anything that is blocked or shunned because it is controversial or offensive, and such. Politically correct people see themselves as preventing harm by discouraging or stopping speech and expression they believe is harmful and marginalizing; things they think shouldn't be said in the first place.

That is to contrast with how Liberals see political incorrectness from likes of Trump's crowd, who they view as abandoning notions of basic respect and accepted courtesy (often perceived by them to be indicative of prejudice and bigotry). Saying slurs, regarding people groups antagonistically, emphasizing or discussing race/gender/etc with non-positive intent, and generally just not caring about how you treat others or conduct yourself as long as you make your point. Politically incorrect people think of themselves as champions of free speech, saying the important things nobody else dares to say.

Both of these viewpoints are suspect to extremes, and it shows. There's been a pretty vicious culture war that's been going on in the past few years involving these two, which I'm sure played a part in what made Trump so appealing to many.

Gruntled said...

Reading this discussion again, I see something I did not before. Conservatives think political correctness is about speech - about saying offensive things. Liberals think political correctness is about action that actually harms others. The speech is not the offense, but the harmful notions that the speech betokens.