I came across this in my news feed earlier: thefederalist.com/2015/11/23/a…
I think Ms. Triller speaks eloquently and poignantly in making her points for herself, so I won't rehash her arguments or say more than that I agree with her. I suggest you read her article for yourself. What I do want to comment on is something I've mentioned before: symbolic action. Specifically, symbolic action and political correctness.
I've been seeing a lot about political correctness lately. Unfortunately, every time I hear about political correctness, it's being used to attack people. Seeing this article, combined with the ridiculous levels of political correctness everywhere I look, has made me finally decide to write this out. I am tired of political correctness and symbolic actions as a whole. They are BAD for society, and I'm honestly fed up with it. So, let me explain and hopefully shed some light on this issue.
As I mentioned in my previous journal, the problem with symbolic action is that it allows people to feel like they've done a good thing, regardless of the result. It's a "feel good" tonic. It makes us feel better for a little while, even if it does nothing to actually help someone or even makes things worse! It lets people believe they've done something, when they've accomplished nothing of worth.
That's one of the major problems with political correctness. Political correctness is a type of symbolic action. It doesn't do anything helpful and is often actively harmful to its apparent goals. Honestly, what is the ideal end-goal of being politically correct?
Is it to make people more sensitive? If so, it fails. Being PC does NOT help people be more aware or caring. It censors people, which makes them MORE angry, not less. Repression does not make people more empathetic, ever. Think about your own life: if someone tells you to shut up and that what you believe, think or feel doesn't matter, do you feel like being more kind to that person? Be honest. If you're like the majority of the rest of us humans, the answer is NO.
Well then, is it to make disadvantaged people FEEL better? If so, it fails. Trying to enforce PC words or ways of speaking does NOTHING to change people's minds or opinions. The discrimination is still there and those disadvantaged by it are no better off. And that assumes that if people did use the politically correct terms or behavior, it would make those "disadvantaged" people feel better in the first place. Think to yourself for a moment: if you have a person who is handicapped, do you that that person is going to feel better about you calling them "differently abled?" I can tell you from personal experience that the "disadvantaged" people I know DON'T like being treated differently than everyone else.
Is political correctness supposed to protect people? If so, it fails. In fact, all it accomplishes at best is to drive discrimination underground, making it harder to spot and deal with. It's like a cancer. Just because you don't see it on the surface doesn't mean it isn't there. Slapping a pretty word in front of it doesn't make it go away. It just lets it hide and fester in the dark, becoming more insidious and ugly. On the other hand, when you let hateful people expose themselves, the decent, sane and normal people recoil and shun those haters. The best weapon against hate is to let it show itself for what it is. The darkness flees from the sunlight of exposure.
If you evaluate PC with logic, not emotional feel-good rhetoric, and examine the end results you see that PC fails on every measure of success.
It would be bad enough if PC was simply a failure. That alone would be sufficient reason to find a better way of accomplishing those goals. However, there are also consequences to PC being "enforced" by people who feel they're doing a good thing.
PC says it's okay to silence others if you don't like what the other person says. This is a bad idea. Freedom of speech is the First Amendment of the United States for a reason. Like I already said, censorship only makes people angry. But there are bigger reasons to avoid censorship than just that. What happens when someone comes to power and decides YOUR opinion is offensive? Censorship is the favored tool of tyrants and dictators. It is the schoolyard bully's best friend, writ large on a societal level. Shutting down speech is a tool of real oppression, a way to control and intimidate people into silence. It is a weapon that is inevitably and ALWAYS used by the powerful against the powerless. When that door is opened, it's hard to shut it again.
Another major failing of political correctness is that it doesn't teach people what to do, only what NOT to do. Political correctness is often a stick people use to beat other people over the head with. Speaking from a psychological point of view, the problem with using punishment (and that's what "enforcing" PC is) as a method of behavior modification is that it almost never works AND it teaches people to be sneaky about their bad behavior. PC is used to punish people for doing something that some see as "bad", but those who use that punishment don't use any other method to attempt to modify behavior. Here's a short article about why punishment is not the best or preferred method of behavior modification: psychology.about.com/od/operan…
Unfortunately, PC culture allows people to feel they're some kind of advocate or crusader for those who are disadvantaged. Again, most of the time, this well-intentioned paternalism does more harm than good. What ever happened to "sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me?" Instead, PC culture encourages people to feel offended and victimized by words. This is not empowering. You should want people to OVERCOME their limitations, to brush off hurtful or offensive words as being stupid, ignorant and irrelevant. True empowerment is embracing one's self worth and becoming better than ever, no matter what other people say. It's not bowing down to words. It's not expecting others to constantly walk on eggshells so they don't offend someone.
Psychologically, it is bad to hide from challenging stimuli. The way you overcome your fears is by confronting them. If you refuse to admit you have a problem, you will never defeat it because you don't know how to address it. If you hide from anything that challenges you, you will grow weak. Telling people to refuse to confront their fears and to bow down to words teaches them that their identity is a victim. People need an identity, but "victim" is not an empowering label to absorb. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy: people who believe they're victims become victimized. That's not what a caring, empathetic person wants for another person.
In a related failing of PC culture, this PC focus encourages people to see others as "bad people" if they don't do the politically correct thing. This is wrong. There may be a whole host of reasons for a person to be "offensive" or not PC. Maybe they're ignorant. Maybe they don't know any better. Maybe they're doing it as satire to make people THINK. Attacking them will never win them over or convince them that they were wrong. Truly evil, hateful people aren't going to change their minds, regardless of what you say or do. Evil can't be reasoned with or swayed with words. Very few people who aren't PC are evil people. That leaves the rest of people. Personal attacks are not going to win them over. Telling them to go kill themselves isn't going to help anyone. Do you really want to do something that will never succeed in changing things for the better?
Violence begets violence. Hate creates more hate. Punishment and censorship shuts down conversation. Discrimination flourishes when you de-humanize another person and make them an evil "other" that does not feel pain like you do. If you want to change someone's mind and heart, you have to treat them like a person. You have to respect that they have legitimate feelings and concerns. If your message to them is "you're not worthy", then how are you going to expect them to listen to you? If someone called you a worthless piece of filth, would you stop and listen to what THEY had to say? Of course not.
Remember the Golden Rule? Treat others how you would like to be treated. This should be the basis by which we start trying to understand each other. When you lash out at someone, have you ever stopped to consider how your words hurt others? If others held you to the same standard, how would you fare? Tamp down on your outrage and remember that you're talking to a fellow HUMAN BEING. Is it so hard to say "when you did X, it hurt me. Would you mind not doing X, please?"
"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." Or better yet, how about we stop throwing stones altogether?