Saturday, July 10, 2010

Political correctness and indirect messages

Andrew D Atkin

Does political correctness promote racism, sexism and homophobia?

Indirectly, I think it often does. As follows:

The politically correct brigade seem to be trying to promote homosexuality as a "new normal". As it seems, they try to create the impression that the difference between being born either gay or straight is as natural and 'normal' as the difference between being born with either blond or red hair. This is ridiculous. Of course it's not "natural" to be either gay or straight; not in the same way that it is for typical differences in hair colour and the like.

Yes, homosexuality is natural - but a natural aberration. Homosexuality is natural in the same way that a congenital disorder or cancer is natural. No reasonable-minded person can suggest that homosexuality in humans is an innate part of our evolutionary destiny. Homosexuality is still something that happens when things don't happen the way they are "supposed to" happen.

So, what is the indirect message coming from all these PC-people who insist that we should accept homosexuality as a "new normal". Believe it or not, I think they (indirectly) reinforce the idea that homosexuality is unacceptable because they tell us "We cannot accept these people for who they are", and they do so, basically, by asking us to pretend that homosexuals are something that they are not.

So the PC-people give us the message "Accept gays - there is nothing wrong with them", but underneath that superficial message is still the more fundamental message "We do not accept people with sexual aberrations". As it seems, and curiously, we can only make homosexuality acceptable by [falsely] declassifying it from its aberration status.(?).

--So how about just being honest and realistic about what homosexuality is, and then from there maybe encourage people to accept it by having them understand that it is meaningless (if not cruel) to apply some kind of value-judgement on someone who has been exposed to either an environmental and/or genetic imperfection? It's curious that the PC-people are not interested in this sort of thinking.

Following from my example, the same kind of dynamic can be seen in the politically correct relationship that we have with gender and race. Why can't we speak freely about the differences between the sexes and races; that is, without too easily running the risk of being accused of the worst? What is wrong with differences? Is there supposed to be something to hide? You get my point...

I think political correctness leads to (and supports) indirect messages that serve to drive deeper-level values and assumptions that, in themselves, may not be rational and may ultimately only fuel the foundation of our irrational prejudice.

I think a good example for this can be seen in the way that we're not allowed to discuss the possibility of Blacks being less intelligent than Whites*. Ignoring the idea in itself, we can ask: "What is the indirect massage of this suppressed conversation?" I would say it is the idea that "Abstract intelligence defines the social (if not intrinsic) value of the man". And like my original example, the indirect message coming from our PC-relationship to gays is "We should not accept people who suffer from sexual aberrations".

Maybe it is so that the PC-movement is really just about defining our deeper-level values, and doing so on indirect levels of which are therefore protected from direct debate. Who knows...would the social engineers be that clever?

*For the record, this is not a view that I support.


Addition: 18-10-10:

Inclusiveness or Indirect Racism?

Just today I was looking at a handbook. It had four cartoon hands drawn on the cover, all joined together in a collective handshake. One of the hands was distinctly coloured-in black, the other three hands were white.

On the face of it, it looked like an 'inclusive' ideal was being promoted. But the indirect message was actually the opposite, I believe. Rather than promoting inclusiveness it was bringing attention to difference. Though it was telling the viewer to include Black people, it was simultaneously telling them to identify Black people as specifically different.

The image was encouraging the viewers to form racially-based categories in their minds.

Non-prejudice: The non-prejudice position is to take people as you personally find them - as the individuals they are. For example, if Samantha Pickles is Black, then as you get to know her her ethnicity should disappear (from your) relevance. Over time you would barely even notice her ethnicity as such, you would just come to see Samantha as "Samantha".

Prejudice: A prejudice position is one where an individual forms categories, and in turn comes to perceives people through their categories, for even when they could (otherwise) get to know them as an individual. This means, for example, that if the statistics tell you that Black people are 4 times more likely to kill you than White people (as a generalised statistical finding) then this would colour the way you perceive [and in turn respond to] my Samantha Pickles, and again regardless of who she may be as an individual.

My point is, as I believe, that the basis of racism (and many other 'isms') is rooted in the "original sin" of perceiving people through categories*. So, the more the Politically Correct encourage us to categorise people as either Black or White (or whatever), the more they lay the foundation for functional racism.

*Note: Sometimes perceiving people through categories is a functional necessity. Insurance companies, for example, base their businesses models on it. But this kind of discrimination has nothing to do with prejudice as such, it is simply professional risk-management for when you are dealing with unknown variables. Again, a chance-based decision based on statistical findings has nothing to do with judgements.

Note 2: To say, I also think that categories help to make us blind. Prejudice people are the last to see either the saint or the psychopath, I believe.

Addition: 18-10-10: Propaganda identification:

So how do you recognise the 'effect' of indirect messages, or any form of (possible) propoganda? Easy!..

Use yourself as a guinea-pig - be your own "lab rat". Look carefully at your own "raw" responses to input (and in particular inputs-components that have nothing to do with objective reasoning), and understand that in so many ways us humans are all the same (like you).

By observing your own reactions, you can choose to not let those emotive and 'impressionistic' influences get the better of you. And likewise, you will be able develop a better understanding of what will (too often) be getting the better of others.


  1. Nicely written.

    "No reasonable-minded person can suggest that homosexuality in humans is an innate part of our evolutionary destiny."

    But are not supposed to say that !

    "What is wrong with differences? Is there supposed to be something to hide?"

    It does indeed seem so.

    "would the social engineers be that clever?"

    I would seriously doubt it Andrew.

  2. Language evolves, and as it does, I fully support efforts to steer it away from gender bias, and strip away from everyday discourse terms that stereotype, diminish or dehumanise sections of society. That requires ongoing debate about what is objectionable in which circumstances, and more importantly, why. That debate happens in workplaces, in pubs, in schools, on internet forums and wherever else people argue.

    I'd be delighted if we could all feel confident in challenging attitudes that demean others and divide us as a society. But that is for us to decide. Yes, all of us. It simply does not help to have the likes of the Fabian Society or the Equality and Human Rights Commission laying down the latest list of forbidden words, with all the self-appointed arrogance of a Guide to Modern Etiquette. That totally misses the point.

    It is not words that sometimes need challenging, but the attitudes behind them. Sardar is right to say that words shape attitudes, but he forgets that attitudes shape words to a far greater extent. Ideological proponents of political correctness make a huge error in thinking that offensive words themselves, those little strings of sounds or squiggly letters, are the problem. They're not, they are just words. The problem is that people want to use them in the first place.

    If we are not free to convey our honest beliefs, then our honest beliefs will never be challenged, and our conflicting opinions will never be fully explored. That cannot be healthy for any democracy, but worse – it actively undermines efforts to build a fairer, better society.

  3. Boat fan,

    Quote: "If we are not free to convey our honest beliefs, then our honest beliefs will never be challenged, and our conflicting opinions will never be fully explored."

    So true. People think it's polite to not open your mouth. It can actually be degrading in its effect and it also stigmatise* things. NZ culture is terrible for "only saying nice things" yet at the same time letting those unspoken beliefs and assumptions brood away forever on those unspoken levels.

    *A good example is the rich guy who refuses to talk about money. Looks modest and polite on the face of it, but can really be the opposite. Refusing to talk about your wealth is (or can be) the *opposite* of trivialising it.

  4. I find that PC is designed to be subversive, to replace what was for so long, with something new and different, but often not desirable. They want to change our values. So what are those?

    Rape should only be punished with a slap on the wrist. And Professionals deserve more protection from charges of rape than others should get.

    The working majority should be happy to support others who do not work since they are entitled because they are either of another race, or overweight, or some other dysfunction that makes them poor employees. I’m not buying that.

    Diversity is superior to unity and cohesion. Don’t buy it! Diversity has its value but not for no reason at all. I should not have to support diversity with my taxes and without my say.

    They say freedom of speech is an abuse and that I should not offend anyone ever. Sounds like censorship and evil to me.

    Time and again, what I hear from PC sounds like subversive communist or marxist BS. Don’t do as I do, do as I would like you to do so that you become weak and easy to take over. Thanks but I’ll pass.