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Thursday, February 02, 2017

Political Correctness: An Overview


Political correctness (PC) is a contentious topic and there has been much discussion - in fact,  the discussion is ongoing - as to what it is and how to best define. The discussion seems to be even more lively on how to assess it and whether or not PC as a phenomena is harmful or beneficial to our society.
In this article I intend to focus on the former - specifically, what is PC and attendant phenomenon - and largely disregard the latter. Which, naturally, is in no way to discourage the readers from forming their own opinions on the subject.

Definitions And Origins

At present, Wikipedia defines it thusly:
The term political correctness (adjectivally: politically correct; commonly abbreviated to PC[1] or P.C.) in modern usage, is used to describe language, policies, or measures that are intended to avoid offense or disadvantage to members of particular groups in society.
This definition seems accurate to me even though it may be a bit simplistic. I would perhaps expand it to say that PC is a set of societal policies and norms aimed at ensuring perceived fairness towards and protection of certain groups perceived to be at a disadvantage, with the implied notion of limiting debate about the propriety of the above-mentioned policies and norms, limiting it strictly to the the matters of applicability and enforcement.
It is difficult to pinpoint precisely what gave rise to PC in its present form. What one can say with certainty is that various frameworks imposing societal norms regarding acceptable discourse, debate and behavior have been with us since the dawn of time. Of that, religious censorship and other restrictions come to mind. So for example Giordano Bruno was executed by burning for little more than expressing scientific discoveries which were viewed as an unacceptable violation of the societal norms of the time
Modern western PC likely has its roots in the sentiment common among the left-leaning intellectuals of the 1970’s that there were groups in the society that were so heavily disadvantaged that in order to do right by them it was necessary to go beyond merely codifying equality into laws and regulations. The idea was to give the disadvantaged groups an extra advantage in the form of affirmative action and extra protections against actions and even words perceived as hostile or detrimental to those groups. The groups to be protected include but are not limited to women, minorities (especially persons of color), the LGBT community, people identifying as other species and potentially other minority groups this author can not think of at the moment.
Additional concepts without which the discussion of PC would be incorrect are Social Justice Warriors (SJW’s) and Identity Politics (IP).  The former - as defined for the purposes of this discussion - can be loosely defined as activists fighting to impose PC norms and enforce them. The latter are politics based on group identifiers (gender, skin color, health status) that the individual has little to no control over. As one can easily imagine, in many cases - in fact, in the majority of cases - identity politics and PC can hardly be told apart.


Having started with various anti-harassment, affirmative action and proper conduct codes implemented by academic institutions, government institutions and businesses PC has grown to include new forms and variations. While initially the prohibited forms of behaviour included mostly intentional harassment, bullying and discrimination the definitions of what constitutes any of these things have shifted from what could at least to a degree be tangible to definitions along the lines of “harassment is anything some member of a protected group, or even some member of the organization where the code is in effect, thinks is harassment”. If one were to think that under a situation like this it is mighty difficult never to end up a harasser one would be entirely correct.
Whole new concepts have merged - such as that of microaggressions, which is to say, aggressions almost imperceptible but yet supposedly harmful to supposed victims. Or that of cultural appropriation - that is, using something originating from the minority culture without belonging to said minority which is equated to treating said group as a commodity.
It appears that in many instances a modern adept of PC, or an SJW, would give priority to PC norms and notions over facts or science.

Positive Outcomes Of PC

PC as part of the culture has changed the way we live in a variety of ways. Some people have clearly benefited from it.
It is difficult to quantify these effects though one does not have to go far to find people who praise these initiatives for establishing workspace conditions that are, at least on the surface, more civil, with less lewd talk and unwelcome comments, of sexual nature or otherwise. Studies exist where people are mostly asked about how they feel about the policies in place and their effect and they do report higher levels of psychological comfort.
Affirmative action has helped some people achieve what they may not have achieved without it. That is hardly in dispute. It has helped some people, perhaps those with relatively low confidence, feel less intimidated and feel more empowered to launch complaints in situations where they feel they have been harassed or otherwise treated unfairly.
Without a doubt, political correctness has improved some people’s situations. It must also be stated that the same can be said of just about any large-scale societal initiative or tendency.

Negative Outcomes Of PC

One of the primary negative outcomes of PC is legitimation of the notion of primacy of emotion over fact and law. The immediate consequence of this is imposition of censorship and self-censorship and narrowing of the public discourse.
PC itself largely started on college campuses. It is on college campuses that one gets to see some of its most outrageous expressions now. For example, in this emotional video distraught Yale University students berate a school administrator for allowing Haloween costumes that they deem inappropriate and that have made them uncomfortable [2]. And an academician describes the current on-campus PC climate thusly [3]:
I once saw an adjunct not get his contract renewed after students complained that he exposed them to "offensive" texts written by Edward Said and Mark Twain. His response, that the texts were meant to be a little upsetting, only fueled the students' ire and sealed his fate.  That was enough to get me to comb through my syllabi and cut out anything I could see upsetting a coddled undergrad, texts ranging from Upton Sinclair to Maureen Tkacik — and I wasn't the only one who made adjustments, either.
I am frightened sometimes by the thought that a student would complain again like he did in 2009. Only this time it would be a student accusing me not of saying something too ideologically extreme — be it communism or racism or whatever — but of not being sensitive enough toward his feelings, of some simple act of indelicacy that's considered tantamount to physical assault. As Northwestern University professor Laura Kipnis writes, "Emotional discomfort is [now] regarded as equivalent to material injury, and all injuries have to be remediated." Hurting a student's feelings, even in the course of instruction that is absolutely appropriate and respectful, can now get a teacher into serious trouble.
But perhaps nowhere has the situation that has become part of everyday reality on our college campuses been on display more than during the 2015 Mizzou protests [4]. In short, a minority activist group that was receiving support from the administration named Concerned Student 1950 was in danger of losing that support due to the fact that no racist episodes were taking place - and it was founded specifically to resist such episodes in the past. Pretty much immediately after that change became a possibility to events allegedly take place: a swastika made of human feces was painted on a dormitory wall and several Black students were verbally abused by occupants of a passing truck at an off-campus location. Neither event was recorded, hence no proof exists that either one of them did indeed occur. In the case of the “poop swastika” it seems especially bewildering that no one snapped a picture of it with a smartphone camera.
Protests started that were centered around demanding a hand-written apology from the chancellor for failing to anticipate and prevent such awful racist attacks. Even assuming the events did indeed occur, a reasonable person would ask, what could the chancellor do - and inevitably would be forced to answer, next to nothing. The matter, to the best of this author’s knowledge, was indeed referred to the police who naturally discovered nothing to build a criminal case on. Yet the protesters managed to mount enough pressure to get the chancellor to resign thus displaying the incredible power of PC on today’s campuses.
As incredible as the Mizzou protests story may seem, it did not result in any human fatalities. The same can almost certainly not be said of the story of Charles Cullen[5]. Cullen, a killer nurse who while not widely known may be America’s most prolific mass murderer, was able to easily move from job to job even though patients died during his shifts at rates that were positively abnormal and raised serious concerns of the medical institution where he would work. However that same medical institution, for fear of being sued for discrimination, would not inform potential employers of these concerns when those other medical institutions would ask for a reference on Cullen. It is still not known how many people he had killed, and we may never know how many would have been saved had PC notions not infiltrated the medical workplace but we can be all but sure that a significant number of people had left this world earlier than they otherwise would have thanks not only to Cullen’s sick homicidal drive but also to the PC norms. Cullen’s example is obviously extreme but there is little reason to doubt that his story is not unique and other fatalities occurred because of workplaces afraid to report concerns with homicidal, suicidal or just reckless employees who actions, intentional or unintentional, had a great potential of bringing grievous harm to innocent victims.

Additionally, it must be noted that the prevalence of PC in the educational system not only stifles debate and drives down the quality of education but also creates a generation after generation of people used to “echo chambers”, “safe spaces” and perceiving a free society as an anomality - and a dangerous one at that. Those people are prone to push for more and more PC, and while clearly in their mind they benefit from it one would not be wrong to ask whether or not this phenomena is of a circular nature, a vicious circle of PC generating demand for more PC, much like drug addiction generates more demand for drug addiction. And while a drug addict would believe themselves being happy due to drugs, and demand more drugs for themselves, sane and sober people would likely question the wisdom of such a choice.


Political correctness is a complex and multifaceted phenomena. It can be viewed as a societal experiment and metrics can be developed to assess its effectiveness. However, at present there is no genuine debate going on whose purpose would be to assess the effectiveness and propriety of PC as a societal practice. The reason for that appears to be, for the most part, the rejection of the very necessity of debate by the adept of the PC doctrine.
The opponents of it, on the other hand, seem to be mostly willing to argue, and they seem to operate with facts rather than feelings.The debate is way past due and in this author’s opinion we can not have it soon enough.


[1] Political correctness
[2] Yale University Students Protest Halloween Costume Email (VIDEO 3)
[3] I'm a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me
Edward Schlosser
June 3, 2015
[4] 2015–16 University of Missouri protests
[5] Charles Cullen

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Video of rooftop helicopter rescue in Japan's tsunami-hit town

9500 People Missing In ONE Japanese Coastal Town

Tent cities in America - here's one of them, complete with photos

While Americans argue amongst themselves over wages, union bargaining rights, government spending, monetary easing, and a host of other issues, including who’s to blame for the country’s malaise, Minister Brigham and his community trudge on, despite what’s happening outside of their neighborhood microcosm. As millions struggle to hold on to the American Dream, the residents of this New Jersey “Tent City” have already experienced loss, and the emotional roller coaster that inevitably follows. They’ve gone through the first four stages of loss – denial, anger, bargaining, depression. In a situation where everything has been lost, and hope seemingly doesn’t exist, only the fifth stage, acceptance, becomes applicable. These individuals and families have accepted what has happened, and understand that they have a choice. Either give up and wallow in regret and blame. Or, empower oneself, and those around you, and move forward by whatever means are available.

A Visit to an American Tent City
Mac Slavo, March 11, 2011

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Jared Loughner: new charges

A federal grand jury handed up a lengthy superseding indictment against shooting suspect Jared Loughner, accusing him of a variety of federal crimes in the Jan. 8 melee outside a Tucson-area supermarket that left six dead and 13 wounded, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

In an unexpected development, the new indictment includes 49 counts stemming from crimes against all of the victims, rather than solely those five victims who were federal employees.

Feds' new indictment charges Loughner with 49 counts
Michael Kiefer, The Arizona Republic, March 5, 2011

Sounds like a clear case of federal overreach. Mr Loughner stands accused of commiting multiple counts of Murder One which is a capital offense in Arizona. Yet the Feds want to take control right from the get-go.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Jobs may be out there but they don't pay

But to get to the most important trend you have to dig under the job numbers and look at what kind of new jobs are being created. That’s where the big problem lies.

The National Employment Law Project did just that. Its new data brief shows that most of the new jobs created since February 2010 (about 1.26 million) pay significantly lower wages than the jobs lost (8.4 million) between January 2008 and February 2010.

While the biggest losses were higher-wage jobs paying an average of $19.05 to $31.40 an hour, the biggest gains have been lower-wage jobs paying an average of $9.03 to $12.91 an hour.

In other words, the big news isn’t jobs. It’s wages.

For several years now, conservative economists have blamed high unemployment on the purported fact that many Americans have priced themselves out of the global/high-tech jobs market.

So if we want more jobs, they say, we’ll need to take pay and benefit cuts.

And that’s exactly what Americans have been doing.

Employers have demanded wage and benefit concessions from their unionized workers and often got them. Detroit is creating auto jobs again — but new hires are getting about half the pay that auto workers were getting before. Airline workers are taking home 30 to 50 percent less than they did years ago. And so on.

The Real News on Jobs
Robert Reich, Truthout, March 4, 2011

This matches perfectly with this author's everyday impressions. There seems to be an awful lot of service jobs around which pay wages at around $10 per hour. Quite laughable especially in large metropolitan areas. And by "laughable" I certainly don't mean "funny".

For now what we seems to be doing is just watching the people lose their faith in honest work, lose their hope, their work ethics... What's next? A crime wave? Riots in the streets? Police oppression? All of the above?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Hiding Details of Dubious Deal, U.S. Invokes National Security

“Dennis would always say, ‘My technology is real, and it’s worth a fortune,’ ” recounted Steve Crisman, a filmmaker who oversaw business operations for Mr. Montgomery and a partner until a few years ago. “In the end, I’m convinced it wasn’t real.”

Government officials, with billions of dollars in new counterterrorism financing after Sept. 11, eagerly embraced the promise of new tools against militants.

C.I.A. officials, though, came to believe that Mr. Montgomery’s technology was fake in 2003, but their conclusions apparently were not relayed to the military’s Special Operations Command, which had contracted with his firm. In 2006, F.B.I. investigators were told by co-workers of Mr. Montgomery that he had repeatedly doctored test results at presentations for government officials. But Mr. Montgomery still landed more business.

In 2009, the Air Force approved a $3 million deal for his technology, even though a contracting officer acknowledged that other agencies were skeptical about the software, according to e-mails obtained by The New York Times.

Hiding Details of Dubious Deal, U.S. Invokes National Security
Eric Lichtblau and James Risen, New York Times, February 19, 2011

Now this is a real gem. What were Mr Montgomery's technology credentials? How was the effort overseen and supervised? I obviously wouldn't know but as someone who spent close to 3 years as a government parasite I wouldn't be surprised if no one in the government ever read a line of computer code this supposed "security expert" wrote.

So that joker collected millions off Joe The Taxpayer? Good for him - that's what suckers are for! What he did wrong was gamble it away - he should've just stashed it in some safe offshore haven and he would've now been looking at lounging on the beach as opposed to facing charges and dealing with all those legal problems.

Also note the government officials' ubiquitous use of national security as a way to keep things out of public scrutiny. Things being what they are, I am surprised we ever learned of the Deepwater Horizon disaster among other things. So perhaps I should keep quiet about this sort of thing lest our servants and protectors get some funny ideas.

Doctors engaged in widespread medical fraud at Madison protests with fake doctor's notes

If you're an eighth grader and you show up to school with a fake doctor's note excusing your suspicious absence the day before, you would probably face detention or some other punishment, including a possible investigation for truancy. But if you're a teacher and you call in "sick" with a fake doctor's note handed to you at a protest in Madison, Wisconsin, then that's apparently okay... because that's what countless public school teachers have been doing the past week.

Masterminding the effort are rogue medical doctors committing medical fraud by carrying out obviously contrived conversations with protestors then writing them doctors' notes to excuse them from work for such things as "fatigue" or "emotional stress."

What we have, then, is a tag team of fraud: The teachers who have abandoned their public duties and abandoned their students by calling in "sick," and the medical doctors who are promoting the whole charade by pretending to diagnose these teachers with some sort of ailment that gets them off the hook.

This sends a really powerful message back home to all the students in the Madison public school system: "Do as we say, not as we do."

Doctors engaged in widespread medical fraud at Madison protests with fake doctor's notes
Mike Adams, Natural News, February 20, 2011

545 vs. 300,000,000 People - By Charlie Reese

Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, WHY do we have deficits?

Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes?

You and I don't propose a federal budget. The President does.

You and I don't have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does.

You and I don't write the tax code, Congress does.

You and I don't set fiscal policy, Congress does.

You and I don't control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does.

One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one President, and nine Supreme Court justices equates to 545 human beings out of the 300 million are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.

I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a President to do one cotton-picking thing. I don't care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator's responsibility to determine how he votes.

Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.

545 vs. 300,000,000 People - By Charlie Reese
This is billed as Charlie Reese's final column. I don't know whether it is or not - but it certainly is an all-time classic. Few people can match Reese in clarity of thought.

And yes, do check out this poem, allegedly also penned by Reese:
Tax his land,
Tax his bed,
Tax the table,
At which he's fed.

Tax his tractor,
Tax his mule,
Teach him taxes
Are the rule.

Tax his work,
Tax his pay,
He works for
peanuts anyway!

Tax his cow,
Tax his goat,
Tax his pants,
Tax his coat.

Tax his ties,
Tax his shirt,
Tax his work,
Tax his dirt.

Tax his tobacco,
Tax his drink,
Tax him if he
Tries to think.

Tax his cigars,
Tax his beers,
If he cries
Tax his tears.

Tax his car,
Tax his gas,
Find other ways
To tax his ass.

Tax all he has
Then let him know
That you won't be done
Till he has no dough.

When he screams and hollers;
Then tax him some more,
Tax him till
He's good and sore.

Then tax his coffin,
Tax his grave,
Tax the sod in
Which he's laid...

Put these words
Upon his tomb,
'Taxes drove me
to my doom...'

When he's gone,
Do not relax,
Its time to apply
The inheritance tax.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A typical "guns are awful" article

So you're at your neighborhood Starbucks, maybe with your kids, and you notice a man sitting at the next table with a revolver strapped to his waist. The man next to him has a pistol. In fact, you realize as you look around, there's a table full of gun-toting customers just a few feet away, sipping coffee and doing nothing to conceal their deadly weapons. Aside from steering clear -- or else getting the hell out of there -- what can an unarmed citizen do?

Starbucks' Cop-Out to Gun Nuts: Customers Served Coffee While Strapped
Liliana Segura, AlterNet, 9 February 2010

Note the way the whole debate is being framed: you can either "steer clear" or "get the hell out of there". Well, I can see several other options - such as realize that you may just have found yourself the safest spot within 20 miles to have your cup of coffee.

Clarification: I am not saying that the presence of weapons always makes a location more secure. I am most certainly not attempting to state the reverse either. I am just attempting to show that articles like that are based on assumptions that are not grounded in factual reality.

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