Monday, August 07, 2006

In This Case "PC" Stands For "Pointless Claptrap"

When I was starting college, Political Correctness was the hot-button issue of the day.
Then, as now, it served primarily to promote divisiveness, which is ironic considering that, ostensibly, the point of it all was to promote inclusiveness.
Those who were in opposition to the notion of being PC believed that caving in to the pressure of being “correct” would have a chilling effect on the First Amendment right to freedom of speech and that, while the ends might be good, or at least well-intentioned, they were not justified by the means.
I was, not surprisingly, one of those people who was opposed to the notions of Political Correctness.
After all, I was in school to study the language and the ways in which it can be used to express ideas – any and all ideas – and was, and still am, firmly of the opinion that only good can come from the unfettered flow of intellectual expression through language and that only bad can come from any attempts, however well-intentioned, to stop that flow.
That being said, there are words that I choose not to use in my life and ideas that I do not feel deserve to be expressed.  No good, for example, comes from the use of hate-filled rhetoric, ethnic and religious slurs, or the promotion of gender stereotypes.
However, those are choices that I make; they are not decisions that are forced upon me.
To simply forbid the use of certain words or the discussion of certain ideas will not make those words or those ideas go away, and attempting to create inoffensive substitutes for them is a lazy, inauthentic attempt at dealing with the actual issues that serves only to gloss over the problem.
In a perfectly PC world we would public discourse would consist of the use of idiotic buzzwords that convey no real meaning.
Of course, it’s not as though it would matter; language is a living thing, and it adapts according to the needs and desires of the people who use it, and as such even a PC language could be twisted in such a way as to give voice to the simmering resentments that human beings feel toward other human beings.
As it’s only an attempt to deal with a symptom, Political Correctness will inevitably fall before the underlying disease.
And I’m of the opinion that this is exactly what has happened.
The real impact that Political Correctness has had on society has not come through the evils of censorship that it implicitly supports, but rather in the backlash of people reacting against the pressure to be PC.
Because being PC has become something viewed to be bad in the popular mind, it would seem to follow that not being PC, to an extreme, is good, and it seems to follow that if being PC is bad, the whole idea that gave birth to the notion of being PC in the first place must also be bad.
Any attempts at encouraging legitimate sensitivity are immediately dismissed as acts of PC thuggery, and suddenly some racist asshole can consider himself to be a freedom fighter for unapologetically spouting off his beliefs about the inferiority of a particular ethnicity.
After all, he can tell everyone that he’s “not politically correct,” and suddenly it gives him a free pass to say what he wants without fear of contradiction, because any attempts at criticizing him will be dismissed as the ravings of the PC crowd.
Comedians in particular are guilty of this kind of behavior, wearing their political incorrectness like a badge of honor.
“I’m not politically correct,” they proudly proclaim, and no one will stand up and tell them, “Yes, but you’re also not funny.”
That there ever needed to be any discussion of “correctness” in the first place goes to show how colossally stupid we as a society can be as we worry about the most trivial things and are so retarded that we can’t be trusted to exercise restraint and sensitivity when interacting with each other.
Oh well, it’s not like I’m going to do anything to raise humanity’s level of intelligence here, so I suppose I might as well move on to more standard fare.
I woke up this morning sometime after 8 and was about to get up, but then I thought, “No, screw that; I’m going back to sleep.”
I managed to make myself sleep until nearly 10, at which point I got up, had a hearty breakfast of a protein bar, showered, shaved, dressed, and headed out into the world to do some grocery shopping.
While I was there I couldn’t shake the feeling that people were staring at me to the point that I felt the need to check to make sure that I’d remembered to wear pants (I had).
Not sure what was behind it, whether it was just a random odd feeling or people actually were staring at me.  I can’t imagine why they would have been, but who knows?
Still while it was mildly disconcerting, it wasn’t enough to make me want to break out the tin foil hat or anything.
On the way out of the store I had an odder experience, though, as this rather large woman walked in front of me as I was pushing my cart toward the door and, looking straight at me, she decided to just stop dead in her tracks, forcing me to do the same in order to avoid slamming into her.  WTF was up with that?
Because I was in the neighborhood I decided to stop at Quizno’s to pick up an early lunch, as I’ve been meaning to give their new sandwich a try.
However, they don’t open until 11 and it was about 10:52 at thatt point.  I decided that I didn’t want to let all of my frozen stuff melt as I waited, so I just headed home and eventually made myself some paninis for lunch.
After that I did some catching up on Ultimate Spider-Man, reading about 25 issues in all, which is a hell of a lot of Bendis dialogue to squeeze into one day, and which amounts to maybe 15 issues’ worth of actual story thanks to the extra-large panels, two-page spreads, and page after page of nothing actually happening punctuated with the occasional fight scene and decent one-liner.
Saturday night and part of Sunday I devoted to rereading some issues of Lucifer before reading the remainder of the series.
Overall, meh.  Some good stories, and an interesting take on the Devil, God, and the nature and meaning of existence, but nowhere near as entertaining or thought-provoking as the series that pretty much gave birth to it (The Sandman).
Those of you out there who subscribe to Threshold (all 8 of you at this point), may not be receiving updates and I’m not sure why.  Everything checks out on Bloglet, so they should be going out, and yet they’re not.
Don’t know what’s up with it and can’t do anything about it.  Sorry.
Yesterday I was flipping through the channels and caught the tail end of VH1’s I Love the 90s.The year was 1996 and the topic was the band Oasis.
I always remember a time back in 1997 when my friend Eric’s fiancĂ© Sally had come over to use my computer to look up a few things on the Internet and print some stuff out in preparation for the wedding.
She suggested that I put some music on and asked me, “Do you have any Oasis?”
I responded, honestly, “I don’t know who that is.”
There’s no real point to that story, but whenever I hear a song by Oasis (I eventually learned who they were) or any mention of them, that always comes to mind.
These days I tend to be a little more “up” on what’s going on in popular culture, though I’m not entirely sure how or why, because in many ways I’m actually a little more isolated than I was then.  I suppose it’s because I spend more time online.
Again, no point, just an observation.
In any case I suppose that I’ve rambled on more than enough for one entry, as per usual.

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