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Marc My Words...

Marc My Words...
Marc Alexander

4th November 2005

Political correctness is unreality that has been revised, edited and then promulgated as truth by the few, to be swallowed by the many.

Truth is perhaps the most valuable commodity we have in a supposedly free and democratic civil society. Unfortunately it is often one thing we are economical about. It is worth noting that while most people decry whatever is meant by "political correctness", knowing it when we see it, no one has ever taken credit for its imposition. That may be because what is a crumb of PC rubbish to one is a main meal of reasonableness to another. Most of us can detect the extremes, but the difficulty is that the definition of political correctness is elusive. Partly this is due to well crafted ideological, and often tautological supporting "evidence" which under close examination is little else but woolly thinking advanced for a particular cause. Its effect though, is to advance state control over the individual dressed up as an overwhelming social good.

We live in a world saturated with information. We lead busy lives and without realising it, political correctness often passes below the radar. The media is certainly part of the problem; it embraces us with a bombardment of perspectives on what is happening through a subterfuge of presenting "the facts". But all facts when presented portray a point of view. Why are some "facts" accentuated more than others? Why one emphasis rather than another? The problem of course is that we rely upon the media to make observations upon which we may form our world view.

The creep of political correctness adds to the authority of information whose potency is in conforming to predetermined frames of reference that have the cumulative capacity to shape reality. Political correctness shapes perception by shaping the language of that perception. For example, calling a ‘criminal’ an ‘offender’ changes our emotional response – and going from ‘offender’ to ‘client’ shifts our abhorrence and indignation to a reaction stripped of emotional content. The changes don't just alter the meaning – they obliterate it.

In the real world political correctness is ‘thought censorship’. It is a constraint upon the most precious gift we have – the freedom to think, say and write the truth as we see it. Once we inhibit that freedom we inhibit our independence and become, in a very real sense, a conforming and aquiescent part of the ruling ideology. This is dangerous to civil society because it constricts self-evaluation and self-appraisal – it is nothing short of enforced ideological myopia.

Political correctness has championed the erroneous confusion between the equality of opportunity and the equality of outcome to our detriment. That we should afford every citizen with the opportunity to be all they can be, is certainly a defensible and noble goal. But the growing power of PC ideologies under the banner of enforcing equality dumbs down achievement and personal empowerment, resulting in the elimination of difference and variation. The political process grinds down individuality, diversity and difference to a homogenous mediocrity. The flip-side is a corresponding coarseness of public sensibilities through the adoption of a hostage mentality against the increasing interventions and intrusions of the State.

Political correctness in the environs of our legislature asserts itself as a kind of relativism under the guise and appeals of openness and diversity. In reality it is anything but. Rather, it is a denial of frankness and a march on our ability to ascribe value judgements on those new ideas…and often re-inventing old ones deprived of their true ethical force. The result is a debate about positions of perspective with no weight being given to an assessment of their worth. The net result, sadly, is an ethically valueless smorgasbord of alternative perspectives, all presumed to be of equivalent acceptability but with the implicit assumption of diminishing Individual responsibility and consequence.

Such an ideology cannot work in the long term because we are not only individuals with choice to think and act in accordance to a will shaped by our world view but are also public creatures who exude a social as well as individual imprint, and who ultimately require a common basis for such a connection.

Although the PC fundamentalists are zealously proselytising their message of ethical neutrality, it simply does not work. It never really did. It is the product of confused Socialists from a by-gone era who are hell-bent on making the unacceptable acceptable. Partly, I suspect, to divorce our ethical values from public policy. They may strive for equality, but will never achieve it, although along the way it can do a lot of damage in the battlefield of our hearts. Concepts like ‘harm minimisation’ become the catch all phrase for 'progressive thinking'. But if we bother to think about it we know that the street translation is “Don’t impose constraints on anyone who has the right to make their own independent lifestyle choices unimpeded by social consequence.”

Even the right to speak out has been none too subtely undermined. Consider Josie Bullock who stood up for herself as a Department of Corrections staff member and was rewarded by dismissal - not because she violated some spurious Maori custom that has no place in a tax payer funded institution, but ostensibly because she spoke up - and the media listened!

The appointment of National MP Wayne Mapp as spokesman for the eradication of political correctness (which is a title somewhat parodying its intent in an Orwellian/Soviet kind of way) will not, despite the protestations of Labour MP Georgina Beyer, result in "open slather" attacks on minority rights. How hard is it for us to understand that if you talk of race it does not make you racist; if you discuss gender it does not make you sexist; and if you accept but don’t celebrate homosexuality it doesn’t make you a homophobe! Whether the issue is the expectation of non-Maori to fund Maori television; granting special privileges to the transgendered; or the right of parents to discipline their kids; it is up to all of us to be free to say what we think, unhindered by those who would otherwise have us keep quiet and acquiesce to the new progressive modernity. Nowhere is this silliness given more free reign than our criminal justice system; how is it that while criminals receive compensation, tattoo removals, fast foods, and sex-changes, victims are delivered platitudes? What message are we sending when we reward those who choose to flout our laws?

Just how far this Pythonesque absurdity has already flourished is evident when talk of "one law for all" becomes translated to imply a discrimination! What is meant of course, is that we now apparently need "one law for each" so that positive discrimination becomes the catch cry of equality.

In this brave new world where we are expected to hold hands and sing kum-ba-ya without the right to exercise discernment; forced to embrace a myriad of cultural, sexual and religious diversities whether we agree or not, will there be anything left to bind us as a people? Will a social adhesive define us with a common ethical perspective? I doubt it. In such a future there will be a wholesale inflation of rights without any underlying and corresponding responsibilities.

In such a world we will be manipulated, brainwashed and indoctrinated. We will then be individuals held together loosely by geography rather than the substance of society as we know it. We deserve better than to be thrown an ideology as a lure for a fabricated truth. The reigns of freedom demand no less.

Marc Alexander . 4 November 2005.


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