Political Correctness, Freedom of speech, and the Golden Rule

Passed a car this weekend with the sticker:

Freedom of Speech

TRUMPS

Political Correctness

Sure seems like we’re in a political time where the nation is just plain tired of this whole “PC” thing, huh? Stop telling me what to say, stop yelling. Don’t be shrill! Stop trying to police what people think! Don’t you value FREEDOM OF SPEECH? Let people say what they will, it’s important to hear everyone’s voice. Everyone has opinions, and they should be heard! Freedom of speech man. First amendment! It’s like… like the SECOND most important amendment! (yeah, you see what I did there)

The PC police want to shut down disagreement! Political Correctness is killing America! It’s killing Universities! Don’t you want students to THINK FOR THEMSELVES? How can they do that if you make every professor afraid that he’s going to say something that’s not Politically Correct?! (Let’s not even address how much he has to ‘suddenly’ fear that he’s been sexually assaulting or harassing his students) Enough with the POLITICAL CORRECTNESS! LET PEOPLE SPEAK!!

 

OK, you know what? No. Not only is that crap, but YOUR GRANDMOTHER would have said the same thing.

You know what my grandmother and thousands of grandmothers just like her always said? ‘Remember the golden rule.’

It often gets turned into “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” which… ok that’s a little simple, right? I mean, I enjoy back rubs, but that isn’t a license to go rubbing anyone’s back I feel like. I’d refer you for a better example to a REALLY OLD version of the Golden Rule, like from 1st century BCE Egypt (see Jasnow, University of Chicago Press, A Late Period Hieratic Wisdom Text)

“That which you hate to be done to you, do not to another”

If you look to the Greeks, the Tamil, the Persians, and like FREAKING EVERYONE ELSE, you’re going to get the same basic concept. Essentially “Hey! Be Nice! Don’t go hurting people’s feeling on purpose, and if you do it by accident, apologize!”

 

ANNNND then. The dreaded term: “PC”

OK, it’s got some really shit history. Like it was used to describe the dogmatic acceptance of Marxist-Leninist government policy. It was used to describe the Nazi policy of granting reporting permits only to Aryans who were ‘politically correct.’ It’s been used to pillory a large number of VERY different people over the years, and it simply means that you’re ascribing to a belief that another portion of the populace thinks is wrong. It is, at the heart, a pejorative.

….. but how about these days? What’s it mean NOW, in nuance?  Not the overall definition which my dear MW gives (conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities (as in matters of sex or race) should be eliminated) … but the nuanced one that Britannica is giving:

Term used to refer to language that seems intended to give the least amount of offense, especially when describing groups identified by external markers such as race, gender, culture, or sexual orientation.

 

Soak that in for a moment.

We’ve come to a point where the meaning of “PC” is no longer “we believe the Jews are evil, and Hitler is great” but “we believe we should try not to use words that specifically make people feel bad.”

WOW.  We are MONSTERS huh? I mean, how DARE we not want people to feel insulted? Boy, next we’ll be rounding up people to be shot!

… I mean, except … wait. That would make them feel bad, and …so… hummm… Gosh, it’s so tricky to be a “Lefty Extremist” I guess we’ll just have to continue with the “be fucking nice to people” campaign.

What the ‘bold fight against PC’ now means is “Fuck you and your insistence that I worry about people’s feelings! That’s just the MAN telling you how to think! FREE SPEECH!  FREE SPEECH!!!”

Which, ok, two things?  1) Seriously? How much of a dick are you??  and 2…

THAT IS NOT. WHAT FREE SPEECH. MEANS.

I promise you, there is no major war on free speech. Go ahead and tweet that racist, incel, homophobic bullshit all you want, and I pretty much guarantee that you won’t be arrested for it. Unless you go making actual threats, which has NEVER BEEN OK.

THAT IS ALL THE FIRST AMENDMENT GRANTS. PERIOD.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Means there cannot, and should not, be a law about what you can say. (Also, that there cannot be laws prohibiting or forcing religion. Yeahhhhhh, about those arguments to ban Muslims from the US?)

AND THERE IS NO PERSON SERIOUSLY ARGUING THAT SAYING RACIST BULLSHIT SHOULD BE ILLEGAL. Even me. I think you’re a garbage human being who seriously needs to re-evaluate your life, find love in your heart, and grow the fuck up… but I DO NOT think you should be locked up.

BUT

That says NOTHING about your friends’ reactions to you, your employment,  your acceptance in the community. THOSE ARE NOT LAWS MY FRIENDS. THEY AREN’T PUNISHMENTS. Those? THOSE… are “CONSEQUENCES.”

There are consequences to what I say. I say things that PISS PEOPLE OFF, and really get people’s ire up. And you know what? I get insults, I lose work with some people, and there are those whom I’m not friends with any more who I really used to get along with well. What I do NOT get is fined, jailed, and have my property and rights infringed.

Consequences. Not Punishments.

 

So, my upset right wing fellow citizens… you HAVE Free Speech. You exercised it just today by putting that nasty in-your-face bumper sticker on your car. How many times did you get pulled over and get a ticket for it?  None?  Yeah, thought so.

What you really want is the license to be mean, and have it defended as “just your right.” You want me to defend you, to make space for me to be mean, and wait my turn to speak. You want me to tell my friends of color, my female friends, my trans and gay and autistic and disabled and JUST DIFFERENT friends to “wait, wait… let him talk.”

And to which I say:

 FUCK. THAT.

You do NOT have the social freedom to say whatever you want, to drag out any old slur and joke and dig and analogy. You do NOT have the right to be unquestioned, to have no consequences for your statements, your actions. You do NOT get to claim some false moral high ground and pretend that *I* am the one trying to squash individualism and expression by saying that I’d really prefer you not use that term, and shut up with the fucking fag jokes, and no just because your lawyer is a Jew you don’t get to make that Shylock joke. Yes, I know Shakespeare said it first, he was an anti-Semite, and we should acknowledge that he was and was ALSO brilliant, but not perfect, and we should point out and discuss the problems.

How DARE you imply that I am not being an adult because I won’t sit quietly on my hurt, and my shame and my anger and not call you out, turn you out, and drown you out? I’m going to take a leaf out of the book of the endless fucking war on terror that has overshadowed my child’s ENTIRE LIFE and say:

You know what… if I see something? I’m damn well gonna SAY something.

 

Does it meet the golden rule? I don’t really know any more… I mean, I know I’m saying things that make people feel bad. I hate that, I do. But I don’t think stopping bullies from bullying people is bad, even if the bully doesn’t like it.

 

Be good to each other everyone. Find love, nurture it.

Keep reading, keep writing, keep listening, and keep sharing your stories.

Cheers, and Bisous.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s