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.

7 thoughts on “Political Correctness, Freedom of speech, and the Golden Rule

  1. Hi. MM BDSM writer here. Not exactly right wing. And the left has gotten way embarrassing so I can’t say I’m that. I’m going to – not so much disagree – as say I think you might not see what I see.

    This happened on Twitter – (BTW I came here looking for a narrator for my books – but I really want to talk about this) – a “liberal” said: “Being a real American means we all think alike!”

    Soooo – that’s pretty fuckin’ scary. A guy who’s made career of doing romance covers and is very much into physical fitness and such once railed at parents who allow their children to get fat. It was a short tweet – to the point, though. He called it “child abuse.” I get it. He sees fat kids and also sees the missing limbs and sudden blindness and all the things that go along with the spectacular rise in Type 2 Diabetes in kids which directly correlates to weight.

    But he wasn’t exactly politically correct about it.

    So, 2000+ attack tweets later, he ended up closing his twitter account. A major presence for him and a business connection.

    But that wasn’t enough for the “liberals” who crowed about it. They then decided that his image would be removed from book covers and all authors that used him had to comply.

    Now think about this, because I’m telling you a couple examples of this fascist shit under the name of “liberalism.” See, you are at risk, too. We all are. Say something some puling self-righteous cretin thinks is “fat-shaming,” use the wrong pronoun, including one made up, suggest that what someone did or said 30 years ago might not be cause to deny them a livelihood, suggest, as I always do, that if we do not defend the right of another to believe and speak what we might hate we don’t deserve freedom, and see how fast you are vilified, threatened and coerced into apologizing and never saying what you really think in public, again.

    Your authors will hire someone else because the PC Brigade will trash them on Goodreads, FB, Instagram and every other place they have a public presence. They’ll change their reviews from 5 stars to 1, gossip about them behind the scenes and generally label them not-to-be-read.

    No, we no longer have freedom of speech. Well,I do, because I don’t need anyone’s money and don’t give a fuck what people think of me. But you don’t.

    You do, however, have a great deal of talent and seem to be a nice, articulate guy. But the danger is in division and the attacks on the Constitution come from both sides. IMO, anyway.

    Like

    1. But the trick here is: that’s still freedom of speech. Are those reactions over the top? Sure. Should we add a modicum of reason to our activism? Always.

      … But that cover model wasn’t jailed for being an asshole.

      That’s where the shouting about PC breaks down … It’s not violating freedom of speech, because that has always been about what the government can prevent you from saying. Do people go too far in condemning others? Pretty sure that’s sadly always going to be true… But I find it ironic that I now see people talking about making “PC speech” illegal…

      Because that actually would be an attack on the Constitution.

      Like

  2. I dunno. I’m thinking “make PC speech illegal” is an attack on intelligence. How vague a law would that be? Anyway – about the law vs culture thing:

    Hitler didn’t start out arresting Jews, he just promoted the hatred of them. Hitler Youth did the enforcing, even without laws. It became okay to beat up a Jew or smash up their business. There weren’t laws against American blacks using white restrooms and water fountains in most states, just signs. This cultural repression always precedes laws. Makes the ugly laws okay.

    The Declaration of Independence cites “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” reflected in the Preamble to the Constitution. Anti-discrimination findings of the Supreme Court are based on the interpretation that you cannot “promote the general welfare” if you cannot compete on equal footing for a job.

    We built two concentration camps. One at Guantanamo where Americans were illegally and unConstitutionally snatched off the street and denied due process. One in Arizona where 14,000 children have also been kidnapped unConstitutionally, and also denied due process. Their detention is child abuse on a massive scale.

    There is no end to the attacks unless people are willing to fight and die for someone else’s freedom. Let me know if you want to take a road trip to Arizona.

    I say you do not have freedom of speech. You will be stopped if you say the wrong thing. And no one will fight for you. And no law will protect you. Like the rule of law didn’t protect the children and we haven’t, either. Laws didn’t protect the Jews because they weren’t enforced.

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      1. I have a hard time parsing where to start here… but I take comparisons to Nazi Germany seriously so I’m going to really look at those.

        I… find that most of the people I associate with, those who are being lambasted by (largely) the right as “PC Police” to be pushing against precisely the sort of fascist hate mongering that typified the third Reich. The force of aggressive disapproval being levied against things like the detainment of children, the marginalizing of people of color, of the LGBTQ community.

        We are leveraging the power that people have as individuals to restrict the space in discourse that people can occupy. We are trying to protect those with less power by preventing the aggression from overwhelming them. There are those who cannot adopt proportion in this, and they need our help and education… which I try hard to continue. Case in point, the boycott of Barilla pasta over the homophobic remarks of it’s president, which resulted in Barilla not only amending it’s position, but also offering some of the first same-sex partner benefits available in Italy to it’s employees. There are those I know who still adopt a “Never again” policy of not buying their products, which I try to counter with the rationale that if your economic pressure on a company (or social pressure on a person) WORKS and causes change, you reward that. Fooled twice? Another story… but reason should ALWAYS prevail.

        What I shake my head at is the position that we must tolerate patiently hate speech from actual self-professed neonazis. That we should wait our turn and let them speak, and not take action. I disagree with that. I think we SHOULD drown them out, bring their actions to light. If the loss of their job because their employer wishes not to be associated with hate speech is a result… that is a consequence. We have freedom of speech, not freedom from consequence.

        I take your dart about a road trip to AZ to heart. No, I’ve not gone to be on the ground and protesting there and then about the children ripped from families and kidnapped. I’ve not been to Cuba to stand outside the unlawful and offensive detention center which we’ve not managed to get rid of, like a toxic tiger we have by the tail. I accept that I am not perfect, and keep trying, and I do feel guilt about that. A common complaint about liberals is that we don’t DO enough… and it’s one with some validity. I can only speak for myself in that I continue to try harder, and that speaking about it is part of what I do.

        I do have freedom of speech, as do you. I have no reasonable expectation of legal repercussions of my statements. CIVIL repercussions are a whole other matter. Libel and slander are civil matters. Loss of job, of friends, of respect is a social and civil response to my actions.

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  3. “We are leveraging the power that people have as individuals to restrict the space in discourse that people can occupy.”

    This is such an excellent sentence. I’m stealing it. (Wait. I should say first I’m not driving to Arizona, either. I didn’t mean anything I said to be a criticism of you.)

    I also didn’t intend to set up a soap box in your thread. I think what I did and do want, is to say this is a lot more complex, and this dreadful situation in America much more dangerous than I think the average social media user recognizes. Part of the reason it’s not being recognized is that what I call the PTB (powers that be) have pretty much erased the past for present generations, so they do not recognize the patterns.

    No, we don’t have to listen to the racist. We can turn that person off. But you want to leverage the power of people as a mob to do as much damage to that person as possible because you don’t like the way he thinks and what he says.

    That would make you the bully. It’s not the belief systems that are going to destroy us, it’s abandoning basic principles and failing to defend them. And yes, to be Americans in terms of fighting for and maintaining the freedoms my relatives and maybe yours fought to create, we protect the Nazi’s right to speak. And we stand between him and his target when he goes beyond speech.

    Part of what we also lost are basic ethical and moral principles, behaviors we should expect of ourselves and one another. The reality is: not one of us is capable of judging the value of another life. You don’t just want the guy to lose his job, you want his children to suffer, possibly his family to be homeless, to have substandard medical care. Think about the consequences of slamming some individual and pressuring his employer to terminate him just because you don’t like what he says and thinks.

    It’s wrong. Becoming the thing you hate is not a solution to hate.

    As for the US being Nazi Germany, yeah, we are. Read how it happened, how the Nazis came to power.

    I’m way older than you. I fought all my life against bigotry and prejudice, for civil right, gay rights. And now I’m fucking embarrassed to call myself a liberal. Millions of us working together made huge inroads. We left you a legacy of *not* hating people for what they are.

    This is your place and your home and I appreciate you allowing me to have a voice here. Please have the last word.

    Take care,

    addi

    Like

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