Political correctness? No thanks!

7 Jan, 2022 at 19:31 | Posted in Politics & Society | 8 Comments



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  1. Another perspective on political correctness from the comedian Stewart Lee:

  2. Shall we save a space for the flat earthers (or hollow earthers) to pontificate on why the earth is really flat (or hollow) at the next science symposium because of the naïve view that “ultimately all perspectives have to be respected and tolerated”? Shall we make time on BBC for anti-Semites to spread conspiracy theories about how the Jews are eating our children and the holocaust never really happened or six million Jews were not murdered by the Nazis? Is this what post-truth constructivist relativism has to offer us intellectually? Does Trump’s Big Lie deserve equal time simply because one believes “all perspectives have to be respected and tolerated” even if it means the destruction and death of American democracy? I think not. I find the term “political correctness” rather like an empty bowl; one can fill it with any meaning one wants.

    • Bad link: https://a.co/01pLmis

    • So who judges what is truth?
      What is the absolute basis for adjudicating the “truthiness” of a statement?
      Statements like “all perspectives have to be respected and tolerated” don’t mean that all statements have to be accepted as true.
      What I mean by such a statement is that there are opinions and there are counter opinions and there can be conversations about opinions and counter opinions which attempt to ascertain the veracity of the of these opinions and counter opinions.
      Toleration of all statements permits the opportunity for their assessment.
      Even historical “facts” are subject to opinion and counter opinion and modification.

      • Napoleon Bonaparte (aka Henry Rech) asks, “So who judges what is truth” regarding whether the earth is flat (or hallow); the earth is 5,000 years old and evolution never happened; the moon landing didn’t really happen, but was faked; Paul McCartney’s death in a 1966 car crash means that a look-alike has replaced him for the past 45 years (all real conspiracy theories). That some truth claims are settled by verifiable evidence (facts) is reality. Neither do such statements need to be given “equal time” in scientific forums (or any serious context where truth matters).

        Creationists have in the United States successfully used the same sophistry that “toleration of all statements [they say “theories”] permits opportunity for their assessment.” They called demand “equal time” in the high school classroom to teach Creationism. They use such arguments to present falsehoods and misrepresentations of known facts and theories regarding evolution and biology for the ulterior purpose of spreading their religious beliefs in the public classroom.

        Context, time and place, counts. Nuanced discussions of the history of science (or any other subject) are useful, and facts take on different meanings in light of new evidence, but historiography is not unmoored from methodology and cannot be made to say what the facts of some historical contexts reveal. An example of this is how the Second Amendment has been twisted by revisionist NRA sophistry masquerading as history and used to turn the Second Amendment into an absolute despite overwhelming historical evidence that the Founders who wrote the Constitution never interpreted in such personalist absolutist terms.

        This idea that we should tolerate blatant falsehoods and the sophistry that their zealots use to try and “wedge” them into our public school classrooms is ludicrous. What next, bring in Nazi holocaust deniers and let them rant on how the holocaust never happened to high-school kids while an underpaid and underfunded teacher lacking the resources or time to refute the avalanche of falsehoods spewed by some neo-Nazi spreads hate speech in our classrooms for young and impressionable minds. Context counts.

        Neither should university professors tolerate (and waste their students time) bringing in flat earthers into a earth science class on say Plate Tectonics so we can have a fair and balanced presentation.

        Rech wants to discuss the battle of Austerlitz with delusional person who thinks they are Napoleon Bonaparte.

        Suppose someone sits down where you are sitting right now and announces to me that he is Napoleon Bonaparte. The last thing I want to do with him is to get involved in a technical discussion of cavalry tactics at the battle of Austerlitz. If I do that, I’m getting tacitly drawn into the game that he is Napoleon. Now, Bob Lucas and Tom Sargent like nothing better than to get drawn into technical discussions, because then you have tacitly gone along with their fundamental assumptions; your attention is attracted away from the basic weakness of the whole story. Since I find that fundamental framework ludicrous, I respond by treating it as ludicrous – that is, by laughing at it – so as not to fall into the trap of taking it seriously and passing on to matters of technique. (Klamer 1983, 146, Conversations With Economists: New Classical Economists and Opponents Speak Out on Current Controversy in Macroeconomics)

  3. Isn’t railing against political correctness a form of political correctness?
    Ultimately all perspectives have to be respected and tolerated.

    • Some will argue that a university must have representatives of all positions and that changes such as those made in North Carolina merely make room for opposing perspectives. These arguments rest on the grounds that being justified in our own positions requires regularly grappling with opposing ones (as well as on the grounds that there was no room in the first place). Anyone who has taught philosophy knows that it is often useful to confront cogent defenses of opposing positions, and universities unquestionably benefit from intelligent and sophisticated proponents of positions along the political spectrum. Nevertheless, the general principle in these instances is not, upon reflection, particularly plausible. (Stanley, Jason. How Fascism Works (p. 56). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)

      No one thinks that the demands of free inquiry require adding researchers to university faculties who seek to demonstrate that the earth is flat. Such a position we have determined through conclusive scientific inquiry to be fruitless. Even the most ardent defender of free speech does not argue that we should spend precious university resources on this question. Adding a flat earther would, rather, impede objective inquiry. Similarly, I can safely and justifiably reject ISIS ideology without having to confront its advocates in the classroom or faculty lounge. I do not need to have a colleague who defends the view that Jewish people are genetically predisposed to greed in order to justifiably reject such anti-Semitic nonsense. Nor is it even remotely plausible that adding such voices to the faculty lounge would aid arguments against such toxic ideologies. More likely, so doing would undermine intelligent debate by leading to breakdowns of communication and shouting matches. (Stanley, Jason. How Fascism Works (pp. 56-57). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)

      Fascist politics, however, makes room for the study of myths as fact. In fascist ideology, the function of the education system is to glorify the mythic past, elevating the achievements of members of the nation and obscuring the perspectives and histories of those who do not belong. In a process sometimes tendentiously called “decolonizing” the curriculum, neglected perspectives are incorporated, thereby ensuring that students have a full view of history’s actors. In the fight against fascism, adjusting the curriculum in this way is not mere “political correctness.” Representing the voices of all of those whose existence has shaped and formed the world in which we live provides an essential means of protection against fascist myth. (Stanley, Jason. How Fascism Works (pp. 57-58). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. https://a.co/hXnESeV)

      The claim that “ultimately all perspectives have to be respected and tolerated” seems to me to essentially claim that Nazi “perspectives” on the Jews must be “respected and tolerated.” Or that the “racist views” used to justify the genocide of Native Americans or the slavery of blacks in the United States prior to and up to the civil war and the racism right up to today must be treated with equal respect and be tolerated.

      Are we to respect lies and falsehood (which can be exposed with facts and evidence), willfully ignorant misinformation and outright propaganda equally as we are to respect the facts and truth? We can after all discern the difference between bullshit and truth. Respecting the truth requires one to be open to new truth, but it doesn’t require one to abandon intellectual integrity.

      The problem with the facile use of the term “political correctness” is that it is rather like an empty bowl; one can fill it with any meaning or bullshit one wants.

      One the one hand it can be used to silence truth or the hearing of unpleasant facts that are counterfactual to one’s cherished beliefs or worse, lead to someone being fired for unjustified reasons without so much as a hearing. On the the other hand, as in the US for example, Trump & ilk use it as pejorative term so they can justify abandoning all ethical norms (aka soft guard rails) essential for both democracy and civil society to thrive and allow civil discussions based upon ethical norms and respect for truth rooted in evidence based reasoning so necessary to maintain an educated and informed electorate. Bald face assertions, lies, and falsehoods are treated as true even when the are clearly false and presented as “just telling it like it is” or not being “politically correct.” In this new conspiracist movement facts and evidence have no role in what is claimed to be true; bald faced lies as assertions are good enough.


      Fascist politics seeks to undermine public discourse by attacking and devaluing education, expertise, and language. Intelligent debate is impossible without an education with access to different perspectives, a respect for expertise when one’s own knowledge gives out, and a rich enough language to precisely describe reality. When education, expertise, and linguistic distinctions are undermined, there remains only power and tribal identity. (Stanley, Jason. How Fascism Works (p. 46). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. )

      This does not mean that there is no role for universities in fascist politics. In fascist ideology, there is only one legitimate viewpoint, that of the dominant nation. Schools introduce students to the dominant culture and its mythic past. Education therefore either poses a grave threat to fascism or becomes a pillar of support for the mythical nation. It’s no wonder, then, that protests and cultural clashes on campuses represent a true political battleground and receive national attention. The stakes are high. (Stanley, Jason. How Fascism Works (pp. 46-47). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. )

      For at least the past fifty years, universities have been the epicenter of protest against injustice and authoritarian overreach. Consider, for example, their unique role in the antiwar movement of the 1960s. Where speech is a right, propagandists cannot attack dissent head-on; instead they must represent it as something violent and oppressive (a protest therefore becomes a “riot”). In 2015, the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States, protesting police brutality and racial inequality, spread to university campuses. Given that Black Lives Matter began in Ferguson, Missouri, it is no surprise that the first campus it touched was the University of Missouri. Concernedstudent1950 was the name of the Missouri student movement, named to evoke the year in which the University of Missouri was desegregated. Among its aims was to address the incidents of racial abuse that black students faced on a regular basis, as well as addressing curricula that represented culture and civilization as the product solely of white men. The media largely ignored these motivations and, representing protesting black students as an angry mob, used the situation as an opportunity to foment rage against the supposed liberal political excesses of the university. (Stanley, Jason. How Fascism Works (pp. 47-48). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. )

      Fascist politics seeks to undermine the credibility of institutions that harbor independent voices of dissent until they can be replaced by media and universities that reject those voices. One typical method is to level accusations of hypocrisy. Right now, a contemporary right-wing campaign is charging universities with hypocrisy on the issue of free speech. Universities, they say, claim to hold free speech in the highest regard but suppress any voices that don’t lean left by allowing protests against them on campus. Most recently, critics of campus social justice movements have found an effective method of turning themselves into the victims of protest. They contend that protesters mean to deny them their own free speech. (Stanley, Jason. How Fascism Works (p. 48). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. https://a.co/eEHwVoP)

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