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Politically Correct?

The fallacy of being politically correct

Political Correctness: Is clarity of discussion be obscured by the requirement that we must speak a meaningless double talk devoid of honesty and sincerity? How can we communicate if we are afraid to say what we mean without being accuse of bigotry?

The demand for Political Correctness  (PC) is a major impediment preventing Americans from being able to realistically address problems that cause us much travail. PC is the source of much of the dishonesty and insincerity that plagues our relationships with each other and inhibits us from working together to solve mutual problems.

Political correctness is an artificial construct that has done severe damage to our use of simple common courtesy in our personal relations. 

Confusion of public opinion

The use of "code" words to describe something prevents us from dealing realistically with problems we face as a nation. People often have very different reactions when queried about "affirmative action" than they do about "racial preferences," although they are two phrases for essentially the same thing. The same is true for "earned income" tax and welfare, but both are a form of money from one group to another. Freeing illegal immigrants from the consequences of breaking the law is known as a "comprehensive" solution on one hand and "amnesty" on the other. Are "undocumented workers" the same if they are known as "illegal aliens?" There has been much discussion about our common language, but everyone speaking English is of little value when we can't agree on a common terminology for the issues of our time.


Apologies - Overdone and under-valued

An apology is not a cure-all, so don’t apologize unless you really mean it.

The world has gone crazy with apologizing. If this epidemic of soul searching had any real merit, the world would be a happy place full of forgiveness, rather than the snarling antagonism that we see. Apologies (as used today) often generate more ill will than did the original affront. Most of this overabundant apologizing is a display of hypocrisy by the offender, and is intended to mask their contempt for those they have injured.

The mania for apologies is political correctness carried to an absurd extreme. My dictionary defines an apology as “to say one is sorry for something one has done.” A crucial point is that an apology is a personal act. The offending person expresses regret for wronging the other and asks for forgiveness. A genuine apology is sincere. Certainly, there are occasions when an apology is warranted. The Duke Lacrosse players are owed restitution to their reputations. Unfortunately, when injuries were intentionally inflicted (as by the DA) there can be no effective restitution because the perpetrator will not confess to his culpability. The ladies of the Rutgers basketball team were luckier in that there was little an ignoramus like Imus could do to sully their reputations. Although they politely listened to his “apology” they recognized it as the self-serving device it was.

When we hear politicians and entertainers apologize for an offense, we usually recognize that they don’t regret so much what they did or said, but do regret being caught at it. A secondary definition of “apology” is to make excuses for what you have done. This is illustrated by the two “shock jocks” who said the vilest things about completely innocent people and quickly “apologized,” while essentially saying that they have the right to be offensive. Now a man, knowingly and without regard for the safety of others, travels to multiple countries while infected with a potentially deadly strain of TB. Then he apologizes to his potential victims, Does that stop the spread of the pathogens?

How often have we heard the excuses, “I misspoke”, “I was misquoted”, “I was drunk”? The only one I haven’t heard recently was the old excuse of “the devil made me do it.” Often there is an official apology, but it is accompanied by a complete refusal to accept personal responsibility for what had happened. An example is the generic statement, “mistakes were made” by unnamed persons.

When a person or group “demands” an apology of another, you can be sure that the result is the epitome of insincerity. Many of the forced apologies we hear are the result of some activist group exercising its power to bring another person or organization to its knees. Coerced apologies are the height of hypocrisy because both parties recognize the complete falsity of the sentiments expressed.

Because apologies are personal, we cannot apologize for what someone else has done. I can express sympathy and compassion for wrongs suffered by others, but don’t call it an apology, because it isn't. Neither can one rationally apologize for past events in which he or she had no part. Regardless of the gravity of past wrongdoings, it is presumptuous to think that we can apologize for those who were actually at fault. Attempting to atone for wrongs of the past is fruitless. For one thing, there is no end to the number of victims of past injustices. There are also very few people or societies who have not offended others. Just to make this point, should we apologize for stealing our southwestern states from Mexico? And should Mexico apologize to us for sending millions of its citizens to re-colonize that same area? No! All such apologies are meaningless and cause more harm than good.



The Duke apology

The apology by the president of Duke University for the mistreatment of the falsely accused lacrosse players was years belated and not as complete as we could have hoped, but in some respects, it was much superior to the norm in public apologies. For one thing, he accepted personal responsibility for his unnecessary dismantling of the lacrosse program. He also acknowledged his failure to control the official attitude of the University toward the players. He made his apology publicly and in front of a large group of faculty members. In other words, he faced the problem better than most would have.

On the other hand, his thoughtfulness came years too late and, as usual, had the taint of self-service and CYA about it. Of course, what is missing is any sign of genuine regret for his lack of action.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007; Page A17

Rep. Pete Stark (d-CA) apologized to Congress, President Bush and the Bush family yesterday for saying last week that Republicans were sending the nation's youth to Iraq "to get their heads blown off for the president's amusement."

"I hope that with this apology, I will become as insignificant as I should be," said the combative Californian after the House voted down a resolution by House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) to censure Stark


Things to Consider

Why do media people refer to suspected criminals this "gentleman" when they don't usually call other men by that title?

Why are men called "men" while women are called "ladies"?

Why are there African-Americans but not European-Americans?

Whatever happened to Mr. and Mrs. (or, if you prefer, Ms.)?

Why are crimes "alleged" but no longer "suspected"?

Links for politically correct:

Politically incorrect words

(to be continued)



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Freedom of speech

A college professor recently wrote an op ed headlined, "Congress can't muzzle free speech," in which he took the Senate to task for approving a resolution denouncing character assassination of military service personal (as a rebuff of the "General Be-trayus" ad). The learned professor thought this resolution "trashed the spirit" of the First Amendment and abridged our freedom to speak out.


Letters to the editor in response to this claim pointed out that, condemned the general, the senate condemned and the professor condemned the Senate. "So people are exercising their legal rights just fine."

Our own take on the professor's comments were: The professor is confused about Freedom of Speech. The Constitution guarantees the freedom to speak, not freedom from the consequences of what you say. Politicians who say unpopular things are held to account by voters. Entertainers, athletes and writers are subject to censure and loss of income when their speech displeases their audiences.  Professors and other “authorities” can be criticized when they misspeak. Finally, although we might hate to admit it, even senators are entitled to speak their minds on occasion. That someone doesn’t like what the senators  say, doesn’t make it a constitutional case.