Lawrence Summers - it really irked me that the discussion about Summers turned so easily into the distorting argument about "political correctness." See, the fundamental flaw in that approach is the very stifling of speech that such an invocation necessarily entails. The objection to Summers was NOT the discussion of the issue of potential differences between the genders in aptitudes for the sciences - it was, to those of who objected anyway, the IRRESPONSIBLE and INACCURATE discussion of the important issue of gender discrimination in academia by the President of Harvard, not in the role of scientist, but of bureaucrat and politician. The shrieking of "PC" was, either by intention or inadvertent effect, a mode of attempted silencing of critiques of Summers. No one can reasonably say don't do the science - indeed, please do the science - and hold the analysis until the science is done. The easy escape from the documented evidence of gender discrimination (allowed by such an irresponsible discussion by Summers) provided to those who deny gender discrimination is the very reason the issue requires careful discussion by people like the President of Harvard. Certainly I did not help the discussion by my inappropriate behavior, but frankly, no one wanted to discuss the point that I made in my thread, preferring instead to attempt to stifle criticism of Summers with the empty charge of political correctness. Indeed, to this day, most of those supporting Summers have NEVER addressed my argument. Proof positive of the deleterious effect of the "anti-PC witchunt.
More on the flip.
Now what's interesting to me is who is leading the charge to dump Churchill? Mostly the same folks defending Summers from the Right shrieking PC. The irony in this case is NOT delicious - simply because no one calls them on this patent hypocrisy. Of course the LEGAL difference is Harvard is a private institution and Churchill works for a state university - the First Amendment MAY be implicated in Churchill's case but it absolutely is NOT in Summer's case.
The use of offending phrases in ironic fashion - this one is actually pretty easy for me. Today there was a dustup about a diary that played with the "Protocols of the Elder of Zion" - the infamous anti-semitic publication used by Russian Czars and Nazis alike. And of course still in use today by anti-semitic groups. I say, you want to use it, that's your perogative, but understand that 50% of your conversation will be about your use of the phrase and not the topic you are trying to skewer. Should you use it? My answer - it depends. You better be a damn good writer. I always think of "The Producers" and "Springtime for Hitler" - see that works for me cuz, well it's hilarious. At least I think so. But I am certainly not going to tell people not to complain about it. It's their gawddamm right to complain too - right? Thats not PC - that's people voicing their views. Enough with the PC crap.
Last one - the 6th grade students from NYC who sent some pretty offensive letters to soldiers. Now, it seems to me unlikely that these 6th graders were not egged on by their teacher. Maybe they were speaking their mind, but I doubt it. Is this a free speech issue? Sure. The students get to write what they want. Now, does their teacher get to tell them to write those things? Not in my book, as a legal or moral matter. That's not the place of a public school teacher. Am I PC or anti-PC there? You know the Right Wing is getting ready to tee that one up. I'm pretty damn sure no one is going to label that PC. Why not? You know why, only liberals can be PC. That's why liberals are stupid IMO to even let that phrase pass their lips.
Andrew Sullivan labeled criticism of Summers "academic Stalinism." That's pretty offensive. Certainly it is as bad as anything being thrown at Summers. But, fuck it, Sully gets to say it, and I get to call him an idiot for saying it.
And sure, you folks have the right to label things "PC" - and those of us who don't care for it get to rip you for using it.
Free speech right?