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Maybe I am not the right person to broach this subject, but, that's never stopped me before. One of my pet peeves is the easy resort to the Right Wing created phrase "political correctness" here. The funny thing is the Right Wing created it but they don't take it seriously. It is a construct to defame liberal ideas.  It is distressing to see how easily good, smart, conscientious liberals/progressives/Dems will so easily fall into such a trap. Let's take some examples from recent days.

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.

Ward Churchill - I found his statements offensive and really unacceptable. Was there a point underlying Churchill's statements? Perhaps. But how seriously am I supposed to take a guy who says what he said? I think the lambasting he has taken well deserved. Should he lose his job? Well that's a legal question.

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?

Originally posted to Armando on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 08:59 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I know that (4.00)
    many good friends of mine at this Blog disagree with me on this. But I strongly feel they are wrong in this case. I hope we can have a good, reasonable,intelligent discussion on this.

    And yes, I know that often I am an impediment to such discussion.  I'll try not to be.

    "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

    by Armando on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 08:56:31 PM PST

    •  I was threatened with arrest at Rosa Delauros (4.00)
      SS meeting last night because of my Anti-Joe signs.Do Dems believe in the first amendment or only when it's in their interest.Rosa has my phone number and was informed of the incident.One more day without an apology and I'm blasting away here and to a reporter who called me.

      This guy is no longer my state senator http://aniskovich.com/ Don't get mad ,get local

      by ctkeith on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 09:09:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ahem (4.00)
      I stand by my statements in previous Summers discussions.

      Rage, rage, against the lying of the Right.

      by Maryscott OConnor on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 10:27:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  In that case... (none)
      ...I'll risk it.

      I happen to agree with Churchill's argument that we brought 9/11 upon ourselves. We have been killing their babies and making their lives miserable for decades and it just happened that somebody somewhere succeeded in pushing back - just a little. If America was not so isolated geographically, we would suffer many more 9/11s and not because those people are "murderous bastards" but because we are.

      Churchill wants us to look closely at our foreign policy and try our best to give an honest answer the question: "Why do they hate us so much?" I believe that decades of unjust support of Israel's terrorist activities against the Palestinian people gave birth to the present anti-American terrorist. Our support of the Middle East dictators has not helped.

      I am not qualified enough to defend his other "offensive" comments and I will leave that defense to Dedorah Frisch.

      Now remember Armando, you promised to be civil.

      •  Do we deserve it? (none)
        And of so, do they then deserve what is happening now?

        How about neither deserved it.

        "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

        by Armando on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 05:21:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The victim equally guilty? (none)
          It's about action and it's consequences. You be the judge as to who started it and who deserves the consequences. I thought my post was quite clear on that issue.

          As to us and them - us is simple. Us is America. Them is not so easy. Some Saudis trained in Afghanistan attacked us on 9/11 and we decided that Iraqis must be killed. Common denominator? They are all Muslims!! When we declare war on all Muslims, we justify Jihad.

          Our arrogance amazes me. Have you noticed that we know what is best for peoples and cultures that we know absolutely nothing about? Does our military might give us this God-like intelligence? Just because we think with our dicks, the size of one's dick is not a true measure of intelligence.

        •  It ain't about that (none)
          It's about whether you're innocent. Churchill's point is that America is not innocent. He says the 911 attacks can't be described as senseless.

          As far as the bondtraders, his point is that (I can't do it justice) you can't make money off the tears of sorrow and not beaware that it may come back to haunt you. He's not as much condemning the actions of capitalists as he is saying there's a price and sometimes a reckoning. I think it's a fair point.

          After the speech, a guy says---"Where do you get off calling bond traders Eichmans..." And he replies by saying that he himself is not innocent. Nobody's innocent. There are consequences to actions. Nobody is above the prospect of karma. It is an abrasive argument but I think it has a lot of truth to it.

          25 page views a day since yesterday The Tom Joad Society

          by TheChanMan on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 11:36:26 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  How's this for non-P.C.? (none)
      <extends middle finger, grabs crotch, and spits>

      I've stayed out of any serious Summers discussion and will continue to do so.  But I will say that if anyone ever puts together a book "Chicken Soup for the Liberal Soul," mocking Andrew Sullivan for being a tool has to be in there somewhere.

      Carry on.

      "O beautiful for spacious skies/but now those skies are threatening/They're beating plowshares into swords/for this tired old man that we elected king"

      by Raybin on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 11:25:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Goddammit, Armando's right again (4.00)
    The money shot:

    The funny thing is the Right Wing created it but they don't take it seriously. It is a construct to defame liberal ideas.  It is distressing to see how easily good, smart, conscientious liberals/progressives/Dems will so easily fall into such a trap.

    This is quite correct. The notion of "PC" was pure BS in the early '90s when it was popularized, and still is so today.

    In a diary on Summers, I believe, I noted that too many folks here still buy into 1990s-era right-wing frames expressly designed to marginalize liberalism. And then these same folks turn around and wonder why liberalism and Democrats have such bad names.

    I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

    by eugene on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 09:03:43 PM PST

    •  Flip it on the Republicans (4.00)
      We have a president who will not allow anyone with a conflicting opinion within eyesight or earshot.  That's not "political correctness"?

      Fundy whining about SpongeBob preaching tolerance isn't "political correctness"?

      The criticism of Clint Eastwood for showing a "too favorable" depiction of euthanasia isn't "political correctness"?

      Political correctness DOES exist.  It's really an attempt at group censorship of any dissenting view.  The left engages in this in certain situations, and the right engages in it much more enthusiastically and on a far grander social scale.  It's wrong, no matter who does it.  But the right doesn't get a pass on their PC-ness while criticizing the left for its puny efforts.

      You can never be too rich, too thin, or too cynical.

      by Dallasdoc on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 09:36:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Projection (none)
        Yet another example of Rovian projection. If Bush was a deserter, Kerry was no war hero.
      •  Thank you. There's more. (4.00)
        More politically-correct whining from the right:  

        • Christian fundies crying that the "Happy Holidays" sign hasn't gotten a Jesus-makeover.  

        • The same fundies complaining that gay sitcom characters aren't invisible or heterosexual enough for them.

        • The same fundies upset that Gibson's snuff film on 'The Passion' wasn't adored enough by movie critics.  
    •  Well actually that's where Armando is wrong (none)
      The use of the term "PC" started among leftists in the late 70s as wry self-mockery.  SOmehow it got picked up by the right and turned into a bludgeon.
    •  asdf (4.00)
      In a diary on Summers, I believe, I noted that too many folks here still buy into 1990s-era right-wing frames expressly designed to marginalize liberalism.

      They buy into and aggressively employ those frames when the particular 'liberal' concern challenges the comfort of their world view. The most common contexts in which this happens are discussions about race or gender discrimination.

      "...the definition of a gaffe in Washington is somebody who tells the truth but shouldn't have." Howard Dean

      by colleen on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 06:20:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Free speech (none)
    Never have I been so tempted to see certain speech squelched, yet I'm fighting for that basic right now more than ever.

    Weird times.

    •  Cryptic (none)
      I'm all for free spech. Who isn't?  Besides Bush I mean.

      Not sure where you are coming down on the PC issue.

      "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

      by Armando on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 09:22:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Cryptic is right. (none)
        The last few years have been such a shitstorm of weird that I really feel I'm working from the Twilight Zone.

        My stress is on the word "feel". I feel like making people shut up with the all the stupid. The blatantly untrue, right wing talking points, for example. My knee-jerk reaction is to label it "hate speech", but that's just coming from my gut. It incites more idiocy, but is it dangerous? What degree of harm does it cause? Fuck, I'm quite the riddler tonight...

        Ultimately, it comes down to what freedom of speech would I give up to be rid of the stupid. The answer: none.

        The PC aspects concern me less (I would fall into the inpolitically correct camp), but I would add that I think there's harm that can be done there, especially in the workplace (such as the Harvard situation, where I think Summers' remarks were beyond irresponsible).

    •  Good point. (none)
      The best test of our commitment to free speech is, of course, when the other guy is being an a-hole.
  •  I'm probably the least PC (none)
    person you'll ever meet.  I'm also pretty stubborn and won't sway from my personal beliefs.  On the other hand I'm pretty intolerant of hiding 'hate speech' in the shadow of Freedom of Speech.  Especially when it comes to the point of racial slurs and trying to incite others to violence.

    As I've written in a couple of comments, we as a whole, must stand up to the plate and be the MORAL LEFT if we're going to beat the Christian Right.

    Does that mean we have to be PC?  No, it doesn't.  But we, as Democrats, do need to evaluate our personal and political convictions and decide what is too much.  How far is to far?

    For instance:  I support the Freedom of Speech given to all Americans.  I even support the right of Republicans to voice their opinion and demonstrate against abortion clinics.  But stalking medical staff and patients and blowing up clinics and killing people is over the edge.

    Likewise, we need to decide where our line in the sand is on issues, stand up for our beliefs and NOT step over that line.

    I wrote a diary recently about things that trouble me on DKos.  One of those things was members that go overboard with anti-Republican hate speech.  One member wrote in a comment that since the 'Freepers' were doing it, he was going to do it too.  I thought that was a little too 'first grade-ish' of an excuse for me.

    I don't mind PC, it's all sweet and nice, if that's how you want to be.  It's not really for me.  But at the same time I'm not going to debase myself and loose sight of my beliefs and convictions by stooping to the 'other guy's' level.

    So, whether you believe in and practice PC or not doesn't matter.  What does matter is that we need to be seen as the Moral Left, and not the Leftist Jackasses.

    ~DB

    •  PC (none)
      See I object to the very phrase. What does it mean to you?

      And also, why is your objection to anti-GOP hate speech NOT PC?

      "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

      by Armando on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 09:24:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  My objection is (none)
        My objection is with people who make the hate filled comments like:

        All soldiers are responsible for mass murder in Iraq.
        I wish someone would kill  Bush/Cheney/Bushco, etc, etc.
        All fucking Republicans are assholes (idiots, etc etc, fill in the blank)

        And the list goes on, and on, and on.  

        How many people that are middle of the roaders, just on the other side of right, or just on this side of left have been pushed away by extremist Democrats making statements like that?

        I know they turn my stomach.  The only thing worse is seeing what the Republicans are doing to our country.

        Simply put, there's no need to spew hatefilled comments.  WE'RE ALL AMERICANS, and like it or not, this country belongs to all of us.  And hate speech from Democrats or Republicans is no different than hate speech spewed forth by the KKK, or the Skinheads.  It's just directed at someone else.

        As for your question about what does PC mean to me?

        I don't say Afro-American, I say black, pink, red, white, whatever...  Hell if you're fucking plaid, I'm going to call you plaid, not Multi-Colored.

        I don't say that I'm 'mobility challenged', I'm a paralyzed cripple.  LOL.  

        I call them as I see them.  yeah, I hate PC.  But even worse are people who use hate to move their agenda.

        ~DB

         

        •  Objection (none)
          Sure you have a rational basis for your objection.

          Now, let me ask you this, do you object  to the use of African-American, or do you object to someone objecting to using the word black?

          "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

          by Armando on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 09:47:00 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't (none)
            object to someone using the word Afro-American.  And I don't mind someone objecting to the use of it either.

            And I don't object to someone objecting to my use of the word black.  As long at they do it civily,... and don't mind me ignoring their objections.

            •  I'll tell you what really sticks (none)
              like a burr in my ass.

              Thinking I was going to be the first person to post a comment.  I tried to write something thoughtful, since you wanted to encourage some debate on the issue.  And then I find a bunch of one liners beat me, dammit.  Now I OBJECT to that LOL.

              ~DB

              •  Thoughtful Debate (none)
                Well, I'm trying. Haven't insulted anybody yet, at least I don't think I have.

                "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

                by Armando on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 10:10:50 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Certainly not me. (none)
                  I ain't the brightest bulb in the bunch, but hangin' with the likes of you, reading what you write, and involving myself in healthy debate is helping turn the wattage up a bit.

                  It's also helping to shape and soldify my personal and political beliefs.  Someone told me the otherday, in a comment, that I'm a RECOVERING REPUBLICAN.  Kind of true.  I just haven't found out what all 12 steps are hahahaha.

                  ~DB

  •  Armando, are you on a campaign (4.00)
    to win my love?  Because you've just taken on one of my pet issues - and one that was specifically on my mind with regard to the Summers issue.  

    Usually I can go on a pretty good rant about this, but right now I'll just say "what you said."  And also, everyone go read John K. Wilson's The Myth of Political Correctness: The Conservative Attack on Higher Education.

  •  Protocols of the Zion is NOT satire (none)
    on par w/Springtime for Hitler; not in America.  It's a propaganda screed w/ very real consequences.

    The Arab world -- 22 states -- feeds at the trough of anti-Semitism -- the Jew is highligted as the Other, the Scapegoat -- what Kos missed in his recent posting "Bush Cheers Anti-Semitic Conference" is the very anti-Semitism/insanity that flows from Arabs' lips!

    ...Don't sweat the petty things, and don't pet the sweaty things....

    by PhillyGal on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 09:27:35 PM PST

    •  Well (none)
      a satire of the Protocol would be, well, a satire.

      Now,I find it hard to believe it could be EFFECTIVE satire.

      "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

      by Armando on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 09:30:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  My point is: There is no satire (none)
        in the Muslim world -- they could sure use it!-- of the Protocols of the Zion  it's taken at face value as we speak -- I hear it's a best-seller in Egypt today!

        e.g., Henry Ford's anti-Semitic rants/publications are marginalized/condemened today --- there's no equivalent in Arab World!

        They have state-controlled TV and newspapers -- who's to mock it?  (rhetorical)

        ...Don't sweat the petty things, and don't pet the sweaty things....

        by PhillyGal on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 09:42:53 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Agreed (none)
          Too many stll use it seriously for it to be an effective prop for satire.

          "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

          by Armando on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 09:45:09 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Rolling my eyes! (none)

            ...Don't sweat the petty things, and don't pet the sweaty things....

            by PhillyGal on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 09:57:44 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Jews! get your Jews here! lol (none)
              Let's circumsicion, I mean, circumvent that! lol

              Let's Review:

              1.  Never condmen Islam/Muslims -- they're the religion of misunderstood peace -- Infidel is a compliment  -- it means fashionable, without fur.

              2.  Always condemn Christians --- one church in the sticks that snickered?  good enough! Paint them with a wide brush --not wide enough for the Muslims or Jews, of course.

              ...Don't sweat the petty things, and don't pet the sweaty things....

              by PhillyGal on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 10:56:52 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Mein Kampf -- let's bring back (none)
                Mein Kampf!  woo-hoo

                Why is Mein Kampf marginalized/banned, a book written by Adolf Hitler, and not Protocols of the Zion? written by? oh, that's right, it's a collective propaganda.

                ...Don't sweat the petty things, and don't pet the sweaty things....

                by PhillyGal on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 11:06:49 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I don't know where you live (none)
                  but Mein Kampf is hardly banned here in Illinois. We have several copies of it in the library at the university here, and I'm pretty sure I saw a copy offered for sale at the local Borders the last time I was browsing the history section.

                  Michael
                  "Jedoch der schrecklichste der Schrecken
                  Das ist der Mensch in seinem Wahn" -- J. W. von Goethe

                  by musing85 on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 08:19:48 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Glad you brought that up (none)
                    We were talking about the Bill of Rights the other day with my HS freshmen, and I went off on First Amendment absolutism (which I'm coming to think is a bad idea).

                    The kids all want to talk about why is profanity banned, if Congress can't regulate speech -- which is really a good point, and it does affect them directly -- but I kept changing the subject back to European laws banning Nazi propaganda.

                    See, you can't buy Mein Kampf in Germany, or France, or Canada (IIRC), and I think that's a good thing.

                    It's always the old who lead us to the war, always the young to fall -- Phil Ochs

                    by litho on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 09:39:02 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I don't think that's quite right (none)
                      You can't buy (or sell) Nazi memorabilia in France or Germany. But Mein Kampf? Should be available, at least in libraries. Like what it stands for or not, it is an historical fact and as such it must be treated if we're ever to avoid a repetition of the ideology it contains.

                      Michael
                      "Jedoch der schrecklichste der Schrecken
                      Das ist der Mensch in seinem Wahn" -- J. W. von Goethe

                      by musing85 on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 11:36:22 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  You tell them it's banned because it's been (none)
                      deemed to have no value. And it's only banned by the government (in all facits, on the public airwaves). You can say Fuck the Government, but you can't say Fuck your neighbor. Those are "fighting words." So tell them they can cuss all they want--at politicians.

                      At least I think that's how it works.

                      25 page views a day since yesterday The Tom Joad Society

                      by TheChanMan on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 11:40:49 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Umm, thanks for the advice... (none)
                        But I wouldn't want my principal to hear I'd been advising the students to use profanity.

                        Maybe in my twentieth year in the district I would do it. But I'm still in my first...

                        It's always the old who lead us to the war, always the young to fall -- Phil Ochs

                        by litho on Fri Feb 25, 2005 at 06:30:49 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

  •  Summers, Churchill, and PC (none)
    I put Summers and Churchill in the same boat. They both made arguments I object to, but because of academic freedom I don't think either should be fired. (And, yes, this principle holds even for the racsist profs in the South noted here.)

    The legal distinction you make between Summers and Churchill falls flat for me. Irrespective of the law, an important -- political -- question for me is whether either should be fired. Whether they can be fired may be an interesting legal question, but it's not the political one. And politics is the focus of this site. And I think it's a mistake to use the law to duck the question of whether Churchill should lose his job, which you've done in this diary.

    On the PC question, I've of a mixed mind. On one hand, you're surely correct that the term becomes a tactic to silence debate, and "defame liberal ideas." Used in this way, it drives me nuts.

    On the other hand, using the underlying idea can be sound in extreme cases. For example, one professor I know invariably used "African-American" to refer to black people. For a black American, I don't have much of an opinion either way. However, this particular professor used "African-American" to refer to a British novelist. In this case, the professor was likely trying to be "politically correct," but was descriptively inaccurate instead. That type of silliness has to go. My only point here is that PC, as a concept, is not utterly useless, even though it's more often used in the unfortunate way you've suggested.

    In the end, I just want to argue that there should be no sacred cows in academia. Academic freedom is worth the price of a few idiots being bigoted on the issue of their choice.

    You asked, "Free speech right?" I'll answer that rhetorical question: Damn right. Please, rip me a new one. It's what the "marketplace of ideas" is all about.

    •  Ducking (4.00)
      I admit to that a bit. Let me address it here - academic freedom, as I see it, is intended to allow full exploration of ideas in an academic environment.

      Let's take Churchill's statements - was he engaged in academic pursuit when he made the offensive statements? My understanding is he was not.  So, I am not seeing the great principle you see yourself defending in the Churchill matter.

      Similarly, Summers, speaking as the President of Harvard, as a non-expert on the issues, in a manner and saying thing that clearly have undermined his ability to perform his job - it seems absurd to me to even discuss the principle of academic freedom and Summers in the same sentence. They are wholly unrelated.

      The academic freedom to study the issue, to discuss the issue, to make offensive remarks in the ACADEMIC settings is not at issue.

      Indeed, an academic, acting in that role, making the exact same statements as Summers - and I would be standing on my desk yelling that you cannot discipline him for making the statements.

      You can conclude he sucjs as an academic, but you cannot fire him/her for making such statements in he role of academic. That, to me, would be unacceptable.

      Summers was NOT in such a role.  

      "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

      by Armando on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 09:37:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Fair enough, I guess (none)
        I just define "academic freedom" more broadly than you do. I prefer to err on the side of more speech. With more speech, the better argument should win. The alternative -- silencing "bad" speech" is one I don't prefer. As a lawyer, you're surely aware of the "chilling effect" your approach might have. I think that's an important consideration.
        •  Chilling for non-academics (none)
          Actually I think drawing a bright line would unChill speech in the academic environment, where it is needed.

          Summers doesn't need it as HArvard President, but some geneticist or biologist who wants to study the issue does.

          I see my approach as helping that scientist to freely study the issue.

          "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

          by Armando on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 09:52:36 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  This is the only comment where you (none)
          accept the argument as made. You disagree with it, but your only explanation for defering is a concern for the "chilling efect."

          That is an argument, but I don't accept it for the resons stated in my respnse. You spend the rest of the thread making indirect attacks on the motives of those who agree with you. Very bad show in my opinion.

          "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

          by Armando on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 05:12:46 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  You nailed it, Armando. (none)
        That's exactly why Summers was out of line. It was situational.
        •  No (none)
          No, "situational" doesn't cut it. Summers, like Churchill, is an academic, even though Summers serves in a bureaucratic position. Calling it "situational" allows you to split hairs to suppress speech you don't like. It's merely a convenient argument. The better view is to argue from principle. The idea is that people get to say what they like, even if it's offensive, because that's a cost of academic freedom. You expressed this very principle upthread -- and you shouldn't abandon it merely because Summers said idiotic things.
          •  We are arguing from principle (none)
            You disagree with the principle.
            He abandons nothing. You abandon fair argument because you don't address the argument for the differential treatment of Summers from an academic speaking in his role as academic.

            When will you make that arguemnt, you still have not. Mostly you engage in attacks at lack of purity. Not much of an argument.

            "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

            by Armando on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 05:10:47 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  I'm not abandoning the principle. (none)
            My argument is that, as a boss, Summers must answer to his own employers and a myriad of labor and anti-discrimination laws (therefore, he also has to answer to his employees). That he made the comments he did in the capacity of university president in a formal conference setting seals the deal.

            Had he made the same statements in a less formal setting and as his personal and private thoughts, or in a classroom setting as an argument, I would support his right to speak. However, combined with his faculty's concerns over past statements of his and their disapproval of his management and leadership style, I'd say they have every right to take him to task.

            So, basically: he has every right to speak, but he has to be held to certain standards in the workplace.

            I imagine if he'd been doing a stellar job and his faculty felt appreciated and fairly treated, then his awkward remarks wouldn't have been met with immediate outrage. He would have been given the benefit of the doubt by those who worked with him.

      •  public intellectual (4.00)
        Both Summers and Churchill are public intellectuals, IMO. They do not get to shed their academic robes depending upon the venue in which they speak.

        The Chronicle for Higher Ed ran an article awhile back about the vanishing role of university presidents as public intellectuals, in particular presidents of prestigious institutions such as Harvard (sorry, can't remember exact date and CHE is subscription only anyway). The role of university president has changed greatly from that of one who was expected to provide, not just intellectual leadership, but leadership on public policy as well. Ironically, that is why Summers with his background in public service, qualifies to be president of Harvard. Bob Kerrey at the New School is a better example. Unfortunately, given the lack of public support for higher education and the increased pressure to model higher ed on a corporate/capitalist model, the role of president is more fundraiser than anything else.

        Just because Churchill wasn't speaking in a classroom, doesn't mean he isn't speaking as an academic. He gets to write a column, in large part, because he is an academic. Cornell West doesn't stop being an academic just because he cuts a CD.

        Lastly, academics are expected to participate in three kinds of endeavors: instruction, research, and service. They create knowledge (research), transmit knowledge (instruction), and provide their expertise to the wider public (service). Whether you agree with the content or not, Churchill was engaging in activities which are part of his job.

        "I still think politics is about who's getting screwed and who's doing the screwing." -Molly Ivins

        by hono lulu on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 10:42:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't agree (none)
          On either score. Churchill is no expert on terrorism, Islam, the Mideast or anything pertinent. He would be Citizen Churchill in that realm.

          As for Summers, well, I don't know when he became a public intellectual - I think when he became President of Harvard and all the conditions and restrictions that such a post necessarily entails on his speech. It comes with the job.

          Sounds like you want the job to be something it is not - at least in my opinion.

          Finally, even if your view is the correct one, you would agree that it does not mean that he is above scathing criticism I hope. Presumably you are arguing that he should not lose his job - unless of course it made him ineffective at his job.

          "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

          by Armando on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 10:47:28 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's not what I want (none)
            It's what the job is at least in most research-intensive universities. And, yes, I do speak with some expertise. Let me put it this way. If I worked at the UC Boulder and the president wanted someone fired, she would end up talking to me. And in Churchill's case I would tell her she didn't have a snowball's chance in hell of winning.

            Churchill doesn't need to be an expert on terrorism, Islam, or the Mideast to make the arguments he's making. Here's a better example: Noam Chomsky. He is a tenured professor at MIT in linguistics. Not in political science, not in media although his work is used extensively in those fields. Interestingly, in his own field, Chomsky is considered quite conservative.

            And yes I agree that Churchill is not above criticism, scathing or otherwise. THAT is what academic freedom is all about. The marketplace of ideas.

            "I still think politics is about who's getting screwed and who's doing the screwing." -Molly Ivins

            by hono lulu on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 11:00:11 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Chomsky (none)
              Pretty funny that no one as ever felt the need to defend Chomsky on the grounds of academic freedom.

              Right Winers have not been accused of being PC for attacking Chomsky.

              I take Chomsky as a data point favoring me.

              As for the role of University Presidents, certainly I respect your experience but it is not a conclusive argument - I think NAcy Hopkins and others criticial of Summers know alo about he academy as well, and  would posit that their views on the role of President are more aligned with mine than yours.

              "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

              by Armando on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 05:07:32 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  And by the way (none)
            I agree completely with what you're saying about the term political correctness and I'm glad you wrote about it. It's like fingernails on a chalkboard everytime I hear it for the very reasons that you stated. I just knew it was too good to be true to be agreeing with you for too long.

            "I still think politics is about who's getting screwed and who's doing the screwing." -Molly Ivins

            by hono lulu on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 11:02:16 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  You're very wrong (none)
            "On either score. Churchill is no expert on terrorism .... He would be Citizen Churchill in that realm."

            You're advocating the wrong standard for academic freedom. Professor Churchill wrote academic essays on the issues. These facts alone -- he's a professor, and he wrote an academic essay -- should be enough to insulate him in this regard. To characterize him as "Citizen Churchill in that realm," when he wrote an academic essay on the topic, perverts the idea of academic freedom. Under your standard, what happens to inter-disciplanary studies? No dice? Judge Posner is a lawyer, so he's incompetent to speak about economics? You're abandoning a principle to suit a political goal. I don't think you're doing it consciously -- but if you were you'd be a hack, by definition.

            "As for Summers ... It comes with the job."

            On the level of principle, is this what you want? You want your leaders to silence themselves -- as a principle? If not, you must want them to silence themselves on this particlar topic. That's no good, if you accept the principle of academic freedom.

            You're drawing untenable lines to suit immediate political purposes. That may get you brownie points here, but it's not an ethical methodology. I say: stand up for general principles and let the chips fall where they may. Here, that means that both Summers and Churchill, while misguided, get to say and write what they want.

            "Finally, even if your view is the correct one, you would agree that it does not mean that he is above scathing criticism I hope."

            Of course. Just as one can criticize Summers or Churchill and still want them to retain their jobs, we can criticize the Iraq war and still support the troops.

            Your argument is a loser.

            •  Nonsense (none)
              Here is a specious argument -

              "These facts alone -- he's a professor, and he wrote an academic essay -- should be enough to insulate him in this regard."  So the title of Professor means you can say anything you want on any topic by labelling the discussion "Academic"?  Well, I find that argument, your express argument, not one distorted from your comment, to be absolutely untenable.

              Hell, that's the secret then, get yourself to get some "university" to give you the title Professor, and then you can say what you want about anything and be able to yell "academic freedom"!  That is a horrible argument. And yet, it is th one you adopt here to counter mine.

              The funny thing is you engage in an attack of my argument by labelling one of convenience. I gotta ask you how the fuck would you know that my argument is one of convenience. What is your empirical evidence to support that charge?  You have none do you? Where have I contradicted myself? That is the sort of lazy attack that demonstrate an inability to actually refute my argument.

              Indeed, it is evidence that my argument is, to coin a phrase - "devastating" - to your point of view.

              "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

              by Armando on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 05:04:33 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Churchill's expertise (none)
            Churchill is no expert on terrorism, Islam, the Mideast or anything pertinent. He would be Citizen Churchill in that realm.

            I still haven't read the article in question -- don't know if I'll ever get around to it -- but I think you're wrong about Churchill. His academic work, in fact, has focused on what he sees as genocidal practices by the United States against native peoples, and he quite clearly believes that genocide -- or, more broadly, oppression of non-whites -- is an essential characteristic of US society. In that sense, his essay on the WTC should be seen as an extension of his thesis into foreign policy, and does indeed form part of his academic work.

            By the way, although Churchill may not be the most elegant writer or careful researcher in the field, he is far from the only social scientist to advance this kind of view. Tom McCormick, Richard Drinnon, and Walter LaFeber -- two historians and a political scientist -- have all written analyses of US foreign policy from somewhat similar perspectives.

            It's always the old who lead us to the war, always the young to fall -- Phil Ochs

            by litho on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 05:15:37 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Genocidal USA (none)
              How was the United States genocidal in Saudi Arabia?

              Precisely my point. Churchill takes a field of study in which he has knowledge and projects US culpability to another situation in which he has no expertise, making an offensive argument in the bargain.

              Al Qaida did not attack on 9/11 for any reasons of "genocide."  Indeed, IF Churchill had expertise, he would realize how stupid and offensive the argument made is.  As for the other scholars, well if they made the same argument, they are similarly stupid and offensive, but the cloak of academic freedom applies.

              "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

              by Armando on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 05:33:03 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Well,... (none)
                ... I have to differ with your statement of, "Al Qaida did not attack on 9/11 for any reasons of "genocide.""

                Al Qaeda's stated goal is to (and I paraphrase here) exterminate, wipe out, kill off, destroy, America and it's people.

                If that's not a genocidal goal then what is?

                While I doubt they have the manpower or following to achieve this goal, they'd sure like to be able to.

                As to my sources.  You'll have to take at face value, conversations   and interrogations conducted, and overheard, with actual Al Quaeda members (at least they claimed to be members, but it's not like they have membership cards like the NRA) captured in Afghansitan.

                Using phrases like, "all Americans must die," etc., while trying to spit in my face are a pretty good indication of hate and a willingness to commit genocide..  Or at least a really good show on his part.

                Mark my words. 9-11 was only the beginning.  And now that we've really pissed them off by invading Iraq,... shit guess what's going to happen if we march on Tehran?

                ~DB

                •  The reverse (none)
                  That Al Qaida is not seeking revenge for US genocide.

                  My point is different than yours.

                  "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

                  by Armando on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 08:09:15 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I think that (none)
                    While certainly not the first terroist group to attack us, Al Qaeda started this war on terrorism.  Maybe, not without provocation, because a lot of U.S. policies piss off a lot of people and cultures.  But, I don't think we sponsored or practiced genocide on them.  

                    This 'Holy Jihad" and "America is the Great Satan" thing started way before 9-11.  I think what's really got Osama Bin Laden's panties in a bunch is that we we're helping him.  Then, when it looked like we might get caught doing it, we cut him loose.  And the extra insult was when we began making all kissy kissy with his enemies.  I'd be mad as hell too, if the government did that to me.

                    So, no! I have no belief that we practiced genocide.  And, while I think this war in Iraq is wrong, if Osama Bin Laden wants a fight I say we take it to him, and not let him bring it here.

                    I also don't believe that exterminating Al Qaeda is genocide.  It's a terrorist way of thinking, not a particular culture, religion or people.  Al Qaeda has members from many different walks of life, countries, Muslim sects, and cultures.  It should be rooted out and destroyed.

                    Just my opinion.  But if you have proof of U.S. led extermination, I'll certainly review it.

                    ~DB

                •  Armando, (none)
                  Before you comment further:

                  I must have missed part of your statement, above.  About Churchill's comments.

                  Please clarify if you believe the US has commited genocide and that's why Al Qaeda is attacking us, etc, etc,?

                  After that I'll re-reply LOL.  I must not have had enough coffee or something.  I didn't pick up everything in your comment above.

                  I blame it on the meds I'm on for this 6 week cycle.  They do (honestly/seriously) screw my brain up.  I'm not supposed to drive and alcohol is VERBOTEN when I'm on them.  

                  I'm Typing Under the Influence here.  If I was a 'Freeper' we could call it Freeping Under the Influence (FUI) and pronounce the acronym as: Fooey.  

                  ~DB

              •  Like I said, I haven't read the piece (none)
                And it wasn't really my intention to defend Churchill's argument, but rather to situate it within the context of his academic work. hono lulu is absolutely right that academic work involves three components, and participation in public debate clearly is an accepted part of service. People put their op-ed articles in their tenure review files, and not because it counts as peer-reviewed research.

                Somebody else in this diary (can't recall who right now) sent me to Deborah Frisch's defense of Churchill in Counterpunch, though, and Frisch makes some exceedingly good points.

                I had been scratching my head for some time about the "little Eichmanns" comment, because it seemed like an unwarranted blaming-the-victim, snarky thing to say. Frisch puts the statement in context so perfectly, it's worth quoting her directly:

                Actually, the analogy is extremely apt and not outrageous at all. It is clear from the context, that Professor Churchill was referring to Hannah Arendt's comments about Eichmann.

                Hannah Arendt was a journalist for the newspaper [sic] "The New Yorker" when she saw the Eichmann Trial in Israel in 1961. Her book is based on a series of articles she wrote about the trial.

                In the article, she coined the term "banality of evil." Hitler's henchmen who had behaved monstrously did not look like monsters. Instead, they were bland and benign. According to Arendt, Eichmann's character flaw was mindless obedience to authority, not a sadistic or psychopathic personality.

                There's a lot more there, and it's definitely worth a read. Check it out.

                It's always the old who lead us to the war, always the young to fall -- Phil Ochs

                by litho on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 06:02:08 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Hmmm (none)
                  And how is that an apt comparison?  Eichmann and the 9/11 victims?

                  Gotta tell you, I don't see it, and the offense is palpable.

                  "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

                  by Armando on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 08:08:14 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Bearing in mind (none)
                    that I have not (and probably will never) read Churchill's original flame piece, from what discussion of it I've heard in the academic world, there is a way to read the comparison as apt.

                    Eichmann was the quintessential petty bureaucrat. Didn't want to be bothered with ideology, just wanted to make sure the wheels of government ran efficiently and well. He had a lot of accomplices in that regard: the Reichsbahn officials who just processed the paperwork for the deportation trains and didn't care one way or the other what they carried as long as they were properly documented and scheduled, for example.

                    As I understand it, Churchill's contention (or one of them) was that the reason al Qaeda hates America and everything it stands for so vehemently is its history of oppression with regard to Islam. By that analogy, the people who were working in the World Trade Center that day were minor bureaucratic cogs in the great machinery of American oppression. And thus, "little Eichmanns."

                    Pre-emptive troll-rating notice: I'm not saying I agree with Churchill's argument here. I'm not even sure that's the argument he made, since, as I noted in my first paragraph, I haven't actually read the article in question: I'm working from second- and third-hand information. All I'm saying is that the comparison is not necessarily 100% batshit insane.

                    Michael
                    "Jedoch der schrecklichste der Schrecken
                    Das ist der Mensch in seinem Wahn" -- J. W. von Goethe

                    by musing85 on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 08:17:36 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  The analogy (none)
                      explained to a ranting semi-coherence is still offensive and stupid.

                      Seems like a lot of waste of time trying to make sense of it.

                      "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

                      by Armando on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 09:00:34 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I'll give you "offensive" (none)
                        Not sure I can go all the way to "stupid," though. That may be due to the fact that I'm potentially a member of Churchill's target audience: historians of World War II and the Holocaust in particular. I can see the parallels, even though I don't like where they lead.

                        Michael
                        "Jedoch der schrecklichste der Schrecken
                        Das ist der Mensch in seinem Wahn" -- J. W. von Goethe

                        by musing85 on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 09:06:16 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                    •  Thanks for taking my back (none)
                      You said this much better than I could.

                      It's always the old who lead us to the war, always the young to fall -- Phil Ochs

                      by litho on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 09:26:04 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

      •  In his Speech to the Regents (none)
        He claims that it's in the UofC contract that an instructor, tenured or not, cannot be removed for expressing a political view. It doesn't make distinctions about where.

        No matter what, the guy ain't backing up an inch and I respect the hell out of that. I'm not super smart like you folks, but if you watch that tape on C-Span, there was fire out in that audience. There were a lot of students behind him. There were a lot of Indians behind him.

        For my money, Howard Zinn and Nohm Chromsky step mighty close to the American hating line. But they don't dare go after them. No. They seek out a prospective patsy, look at 10,000 pages of writing and pick out a sentence he wrote on the day of 911 and say: "there go the liberals hating America again." There's a team of them looking into every position a liberal professor ever took, headed by this Horowitz character. Buddy, that's fixing the rules so that we can't win.

        Meanwhile Ann Coulter writes two colums back to back on Yahoo News. one has a title that says THE LITTLE INJUN THAT COULD and the other Not Crazy Horse, Just Crazy. In both columns she not only denounces Churchill but a whole race of people by saying, in so many words, that they got what they deserved. She also says he's not a "real" Indian. I heard that a lot lately. But I haven't heard it from Native Americans. They tend to say he's a real Indian leader.

        Bottom line: this old bullshit media world we live in has made Ann Coulter a lot more relevant in the Marketplace of ideas than Ward Churchill. This bitch ass Horowitz has declared war on professors because he wants to further the victimization narrative that has brought conservatives to power.

        This ain't about PC or freedom of speech. It's about who gets to frame the argument. Who gets to say what goes over the line and what don't. This is the dynamic that forces me to take sides.

        I stand with Ward Churchill, his students, and real Indians who support him. At least he has the balls to stand up to these pricks. He sent a guy to call the board of regents cowards for not supporting their professors. I don't agree with everything he says but I'm closer to his point of view than i am to George Bush's. Ain't that what really matters? Sometimes you gotta back a buddy in a fight even when you know he's wrong.

        Fuck Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, and Horobitch. As for Larry Summers, he's president of harvard; that means he ought to have a hell of a lot of friends. He don't need one more idiot like me defending him. If he's not smart enough to spin his way out of it: Fuck him too.

        out

        25 page views a day since yesterday The Tom Joad Society

        by TheChanMan on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 04:28:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's a legal argument (none)
          the contract thing I mean. To me, it does not provide a public policy underpinning to support for  Churchill on the grounds of academc freedom.

          As for the rest, well just because he is standing up doesn't make the expression any less offensive.

          Just because Ann Coulter spews hate, which we rightly and roundly condemn (se I am for excluding her from the world of reasonble accepted discourse, through shunning, even though I would oppose any attempts at goernment censorship of her views) is no excuse for Churchill's offensive remarks.

          "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

          by Armando on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 04:57:45 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's Right versus Left (none)
            You can shun Ann Coulter but millions of people don't. She's on Yahoo News. If a twelve year old kid does a research paper, she'll go to yahoo news before searching the databases of the U of C to find one sentence out of a heated 911 essay.

            That's the whole thing. You shun Ann Coulter and then join her in going after Ward Churchill. His far left reaches 1 and her far right reaches 100. Therefore, in terms of politics, he's got to say things that are a hundred times worse in order to draw my outrage.  He's a patsy, a run-up in the war to take down Zinn, Chromsky, and -yes- the ultimate prize, Paul Krugman.

            You should thank Churchill for drawing a line in the sand. He defends that 911 line rather forcefully I think. I think he supports his argument (he talks for an hour on C-Spans website if you haven't heard his side of it) as well as it can be done. It will make you think.

            25 page views a day since yesterday The Tom Joad Society

            by TheChanMan on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 11:25:34 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Pissing in (and out) of the tent (none)
    "Better to have him inside the tent pissing out, then outside the tent pissing in." - LBJ

    Some people don't like the direction of the peeing and some people don't like someone peeing in public. Everybody pees in private. A lot.

    "Don't piss down my back and call it rain" - Outlaw Josey Wales

    This is the "Clear Skies", "Healthy Forests" brand of pissing. It's bullshit and needs to be called bullshit at every opportunity.

    Why am I comparing PC speech to peeing? I don't know.

  •  subject (4.00)
    "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"

    I think this statement, when boiled down to it's simple aspecific essence, is the solution for almost every meta-discussion about censorship there is on Dkos.

  •  Origins of political correctness? (4.00)
    If memory serves, I believe the genesis of the expression "politically correct" was with the traditional liberals, who were making fun of the newer liberals and their over-sensitivity to language.  I am sorry I haven't the time at the moment to look this up, but it might have its origins with Tom Wolfe and his book "Radical Chic...".  The ultimate was when Leonard Bernstein and his wife (and beard) had the Black Panthers over for champagne and canapes.  They were considered the ultimate "limousine liberals", another term originating on the left.
    Many on the new left were closet totalitarians, of course, and therein lies the problem with today's left.  The totalitarians have shouted down the actual liberals.
    I am reminded of a story about Lyndon Johnson when he was still the majority leader of the U. S. Sentate in the latter 1950's.  There was a civil rights bill (too-moderate by today's standards) pending before the Senate.  As was the custom in those days, the Congress adjourned for the summer, Washington being unbearably hot during July and August.  Johnson and his family returned home to Texas, as was the custom in those days.
    While home for the break, Johnson bought a new, big car.  He and the family piled into the car to drive it back to Washington.  Along with Lady Bird and his daughters was Mrs. Johnson's maid, a Black woman who had been in the family's employ for many years.
    They stopped at a gas station somewhere in the South to fill up and use the facilities.  The restrooms were segregated (i.e., whites only) and the maid was forced to go behind the gas station, while Lady Bird and her two daughters formed a shield around her with their bodies so that she could have a modicum of privacy.
    When the Senate reconvened that Fall, Johnson was having a discussion with some Republican who was opposed to the bill.  Lyndon told him that (and I am paraphrasing slightly because this is from memory):
    "There is no reason that a maid in the employ of the majority leader of the United States Senate should have to pee in the bushes at some gas station because she's colored."
    That is probably one of the strongest statements I've ever seen in favor of civil rights.  If one knows one's history, one knows that Johnson grew up dirt poor in the hills of Texas.  They had neither plumbing nor electricity.  He knew poverty in his bones and he knew that much of the "racial" problem in the US stemmed from the poverty in which Blacks still found themselves.
    So often the problem with the "politically correct" crowd is that they would miss the substance of Johnson's statement by being horrified that he used the word "colored".  (They'd probably be a bit upset about "pee", also.)
    There you have it. The real problem with political correctness, when it rears its ugly head, is that it is the triumph of form over substance.
    •  You mean today? (none)
      First off, LBJ wouldn't use the word "colored" today.  In its time, I am positive no one objected.

      Seems a bit apocryphal to me.

      Not following your point - except as a red herring.   If you mean objecting to words like nigger, kike, spic, etc - well, then I understand what you are saying and I disagree with you.

      Seems like you are objecting to common courtesy.

      "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

      by Armando on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 09:43:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Form and substance. (4.00)
      One of the main issues for me, the main kinds of damage that the popularization of the term "PC" (by the right but only applied to the left) has done is the way it's used to imply that things are a matter of form when in fact they are matters of substance.  It's the large number of people I've heard - in lines for the bathroom, in college classes, at parties - using the phrase "I know it's not PC, but..." or "I've never been one to just go with what's PC and I really think that..." to not just excuse but dignify, raise up, valorize their worst, most racist, most sexist, most homophobic, most just plain rude views and behaviors.  If you frame PC as this hegemonic force against which you are bravely rebelling, apparently any view can be excused.  

      It's also used as an unanswerable charge.  Oh, you don't have beliefs or morals or values - you're just being PC.  Like these are reflexive, shallow positions taken merely to be one of the cool kids.  Views that have so little legitimacy they need not be answered.

      So however PC began, it must now be understood as a tool of the right that has done a great deal of damage to the left.  It should also be taken as a cautionary tale about how our sense of humor, our ability to be self-critical, can be turned around and used against us.  

      •  Exactly! (none)
        I'd go further, and say that the use of the "political correctness" meme is used to disguise the very existance of ideas in political discourse. It reduces ideas to the linguistic symbols used to express them; it suggests that politics is nothing more than the shuffling and switching of words. Which in turn suggests that politicians are really all saying the same thing, and that Democrats are just Republicans inside search-and-replace filters.

        Those who don't remember the future are doomed to repeat it.

        by Abou Ben Adhem on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 12:10:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Origens of the term... (none)
      I first heard the term used in Maoist criticism/self-criticism sessions. As disenchantment with that methodolgy emerged, the disenchanted began to use PC as a shorthand way of referring to the excesses. Of course this was in the early 70's so it may have originated somewhere else earlier.
      •  Maoists, yes, but I learned it ... (4.00)
        ...rather differently. American Maoists invented the term, and those of us on the democratic left in the '70s got our fill of listening to these totalitarians rant about how we weren't "revolutionary enough" and weren't "politically correct." Among our failures was our support for gay rights, which was a "bourgeois distraction" in favor of "perverts," thus completely unPC.
  •  I learned... (none)
    that you can't call the Pope a fascist, even if he singles out a segment of society{homosexuals} and blames them for the ruination of the world, representing an ideology of evil purported by "liberal" governments.  And I'm a Catholic...

    In my mind, it's a word and fit what the Pope had said about gays.

    People take the wrong things too seriously and let the important things go right over their heads.

    Of all the criticisms I received for my post, several called for its deletion(yeah, censorship!) yet no one recognized how I pointed out that it was really a tragedy considering all the good the Church has overcome.  Most of the critics were "afraid" how such talk might look to conservatives.  I was called a leftist Ann Coulter (except I didn't make shit up).

    Of course, these same people who were offended that I called the Pope a fascist probably refer to George W. Bush with far worse epithets, or at least very similar ones.

    Everyone was afraid of the words I used, but not a single person who didn't like the post held the Pope accountable for his book.

    Calling him a fascist was a greater crime than the Pope referring to homosexuals as the downfall of Mankind.

    •  I think it is an (none)
      inaccurate use of the word fascist - but callng for deletion? Seems crazy to me.

      "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

      by Armando on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 09:40:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh... (none)
        an argument about sematics is about as much fun as ripping your own toenails out.

        According to Merriam & Webstes 11th edition Collegiate dictionary -

        fascism - a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control;  stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader...

        Is there democracy in the Catholic Church?  Parishioners select their leaders right?  Oh wait...they don't.

        The Pope's word is infallible...there are no checks and balances at the Vatican.  Not that I'm arguing there should be.

        But now that I think about it, I think it was a pretty appropriate word.  Remember, throughout history all sorts of people have used religion to kill people outside of their "group."

        Even Jews and homosexuals were persecuted during the Crusades.  And Albigensians were wiped out of existence over a theological difference.

        I used a strong word in response to strong words from the Pope.  I think when someone who is held unaccountable by democratic processes makes a generalized pronouncement associating a minority for the ills of society, then you should hit back hard.  Because saying things like gays are the cause of society's problems and liberal governments are co-conspirators in promoting their lifestyle, all symptomatic of an ideology of evil, is how it begins.

        •  Ah (none)
          fascist as to Catholics. Well, to the degree that Catholics actually follow the Pope's edicts you would be right. In the U.S., that is simply not the case.

          Prime example - the  death penalty.

          "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

          by Armando on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 10:06:16 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Armando's argument wins here. (n/t) (none)
          •  So American Nazi Skinheads... (none)
            are not little fascists in their desires and views since hardly anyone follows them or gives credence to their doctrine?

            How many followers does it take to have one become a fascist? Plurality, simple majority, super-majority?

            cheers,

            Mitch Gore

            Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

            by Lestatdelc on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 01:40:00 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Define "fascism" (none)
              then we'll talk. Of course, I don't give two shits about the Pope, but I'm listenin'.
              •  Don;t need to (none)
                its in the dictionary... I was pointing out that the number of adherents to a particular leader, group or institution is not the criterion of wether a group is a fascist group, or if said group, institution or leader is pushing for a fascist model onto society.

                That is analogous to saying Mussolini wasn't a fascist before he came to power. That would be wrong. He was a fascist before he came to power, he was able to try and implement fascism onto Italian society (and expand it outside of Italy as well via his alliances and military efforts) because he attained power.

                cheers,

                Mitch Gore

                Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

                by Lestatdelc on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 09:01:48 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  I"m not sure about this (none)
              but I think I'd actually call the skinheads right-wing anarchists (or violent libertarians).

              They've appropriated some of the symbols of fascism, but not the discourse -- beyond the jew-hating, of course. But even that fits easily into the American racist, nativist tradition, and doesn't need any reference to European fascism.

              The skinheads hate government, and they hate people not like themselves. They're certainly not interested in creating a huge government to mediate social conflict. They'd rather destroy government, and kill anybody who thinks differently from them.

              What they like about Hitler is that he tried to kill all the Jews. His views on government are utterly foreign to them.

              It's always the old who lead us to the war, always the young to fall -- Phil Ochs

              by litho on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 05:15:49 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Sorry, but you're wrong (none)
          The Pope's word is infallible

          This is a common misconception among non-Catholics. (And among poorly educated Catholics, alas.)

          In a nutshell, the pope is only infallible when:


          1. He speaks ex cathedra on a matter of faith or morals; and

          2. He explicitly claims infallibility.

          Not every word that comes out of the man's mouth is infallible. Almost none of them are. In fact, papal infallibility has only been used once since the doctrine was defined--and that was in 1950, to proclaim the dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin: a belief that the Church had lived out liturgically for millennia and to which no one objected.

          Anthony Padovano once famously described papal infallibility as "a little bit like a nuclear arsenal. It may give you a sense of security to have it, but no one knows what to do with it once you've got it."

          Michael
          "Jedoch der schrecklichste der Schrecken
          Das ist der Mensch in seinem Wahn" -- J. W. von Goethe

          by musing85 on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 06:47:18 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  asdf (none)
    I associate PC to the word un-American. What does un-American mean? Nothing more than political correctness.
  •  I agree (4.00)
    I'll start with the disclaimer that I was involved in the debate over the "Protocols" diary, so I may not be completely neutral.  But I think that you hit the nail on the head about the abuse of the term "political correctness," with each of your examples.  

    "PC" works as an accusation because almost everybody regards it as a bad thing, at least when abused.  It's been the butt of jokes for over a decade now.  People still chuckle when you say that something is "[blank]-challeneged."  I thought that I had seen some signs recently that liberals were beginning to wake up to the fact that "PC" is an effective right-wing tool for making fun of liberals--it rarely works when directed at the Right.  

    Then I got involved in the debate over the Protocols diary.  

    That diary made it clear to me that some liberals still love using the term PC as much as any right-winger.  People who objected to the diary's title were derided as "PC" explicitly here, here, here, here, and implicitly elsewhere.  I contemplated writing a diary similar to this one when I saw that.  "PC" seems to be a vortex that draws into itself any suggestion that someone should choose language more carefully.  If you say, "hey, maybe you should put that differently," and your reason has anything to do with the possibility of causing offense, you're "PC" and thus reprehensible.  Many liberals seem to be in agreement with conservatives on this point--at least when they're not the ones who might be offended.

    My suggestion is that we should retire the term "PC" except when dealing with very obvious examples of oversensitivity.  The term has worn out its welcome, and is almost always invoked to discredit an argument unfairly.  And it helps the Right more than it helps us.  

    But as I said, I'm not neutral.  After having been smacked around with the PC stick a lot over the past day in the Protocols diary, I'm more aware of the ways it can be (in my view) overused.

  •  The accusation of PC (4.00)
    is generally put into use when logical, factual, or historical reality will not serve to win the argument.

    Is there research ongoing regarding genes, abilities, gender, ethnicity, and various aspects of development/intelligence/disease/health/ability?

    Yes.

    Is that research conclusive?

    No.

    Does that research form a valid basis for action or conclusive statements of any kind?

    No.

    Is Larry Summers an academic?

    No. He is a Bureaucrat, not a Researcher or a Teacher.

    Is Ward Churchill an Academic?

    Yes. He is a professor.

    Is there a difference?

    Yes.

    Is there a difference in terms of overall free speech?

    No - both can say what they want.

    Is there a difference in terms of accountability and responsibility?

    Yes. Larry Summers is responsible for hiring and hiring policy, while Ward Churchill is responsible for shooting his mouth off and teaching cultural studies.

    Any questions?

    The only way to ensure a free press is to own one

    by RedDan on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 09:45:58 PM PST

    •  Yes (none)
      Was Churchill speaking as Professor Churchill or Ward Churchill, citizen?

      To me, it makes a difference.

      "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

      by Armando on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 09:54:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good question. (none)
        I think he was speaking as Ward Churchill, Professor.

        As a professor, it is his job to honestly put forward his conclusions, supported by his research, regardless of how offensive or objectionable those conclusions might be.

        And regardless of how wrong those conclusions might be IF AND ONLY IF he arrived at those conclusions honestly and through a chain of logic or investigation that can be followed and repeated.

        Being wrong is fine, being objectionable or offensive is fine...

        But being dishonest or misrepresenting data is not fine.

        Defining "data" in the field that Churchill is in is difficult - more so than in biology or geology - but it can be done.

        Churchill's data consists of historical facts layered with his political interpretation of those facts, from which he drew an offensive, and probably wrong conclusion.

        That is not a crime.

        It is kinda stupid, but so what?

        The only way to ensure a free press is to own one

        by RedDan on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 10:08:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well (none)
          If he was speaking as Prof. Churchill, then he is entitled to the moral protection of academic freedom, no matter how stupid and ofensive his words.

          So I'm flip flopping then.

          "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

          by Armando on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 10:12:26 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  No (4.00)
            It's only flip-flopping if you're changing principles without cause. If you're merely reacting to new information or accepting a new argument, it's called "learning."
            •  Bull shit (none)
              I change not principles and it is very poor form on your part to constantly make that false charge.

              I have held this posiiton consistently since the very first post I made on Summers.

              It is a position of principle. You disagree with the principle, on ground of "chilling effect" - an argument I find ridiculous.

              And I have found your performance on this thread to be ridiculous and provoking.

              Stop insulting people - attack the argument, not the person.

              "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

              by Armando on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 05:18:06 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Armando (4.00)
                He was paying you a compliment.

                Defending you from your self-identification as a flip-flopper, praising you as open enough to new information to learn from it.

                Sheesh. Sometimes people can be so sensitive...

                It's always the old who lead us to the war, always the young to fall -- Phil Ochs

                by litho on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 05:29:47 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  You're right (none)
                  But, in my defense, he has been accusing me of having politicially conveninet principles on this thread for this very principle so my mistake is somewhat understandable.

                  I guess I can call him a flip flopper. heh.

                  "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

                  by Armando on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 05:35:48 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

  •  PC or Offensive - the only choice? (4.00)
    Nice diary idea, Armando.

    Count my vote for Thoughtful Speech. Language that communicates with the listener or reader, whoever that may be. Language transparent enough that it doesn't get in the way or distract from the ideas. Communication needs to be the goal in political discourse.

    If you call a diary something about Protocol of the Elders of Anything - I won't read it. Change the name to Sith Lords and I don't know it's the same diary - and I will. And I'll learn something. Which is more effective speech?

    When you are communicating to persuade, you need to communicate transparently. Anything raising a barrier to understanding is counterproductive. If your language only communicates with those who   agree with you, you're creating an echo chamber.

    But that's always your choice - would you rather communicate effectively and win, or express yourself in your own way, regardless of the cost?

  •  Culture vs. Cultivation (none)
    I hope this makes sense, if not ask for clarification:

    I think (I'd go so far as to say know) that "PC" describes a very real auto-censorship trait inherent in all groups formed with an ideological or dogmatic foci. The virulent phrasing of "politically correct" was first coined or popularized by the right, and so they own it not as the useful term it should be, but as a propagandic tool of usually soft censorship (ridiculing something away as opposed to burning it...). If there was a neutral phrasing I would use it all the time, as it stands yes, I use it almost exclusively when dealing with fellow academic lefties who DO exhibit what is described as "political correctness."

    When a conservative is what we call "politically correct" I merely call it censorship or more often think of it as cultural rather than cultivated. So that when a conservative talks about women staying at home and men working, I think subconsciously that it's a cultural socialization, but when a feminist refuses to deal with a survey that says more women would like to stay at home (completely hypothetical) I think of that as politically correct. Subconsciously, and probably wrongly, I think (thought?) that the left learns their censorship in college while the right learns theirs young, at home, Obviously someone's socialized culture is less attackable than their cultivated ideological syntax, so I am playing the GOP's game.

    My solution, give up using PC, seek a neutral term top describe the very real sociological phenomenon, and stop pretending like the Republicans aren't learning their ideological syntax and self-imposed dogma-derived analytical limits day after day in THEIR cloistered groups. That there are cultural influences AND affected cultivations both left and right.

    It's strange that writing and thinking this out has made me realize these double standards and faulty assumptions for the first time.

    •  Understood (none)
      and think you are unfairly stigmatizing the natural process of excluding ideas and phrases that are beyond the pale - ideas like racism - as embodied in the words nigger, spic, kike.

       

      "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

      by Armando on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 09:58:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Slurs (none)
        The irony, of course, is that certain words, such as "nigger," are never truly "beyond the pale, because you used them in a post to claim they were "beyond the pale."
        •  Sheesh (none)
          You truly are having a ball making absurd arguments on my thread here aren't you?  I take it you realize how silly your comment is don't you? If you don't. then I won't waste my time explaining it to you.

          "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

          by Armando on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 04:50:48 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  PC and framing (4.00)
    The first usages of "politically correct" I heard were about naming, e.g. "Handicapped" vs. "Disabled" vs. "Differently Abled."

    I don't see this as a whole lot different from MSM vs. SCLM vs. RWCM.

    There's a right way to say things, and correctness is determined by the politics of the word choice. In other words, the frame that the phrase invokes.

    PC, as a phrase, now invokes a whole frame of it's own, that of liberal totalitarianism. Because of this, "politically correct" is no longer politically correct. "Framing" is the PC way to say PC.

    "So let me get this straight- they believe in Social Darwinism, but not um, actual Darwinism??"

    by bonobo on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 09:49:04 PM PST

    •  Differently abled (none)
      Now who in the hell uses that phrase?

      "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

      by Armando on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 09:58:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I have no idea, actually (none)
        The "liberal" "guests" brought on to defend PC by right wing talk show hosts.

        "So let me get this straight- they believe in Social Darwinism, but not um, actual Darwinism??"

        by bonobo on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 10:07:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Differently Ables? (4.00)
          hahahahahahaha

          I'm frigging CRIPPLED.

          We don't say: OMG! Look, a disabled deer.  We Say: OMG! That deer's crippled.

          Why do we have to mince words about things?  I know I'm crippled, you know I'm crippled.  So tell me how disabled, or (LOL) differently abled makes me feel different?

          Call them as you see them is what I say.  But, you don't have to be rude or hateful about it either.  You can be POLITELY CORRECT without being POLITICALLY CORRECT.

          ~DB

          •  I'll call you (none)
            a stud hoss.

            The person who doesn't scatter the morning dew will not comb gray hairs- Hunter S. Thompson- (RIP)

            by BooMan23 on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 10:26:19 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  part of it's whether you're in or out of the group (none)
            ... calling yourself a name is one thing; it's different (as I'm sure you well know) to have a random complete stranger come up and call you a name --- whether it's "cripple" or "nigger" or "faggot" --- these are terms that some people try to defuse by using them before they get used against them. This is part of the problem (or yet another problem) of political correctness: how do you know what's "politely correct" when different people get to follow different rules? And when the rules seem to keep changing? (i.e. the move from "handicapped" to "disabled" to (maybe?) "differently abled" seems to parallel the shift from "Negro" to "black" "African American" to "person of color" ... or are those last two switched? complicated stuff.)

            "There are no shortcuts to accomplishing constructive social change ... struggle is called 'struggle' for a reason." Ward Churchill

            by CAuniongirl on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 12:42:35 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well (none)
              I don't expect someone to say, "What's up my cripple!"  That's just wrong.  On the other hand saying, "Hello DB, nice to meet you.  By the way, how'd you become crippled," is fine.  Or someone saying, "oh look, I didn't know he was crippled."  I don't see what the big deal is.

              I detest this 'reverse language descrimination' that happens when blacks call each other nigger, or niggah, and then get all up in arms when a white persons says the same word.  You don't hear gay men walking around saying, "what's up my fag!"  Ok, well maybe you do, I don't know very many gay men.  I might be wrong on that.  If they do, then they're wrong too.

              That's just plain stupid.  Either it's a bad word and a slur, or everyone gets to use it.   Make up your friggin' minds.

              Language is only one key to becoming smarter.  But the use of certain words, or non-use of others, just limits our ability to communicate.  And words like mobility-challenged will never empower me or any other cripple.  That comes from inside.

              ~DB

              •  I forgot to add. (none)
                Using words in/as a racial slur, like nigger, or in hate filled comments and insults is wrong.  Anyone willing to reduce themself to that level is just, in my opinion, an idiot.  (Ironic, huh? hahahaha)

                And, if whites can't use the word nigger then why can blacks call use whitey or cracker, etc., and get away with it?

                I'm not for government censorship, except in extreme cases, like white hate groups or nazi-ism.  And only in cases where they're deliberately trying to incite violence, riots, or other civil disobedience,... like while commiting hate crimes.  But, what I am for is self censorship and self censure.  You don't have to be PC to be polite and a good person.

                ~DB  

              •  Yes and no (none)
                I've never heard two gay men greet one another with "What's up, fag?" Not saying it doesn't happen, but it's never happened around me.

                But I have heard gay men use the word in reference to themselves and each other. I use it that way. And I do tend to bristle when someone I don't know to be a member of the Faggots' Union uses that word, especially if it's in reference to me.

                Michael
                "Jedoch der schrecklichste der Schrecken
                Das ist der Mensch in seinem Wahn" -- J. W. von Goethe

                by musing85 on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 06:38:18 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Really? (none)
                  Wow, that's interesting.  Maybe it's just my pre-conceived notion of gays, that they wouldn't use it like that.  

                  (LOL Yeah, I'm a big, beefy, cop, soldier, macho, with a 5 o'clock shadow, type a guy.  I like wimmen', beer, and bbqs, and I don't know that many gay men.  So please forgive that I do have pre-conceived notions,... no one around to correct me.)

                  Really though, thanks for the insight.  I appreciate it.  

                  I still disagree though.  I think if you use it amongst yourselves, then I should be free to use it with you as well.

                  If a word is off-limits to some, then it should be off-limits to all.  

                  I believe in fair play for all, not just some.  Speech (contrary to GTTIM's view of me,... gotta get my 'digs in' hehehehe) is included in that.

                  ~DB

                  •  There's the key difference (none)
                    I still disagree though.  I think if you use it amongst yourselves, then I should be free to use it with you as well.

                    I'd be happy to have you use the word with me. I wouldn't be so happy to have you use the word at me--certainly not if I didn't know that it was coming from a place of respect.

                    My heterosexual friends all know that I don't mind if they use the word "fag" or "queer" in reference to me--because I know that it isn't intended as an insult or a put-down in their mouths. I'd love it if we lived in a world where I could make that assumption 100% of the time: but we're nowhere near there yet.

                    Michael
                    "Jedoch der schrecklichste der Schrecken
                    Das ist der Mensch in seinem Wahn" -- J. W. von Goethe

                    by musing85 on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 11:40:46 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Oh no! (none)
                      I don't mean to use like, "Oh great there's another fucking fag."

                      Please don't get me wrong.  I think racial/sexual/cultural/religious slurs are just the worst.  I friggin' cringe when I hear them.  hell, I cringe writing them here as examples.

                      But, if I was talking to a friend who was gay, I feel as a hetero, that I should be able to use the word.  Provided, of course, that they're using it too.

                      ~DB

                      It might be nice to soar with Eagles, but Weasels ever get sucked into jet engines. ~Author Unkown.

                      by DrainBamaged on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 11:56:47 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  That shouldn't be a problem (none)
                        If there's any doubt, wait and see if the other person uses the word. If s/he does, then it's reasonable to assume it's OK for you to use it, too.

                        But there's also a socialization issue. Not being a black man, I doubt I'd ever feel comfortable using the word "nigger" in conversation with a black friend, even if they used it about themselves. Plus, I grew up hearing that word used only as an epithet, with every intent to have it sting those to whom it was addressed. I just don't think I'd ever be able to get that baggage out of my head and feel OK using the word.

                        Now that I think about it, maybe blacks and queers are the only ones to have "adopted" words that were historically used to insult them. I don't believe I've ever heard Jews refer to themselves as "Hebes" or "kikes," or Italians call themselves "dagoes" or "wops." Irish people will sometimes call each other "Mick," but that word doesn't seem to carry quite the stigma of the others I mentioned.

                        Michael
                        "Jedoch der schrecklichste der Schrecken
                        Das ist der Mensch in seinem Wahn" -- J. W. von Goethe

                        by musing85 on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 12:13:54 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  True, especially with the word (none)
                          nigger.  I hate to hear it, even from blacks.

                          I have heard Italian friends and family refer to themselves as WOPs.

                          ~DB

                          It might be nice to soar with Eagles, but Weasels ever get sucked into jet engines. ~Author Unkown.

                          by DrainBamaged on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 12:25:38 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

          •  Pity (none)
            Part of it is pity, which I reject. Their idea -- not mine -- is that people should feel sorry for individuals who are "crippled." So, they call them "differently abled" because they feel sorry for them, and want to "empower" them. It's a nice impulse, but misguided in my view.

            You are, perhaps, the best counter-example. You are a full-fledged American hero. (Don't bother to deny this, because I'll argue you for days about it -- and I know there are other heroes too.) Of course, I recognize that what happened to you was atrocious. Nevertheless, I don't pity you. How can I pity someone who gave their body to their country? How can I pity honor? In the end, after what you've done for us -- go where they tell ya and do what they say -- I'll call you whatever the hell you want me to call you. For now, I'm going with "hero" or "stud."  

            •  Oh now LOL (none)
              I'll take 'Stud' over Hero, if you don't mind.  

              Not to make light of your comment, but to me a Hero is someone who goes above and beyond.  Like Audie Murphy during WWII.  Or someone who makes the ultimate sacrifice, losing their life in the service of their country,... Soldiers, Cops, Fire Fighters, etc.

              Me, I just did as I was trained, to the best of my abilities and ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

              So, with blushing modesty (honestly), just call me friend instead.

              ~DB

               

  •  Bullshit (none)
    armando.

    Political correctness is a creation of the left.  I don't know of any words, with the possible exception of 'nigger' that are consistently tsk-tsked in Republican crowds.

    The left decided that getting called a: gook, kike, dyke, fag, spic, Injun, etc. was offensive and hurt people's feelings.

    The left decided to put a ban on those words in nearly every Student Handbook on nearly every campus.  And that was before they got out of control.

    In fact, the right's refusal to stop using these banned words is used as proof-positive of their persisent racism, homophobia, and sexism.

    For you, the very suggestion that women might be less gifted in the sciences was enough for you to demand a man's scalp.

    No right winger would be likely to ask for the head of someone for making a marginally sexist remark.

    Ward Churchill is insightful.  But he's also bitter.  His argument (on little Eichmanns) is bordering on incoherent.  But the right is not criticizing him for being insensitive to Jews (as the left would do under different circumstances), they are critisizing him for making extremely hostile remarks about stock brokers.

    That's not politically correct.  That's common sense.  Stock brokers are not, generally speaking, the equivalent of mass murderers.

    I am on the left and careening toward the far left more and more everyday.  But the one thing I can't stand about the left is the obsession with not hurting anyone's feelings.

    You claim you are only objecting to bad arguments, or to arguments made by people with no qualifications to make them.

    We ALL are critical of that for obvious reasons.

    But that doesn't mean we should become the strident protectors of other people's feelings.

    People can handle it.

    The person who doesn't scatter the morning dew will not comb gray hairs- Hunter S. Thompson- (RIP)

    by BooMan23 on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 09:56:04 PM PST

    •  I claim what I am doing (none)
      You argue about things that I have taken no opinion on.

      Now, I think your phrasing of the ideas you discuss in your comment are poorly chosen.  But, they lead to another discussion. One I will not engage now as they are not related to my arguments.  

      "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

      by Armando on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 10:01:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The point (none)
        in case it wasn't clear, is that you are arguing that Political Correctness is foreign concept to the left that is being imposed on us artificially.  And we should refuse to even utter the phrase.

        But we are the ones that form a circular firing squad whenever someone uses a taboo word, or suggests any inherent differences between the sexes or between races or between countries or between cultures or between political systems.

        If anyone affirms a more positive value for one of these things over another, they are not being politically correct and should be shot.

        That's no excuse for bad arguments by ill-informed people, that espouse sexist, racist, or ludicrously parochial pride.

        But it is not our job to regulate this or overreact to the mere use of a word.

        At least half your point is in agreement with this.  It's the other half that is stinking thinking.

        The person who doesn't scatter the morning dew will not comb gray hairs- Hunter S. Thompson- (RIP)

        by BooMan23 on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 10:11:32 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  No (none)
          That's not my point. My point is that the Right uses PC to bludgeon liberal ideas.

          As for forming a circular firing squad - nonsense.

          Now, if I were to distort your arguments as badly as you are attempting to distort mine, I could accuse you of arguing that Dems should get a free pass for racist and sexist statements.

          "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

          by Armando on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 10:17:30 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Hah (none)
            you claim that liberals are shouting you down by shouting PC at you.

            I agree.

            It's absurd.  Except you are being PC.

            The right didn't brainwash the left to call you PC.

            You acted PC, and got called PC.  Doesn't matter whether the right agrees.

            The person who doesn't scatter the morning dew will not comb gray hairs- Hunter S. Thompson- (RIP)

            by BooMan23 on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 10:22:49 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Riiight (none)
              And PC means what Boo Man?

              Here's a question, have you addressed one thing I actually wrote?  The answer is no.

              Look, you are having a one sided discussion because you are not addressing my points. You will argue that I am not addrressing yours - but I really think it is incumbent upon you to address my diary before I address your comments.

              Otherwise, we can spend all night misstating each others arguments.

              "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

              by Armando on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 10:25:30 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  What the fuck do you want? (none)
                You are claiming the PC is a Republican construct being used by liberals to discredit the merits or your argument in favor of scalping a man for making a allegedly sexist remark.

                That's your diary.  That's it.  It's bullshit.

                Your argument is that Summers was unqualified to make the remark as a scientist, that his argument sucked, and that somehow this translates into his need to either be fired or have his balls roasted over a low flame for a long time.

                You're wrong.  Call him an idiot, an asshole, or a clown.  But if you are calling for his head NOT BASED ON PETTY PC CONCERNS, then you are just as idiotic, assholish, and clownish.

                And if his supposed sexism is the crucial factor, then no one is wrong to combat your argument with cries of "PC!, PC!"

                The person who doesn't scatter the morning dew will not comb gray hairs- Hunter S. Thompson- (RIP)

                by BooMan23 on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 10:32:05 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Now I would note (none)
                  for those who find my insults in comments an outrage, that you must come troll rate Boo Man.

                  I urge you not to. Cuz it's not trollish.  It's Boo Man and me, and we know each other forever in dkos years. He gets to write that kind of comment to me.  He knows me and I know him.

                  What pisses me off is getting these kind of comments from people I've never exchanged a comment with in my life.  I think it would be fair for me to respond in knd to them. Hell,  think it's fair for me to rspond in kind to Boo Man.

                  So happens I am not in the mood.

                  I will concede a point however - I see how unconvincing, whatever the merit of the position, this form of argument is.

                  Boo Man, however specious you think my argument - you still don't address it. It's up there, in my diary. Debunk it if you can. You haven't even tried yet.

                  "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

                  by Armando on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 10:38:03 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Good night (none)
                    Armando.

                    Just test-running your synapses.

                    The person who doesn't scatter the morning dew will not comb gray hairs- Hunter S. Thompson- (RIP)

                    by BooMan23 on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 10:44:46 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Um, no (none)
                    "Boo Man, however specious you think my argument - you still don't address it."

                    Patently false. After his post, you have nothing left if you don't counter him. His criticism was potentially devestating -- it went to the heart of what you were arguing. Simply to deny that he addressed your point, or to say that you're not in the mood, is a failure, a concession, except for those who write love letters to you. You're too young to rest on an argument from authority. Saddle up.  

                    •  How so? (none)
                      How did he address my arguments counselor?

                      Where did he take my ACTUAL arguments and refute them?

                      Give me an example? One where my ACTUAL arguments, as stated, not as distorted, are taken on?

                      What is devastating is the lack of actual substance addressing my points, from you and Boo Man.

                      "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

                      by Armando on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 04:48:09 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  BTW (none)
                      How about mode of expression? Any comment on the way Boo Man addresses me?  I seem to remember you had some harsh words for me on that score.

                      "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

                      by Armando on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 05:24:26 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                •  Actually (none)
                  As I read Armando's diary, his argument was that political correctness was an idea that had the seeds of its genesis with the left, but which has primarily and predominantly been used as an ideological bludgeon by the right, with which to attack every liberal idea, whether or not it has anything to do with "political correctness," and that the right has engaged in one of the classic blunders in so doing (see Glass houses, people who live in).

                  Am I in the ballpark, Armando?

                  Michael
                  "Jedoch der schrecklichste der Schrecken
                  Das ist der Mensch in seinem Wahn" -- J. W. von Goethe

                  by musing85 on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 06:34:28 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, I think so too....... (none)
          I'm still formulating it, but it seems to me, that it's the Left who started everyone walking on eggshells --- w/good intentions, of course -- as always --- women's rights, minorities' rights, etc., but maybe we've gone too far? I don't know....

          e.g., there are biological differnences between men and women - duh! - and those differences affect every choice we make in Life, but my biology doesn't fit into a political agenda, so, oops! it must be discrimination?

          ...Don't sweat the petty things, and don't pet the sweaty things....

          by PhillyGal on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 10:21:32 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Huh? (none)
            I don't follow your point.  BTW, how has the "Left" - something specific please - gone too far?

            "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

            by Armando on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 10:23:12 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Huh? (none)
              What do you mean you don't follow her point? She wrote: "it's the Left who started everyone walking on eggshells --- w/good intentions." You can certainly disagree with that statement. After all, your diary claims the opposite. But there's nothing wrong with a commenter questioning a fundamental premise of your diary. This poster made an assertion. You may ask for proof to support the assertion that the left started it, but how can you claim that you don't even follow her point?

              Armando, totally unsolicited comment, but you're at your best when you're thinking and writing. You're obviously very bright. However, you're at your worst when you "play lawyer" in the comments and write merely to defend your position, play debating games rather than seek the truth, and otherwise respond without thinking about the bigger picture. Sure, when you're appearing as an advocate (in the courtroom or on the air) that's appropriate, but not here. You should pay more attention to which "hat" you're wearing.

              •  Huh? (4.00)
                Armando was asking for specific examples of "the lefT" going "too far"...

                so how is that not following her point?

                He was asking for evidence of what she asks might have occurred in "going too far".

                cheers,

                Mitch Gore

                Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

                by Lestatdelc on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 01:53:34 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  What Mitch said (none)
                You know, I think it is time to check the impulse for "critiquing" Armando.

                A query for specific examples is a fair point when someone says the Left has gone too far.

                "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

                by Armando on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 04:44:46 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  No, that's simplistic. (none)
            e.g., there are biological differnences between men and women - duh! - and those differences affect every choice we make in Life, but my biology doesn't fit into a political agenda, so, oops! it must be discrimination?

            The fact of the matter (I suspect) is that not every woman fits into what you would define as 'biological differences' however comfortable you may be with them. Indeed, if the past 30 years have taught us anything, an astonishing number of women don't fit into those boxes, at least when it comes to measuring intellectual ability and intellectual ability is what we're talking about.
            What folks are objecting to is the idiot notion that 'women' as a class are defined by their limitations and that those limitations can or should be defined by people with your world view. In other words 'your' biology is not the blueprint for all women, particularly when it comes to intellectual ability.

            "...the definition of a gaffe in Washington is somebody who tells the truth but shouldn't have." Howard Dean

            by colleen on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 06:47:20 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  PC must be a creation of the Left; (none)
      hate speech/hate crimes? who supports 'hate' crimes? the Democrats, no?  Republicans used to be for free speech/liberarian values....Democrats don't have that history :)

      ...Don't sweat the petty things, and don't pet the sweaty things....

      by PhillyGal on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 10:05:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Liberian! for pete's sake; Libertarian! (none)

        ...Don't sweat the petty things, and don't pet the sweaty things....

        by PhillyGal on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 10:06:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Republicans are for (none)
          "librarian" values?  

          Well, I guess Laura Bush was one.

          •  Now, Libation Values... I could embrace :) (none)

            ...Don't sweat the petty things, and don't pet the sweaty things....

            by PhillyGal on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 10:11:40 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'm with you on the Libation (none)
              ;)

              ~DB

              •  I've seen your heartfelt posts, DB (none)
                first chance to cyber-hug you, Man, --- I'm a simple woman:  God Bless You for you service, and your sacrifice -- it's because of you, and others, that I pray -yes, pray! that our mission in Iraq succeeds.

                I shudder to think of another Vietnam Wall in D.C., --- all those lives, 56,000+ lost for nothing? No, No, NO

                Iraq can't be another Vietnam - not for our boys.

                ...Don't sweat the petty things, and don't pet the sweaty things....

                by PhillyGal on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 10:38:09 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  Not even (none)
            Which is why you'll usually find the American Library Association at the front of every protest against the Patriot Act, or in favor of the First Amendment. That's why they have things like Banned Books Week, and why there's a standing order at the circ desk in the library at the university where I work to call the dean of the libraries if any federal officer shows up with a request to look into the circulation records of a patron (which the dean has personally assured me that he will refuse to honor, and accept whatever the consequences of that action may be).

            Michael
            "Jedoch der schrecklichste der Schrecken
            Das ist der Mensch in seinem Wahn" -- J. W. von Goethe

            by musing85 on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 06:30:59 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Right-wing PC. (4.00)
      You're right that the things people on the left are called PC for aren't common among conservatives.  But just because the subject matter is different doesn't mean there aren't right-wing equivalents.

      Right-wing PC is that disliking the president, or the war, becomes "anti-American" or "anti-freedom," and often involves harsh retribution.  Right-wing PC is that even in school districts where evolution is officially on the curriculum, teachers are afraid to teach it because of the complaints they'll get from parents.  Right-wing PC is the covered breasts of the statue in the Department of Justice.

      These things don't get called PC, but that's the point.  The point is that the term is only used to describe and delegitimize positions that are leftish, no matter how much the right does the same thing.  You think there's no right-wing PC?  Try dissing Christianity to the general public.

    •  Not the Left, BooMan. (none)
      Not the Left.

      Liberals and Po-Mo sissies who would rather fight over the words used than the systems that give power to those words.

      The only way to ensure a free press is to own one

      by RedDan on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 10:12:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  who started what (none)
      The left decided that getting called a: gook, kike, dyke, fag, spic, Injun, etc. was offensive and hurt people's feelings.

      My understanding has been that the right wing objected to being "scolded" by the left for being racist, sexist, homophobic because these words are offensive and labeled the attempt to stop the use of these words "political correctness."

      The term may have been adopted by the right from the previous sources noted above, but it was the right who used it as a weapon to attack the left.

      It's the left that gets accused of being the "language police," not the right. Also keep in mind that a lot of the charges of political correctness from the right came because a big (and ultimately successful) part of the feminist movement was about gendered language. Initially, they were laughed at and mocked for thinking this mattered. In a context where pregnancy meant automatic termination, where the mere possibility of pregnancy meant you didn't get a job (thus, the coining of "Ms."), and when help wanted ads were divded between male jobs and female jobs--it was no laughing matter.

      "I still think politics is about who's getting screwed and who's doing the screwing." -Molly Ivins

      by hono lulu on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 10:26:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  pc is just a way to invalidate an argument (4.00)
    it's a straw argument.

    There are real, tangible, meaningful, significant reasons to NOT use some terms. Generic masculine usages has been clearly shown to stymie academic and professional aspirations in young girls. Same goes for labels used for minorities - ethnic, racial, sexual orientation, etc. Similarly, there are real, tangible, meaningful and significant reasons to be very careful about the use of language in context - it contributes to identity formation, establishes relational climates, etc etc etc.

    As a communicologist by training and trade, there is not a day that passes in which I do not advocate for recognition of the power of language. R. Penn's quote: "A choice of words is a choice of worlds" graces every syllabus I create, is the thesis for every course I teach, and is present in every lesson I deliver. If I do nothing more than to help someone recognize that the very experience of human reality is constructed through language, and that through deliberate language choice we can alter human reality, then I have done a tremendous amount.

    Yes, that's me: the walking, talking Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.

    I'm not sure how I feel about this diary. Does repudiating "pc" validate the knee-jerk rejection of any argument sensitive to different conditions of the human experience? If pc sucks so much, then are conservatives correct when dismissing a liberal viewpoint as 'pc'? And if we reject 'pc' as a label, where goes the underlying tenets and recognition of the power our language has in shaping our world?

    Perhaps 'mindfulness' would be better received? Ting Toomey's approach to mindful (intercultural) communication is an outgrowth of face theory in intercultural communication, and requires (1) knowledge of the context and other in the interaction; (2) skill, or the ability to employ knowledge in meaningful ways; and (3) motivation as a desire to interact effectively.

    Recognizing the power of language and using it responsibly are, for me, conditions of being a liberal. I'm careful about the language I use because I am aware that it reveals aspects of who I am, has effect on those around me, and is involved in an ongoing co-construction of the world I live in. If that forces someone to call me 'pc' as though it's a bad thing ... well, then, fuck 'em.

  •  HISTORY (none)
    NO... ok, there are already many comments... maybe this point is made... but the right did not create the term political correctness.

    This term was on campus before it hit the mainstream, and I distinctly remember it was a liberal thing.  In fact... it was a "don't sleep with them, they're not politically correct"...

    It was a natural thing... back in the mid 80s the left stood against all the dogma and the hangups... it lacked judgmentalism, it lacked a dogma!  political correctness was that dogma, a packaging of all the things we'd learned in the previous 15 years.

    I remember because, as an anti-dogmatist, it pissed me off.  I hated it, and then I remember it hitting the mainstream.  In the mainstream it was used by the right...

    so I guess the issue goes deeper in my opinion...

    this was only a comment on the historical origin... not the value of the idea now... which I fairly loath as the dogmatization of tolerance.

    It has turned into an easily cast label and in fact started that way (but now it's stuck).  I suggest when people use the term if we don't feel like just ignoring it we merely ask for them to define it.  That exhausts them on the subject, and they likely won't come up with a very compelling definition.

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