The Language of Political Correctness

March 14th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

A further article from the paper – You Can’t Say That! Freedom of Speech and the Invisible Muzzle.

This one is by Brendon O’Neill, editor of Spiked Online, a humanist/libertarian magazine. It editoralised against the post 9/11 invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

My favourite example of political correctness involves the American Navy. In October 2001, after America had invaded Afghanistan, some of its navy personnel were preparing missiles to be fired at Al Qaeda and Taliban strongholds. One of the personnel decided to write a message on the side of his missile. A message to express his anger about 9/11. So in reference to the 9/11 hijacking, he wrote the following message on his missile: ‘Hijack this, you faggots.’

Little did he know that even though the American military had rather a lot on its mind at that time, his message would still cause a massive controversy. The upper echelons of the navy were outraged when they heard about this transgression. They expressed official disapproval of this homophobic message and issued a warning that military personnel should more closely edit their spontaneous acts of penmanship. They even issued some unofficial guidelines covering what could and could not be written on the side of post 9/11 missiles. Nothing offensive, the guidelines said. So it was ok to say ‘I love New York’ but not to use words like faggot.

That is my favourite story about political correctness for two reasons. First, it sums up how psychotically obsessed the PC lobby is with language. It is ok to kill people but not to offend them. It is ok to drop a missile on someone’s house or cave as long as that missile doesn’t have anything inappropriate written on its side. Heaven forbid that the last thing a Talib should see before having his head blown off is a word reminding him of the existence of homosexuality. This really captures the warped morality inherent in political correctness—where one becomes so myopically focused on speech and representation that everything else, including matters of life and death, becomes subordinate to that.

The second reason it is my favourite example of political correctness is because it captures a truth about political correctness that is far too often overlooked: Political correctness is not actually the handiwork of small groups of cultural Marxists or liberal malcontents. The rise of political correctness is simply down to the activism and agitation of unrepresented sections of the chattering classes who detest vulgar language and what they consider to be offensive ideas. Otherwise, how can we explain the actions of the American Navy? Why would one of the most powerful, well-armed institutions on Earth buckle under pressure from the PC police, from people who read The Guardian and The Age?

No. Political correctness represents something far more profound. The victory of political correctness is built upon the demise and decay of traditional forms of authority and morality. It is parasitical on the crisis of conservative thought. In fact, I would argue that the power of political correctness is directly proportionate to the weakness of the old, ‘taken for granted’ forms of morality. It is tempting to see political correctness as the imposition of a framework by small groups of illiberal liberals. To see it as a conscious project pushed through by these rather irritating sections of society. Two striking aspects of political correctness seem to bolster this view—the creation of a cabal of grumpy, misanthropic feminists and environmentalists.

First, political correctness came to the fore at a time when conservative governments enjoyed strong electoral support in the West. It really exploded in America and Britain in the 1980s when Reagan and Thatcher were in power. So the masses were largely supportive of conservative regimes. But political correctness was born at the same time and became more and more widespread, boosting the idea that the cultural elite sat down one day and drew up some rules for everyday life.

And second, political correctness does tend to be most vociferously promoted by the media and sections of academia, by those rather rarefied, aloof institutions with more than their fair share of worldly people. But to look at PC in that way only, to see it as a kind of conscious project of illiberal liberals with its list of 13 rules, as Thilo Sarrazin mentioned, is to miss the foundation stone of political correctness. The ground upon which political correctness is built is the inability of the traditional moralists to justify themselves and to defend their way of life and their moral system. That inability creates a moral vacuum, which gets rather feverishly filled up by new forms of intolerant morality. Because when you have a profound crisis of traditional and conservative morality that had governed society for so long, previously normal and unquestioned ways of behaviour are called into question. Nothing can be taken for granted anymore. From everyday speech to interpersonal relations, even nursery rhymes and fairy tales, all that was a given in the past 200 to 300 years falls apart. And political correctness fills that hole. It’s a tentative takeover by a new kind of modern day moralist. The result is undoubtedly tyrannical and profoundly illiberal and antagonistic to individual autonomy.

To see how political correctness has its origins in the demise of traditionalism, it’s instructive to look at the example of the girl guides. For a hundred years or so, Girlguiding UK was a fairly straightforward organisation. It was designed to instil girls with imperial pride. The girl guides had a simple slogan and swore an oath of loyalty to God, Queen and Country. About 15 years ago, Girlguiding UK rewrote their constitution and brought out a new mission statement. They turned one page into about 20 pages. There was no more duty to God; instead, there was a promise to love ‘my God’ in recognition of the many Gods today and that there is not one true God or one true religion. The girls were no longer required to swear loyalty to the Queen or country, only serve them. And they were encouraged to feel sympathy for the Queen because it cannot be easy for her to be photographed everywhere she goes.

The key here is that nobody invaded the girl guides’ headquarters and forced them to rewrite their constitution at gunpoint. They did it themselves because those three institutions—God, Queen and Country—are no longer real sources of authority. All three—religion, monarchy and nationalism—have suffered a profound crisis of legitimacy. And it was the girl guides instinctive recognition of that which led them to voluntarily rewrite their own rules and their own outlook.

So, political correctness is not about cultural Marxists storming the citadel and forcing us to obey them. In fact, the citadel has collapsed, and they are in the rubble trying to fashion a new kind of social morality. And that is why political correctness is so hysterical, so shrill, and so intolerant. Not because it is strong but because it is weak and isolated. It has no real roots in society, and it has no real roots in history. It has no popular legitimacy, and it has no public support. It is better seen as a knee-jerk instinctive imposition of a new morality designed to replace the old. So everything must be controlled, no one can be trusted, and no one anymore knows what is right and wrong. It is the moral hole of the heart of society that gives rise to this insatiable desire to implement all kinds of new rules and regulations.

So even nursery rhymes are being rewritten. In Britain, we’ve recently rewritten ‘What should we do with the drunken sailor?’ The drunken sailor has been replaced with a grumpy pirate because we don’t want children to know about alcohol. The old rhyme used to say, ‘stick him in a bag and beat him senseless’; the new one says ‘tickle him until he starts to giggle.’ This is PC gone mad—crazy feminists in dungarees rewriting nursery rhymes and forcing them on schools. But a more important question to ask is what kind of crazy unhinged society rewrites rhymes that children sing, rhymes that have been around for generations. Only a society that has entirely lost its moral bearing and can no longer take the most basic things for granted would do such a ridiculous, Orwellian thing.

The hysteria of political correctness really speaks to its opportunistic, parasitical nature. A more confident moral system would be able to tolerate deviance. An unconfident and accidental moral system like political correctness can tolerate no deviance at all because it continually fears for its own continued survival. And it’s important to bear that in mind because sometimes the critics of political correctness are too quick to play the victim card. Janet described very well, and very accurately, the way in which politically correct people play the victim card—but sometimes so do un-PC people. Too many right-wing thinkers claim that a conspiratorial cabal of PC lunatics are ruining our lives, which conveniently absolves these right-wing conservative thinkers of having to work out whatever happened to their morality and to their traditions. Where did they go? It is easier to claim that society has been taken over by crazy, lentil-eating, sandal-wearing feminists and annoying greens; it is far harder to account for the demise of a way of life that had existed for hundreds of years. Which is why we should get to grip with these two facts.

First, political correctness is built on the decay of traditional morality. Second, it is weak, it is fragile, and it is probably quite easy to demolish. If we bear that in mind, then we can more successfully fight against this profoundly censorious and suspicious and irrational moral system. And if you feel that you are being treated like a heretic, then you should behave like a heretic. And you should pull up your socks and get your guns out.

The final article I will blog on Friday.

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72 Responses to “The Language of Political Correctness”

  1. Nichlemn (63 comments) says:

    Not sure if this has been posted in one of the earlier threads, but a humorous anti-anti-PC routine: Stewart Lee – Political Correctness Gone Mad

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  2. adze (2,129 comments) says:

    Quite a mixed bag this one. I think he’s right that traditional social norms have lost their legitimacy but I think he’s wrong that PC mores arose in their ashes; rather, the counter culture that gave rise to the new zeitgeist is the very thing that challenged, or ‘deconstructed’ (which really is a euphemism for redescription under a new worldview) these norms in the first place.

    I also think he weakens his case by focusing on feminist stereotypes. That movement deserves both praise and criticism, but he should stick to the main message.

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  3. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    “In fact, I would argue that the power of political correctness is directly proportionate to the weakness of the old, ‘taken for granted’ forms of morality.”

    Interesting. What I also find interesting is that:
    A) the Roman Catholic Church (perhaps not local NZ bishops) is largely not intimidated by the new PC-ism. Despite a tsunami of criticism above and beyond what is due (I note the public school sex scandal in California hasn’t made any penetration in MSM, but rehashes of ‘paedophile priests’ pop-up weekly.
    B) the Catholic philosophical rejection of PC-ism, and other contentious views is incredibly robust – granted some are based in part on faith but so are core aspects of atheism and Green-ish.

    In a thousand years the RCC will still be here. The NZ Green Party will not.

    The cruise missile story is hilarious.

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  4. david c (254 comments) says:

    I’d be really interested to know if anyone here can actually define political correctness without being a dick about it.

    [DPF: I see political correctness as over-sensitivity in trying not to give offence]

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  5. berend (1,715 comments) says:

    DPF: First, political correctness is built on the decay of traditional morality.

    And that’s a quote found on a blog who does not want to stop the murder of children in the womb.

    Where is the disclaimer DPF?

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  6. berend (1,715 comments) says:

    East Wellington Superhero: In a thousand years the RCC will still be here.

    For the love of the millions martyred, the hundreds of thousands abused by the RCC, not in one country, but all over the world, everywhere the RCC could be found, I can only pray that God will prevent this. The demise of the RCC can’t come a moment too soon.

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  7. Manolo (14,047 comments) says:

    The Brits first, and then the Americans, caught (and embraced) this horrible disease of the mind.

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  8. Scott Chris (6,176 comments) says:

    Meh. Dunno what everyone’s complaining about. Most people tailor what they say to suit their current enviroment.

    For instance, on this forum, it is not PC to derisively use the word “cunt” or refer to the host’s physique in a derrogatory way.

    Them’s the rules. Get used to it.

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  9. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    “For the love of the millions martyred, the hundreds of thousands abused by the RCC, not in one country, but all over the world, everywhere the RCC could be found, I can only pray that God will prevent this. The demise of the RCC can’t come a moment too soon.”

    What?
    “the millions martyred” This is simply not true. While abuses have occured, the numbers are always overblown and they’re usually done by civil authorities in Catholic countries, not the church. They also need to be considered in light of human frailty, noting that secular authorities have been far worse: Soviet Union; Kahmer Rouge; China; and the abortion industry.
    “thousands abused by the RCC” That’s not actually that many. But again, this is not Catholic thing. It’s a human thing.

    The Catholic Church is largely the biggest humanitarian and education organisation on the planet. Was the nursery of universities and higher learning and remains the moral guiding light for humanity. There is no other organisation like it.

    Why are you so hostile? Are you an ex-Catholic?

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  10. YesWeDid (1,050 comments) says:

    ‘First, political correctness is built on the decay of traditional morality.’

    Really?? And here is me thinking it is getting rid of some tired old racism and gay bashing language because we have moved on as a society.

    Most of his examples of PC gone mad are laughable, my children (they are 3 and 4 1/2) were singing ‘what shall we do with a drunken sailor’ over the weekend, I doubt they have heard the ‘grumpy pirate’ version.

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  11. Nichlemn (63 comments) says:

    What exactly is wrong with using more inclusive language if there are reasonable substitutes? For an extreme example, would it be “Orwellian” to change the simile “black as a n*****”? Of course not, n***** is both extremely offensive and actually a pretty poor way of showing how black something is (black people having widely varying skin colours, many of which are not actually black). Less extreme examples are more debatable, but by conceding the first one you’re showing you’re not actually opposed to political correctness, you just disagree on where to draw the line.

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  12. mikenmild (11,709 comments) says:

    Oh no, not the ‘n’ word. Makes me long for the Dambusters remake though!

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  13. RRM (10,011 comments) says:

    What if the U.S. Sailor had written on the side of the missile something slightly different, like:

    Rot in hell with all the European Jews

    Still no problem? Still PC to complain about it? ;-)

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  14. RRM (10,011 comments) says:

    http://www.bombercommandmuseum.ca/photos/p_ferguson8.jpg

    ^^^See? It can be done without slurring the 10% of your own mates who are probably queer. Easy.

    “Political correctness” is a completely false, strawman defense invented by offensive people who don’t like it when their offensiveness is remarked upon.

    [DPF: Like Mark Twain?]

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  15. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    Anyway, back to the article.

    “Where did they go? It is easier to claim that society has been taken over by crazy, lentil-eating, sandal-wearing feminists and annoying greens; it is far harder to account for the demise of a way of life that had existed for hundreds of years. Which is why we should get to grip with these two facts.”

    Yes! A very good point.

    The Catholic Church in the West (in part because of it’s size – imagine a company with a global CEO, 40000 GM’s, and a million middle managers, and a billion ‘consumers’) had trouble adapting to rapid technological change since the late 1800’s – but so did Kodak and almost every other company. Apple probably won’t be around in 50 years. Even if you hate religion or Catholic priests, the core papers of the first and second Vatican councils are very interesting for those interested in human history and sociology. While the Church thinkers and leaders have thought about, and responded to, the advent of new technology and the affects of these on our lives, modern people don’t read like they used, and are informed through less intellectual means. Add to that, the fact that many of the Church’s teaching are hard to stomach – and I don’t mean contraception. I mean loving your neighbour and helping the poor (the Left pretends to do this and hold that moral high-ground, but they don’t. They are just as mean and just as greedy, and quite happily use the poor for their own ends). The Church leaders were stunned for a few decades after the Second Vatican council, I suspect, as they wrestled with the modern age, and as a consequence lost some of their confidence. In all aspects of life, followers can sniff a loss of confidence in their leaders, and this – in part – has dinted the authority of the Church.

    But bigger than that, is humanity’s desire to command their own destiny; and to be in a sense, ‘like God’. The new technology allows this; for humanity to think they can do this. We now have (for good or for worse) more control over our lives and thus reject (not necessarily scornfully, but just practically) other authorities. And people in the Church, including it’s leaders have done this. The traditional authorities haven’t been affected by left-wingers, but by their own desires for a false freedom, that new technology has allowed them to think they could attain.

    The problem is that it’s an illusion. We cannot actually completely control our lives, and so when power and authority that was once submitted to traditional values (and in part to institutions themselves) is given back to humanity with no rules except our own, we see that power is now in the hands of frail human beings. And humans are experts at manipulation and the building up of barriers and social devices to get what the want. The establishment of new PC truths is one aspect of this disorder.

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  16. adze (2,129 comments) says:

    The cruise missile example wasn’t as good an example that the author hoped. If they had simply put “hijack this” it’s unlikely to have been frowned upon – its not new to put fightin’ words on ordnance, I seem to recall seeing Colin Powell doing it during the Gulf War – but “faggots” is just a needlessly offensive term regardless of who it’s aimed at.
    The problem with PC language is not that it promotes inclusive language. The problem is that too many of the people who ostensibly endorse the principle of inoffensiveness are very selective with the groups they think it should apply to.

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  17. David Garrett (7,533 comments) says:

    Let’s not forget this same nonsense re the missile has infected the NZ Army…some gunners serving overseas recently (I guess it must have been Afghanistan) got carpeted for writing “suck on this” or something similar on a bomb/shell they were going to “deliver”… a censure and counselling followed.

    Compare that with WW II when armouers routinely scrawled messages on the side of bombs…and WW II was a horrible indiscriminate war where “area bombing” caused thousands of civilian casualties, and ‘smart bombs’ which targeted the bad guy’s bedroom were not even in the imagination.

    I think DPF’s definition of PC comes close…but here’s mine:

    ” a pathological aversion to calling a spade a bloody shovel in case to do so might offend somebody; a utterly certain world view that ones view is the ‘right’ one, and anyone not sharing that view is a [….]ist” ( insert whatever root word within the [ ] so as to make racist; sexist; ageist etc.)

    The most ironically amusing thing about the phenomenon to me is how the champions of PC – who are ever ready to call others ‘fascists’ – seemingly have no understanding that in terms of blindly accepting whatver dogma is ‘correct’, they are actually identical to the original fascists of 70 years ago…

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  18. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    Frankly, when you read the philosophy and social commentary of John Paul II or Benedict XVI it’s a breath of fresh air in an otherwise pallid, and overly economic, secular public square.

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  19. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    What these discussions also show is how philosophically shallow NZ’s media is – especially the Parliamentary Press Gallery.

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  20. Mark (496 comments) says:

    Al Qaeda and Taliban strongholds were probably filled with guys engaging in homosexuality, it not like they had women with them and if you enged in jihad that an automatic going to heaven no matter what you do.

    So the message “Hijack this, you faggots” was probably correct.

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  21. tom hunter (5,081 comments) says:

    In fact, I would argue that the power of political correctness is directly proportionate to the weakness of the old, ‘taken for granted’ forms of morality.

    I think this is true, but a half-truth, as others have pointed out. I suggest that you all listen to an interview (30 minutes) with Dr. Thomas S. Hibbs, Professor of Ethics & Culture at Baylor University in the USA. In 1999 Hibbs wrote a wonderful book analysing some of the issues encapsulated in O’Neill’s quote, specifically in terms of the media, and it has recently been re-released. Anybody who is reasonably familar with TV comedy from the last twenty years will recognise the source of the title and the interview: Shows About Nothing.

    In the interview Hibbs often refers to that source. One of the points he makes is that – although the characters of the show seemingly operate in a moral vacuum – they actually spend enormous amounts of time obsessing about the new rules that have appeared: what shirt button should be left undone, how do you deal with the parents of ugly babies, how many dates should you go on before having sex? And these rules seem to change endlessly even as they become as intolerant and controlling as any of the old morality dished out by religion. It’s a clever and humorous interview.

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  22. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    DPF – this subject is why you should be trying to kick into touch the stupid idea that offensive language (whatever that is) should be controlled on the interactive web.

    Nichlemn – so what would you call the country ‘Niger’ – the origin of nigger? (as far as I know Niger is one of the first places slaves were obtained from) or in the professional world of colour, nigger black is a recognised colour used in many of those adverts you drool over.
    And what about the growing use of ‘cracker’ – the equivalent of nigger for white people.

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  23. tom hunter (5,081 comments) says:

    Then there’s the other part of the half-truth – the degree to which the New Left should take responsibility for the often unthinking hammer and tongs approach it has taken to traditional societies. I’ve always been struck by the similarity of the theme that has run through left-wing revolutionary thought – from Lenin through Mao to Pol Pot and company – with what many Western leftists have attempted within their own societies: to smash everything down, level the structures and then build a new society. Year Zero was not a unique event except in the relative scale of death. So in terms of this:

    adze
    ++1

    But bear in mind that I’m talking about the Western New Left more than the old, working class based group. And in this respect it seems that it also liberalism (in the US sense) that has grown weak and useless – that it’s “traditional beliefs” have been reduced to a hollow shell.

    With that in mind I was struck by this article – We Came, We Saw, We Left No Trace. The article quotes from a book about Henry Luce (publisher of Time, Life and other mid-20th century American icons), a liberal Republican, but whose following thoughts were undoubtedly embraced by the Roosevelt and Truman administrations:

    … [requires] a passionate devotion to great American ideals … a love of freedom, a feeling for the equality of opportunity, a tradition of self-reliance and independence and also of co-operation….[W]e are the inheritors of all the great principles of Western civilization—above all Justice, the love of Truth, the ideal of Charity…. It now becomes our time to be the powerhouse from which the ideals spread throughout the world and do their mysterious work of lifting the life of mankind from the level of the beasts to what the Psalmist called a little lower than the angels.

    As the article then points out:

    That idea held roughly until the death of JFK, followed by a successor administration that believed they could simultaneously go to the moon, fight the Cold War, fight a hot war in Vietnam and Texas-size the New Deal with the Great Society.

    In the aftermath of that hubris, and a fair amount of cognitive dissonance, liberalism would come crashing down to earth, and become obsessed with a whole host of reasons why the nation — and the planet — were royally screwed. Environmentalism, zero population growth, a so-called energy crisis and a whole plethora of other doubts were the symptoms of a self-created mental depression that once manic liberals found themselves wallowing in during the entire 1970s.

    In the early part of that decade, Patrick Moynihan said, “Most liberals had ended the 1960s rather ashamed of the beliefs they had held at the beginning of the decade.”

    Mr O’Neill might care to think about as an extension of his article.

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  24. Brian Smaller (4,024 comments) says:

    @YesWeDid

    Really?? And here is me thinking it is getting rid of some tired old racism and gay bashing language because we have moved on as a society.

    That is the gayest thing you have written in ages.

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  25. Weihana (4,585 comments) says:


    [DPF: I see political correctness as over-sensitivity in trying not to give offence]

    So people complaining about the term “faggots” is over-sensitive but I presume if they wrote “sand niggers” it wouldn’t be oversensitive to complain?

    It all boils down to the fact that in the conservative realm it’s not okay (at least publicly) to be a racist while it is okay to be intolerant of homosexuals and to use offensive language to describe them. So if a racist term is used it’s like “whoa can’t say that” but if an anti-homosexual term is used it’s like “c’mon stop being so sensitive”.

    By the way I do like your definition of political correctness, and it’s worth noting that both the terms “nigger” and “faggot” are used by blacks and gays and others in everyday language and it’s not a big deal to anyone who doesn’t have a large chip on their shoulder. But it’s also about context and meaning and in this situation the sailor is a representative of the armed forces and if things he writes are going to be made public then it’s not unreasonable to expect him to be politically correct just as we wouldn’t expect an army general giving a press conference to come out speaking as if he’s a stand up comedian.

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  26. Weihana (4,585 comments) says:


    God, Queen and Country—are no longer real sources of authority. All three—religion, monarchy and nationalism—have suffered a profound crisis of legitimacy.

    Heaven forbid people might actually start thinking for themselves. If someone acts simply because their preacher said so, or their sovereign said so, or because everyone else is doing it, then they are a mindless fool.

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  27. thor42 (971 comments) says:

    David Garrett’s definition of PC is very good (as is yours, DPF).

    What is most dangerous about political correctness is that it goes hand-in-hand with censorship, dangerous naivety, media slant and bias (and hypocrisy too). The censorship can be seen in the trials of Geert Wilders and Elizabeth Sabbaditsch-Wolff in Europe – both hauled into court for – shock,horror – speaking the truth about Islam. You can also see it in the media over there. Whenever a group of Muslim youths goes on a rampage, you will see the term “Asians” used in the media instead of “Muslims”. (Pfffft…. as if Chinese or Japanese go on the rampage in the West! ).

    Dangerous naivety? This is seen in the British Labour government’s open admission that they opened the floodgates to immigrants to “rub the Right’s noses in it.” They seem to have no ability at all to see that many of those immigrants (Muslims in particular) may not share the “let’s all love each other” world-view. Indeed, they may be going in there with very malicious intent (and Muslim leaders have openly stated this.) The Left, with their rose-tinted glasses on, just cannot see that they can be “used” as “useful idiots”.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Useful_idiot
    “…..those who are seen to unwittingly support a malignant cause which they naively believe to be a force for good.”

    As for hypocrisy? This can be seen in this article –
    http://news.investors.com/article/604124/201203130802/pew-center-study-of-american-online-habits.htm
    “Online, liberals far less tolerant than normal people.”
    “In a new study, the Pew Center for the Internet and American Life Project confirmed what most intelligent Americans had long sensed. That is, whenever they are challenged or confronted on the hollow falsity of their orthodoxy — such as, say, uniting diverse Americans — liberals tend to respond defensively with anger, even trying to shut off or silence critics. (i.e. photo above of President Obama reacting to Boston hecklers.)”

    “The new research found that instead of engaging in civil discourse or debate, fully 16% of liberals admitted to blocking, unfriending or overtly hiding someone on a social networking site because that person expressed views they disagreed with. That’s double the percentage of conservatives and more than twice the percentage of political moderates who behaved like that.”

    In other words, “free” speech is fine, as long as the speech espouses liberal views.

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  28. Weihana (4,585 comments) says:

    thor42,


    In other words, “free” speech is fine, as long as the speech espouses liberal views.

    Or, in other words, free speech is fine but if one wants to express offensive ideas others do not have to associate themselves with those ideas or people who believe them.

    What would you do thor42 if one of your friends came to you and said.. “you know what, I really think those age of consent laws need to be abolished.” Would you:

    a) hop on a plane to Thailand, or
    b) unfriend him from Facebook

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  29. joana (1,983 comments) says:

    david c
    Research its origins..Spanish socialism 1930s..Gramsky said he wanted to make what was important , unimportant…what was unimportant , important..Turn everything upside down ..WW2 spread to the US..Columbia Uni…etc.

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  30. tom hunter (5,081 comments) says:

    Heaven forbid people might actually start thinking for themselves …

    I’m not exactly a fan of religious, monarchical or nationalistic authority either. The real question is why nothing very solid has arisen in their place with all these people thinking for themselves. But perhaps the answer for that failure lies in part of your response:

    … or because everyone else is doing it, then they are a mindless fool.

    Which goes back to my definition of political correctness:
    … the attempt to make every aspect of our lives a political decision, thereby making everything subject to political processes, the primary one being the creation and preservation of a majority opinion, and ensuring it’s enforcement.

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  31. Fletch (6,489 comments) says:

    Heaven forbid people might actually start thinking for themselves. If someone acts simply because their preacher said so, or their sovereign said so, or because everyone else is doing it, then they are a mindless fool.

    Weihana, in other words, you’re saying people should follow no authority but their own opinion and/or desire. Thank goodness not everyone is doing that, or society would be even worse than it is now and we’d have total chaos. “Mindless fools” indeed…

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  32. thor42 (971 comments) says:

    @Weihana – I’d be appalled and would probably dob him in to the cops.
    I was simply trying to make the point that the Left just cannot tolerate a range of opinions. If you doubt this, drop in to The Standard or Red Alert sites.
    That is why I posted the link on hypocrisy – it shows that far from being the “guardians of tolerance” that the Left portray themselves as, they are in fact very narrow-minded.

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  33. Fletch (6,489 comments) says:

    ps, there are those who believe that Political Correctness is another term for Cultural Marxism – that it goes all the way back to The Frankfurt School in the 1920s or 1930s, professor Herbert Marcuse, and Critical Theory (basically to criticise everything) and they may be right.

    http://www.academia.org/the-origins-of-political-correctness/

    Part of an interview below of Frontpage with author Theodore Dalrymple –

    FP: You make the shrewd observation of how political correctness engenders evil because of “the violence that it does to people’s souls by forcing them to say or imply what they do not believe, but must not question.” Can you talk about this a bit?

    Dalrymple: Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.

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  34. berend (1,715 comments) says:

    East Wellington Superhero: While abuses have occured, the numbers are always overblow

    What a strong defence!

    First it was just one bad apple, then a diocese, then a state, a country, then it appeared the abuses happened all over the world. It was not isolated. And the RCC is resisting every effort to bring the guilty to trial.

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  35. David Garrett (7,533 comments) says:

    Thor42: Well said…that I think is the major difference between KB and the STranded…a whole gamut of opinions over here, all of them tolerated so long as they aren’t blatantly offensive…whereas “over there” anyone deviating from the party line – like poor Josie in DPF’s later post – is ruthlessly “purged” from the site, either temporarily or permanently…and the STranded is just a microcosm for the left as a whole…funnily enough though, I noticed socialists in parliament never slagged Roger Douglas off…

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  36. thor42 (971 comments) says:

    @Fletch – really good post!
    PC does indeed engender evil, as Frontpage says. It’s the old saying “all that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to remain silent”. Political correctness encourages and enforces this silence.

    It is at least good to know that there are people out there who can recognise craziness when they see it, and who are prepared to speak out, in spite of any flak that they may get.

    I mean, look at this (from the OP) –
    “So even nursery rhymes are being rewritten. In Britain, we’ve recently rewritten ‘What should we do with the drunken sailor?’ The drunken sailor has been replaced with a grumpy pirate because we don’t want children to know about alcohol.”

    Arrrrgh…..

    DPF – I’m really glad you mentioned that CIS paper – it looks great! I must buy a copy of it and will compliment the people at that site.

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  37. Fletch (6,489 comments) says:

    First it was just one bad apple, then a diocese, then a state, a country, then it appeared the abuses happened all over the world. It was not isolated. And the RCC is resisting every effort to bring the guilty to trial.

    berend, this is not just the Catholic Church. It is happening all over in society; in fact, Carol Shakeshaft was commissioned in 2004 by the Department of Education to review the available literature on sexual misconduct with students by public school employees and found that “… the physical sexual abuse of students in [public] schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by [Catholic] priests”.

    The Catholic Church is only targeted more because it is hated for it’s stance on many things and people want it destroyed.
    Below is from Wiki, but with citations.

    In 1994, Shakeshaft published a report based on a four-year study of 225 sexual abuse complaints—184 in New York State and 41 in other states—against teachers made to federal authorities from 1990 to 1994.[3] She found that “All of the accused admitted sexual abuse of a student, but none of the abusers was reported to the authorities, and only 1 percent lost their license to teach. Only 35 percent suffered negative consequences of any kind, and 39 percent chose to leave their school district, most with positive recommendations. Some were even given an early retirement package.”

    In 2004, Shakeshaft published Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature for the United States Department of Education.[2] The report indicated that nearly 10% of U.S. public school students, or 4.5 million students, had been the victims of sexual harassment, rape or sexual abuse. The review described the prevalence of educator sexual misconduct, offender characteristics, targets of educator sexual misconduct, and recommendations for prevention of educator sexual misconduct.[2]

    A 2002 New York Times report quoted Shakeshaft, “Only 1 percent of the cases did superintendents follow up to ensure that molesting teachers did not continue teaching elsewhere. In 54 percent, superintendents accepted the teachers’ resignations or retirements. Of the 121 teachers removed this way, administrators knew for certain that 16 percent resumed teaching in other districts… Moving molesting teachers from school district to school district is a common phenomenon. And in only 1 percent of the cases do superintendents notify the new school district. The term “passing the trash” is the preferred jargon among educators”[7]

    I am not saying that this excuses the Catholic Church in any way, shape, or form – the Church should be an example of holiness and be above this sort of thing – but I am saying (as did an article in Newsweek) that there is no more abuse in the Church than there is anywhere else in society. The Church has also taken great steps to fix the situation, largely through the efforts of the current Pope.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2010/04/07/mean-men.html

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  38. Falafulu Fisi (2,179 comments) says:

    Weihana said…
    terms “nigger” and “faggot” are used by blacks and gays and others in everyday language.

    I don’t get offended when I’m being called a nigger (mostly by my friends). I call them back (Tongan mates) nigger too.

    I had a conversation with someone at a party (who is a labor voter) and we argued about politics. She was so offended that I called president Obama the most dumbest leftist nigger leader the US had ever witnessed. She threw her glass of wine on my face & then took off. She wasn’t able to say I was making a racist comment, since I told her, that there was nothing wrong with my comment since since Obama is no difference to me, ie, we both niggers. The only difference he’s a left-wing nigger who went to Havard (as we’re been told by MSM) and I’m a right-nigger who went to University of Auckland.

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  39. Weihana (4,585 comments) says:

    # thor42 (101) Says:
    March 14th, 2012 at 11:43 am


    @Weihana – I’d be appalled and would probably dob him in to the cops.
    I was simply trying to make the point that the Left just cannot tolerate a range of opinions. If you doubt this, drop in to The Standard or Red Alert sites.
    That is why I posted the link on hypocrisy – it shows that far from being the “guardians of tolerance” that the Left portray themselves as, they are in fact very narrow-minded.

    And I’m just trying to make the point that everyone has their limits of what is tolerable. It doesn’t mean someone can’t express opinions in support of racism or paedophilia, but why would a rational person want to tolerate such expression and associate with it in their personal lives?

    Perhaps the bar is always lower on “the Left” but depending on what type of expression they are shunning that could either be a good thing or a bad thing. Bottom line is, everyone has a standard of what they considerable acceptable. There are those ideas which are so unacceptable that no normal person wants to seriously debate it, but that changes from person to person and what is a reasonable topic to debate is a subjective view so I don’t accept that one can make the sweeping generalization that “the Left” is anti-free speech because their set of subjects which aren’t debateable differs from yours.

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  40. Mary Rose (393 comments) says:

    thor42
    >You can also see it in the media over there. Whenever a group of Muslim youths goes on a rampage, you will see the term “Asians” used in the media instead of “Muslims”.

    Over there, ‘Asians’ = Indians and Pakistanis. Or people of that descent. I have no idea why.

    For sure, many people on the left are intolerant of others’ opinions. Been on the wrong end of their sense of superiority more than a few times! The Standard is awful.
    However, your link to prove it would work better if were impartial – direct to the report.
    Rather than to:
    >”Online, liberals far less tolerant than normal people.”

    Starting by defining American liberals as ‘not normal’ suggests a certain bias in anything that follows!!

    Being perhaps pedantic: Drunken Sailor may or may not have been rewritten for children, but it’s a sea shanty, originally a sailors’ working song, not a nursery rhyme.

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  41. Fletch (6,489 comments) says:

    DPF – I’m really glad you mentioned that CIS paper – it looks great! I must buy a copy of it and will compliment the people at that site.

    I’ve attempted a few times to buy it, with no success. It seems to require that the postal address I enter on their site be exactly the same as that on my my credit card statement otherwise they won’t let my payment go through. It’s never going to be exactly the same, because they require a ‘State’ (of which I put ‘Auckland’) which is not on my credit card statement address. I have tried different derivations with no success – even written them an email, but got no reply :(

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  42. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    @ berend

    “What a strong defence!”
    No, no, no. I wasn’t trying to defend it! I was giving a context to why your prejudice is unbalanced.

    “resisting every effort to bring the guilty to trial”
    No, this is wrong. Is most cases the church has simply demanded natural justice in the courts from spurious accusations, just like everyone else. You’re either making assumptions and haven’t read up on the issue, or your are being deceptive. A number of Catholic priests in New Zealand, and across the world, have been convicted for these offences and the Church has apologised. Where cover ups did occur, people have been punished. Also note that a number of Catholic bishops who were falsely accused have since been acquitted by the courts, and that alleged letters to and from Vatican staff and Cardinal Ratzinger (now the pope) have been shown to be fake; though the MSM never covers this fact.

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  43. berend (1,715 comments) says:

    Fletch: The Catholic Church is only targeted more because it is hated for it’s stance on many things and people want it destroyed.

    We’re not talking about a bad apple here and there, because yes, that can and does happen.

    The issue is: what do you do when you find a bad apple? You transfer him to another diocese. The issue is the consistent top to bottom cover up that is applied. To this very day the RCC resists every effort to bring the guilty to justice.

    And who does the RCC and its defenders blame and discuss most? The messenger.

    In case you don’t believe me, it wasn’t until 2001 there was an RCC policy. And what was it: Ratzinger “decreed that the local churches now had to report all such suspected cases to his offices of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome—but under strict secrecy.”

    That’s the issue Fletch. Don’t attach a straw man, won’t work with me.

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  44. berend (1,715 comments) says:

    East Wellington Superhero: Is most cases the church has simply demanded natural justice in the courts

    In the alternative reality perhaps. Just read The Murphy Report. What you describe didn’t happen. That’s the problem.

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  45. berend (1,715 comments) says:

    East Wellington Superhero: Is most cases the church has simply demanded natural justice in the courts

    Here is what the big guy himself says:

    “It is also a great sadness that the authorities of the church were not sufficiently vigilant and insufficiently quick and decisive in taking the necessary measures.”

    So you disagree with your own leader.

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  46. Fletch (6,489 comments) says:

    berend, as I have pointed out – the Church was doing exactly the same as secular society in the 70s and 80s – transferring offenders elsewhere.
    Monica Applethwaite is director of Confianza LLC, a consulting firm specializing in standards of care and the dynamics of abuse in educational and religious environments.

    She says –

    I have seen newspaper articles criticizing officials for not reporting acts of abuse to the civil authorities during years when there were no child protective services and the particular behaviors involved were not criminalized yet. It is fair for criticism of decisions made in the ’60s and ’70s to focus on interpretation of moral behavior, weakness in the resolve of leaders or even the disregard of procedures set out in canon law. By the same token, it is essential to separate this from expectations that are based on the laws and standards of today.

    We began studying sexual abuse in the 1970s, discovered it caused real harm in 1978, and realized perpetrators were difficult to rehabilitate in the 1990s. During the ’70s when we were sending offenders to treatment, the criminal justice system was doing the very same thing with convicted offenders — sending them to treatment instead of prison.

    The Church is at the forefront in society of cleaning up this kind of abuse –

    The Church in the U.S. is the first large-scale organization to take two important steps toward healing and prevention of future incidents of abuse. We are the first to conduct a full prevalence study to determine how many incidents, how many victims and how many perpetrators of abuse there were from 1950 to 2002.

    The John Jay College [of Criminal Justice] conducted this comprehensive research, and it is published on the USCCB website. Anyone who truly wants to know “the problem” we are facing should review the findings.

    Secondly, the Roman Church is the first institution of its size to implement a full program of accountability to ensure the implementation of its reform efforts. Again, an outside team, the Gavin Group, has conducted the audits of the dioceses.

    No straw man here berend.

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  47. Fletch (6,489 comments) says:

    Here is what the big guy himself says:

    “It is also a great sadness that the authorities of the church were not sufficiently vigilant and insufficiently quick and decisive in taking the necessary measures.”

    So you disagree with your own leader.

    berend, so you’re saying that the Church admitting it’s mistakes is wrong now?

    First you’re saying it is the covering up that is wrong, and now you’re saying the admitting it and apologizing is wrong? Which is it?

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  48. berend (1,715 comments) says:

    Fletch: berend, so you’re saying that the Church admitting it’s mistakes is wrong now?

    Another straw man Fletch?

    My claim was that the issue was they covered it up (note the past tense). Which was, as usual, denied by you guys. I quoted the top guy saying they did.

    I’m claiming they still cover up: that hasn’t stopped.

    Fletch: the Church was doing exactly the same as secular society in the 70s and 80s – transferring offenders elsewhere.

    Ah did society? No proof offered may I note.

    Ever heard of Father Gerald Fitzgerald? He wrote to the entire chain:

    However, as he grew convinced of the futility of treating sexually abusive priests, Fitzgerald came to oppose vehemently the return of sexual abusers to duties as parish priests. He wrote regularly to bishops in the United States and to Vatican officials, including the pope, of his opinion that many sexual abusers in the priesthood could not be cured and should be defrocked immediately.

    Result? “Eventually, Fitzgerald lost control of the Servants of the Paraclete.”

    We have letters from the RCC from the 60s. For example in The Netherlands the RCC researched the issue. In 1967. What happened? Nothing. They even knew it in the 50s. Quote:

    Men, be careful in your contact with children, and don’t make yourself unhappy for the rest of your life. Keep your hands off.

    I can quote and quote and quote.

    The official policy was to keep everything absolutely quiet.

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  49. Fletch (6,489 comments) says:

    Ah did society? No proof offered may I note.

    I offered it earlier, with regard to the Shakeshaft reports –

    In 1994, Shakeshaft published a report based on a four-year study of 225 sexual abuse complaints—184 in New York State and 41 in other states—against teachers made to federal authorities from 1990 to 1994.[3] She found that “All of the accused admitted sexual abuse of a student, but none of the abusers was reported to the authorities, and only 1 percent lost their license to teach. Only 35 percent suffered negative consequences of any kind, and 39 percent chose to leave their school district, most with positive recommendations. Some were even given an early retirement package.”

    A 2002 New York Times report quoted Shakeshaft, “Only 1 percent of the cases did superintendents follow up to ensure that molesting teachers did not continue teaching elsewhere. In 54 percent, superintendents accepted the teachers’ resignations or retirements. Of the 121 teachers removed this way, administrators knew for certain that 16 percent resumed teaching in other districts… Moving molesting teachers from school district to school district is a common phenomenon. And in only 1 percent of the cases do superintendents notify the new school district. The term “passing the trash” is the preferred jargon among educators”[7]

    If that is not “covering up” then what is?

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  50. Fletch (6,489 comments) says:

    ps, there is this idea that “defrocking” somehow means that offenders are being given justice, when actually defrocking is removing the restraint of celibacy. I have a whole slew of archived articles on the this problem in the Church, what the media insinuated – how they got it wrong – what Benedict did and did not do etc… but this is probably not the place to go into it all, on an unrelated thread.

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  51. kowtow (8,757 comments) says:

    ” Religion,monarchy and nationalism-have suffered a profound crisis of legitimacy”.

    These institutions are the cornerstone of historical British (and by extension New zealand ) conservatism.

    Are they suffering from from a crisis of legitimacy or are they simply under constant and profound attack, even from people who profess to be “conservatives”.

    There’s already a lot of that going on in this discussion. Conservatives need to unite and push back, not to be part of the left wing conspiracy to over throw the constitution.Stop undermining the institutions that provide stability, unity , peace and prosperity.

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  52. willtruth (243 comments) says:

    I want somebody to answer RRM’s very pertinent question. If the sailor had written “Rot in hell with all the European Jews” and the Navy had asked him not to write that on their missiles in future please, would that be PC gone mad?

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  53. berend (1,715 comments) says:

    Fletch: I offered it earlier, with regard to the Shakeshaft reports

    That’s only evidence for a single another institute, public schools, and in this case in the US. You need to offer a bit more to get to world wide similarities in behaviour.

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  54. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    @ berend

    cc Fletch

    http://edition.cnn.com/2012/02/09/justice/california-school-case/index.html
    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57372315/faculty-to-be-removed-at-la-sex-scandal-school/

    The truth is berend, you simple don’t want to know about this because it doesn’t fit the view of the world you’ve built your life around.

    “There are none so blind, as those that do not wish to see.”

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  55. lastmanstanding (1,300 comments) says:

    As I have posted here and elsewhere the PC zealots tend to be humourless thin lipped individuals. So the way to wind them up is with humour. Stuff that everyone but the PC zealot will laugh at. I enjoy winding them up in public and then watching their eyes narrow their nostrels flare and their lips purse,.

    Marvellous fun.

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  56. Lee01 (2,171 comments) says:

    Weihana,

    “Heaven forbid people might actually start thinking for themselves. If someone acts simply because their preacher said so, or their sovereign said so, or because everyone else is doing it, then they are a mindless fool.”

    Liberals like youself do not think for yourselves. You mindlessly obey whatever the cultural/poltical Liberal elites tell you to believe, and then you hide that inconveniant truth behind dishonest labels like “science” and “reason”.

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  57. David Garrett (7,533 comments) says:

    How the hell (sorry!) did a thread on the excesses of Political Correctness morph into a discussion about whether the Catholic church had done enough about paedophile priests??!!

    lms: I can only imagine how amusing that must be…alas I cannot indulge in such frivolity lest the rats in the media decide to have another kick….

    When in the US I used to hugely enjoy asking where “the toilet” was….as anyone who has travelled there knows, that is one word never used in the US…yanks become hugely flustered when asked that question rather than the accepted euphemisms like “bathroom” (No thanks, I dont want a bath); the mens’ room; and of course for the ladies – sorry the “women” – the powder room…

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  58. Weihana (4,585 comments) says:

    Falafulu Fisi,

    I told her, that there was nothing wrong with my comment since since Obama is no difference to me, ie, we both
    niggers.

    I’m not sure why anyone in NZ would get terribly offended, but I doubt in the US that blacks would consider you (an Islander I presume) the same as them. They certainly wouldn’t tolerate it from me, but then I’m a very white Maori.

    While it is understandable why the term causes considerable offense I do think the sensitivity in the US is a bit over the top, to the extent that a word like “niggardly” becomes a scandal and commentators (except a few like Bill Maher) won’t even say the word nigger when the issue being discussed is the word itself (e.g. niggerhead hunting camp).

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  59. Steve (4,587 comments) says:

    I’m going to send an email to Noddy and Bigears to ask them what they think of all this PC nonsense

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  60. Weihana (4,585 comments) says:

    Lee01,


    …you hide… behind dishonest labels like “science” and “reason”

    I can’t help you if you believe I am dishonest, but it is surely better to at least aspire to be scientific and reasonable rather than to willfully neglect your own judgment in favour of mysticism, the opinion of a royal or the mood of a mob.

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  61. Weihana (4,585 comments) says:

    kowtow,


    Stop undermining the institutions that provide stability, unity , peace and prosperity.

    “Strength through unity. Unity through faith. I’m a God-fearing Englishman and I’m goddamn proud of it!”

    :)

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  62. Lee01 (2,171 comments) says:

    Weihana,

    “I can’t help you if you believe I am dishonest, but it is surely better to at least aspire to be scientific and reasonable rather than to willfully neglect your own judgment in favour of mysticism, the opinion of a royal or the mood of a mob.”

    The problem is that your “science” and “reason” are only thinly disguised ideological assumptions, assumptions you do not question, thus suspending your own judgement, which was my point. Being Christian does not require a person to “wilfully neglect your own judgement”. Being a Liberal however does seem to require exactly that. But rather than be honest with yourself about it, you tell yourself fairy tales about how your really being “scientific” and “rational”.

    This ability you have with self-delusion is impressive.

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  63. Weihana (4,585 comments) says:

    tom hunter (2,819) Says:
    March 14th, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Heaven forbid people might actually start thinking for themselves …

    I’m not exactly a fan of religious, monarchical or nationalistic authority either. The real question is why nothing very solid has arisen in their place with all these people thinking for themselves.

    If people are thinking for themselves then why does an authority need to rise in place? The very notion of some “authority” telling us what to think and believe negates the notion of thinking for oneself.

    In modern democracies authority comes from the people but the people in the first instance have to take the initiative to think and to take an interest in things that matter. If you’re looking to someone else to tell you what to think then you’re going about it the wrong way.

    There are plenty of people out there to provide guidance, from the Pope to Richard Dawkins. We now have a vast store of information easily accessible on the internet with which to research different arguments and ideas and to form our own conclusions. No one is going to tell us whether to side with the Pope, or Dawkins or some nutjob Islamic terrorist movement. We have to make that decision and that’s how it ought to be.

    When conservatives moan about the erosion of tradition and moral values all I see is a bunch of people whose ideas are not prevailing in the marketplace. No one is censoring them. Indeed traditional sources of authority still have considerable access to society. But the growing reality is that tradition is becoming a part-time activity. People identify with their traditional culture but ignore many of its teachings. The revelation that most American Catholics ignore the church’s teachings on contraception is but one example.

    Why would they ignore tradition? It’s their family and their culture and their identity. Is it because the message is being censored as many here would like to believe? Or is it because there is a growing disconnect between what is preached to them and the everyday reality they are faced with?

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  64. Weihana (4,585 comments) says:

    Lee01 (1,678) Says:
    March 14th, 2012 at 5:36 pm


    Weihana,

    The problem is that your “science” and “reason” are only thinly disguised ideological assumptions, assumptions you do not question, thus suspending your own judgement, which was my point.

    A point often made but rarely demonstrated.


    Being Christian does not require a person to “wilfully neglect your own judgement”.

    Agreed. There are many Christians who ignore plenty of the traditional teachings provided by their respective churches. This is exactly what is being complained about. These churches are no longer the sources of authority they once were. They are sources of identity and culture, but nowadays more and more churchgoers seem to be making up their own mind on what to believe and how to act.


    Being a Liberal however does seem to require exactly that. But rather than be honest with yourself about it, you tell yourself fairy tales about how your really being “scientific” and “rational”.

    This ability you have with self-delusion is impressive.

    O the irony. :)

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  65. mudrunner (91 comments) says:

    …and don’t forget about our own soldiers disciplined for writing something rude on objects being sent at the enemy in Afganistan not too long ago.

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  66. tom hunter (5,081 comments) says:

    Weihana

    then why does an authority need to rise in place …

    As enjoyable as debating with you can be, you have an annoying habit of substituting words that cast a very different meaning upon the original statement. What I asked was why nothing very solid has arisen in their place with all these people thinking for themselves?

    The authority has largely vanished, but what we have are largely the remnants of them, with much subtracted but little added. I have zero desire for an authority replacement, but the problem of building anew, even by grafting on rather than building from scratch, arises with the next point you made:

    … but the people in the first instance have to take the initiative to think and to take an interest in things that matter.

    but: a small word with large implications that.

    Substituting for an authority is difficult when “the people” are more interested in watching Jersey Shore and Top Model. I’m not confident that there is a sufficiently large proportion of the modern population who are interested in thinking for themselves and as I look around our society I get the distinct impression that we’re running on the fumes of past achievements. Hence my reference to the exhaustion of not just traditional conservative, but traditional “liberal” beliefs and institutions as well.

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  67. stiglet (11 comments) says:

    Talk of race. Many races are a part of me.

    I have no category, I am a hybrid.

    I identify with none. Or perhaps all.

    Judge me not by my skin.

    It signifies nothing.

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  68. stiglet (11 comments) says:

    Lastmanstanding.
    “As I have posted here and elsewhere the PC zealots tend to be humourless thin lipped individuals. So the way to wind them up is with humour. Stuff that everyone but the PC zealot will laugh at. I enjoy winding them up in public and then watching their eyes narrow their nostrels flare and their lips purse,”

    Try it with cyclists…..its even more fun.

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  69. mikenmild (11,709 comments) says:

    I don’t usually read Joe Bennett’s columns, but speaking of language, I think this sort of stuff is actually far more insidious than what some might term political correctness:
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/comment/columnists/joe-bennett/6570386/Ministry-talks-piffle-or-words-to-that-effect

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  70. Weihana (4,585 comments) says:

    Tom hunter,

    My apologies for mistaking your meaning.

    People tend to get wiser as they get older. Perhaps this impression older people tend to have of a deteriorating society is a reflection of the fact that, when they were young, older people seemed wiser from their perspective and as one gets older younger people start to seem less and less wise.

    I suspect the proportion of people who think for themselves is probably unchanged from times past or even improved. One of the great things about today is our ability to access information. People in the past weren’t able to do this as much, their views would be far more influenced by people in close proximity to them (i.e. their family and local community). Now there is more opportunity to challenge those views because they have access to a wider pool of information and cultural influence.

    I’m optimistic about where we are heading. :)

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  71. tom hunter (5,081 comments) says:

    Weihana
    No problems, I could see how the interpretation could be made.

    Perhaps this impression older people tend to have of a deteriorating society …

    During a recent email exchange with an old San Francisco friend a few weeks ago, I informed her that I had become a curmudgeon, only to have her reply that I had always been one. “Fuck You”, seemed the appropriate response, but she claimed that she was one also – albeit a tree-hugging version, as opposed to my nuke-the vegetation-and strip-mine type. And of course there is this classic:

    “The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.

    Supposedly uttered by Socrates, as attributed by Plato – although there is some mild dispute about that.

    However that is not quite on point to my concerns, which lie less with “young people” than with the attitudes that we’ve taken to things we inherited. To whit these comments from John Cleese last year:

    Cleese also spoke about the shift in British attitudes away from a “middle-class culture” and the emergence of a “yob culture”.

    He said: “There were disadvantages to the old culture, it was a bit stuffy and it was more sexist and more racist. But it was an educated and middle-class culture. Now it’s a yob culture. The values are so strange.”

    He added that he preferred living in Bath to London because the capital no longer felt “English”.

    “London is no longer an English city which is why I love Bath,” he said. “That’s how they sold it for the Olympics, not as the capital of England but as the cosmopolitan city. I love being down in Bath because it feels like the England that I grew up in.”

    Interesting given his history, which is what one American commentator noted:

    John Cleese morphed into Theodore Dalrymple so slowly, I hardly even noticed.

    But what did he expect? (Cleese of course. Dalrymple saw this coming ages ago.) Besides being, at times, one of the greatest comedy shows ever, Monty Python was a weekly assault on the values of post-war England. And England’s societal bedrock of wisdom and knowledge proved in retrospect, to be surprisingly fragile. If you’re throwing traditional values onto a bonfire every seven days, isn’t the inference you’d like to see them changed?

    Of course, you shouldn’t be all that surprised if change for its own sake doesn’t go quite as planned. Or that, as West hints at above, the new era turns out to be, in many ways, less tolerant than the old one.

    It could be O’Neill talking there.

    I’m optimistic about where we are heading.

    In the longer term so am I – but that’s almost entirely due to my confidence in the advance in science and technology. In the shorter term, being the next twenty years, I’m not so confident.

    I suspect the proportion of people who think for themselves is probably unchanged from times past or even improved. One of the great things about today is our ability to access information.

    It’s probably the great thing about today. I heard some line the other day that if you own a smartphone in Africa you probably have more information in your hand than the President of the USA had 30 years ago. Still, that could turn on us, especially in the area of sci/tech that I otherwise place hope in, as I see DNA/RNA replication units selling for mere hundred of dollars on eBay.

    But I’ve not yet seen sufficient evidence that this will really do much to increase the proportion you refer to, or change the following state as described by the great Robert Heinlein:

    Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as “bad luck.”

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  72. Fletch (6,489 comments) says:

    The author of said article, Brendan O’Neill, also has written a very good article for Spiked! on scandal in the Catholic Church, about how numbers of abused have been inflated. An excerpt –

    Did Catholic priests really rape 10,000 children over the past 50 years, as respectable media outlets claim? No, they didn’t.

    Were 10,000 children in America and thousands more in Ireland really raped by Catholic priests? In a word, no. Instead, what has happened is that in the increasingly caliginous, almost Inquisitorial mindset of sections of the New Atheist anti-pope lobby, every allegation of abuse against a Catholic priest – whether it involved sex talk or fondling or actual penile penetration – has been lumped together under the heading of ‘rape’, and every allegation has been described as an actual proven ‘rape’ regardless of whether it resulted in a legal trial, never mind a conviction.

    The term ‘paedophile priest’ has become such a part of everyday cultural lingo that most people, when they read in last week’s relatively respectable UK Independent that ‘over 10,000 children have come forward to say they were raped [by Catholic priests]’, would probably think, ‘Yeah, that’s possible’. But it isn’t true. The Independent was referring to a study commissioned in 2002 by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, which was published in 2004 under the heading ‘The Nature and Scope of the Problem of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States’. This study covered the period of 1950 to 2002, and it did indeed find that 10,000 individuals in the US – 10,667, to be precise – had made allegations of sexual abuse against priests (against 4,392 priests in total, around four per cent of the 109,694 Catholic priests active in the US between 1950 and 2002). But this doesn’t mean that these 10,000 ‘[came] forward to say they were raped’.

    The 10,667 made various allegations, ranging from verbal abuse (being forced to indulge in sex talk) to being shown pornography to being touched by a priest over or under their clothing. Then there were the more serious allegations, which included being coerced into mutual masturbation, oral sex and, in some instances, rape. Yet where 3,553 of the individuals claimed to have been touched over their clothing and 3,981 to have been touched under their clothing, a smaller number claimed to have been subjected to what is described in the report as ‘penile penetration or attempted penile penetration’, that is rape or attempted rape; 990 boys and 213 girls made this allegation – a total of 1,203 individuals, not 10,000.

    Moreover, if we are serious about such Enlightened ideals as justice and equality before the law, then we have to accept the fact that not all of these allegations were ultimately proven to be true. Out of the 10,000-plus allegations made against priests in America, 3,300 were not investigated at all because they were made after the accused priest had died (surely even the most riled anti-pope commentator accepts that a man who is no longer around to defend himself cannot be convicted of a crime). Of the 4,392 priests in America who were accused of sexual abuse in the period of 1950 to 2002, 1,021 were investigated by the police, and of these, 384 were charged, of whom 252 were convicted. So around six per cent of all American priests who had allegations made against them were finally convicted. (Of course there are many reasons for this relatively tiny number of convictions: some alleged victims were pressured to keep quiet; some (25 per cent in the US) didn’t make their allegations for more than 30 years after the alleged incident occurred; and in some instances there was just a lack of evidence.)

    So nothing like 10,000 individuals in America ‘say they were raped’ by Catholic priests. In truth, 1,203 made this allegation. And not all of them resulted in a conviction. Every allegation of rape should be treated seriously, of course, but what happened to the idea of innocent until proven guilty? How did a complex US report about all manner of allegations against priests come to be translated in the words of the Independent into the idea that ‘over 10,000 people have come forward to say they were raped [by priests]’? Because in the outlook of certain sections of the intolerant New Atheist lobby, everything from sex talk to fondling to being shown a porn flick is ‘rape’ – if it’s done by a priest, that is – and every priest is guilty of what he is accused of despite the question of whether or not he was convicted in a court of law.

    He goes on to talk about a similar situation in Ireland, but yeh, the whole thing is worth reading.

    http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/9548/

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