(Originally published May 10, 2005)
WARNING: This column contains sexism, racism, homophobia, and was printed with politically incorrect cyber-ink
It was probably in 1977 when I first heard the phrase “politically correct.” And I felt there was something odious about it right from the beginning. Though I wasn’t quite sure why. A few years later, I started to be referred to in print by reviewers as “politically incorrect” before I was even sure what the term meant.
There was a situation here in Berkeley about 15 years ago that kind of symbolized my feelings about the phrase “politically correct.” There was this Berkeley City Councilperson — a nice lady, well-meaning, one of the better local politicos, so I don’t mean to ream her, but… One day she decided to paint her house. She considered herself a Berkeley radical (not “liberal” but “radical” mind you, whatever the distinction was) (apparently, “radicals” talked about “revolution” but “liberals” only talked about “social change”…I think that was the key difference, but I never really asked them). Anyway, being a politically correct sort, our heroic councilperson decided to paint her house with “politically correct paint.” I wasn’t absolutely sure what that meant: I think the paint didn’t have chemical preservatives in it. Or perhaps it wasn’t made by one of them evil multi-national corporate paint companies. Or perhaps the paint company wasn’t owned by one of dem Evil White Males but was “minority-owned” (preferably by African-Americans, or lesbians, that scored you the most points on the Berkeley Politically Correct scorecard).
So, the councilperson painted her whole house with this politically correct paint. Only, for some reason, the paint went rotten. (Perhaps there was a reason for those chemical preservatives to be in the paint after all.) The entire household smelled like the worst kind of rotten eggs. I mean, it reeked all the way across the neighborhood. And there was nothing they could do about it. Even when they stripped off the paint, the smell was embedded in the wood. So the whole house was permanently ruined.
And the moral is…. Well, you can guess what I think the moral is.
For 30 years I’ve been listening to this politically correct stuff. There’s a veritable MOUNTAIN of literature that can be filed under the heading of “Politically Correct.” And for all its endless nuances, it can all be summed up in two measly sentences: “White males bad. Women and minorities good.” For 30 years I’ve had to listen to these people endlessly blame me and my fellow White Males for all the evils of the world. For 30 years I’ve had to listen to the implications that “minorities” and “women” know a better way. Now believe me, I’m sure us White Males deserve a certain amount of shit. But believe me, there’s PLENTY of manure to spread around for the rest of you.
The very phrase “politically correct” is odious. I like to argue, but I consider argument and debate basically a forum for the exchange of ideas. The very phrase “politically correct” implies no exchange of ideas. It implies that they are correct and you are incorrect, right from the beginning: “I am right, you are wrong. The end.” The only “debate” (according to them) is explaining to you precisely WHY you are incorrect. And thanks, pea-brain.
It’s true that I, too, am pretty much dug into my positions. But on the other hand, I’ve changed my thinking and my opinions quite drastically over the years. In the face of new information, or a persuasive argument, I will in fact change my mind (or what passes for one). And how many people can you say that about? Perhaps its a sign of wishy-washiness on my part. Or an admission of failure, that I have in fact been wrong in my thinking many, many times in the past (which is true). But I like to think its a sign of an open mind.
On the other hand, I know another “radical” here in Berkeley; 35 years ago, when she was 17, she decided to become a ’60s-style radical/feminist type womyn. 35 years later, she still pretty much believes in the exact same schtick. She probably considers herself as “staying true to her ideals.” Somebody else might consider her a 50-year old woman with the mentality of a 17-year-old.
I heard that there was a Hollywood TV show called “Politically Incorrect.” I’ve never seen it, but I’ve heard enough about it to know how foul it is. The host is this little weasly Jewish liberal guy called Bill Maher (or something like that) who mouths off a lot. And that’s Hollywood’s version of being “politically incorrect.” For 30 years liberal Jewish Hollywood has been the primary disseminator of all this politically correct garbage, which they spew on the American public constantly, relentlessly, on a day-to-day basis. And now, these same Hollywood Jewish liberals are going to tell us what it means to be “politically incorrect.” Sure.
(Of course, you’re not supposed to mention that Hollywood is dominated by politically correct liberal Jews, because they’ve deemed that fact to be politically incorrect, too. For obvious reasons.)
Another thing that cracks me up is when I see these celebrities — these movie stars, these rock stars, these famous pundits — getting up in front of the camera and expressing their typical liberal, politically correct opinions. It’s not that they’re mouthing these dull, predictable liberal platitudes that bothers me. I mean, everyone has the right to express their opinions. But that they always act like they’re being so daring and bold and heroic for doing it. When everybody knows what that game is. It’s called: Sucking Up To the Boss. The all know who’s signing their checks. Believe me.
But the most odious thing, to me, about this politically correct nonsense is how it constantly endeavors to edit out huge realms of truth. For “politically correct” doesn’t mean “politically truthful.” It merely means “politically fashionable.” Which is the true definition of that phrase.
Meanwhile, fashions come and fashions go. Twenty years from now they’ll take all that politically correct stuff — this veritable mountain of politically correct literature and books and magazines and manifestos and movies and comic strips and etc — and they’ll cram it all into a big, huge box and file it under the heading: “Politically Correct.” And then they’ll dump the whole thing in a big, big hole.