Thursday, April 12, 2012

I Hate Political Correctness



Very rarely will you find me reading the 'advice' columns, ala 'Ann Landers.'  Once they were a regular part of my newspaper-reading experience, but quickly fell into disfavor with me when the answers given began to be more 'all-inclusive' rather than 'morally, socially correct.'  It seems as if these advice columns were politically correct even before the term became common.  And I find that they are absolutely unreadable today.  The advice given is usually what 'should' be done in a 'perfect' world--something that does not exist in reality.  Anyone could be an advice columnist these days--all you have to do is open a copy of "Political Correctness for Dummies" and use it to guide your answers.  You certainly don't find the "Wake up and smell the coffee." advice of years gone by.

For one reason or another--not that I can remember why--I found myself reading 'Dear Prudence' on Slate one day a few weeks ago.  And I read a letter and answer that absolutely astonished me.  I believe this is political correctness gone WAY too far.  I will post the entire thing here:
Dear Prudie,
I have a fifth-grade son who is white and plays basketball on a mostly black team. He has made friends with many of his black teammates and hangs out with them a lot. I’m happy that he's so colorblind, but then I heard him call his new friends "my niggas." I was horrified and immediately talked to him about it. He said that his black friends use the term all the time and told him it was OK for him to use it with them, too. He said that he understood the history of the word and knows that it can be hateful when used wrongly. My son clearly isn't intolerant, but he could get in a lot of trouble throwing that word around. I don't even know if it’s OK for a white kid with black friends to use that word if they all do, and no one means it in a bad way. I usually feel confident guiding my son, but on this one I have no idea what to tell him.
—Stumped
Dear Stumped,
If only our 10-year-olds could stay so innocently well-intentioned. Unfortunately, even though you’ve had one conversation about this, and your son knows some of the history of this word, you have to revisit this so that your boy doesn’t find himself the subject of a complaint and the object lesson in a lecture at a school assembly. Perhaps when he was tiny you had some comic, endearing names for your son such as Mr. Stinkbottom or Sir Droolsalot. (If not, pretend you did.) You can tell him that within families people can call each other things that might be insulting if said to an outsider, but among relatives it’s done with a tone of teasing affection. That’s what’s going on with his friends on the team. Yes, the whole team is a kind of family, but for many people their ethnic or racial group also has the feel of a family. Because of that, there are things that the black players can call each other but which sound very different coming from his mouth. You can say you know his teammates have encouraged him to say it, but if a teacher, parent, or coach heard him, it’s likely that person wouldn’t understand. It’s possible that a parent of his teammate could be offended and report his remark, no matter how affectionately it was said. Say you know this doesn’t seem fair, but the history of this word still has the power to cause great pain. So as a sign of respect to those who might be hurt by it, he needs to understand that his friends can use the phrase with him, but he must refrain from returning it.    
—Prudie
I understand the reasoning behind telling the kid to stop using 'that' word, but how sad is that he has to be frightened for his safety when he's done/doing nothing wrong?  I can't help but think of a foster/adopted family situation where there might be kids of different races NOT being allowed to tease each other or use 'improper' words while talking to each other.  Things are just getting so out of control!

This reminds me so much of the problem we had with our local high school's logo/mascot/nickname a few years ago. The logo is a Native American in full headdress and the nickname is 'Redmen.'  (The nickname has NOTHING to do with Native Americans--it is in reference to the color of iron ore that is mined in our county and the fact that the miners were 'red' after a long day's work.)  As in so many other communities, the usage of a Native American as a logo upset some people.  There was a drive to get the high school to abandon the logo and nickname and it divided our community and caused long-term bad feelings amongst many.  My youngest was in school at the time, so we watched this very closely--the meetings were even broadcast on our cable system for those who couldn't attend.  When it was finally all done, the logo/mascot/nickname remained the same, despite the efforts of a certain group of people--and I believe the community is happy with the results to this day.

So, how did we manage to keep a politically INcorrect logo for our school?  I believe it boiled down to one thing:  the people/group who were opposed to it in the first place.  As it turned out, the people who were 'hurt' by this were part of the university community and NOT natives to our town /county/community.  Someone decided that this was disrespectful and got a bunch of PC supporters to make a protest about how horrible this entire thing was.  This, in turn, got the school board to run scared and decide that 'something had to be done about this atrocity!'  Funny thing is, very few of the locals--which includes a large group of Native Americans--had ANY problem with the logo, whatsoever!  So, a problem that WASN'T a problem, became a problem and was solved through a lot of unnecessary fighting, yelling, and tears.  How sad.

How did we get to this point in this country?  When did EVERY community have to be exactly like every other community and have to think and do things the same way?  What made this country so exciting and vital was the fact that anywhere you went would be an adventure--you could find something you were unfamiliar with and learn something new.  It seems as if we are slowly being forced into a homogeneous blend of absolute mediocrity--NO segment can be any more colorful/interesting than any other segment of society.  And some people won't be satisfied until there are actually NO differences among us.  Again, how sad.

11 comments:

meleah rebeccah said...

It really *IS* sad. And quite frankly, I think everyone needs to calm the f*ck down!

cmk said...

Honestly! Have we completely forgotten what common sense is?

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