Jonathan Chait has written a lengthy screed on the perils of political correctness. He reviews its history, provides numerous examples of its pitfalls and even name-checks Balloon Juice fave Freddie deBoer, who is quoted as follows:
It seems to me now that the public face of social liberalism has ceased to seem positive, joyful, human, and freeing. There are so many ways to step on a land mine now, so many terms that have become forbidden, so many attitudes that will get you cast out if you even appear to hold them. I’m far from alone in feeling that it’s typically not worth it to engage, given the risks.
It’s a long piece, but if I may attempt to summarize, Chait divides libtards into two camps: Radical leftists (black hats!) who are the intellectual heirs of Marx; these social justice warriors infest Tumblr and other platforms and try to win the day by shutting down opponents. The second group, Classic Coke liberals (white hats!), are the heirs of Enlightenment traditions. These free speech advocates try to win through application of reason.
After expending many pixels cataloging the poignant obstacles faced by white and / or male liberals and warning of the clear and present danger social justice warriors pose to liberalism itself, Chait ends on a triumphant note — literally!
That the new political correctness has bludgeoned even many of its own supporters into despondent silence is a triumph, but one of limited use. Politics in a democracy is still based on getting people to agree with you, not making them afraid to disagree. The historical record of political movements that sought to expand freedom for the oppressed by eliminating it for their enemies is dismal. The historical record of American liberalism, which has extended social freedoms to blacks, Jews, gays, and women, is glorious. And that glory rests in its confidence in the ultimate power of reason, not coercion, to triumph.
Now, I don’t disagree with everything Chait says. There are people online who get off on finding a pea of offense beneath 20 mattresses of good intentions. Quite frequently it’s white males who have appointed themselves Defenders of the Downtrodden who make the most obnoxious and persistent scolds.
But the prism of victimhood seems to have a funhouse effect on Chait’s perceptions, leading him to write things like this as if they express some self-evident, awful truth that requires no further explanation:
Under p.c. culture, the same idea can be expressed identically by two people but received differently depending on the race and sex of the individuals doing the expressing.
By labeling it “p.c. culture,” Chait attempts to wave away context altogether — as if it’s silly to even entertain the idea that it might be relevant. I’m sure wingnuts who are secretly pissed off that they can no longer use the n-word in polite company would agree that an idea or a word is wholly separate from the person expressing it. But of course context matters — it always has — in HUMAN culture.
Chait also seems to engage in some magical thinking about the curative powers of the “free market of ideas,” wherein more speech is always the cure for bad speech and therefore all speech must be protected (with the usual caveat about yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater, one presumes). I subscribe to that view myself, in the absence of a better one. But as always, there’s a difference between protecting speech and insisting that it remain free from criticism — even from harsh criticism that results in hurt feelings and blog-flounces!
And maybe it’s important to acknowledge that there will always be an imbalance in the free market model of speech, just as there is in the commodities market. I’m just as free to invest in political speech as defined by the Roberts Court as the Koch Bros. are; I just have a lot less to invest. And that matters.
Anyhoo, it’s an interesting piece, and when I read it, I thought of the ten ways to Sunday y’all would tear it apart. So have at it!
H/T: Commenter Peale, for bringing the article to my attention.
This post offends me.
@Baud: I’m offended that you said you were offended. And you didn’t even give a trigger warning.
Major Major Major Major
I didn’t have as many problems with the piece. He’s a bit of a bonehead, as usual, but many of the examples he gives are not of criticized speech but of institutionally prohibited speech, and in the extreme ‘abortion protesters’ case, an instance of violence against peaceful protesters–which I’m sure we can all agree is almost never OK–being excused because it was ‘triggered’.
I don’t know that it’s a pervasive problem, so to speak, but the attitude he’s describing is certainly thriving on the Internet and can make it hard to take some positions, no matter how correct, seriously. And that’s true whether or not it’s right.
I.e.- “That rapper can say Ni**er, and I can’t!”
Betty, are you sure you assigned this to enough categories?
Folks might be interested in Alex Pareene’s response to Chait. An excerpt:
Dude is getting clubbed like a baby seal. Wait. Can I say that?
Villago Delenda Est
Chait can rail about Marx’s solution to the problems associated with capitalism all he wants to, but the analysis of those problems was pretty darn good.
Now he needs to put his pointy thinking cap on and come up a better solution than Marx proposed.
Maybe, for progressives and liberals. For conservatives and Republicans, democracy is based on terrifying people into electing them or staying home on election day.
” Under p.c. culture, the same idea can be expressed identically by two people but received differently depending on the race and sex of the individuals doing the expressing. ‘
Surely this was never true before that crummy p.c.
I am sure that decades ago I could join some black dudes on a random inner city corner slinging around the N word with each other, and I could use it too, no problem. Likewise, back in the day, a black guy could walk into a rural Georgia bar and do some damn funny redneck and cracker jokes, and the room would explode into laughter, like, Jeff Foxworthy had just walked into the room.
PC wrecked that wonderful world. Killed all the unicorns. Dissolved the rainbows. Stepped on all the gumdrops.
Political correctness will always be more desirable than humiliating people with language because you live in a safe majority.
Why has no one made fun of Freddie deBoer yet?
1. If you’re a white straight man complaining about–of all things in this benighted world–political correctness, you’re an asshole.
2. Is Chait really asking why it makes a difference who’s speaking? Does it make no difference to him if Chris Rock says “nigger” or if Rick Perry says “nigger”?
3. Chait really needs a fucking editor. That piece is about 42.6% dross.
Major Major Major Major
@Baud: Shh, if you mention his name three times he’ll show up in the comments.
I didn’t read Chait’s piece, actually- did he mention Dr. Tiller?
@Linnaeus: Hey, I’m a white guy. It is important that I have my ‘brother Chait’ moment. I need to signal something or other. That I want the rainbows back, for one thing.
@Baud: See above.
Remeber that time when Chait defended Marty Peretz, who said Muslims don’t deserve free speech rights.
Tree With Water
Do the people that own the Times ever read their own op-ed section? It would explain a lot if the answer is “no”.
@Major Major Major Major:
In all honesty, a lot of liberals suck. Liberals nevertheless tend to be better than most other similarly situated groups, IMHO.
If Chait hung out in the comments here he would see liberals who make great arguments with almost no political correctness.
Where the hell does he spend his time?
@khead: No! I’m offended on behalf of Seal-Americans!
@Pogonip: I would never join a baby seal club that would have me as a member.
It seems to me that “political correctness” is synonymous with “taboo.”. I do think more things are taboo than were 30 years ago. It’s too soon to know if this is good or bad.
Iowa Old Lady
Cripes. Call people what they ask to be called. If they say something offends them, don’t say that. How hard is that, Chait?
It’s really liberating when someone speaks Truth to Power and calls a spade a spade. You people have turned BJ into such a PC platform, running off so many good, real Americans with your smug, elitist superiority.
I bet many people in your own families are afraid to talk openly to you – it’s really just another form of abuse. Someday PC-abuse will be considered amongst the likes of child and parental abuse for the lasting emotional damage they wreak.
Berke Breathed said it better. https://archvillain.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/offensensitivity.jpg
There’s a difference between “criticism” that engages on the substance of ideas, and the foul-mouthed heckler’s veto. The example that Chait used in his article from that woman journalists’ list was mind-blowing.
McKinnon’s critique of free speech will always appeal to those who consider themselves to be carrying a knife to a gunfight. But the victories achieved by bullying people with whom you disagree into silence are hollow victories. You may defeat the person, but you won’t defeat the idea. It just goes into hiding for a while.
The only way to fully beat bad ideas is to hold them up to the light, examine them closely, and let people realize for themselves that that the ideas are bad. I didn’t need anyone to tell me that The Bell Curve was bad science in the service of bad social policy. I read it, and while it may come as a shock to some, I am actually smart enough and well enough educated to figure those things out for myself.
I’m not 100 percent with Chait, but I think he clearly has the better of the argument, and I find Lemieux’ and Loomis’ critiques to be entirely specious (I said so on LG&M, and I’ll probably get banned for it. Fine.).
Alex Pereene fisked the shit out of Chait in Gawker.
tl;dr: Chait’s all about protecting the right of conservatives to say whatever the fuck they want but all his liberal critics should STFU.
What didn’t Berke Breathed say better?
Major Major Major Major
@burnspbesq: Most things that Hunter S. Thompson said, I’d wager.
Being anti-pc is so 1992. It really is. The examples he starts the piece with seem to be about excusing issued to be friendly with people who have lots of power.
But no. I don’t see some kind of PC reemergence that needs to be fought tooth and nail. I see issues that were never solved affecting young people the same way they affected me. It’s for the young people to decide how they want to engage with those issues. I think my generation did a poor ass job with them. Swept them under the rug as soon as we were done with college.
All of the examples he opens his piece with invoke young liberals who are angry. It’s no longer up to him or to me how they engage. My generation opted not to change anything. Maybe we abandoned anger for irony too early.
Jonathan Chait, you are middle aged now and it’s showing.
Howard Beale IV
I get more intelligent conversation out of my Red Persian’s miaows.
Chait not only jumped the shark, but got devoured by one due to his own chumming of the waters.
Talk about the ultimate recto-cranial inversion in one seamless move-Chait can teach master’s classes-but why would anyone want to?
See “The internet is not real life”. Not sure which club wielder told Chait that one today. Jezebel I think. So many folks are lining up to give Chait a beatdown at this point that it looks like the scene from Airplane. So I can’t keep up.
It is well known that if some bullies are bullying people into doing what the bullies want them to do, the best thing is to very quietly and calmly give a very detailed and careful argument. Then explain any misunderstood points if anyone asks you a question. And then sit there and feel bad if bad things happen.
” The historical record of political movements that sought to expand freedom for the oppressed by eliminating it for their enemies is dismal. ”
And that is NOT because political movements that sought to eliminate their enemies failed, but because they often succeeded enough to hijack a movement or country that then got its butt kicked. And what current overly pc movement is engaging in eliminationist rhetoric anyway?
I read Chait’s piece and thought it was sad.
@Iowa Old Lady: I’m wondering who stood up now that’s bothering him? Who is taking things too far?
Howard Beale IV
@burnspbesq: Mars Needs Moms.
I know. Twenty-three. That’s just four short of the magic number.
I hope that’s not an accurate description of Pareene’s argument, because what you’ve described is (1) 100 percent bullshit and (2) as far as I recall from reading it once, nowhere to be found in what Chait actually wrote.
” Jonathan Chait, you are middle aged now and it’s showing. ”
Still he’s very young to be yelling at clouds. Where does he wear his onions? Sad case.
@Peale: People like Coates are mocking him, and it stings because he’s not used to criticism from people who are both on his side and have an audience. Plus he has a lot of unexamined race issues (I mean, shit, he worked at the New Republic almost his entire career) and it gave him a sad when all his friends left the New Republic and no one cared about them or the magazine.
@burnspbesq: That’s a mighty fine straw man y’all have built. Chait’s conflating actual restrictions on speech with a desire–perhaps not always handled well in practice–to not be a dick. The dreaded trigger warnings were shaped by a fandom idea of courtesy: write whatever you want, but be considerate to your fellow fans by not dropping that graphic father-daughter incest fic in there with no warning. That it doesn’t work so well when applied outside of the original context doesn’t mean that the jackbooted language police are pounding on the door.
@burnspbesq: I’m not at all surprised that’s your reaction.
Does the loss of deference to white male supremacy as the default status also have five stages of grief? If so, where’s Chait at?
Twitter pseudo-liberals won’t notice the damage to the movement until the day all those young men and women on the internet grow up and remember these were the nutjobs who gave them shit over comics, video games and music videos, just like our young selves learned conservatives were not on our side when they gave us shit for the same fucking things.
But then again, most of these pseudo-liberals already live in positions of privilege, so they won’t see their situation change much, no matter what happens.
Major Major Major Major
God, I feel like we all read completely different articles/didn’t read the article.
If you’re not dead, there’s still time.
Tone Trolling. Yawn. http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Tone_argument
@Bobby Thomson: Yeah, I smell TNR butthurt all over the place.
Smell might not be the best word.
The “free market” is great for the rich, and more speech is great for people who have been given a (metaphorical) megaphone. When the major media are concentrated in the hands of a few like-minded people, most of whom are white, male, and inclined to hire people like themselves, we tend to get something that resembles a free market of ideas about as much as our contemporary Walmart economy represents a free market in goods and services.
Wait… am I reading some actual writing on BJ?
Tree With Water
@Baud: I read rick Perlstein’s ‘Nixonland’, most of which chronicled the Trickster’s career as it unfolded during my childhood. I retain distinct memories of the times, of course, albeit from a child’s perspective (the era most definitely shaped my worldview, above all other influences). But it also means that as an adult, in memory I tend towards a simplistic, white hat vs. black hat differentiation between the players of that era. For that reason, it came as a real eye opener when Perlstein enlightened me how obnoxious so much of the rhetoric and behavior of those lefty white hats truly was.
Trigger warning: This comment isn’t offensive now, but if you are reading this ten years later in archives, this will trigger involuntary feelings of great shame that lefties really used “trigger warnings”
Wow, I wish you hadn’t mentioned Rickey Ray Rector, a mentally impaired black man who was executed under then-Gov. Clinton’s watch. The USSC today denied a stay of execution to yet another mentally impaired black man, Warren Lee Hill, who by now is probably already dead* — in my name as a Georgia citizen. Just sickens and disgusts and infuriates me.
*Unless, of course, the executioners botched the dosage and the poor guy is still writhing on the gurney. Given recent events, that’s not at all unlikely.
@Linnaeus: (quoting Pareene)
Casual references to Sister Souljah, especially the kind that imply she was some sort of victim, have become one of my litmus tests for how seriously I should take a pundit. Because what these brave, twenty-years-after-the-fact defenders (mostly white dudes, per Betty’s point above, and dudes who were probably in preschool when it happened) typically fail to mention is that Clinton criticized Souljah for calling for violence (specifically, murder) against white people.
Clinton’s “Sister Souljah moment” was cynical because it elevated a nobody to a household word–politicians are not normally obligated to comment on the wisdom of every third-rate MC(*)–but not because he was wrong on the merits or the politics. Last I checked, “Kill whitey” was not a winning political position.(**) I didn’t think it was part of progressive politics, either.
And no, Clinton didn’t “attack Souljah for her speech”–he criticized her for it, and he criticized Jesse Jackson for giving her a platform at the Rainbow Coalition. “Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from criticism” applies just as well to her.
Executing Ricky Ray Rector, joining a whites-only country club, posing for that picture above a bunch of black inmates–there are so many good reasons to criticize Clinton’s “triangulations” on race. This isn’t one of them. Pareene is normally better than this.
(*) Unless their name is Barack Hussein Obama, of course.
(**) Unless it’s the 2008 Democratic primary, of course (and your name is Larry Johnson).
@Major Major Major Major:
The bit about pancakes was spot-on though.
@Iowa Old Lady:
Indeed, at it’s best “PC” simply means “don’t be an asshole to others”…
What is the difference between political correctness and good manners?
It depends on how butthurt you are about having to display manners. And the size of your audience.
There was a time I read Chait but he really has become irrelevant to modern thought.
As for his division of liberals my own position has changed. If Clinton and Obama are liberals I guess I am a raging Marxist. I don’t want to be but thats the only part of the spectrum to the left of those two //sarcasm off
Major Major Major Major
@schrodinger’s cat: Five pounds of flax.
Good manners are defined by the elite, while PC lets disadvantaged people have a say.
I don’t find PC to be “liberal”. I think it’s more “radical.” If Chait has a point, it’s that liberalism – dating back to the Enlightenment – is about freedom of ideas and the application of reason to reject bad ideas. Speech codes, for instance, want to change it immediately by effectively banning certain words and phrases. Now.
So you can’t say the N Word, but I think we can all agree that we haven’t ended racism. I’d like to think we won something substantive by effectively banning the N word, but I’m hard pressed to see what we have changed in people’s minds.
@Hawes: Who gives a shit if we’ve changed the minds of people whose minds can’t be changed? We’ve made life better for the rest of us.
ETA: and seriously, this supposed bullying of racists is a preposterous idea. Not only does my heart not bleed for them, but being told not to be an asshole pales into comparison to the response any brown person or woman gets for expressing any idea other than “Straight white men rule!” Read any comment section of any mainstream publication.
@Schlemazel: I could tell that was sarcasm. Every right thinking person already knows Clinton and Obama are worse than raging Marxists because some loud people say that over and over again. Best to be very careful circumspect and polite in responding to that kind of charge, otherwise you might make Chait uncomfortable, which is something very important to worry about.
@schrodinger’s cat: What is the difference between political correctness and good manners?
What’s the difference between a conservadem and a Republican?
You know what? Chait’s right. The IMF is totally not concerned with the patriarchy or oppressing women per se – they just want country X to bend over and get looted by large western corporations.
Although I suppose that could be construed as patriarchal. (‘Patri-what? Huh? No, honey, we just want the fucking smackers, ASAP.’)
[‘And I do believe Chait was upset about The New Republic getting the IMF treatment a little while ago…’]
Political correctness is a reactionary term used to lament the weakening of white privilege and male privilege in the public sphere.
@schrodinger’s cat: I guess manners and etiquette are social rules that have largely evolved organically. Whereas PC – at least in Chait’s version – is imposed. I’d say they are both elite-driven rules.
If you’re being polite because you wish to be kind and considerate and that’s an internal motivation that’s different from being nagged for having your elbows on the table. If don’t call LGBT people fags because you don’t want to be an asshat, that’s better than not saying it because someone will scold you.
Howard Beale IV
Stopped clock/blind squirrel getting a nut syndrome.
Even evil assholes do tell the truth every now and then.
Honestly, I don’t care that deeply if someone’s mind was changed as long as they stop doing the behavior that is offensive. If I have a co-worker who thinks that passing noxious gas every 5 minutes is normal and natural, I don’t need to change their mind about their opinion, I just need them to knock it off because it’s making the rest of us miserable.
As others have said, “PC” isn’t about changing minds, it’s about saying what is and is not acceptable in a social situation.
@Bobby Thomson: I think that much more effective than scolding people who say racially offensive things has been the effort over several decades to turn Dr King into an American icon. I think that’s one reason why Millenials are more socially accepting and tolerant.
Yeah, you’ll never change some peoples minds, but you need to change the minds you can.
@Hawes: You haven’t banned it. Rappers are still getting quite a bit of mileage out of it.
@Hawes: I don’t know. It’s part of the problem. I don’t know how much it matters. But I do believe it does matter for a group to say we’re tired of being called fags or cunts or whores or niggers and “just because I didn’t know any better” isn’t an excuse. I have a bigger problem actually with the idea that reclaiming those words is a victory. That has always seemed pointless. That’s part has never made sense at all.
There have been many times reading Jonny that I wanted to make him very uncomfortable, particularly in the testicular region by agency of a good, swift, kick.
Howard Beale IV
It’s not that because they’re loud, it’s because they have watched what Clinton/Obama have said, and watched what they did.
Guess what? The man behind the curtain isn’t who you though he was.
Um, no. She was not calling for white people to be murdered. She was specifically asked by The Washington Post about black on white crime in during the LA Riots. Her actual response is always shortened to one sentence about killing white people, but there was a much larger response she gave.
Clinton used Soulja and Jesse Jackson as props. Look at the first black President repudiating Jackson and this black racist. It was his attempt to shore up votes from white people who he was afraid were starting to think he was becoming too chummy with black people.
@Hawes: But see, as the LGBT person, I don’t give a flying fuck what your motivation for not calling me a dyke is. All I care about is that you don’t call me a dyke. If you’re standing on my foot I don’t care whether you’re doing it on purpose or by accident. I just want you to stop standing on my foot.
@Peale: Yes, that was what I was trying to say, you said it much better. Thanks!
Have pupdates become politically incorrect or something? Mrs. Cole! We need your help!
I completely, 100 percent disagree with you. Really, that’s just a silly thing to say. Turning Dr. King into an icon was more influential in making our society more civil than making it socially unacceptable to call someone a “nigger”?
@Tree With Water:
There is a lot of romanticism in politics.
@max: Chait drags out the silly and wrong criticism of students protesting choices of commencement speakers. I think criticizing university bigshots for choosing, and often handsomely paying other bigshots to publicly represent their school at a very visible public ceremony, especially if it is done in quiet back rooms with no student input, is certainly fair game for students. Particularly for students whose university is being represented by likes of Condi Rice, or a Geithner, or a Cheney or a Clinton or anyone else.
Chait also explicitly drags in some ‘poor persecuted white man’ complaints, which I think is silly, self-serving and sad. Do these relatively wealthy, privileged, and influential white men have no self-respect? I ask you. I think we should do nothing more for that community until they get their self-respect act together, IMHO.
And he presumes to criticize people who may not identify themselves at all as liberals of the careful and circumspect respectable white person type of liberal, for not helping his type of liberalism. Why should those people give a damn what Chait thinks? He really needs better argument if he expects those audiences to listen to him, rather then merely become irritated or laugh.
@Darkrose: Instead of “Get off my lawn!” let’s start yelling “Get off my foot!”
I see Andrew Sullivan (HIV+ dude who used to cruise for unsafe sex while sex-shaming gay men for their promiscuity) has chimed in.
What this boils down to is both Chait and Sullivan got their pasty cottage-cheese asses handed to them by far more perspicacious writers like Ta-Nehisi Coates when they jizzed all over The New Republic’s “transition” a few months back.
Chait and Sullivan are thoroughgoing racists (“I’m not saying black people are stupider, but just look at this statistically invalid data that says they are. Just exploring the issue, amirite?”)
Chait is a self-hating Jew and Sullivan is a self-loathing gay man, and both shroud their misogyny and racism in specious arguments, mansplaining, and white privilege grousing.
No one who uses the phrase “political correctness” is worth listening to, and the only people dumber than the idiots who believe that the U.S. is in immanent danger of being taken over by Sharia law are idiots who believe that it has already been taken over by the forces of political correctness.
@Hawes: It would be better to have an employer not fire somebody who complains about being sexually harassed because the employer thinks that would be wrong and not because the law prohibits the firing. But results are what matter. As for King, your argument is identical to the “you can’t legislate away prejudice” argument that was used against civil rights laws, and rightly mocked by King.
@Mnemosyne (iPhone): Especially when turning MLK into an icon involves ignoring all but one sentence of one speech he gave. Everyone loves to quote “the content of their character” but there’s crickets when you get to “a riot is the voice of the unheard”.
I’ve come to assume that this only reason anyone actually reads Jonathan Chait’s products. The few times I’ve been persuaded to actually read something of his (I’ll pass on this one), I’ve been struck by what an absolute know-nothing moron he is, on top of being a poor writer. I really don’t understand how he’s still employed as a professional writer, especially when there is already such an ample supply of stupidity in the punditry marketplace.
@Mnemosyne (iPhone): Believe it or not, the scenario you describe actually happened in a Social Security office. The guy had some medical problem that produced frequent, stinker than normal farts. A supervisor timed the, uh, incidents and wrote him up. (Putting him off by himself, or on telework, was evidently regarded as needlessly simple.). The case went quite a ways up, all the way to the MSPB, and if I remember right Mr. Toot got a settlement in his favor.
@Mnemosyne (iPhone): I would say mainstream American society has whitewashed and emasculated King’s message.
I’m not sure that’s as much of a triumph as people say it is.
= speech. But the “the correct response to offensive speech is more speech” argument never seems to apply when people out of power are the ones who want to talk back to their “betters.”
Major Major Major Major
@Trentrunner: for fuck’s sake, sully’s hiv status has nothing to do with anything. Stop bringing it up.
@sdhays: Is Chait getting a cut from (what I hear is) the very handsome BJ ad revenue that keeps the jet setting Cole living high on the hog? I smell another blog scandal.
Edit: blog scandal, heheh, those are SO middle aged and old. Haven’t had one of those in years. Almost as old-fashioned as worrying about whether the local coal gas plant will blow up or what to do with all the horse manure. I’ll go yell at some clouds now.
This right here (though with present company excepted for the most part).
@Pogonip: It’s that gas from your ass; it’s that toot from your boot…
If you haven’t already, I would encourage you read Pareene’s entire piece. It’s a good critique, IMHO.
But to speak to your comment, Pareene is criticizing Chait’s portrayal of Clinton’s Sister Souljah moment as some sort of brave stand against tyrannical political correctness instead of recognizing it for what it was, a political move to distance himself from a rival that should be put in the context of a broader white identity politics of which Clinton was certainly aware (hence the reference to Rickie Ray Rector’s execution) – the sort of identity politics for which nonwhites are frequently faulted.
This is not to say that Sister Souljah is above criticism, although I’ve never agreed with the “official” interpretation of what she said (I’m the same age as Chait, and hence was alive in 1992), it’s just that the significance of the moment isn’t what Chait claims it to be.
@Pogonip: Ya know I love that alot of the people who complain about not using the N-Word, always go to the “well rappers used the N-word all the time”, as if they actually listen to a whole lot of rap music any damn way.
I just roll my eyes everytime.
@BGinCHI: Political correctness will always be more desirable than humiliating people with language because you live in a safe majority.
I have to admit I didn’t finish the article, because when I read about some super-sheltered rich kid at a fancy college whining about some silly thing making her feel unsafe, I immediately stop reading and do something more interesting like watching my toenails grow. (Why, yes, they are coming along nicely, thank you.). So I will leave further discussion to those who actually waded through to the end.
I had a long drive today, I’m going to bed early. Please wake me if a Pupdate occurs. ( Whaddaya mean, how are you supposed to wake me over the Internet? I don’t know. Type louder or something.)
Good night! Except Amir–I think where he’s at it’s either good morning or good afternoon.
What you said, too.
OT: the gay Mississippi legislator who threatened to out her “sanctity of marriage” straying colleagues was on Chris Hayes.
She said if Missouri is the show me state, that Mississippi is the “make me state” (re court decisions).
Very down to earth manner and dry sense of humor. Count me in in the Patricia Todd fan club.
Exactly; that argument seems to be a favorite among people like syndicated columnists whose speech is already widely disseminated. More speech is not a practical answer when different kinds of speech are treated vastly differently.
Bringing someone’s marvelous Boston dog photography site forward. From maybe 2 threads down.
Lots of boxers, pit bulls, and other appealing canines.
Thank you to whomever posted this.
Oh, I can believe it. But that doesn’t sound like he was indignantly defending his right to pass gas whenever and wherever he felt like it — the poor guy had a medical problem.
Also, I have a beheading response for you in the thread below. I’ll see if I can find some sufficiently morbid links for you later, but short version is that there is a possibility that severed heads retain consciousness for at least a few minutes.
If you follow the twitter, ABL had some good rejoinders for Chait…this TPM article is good too.
P.C. Policeman Jonathan Chait Can Dish It Out, But He Can’t Take It @TPM
Soonersplaining thread on Bergdahl possible prosecution, up next. Another island of sanity.
He says all this (from college campuses to social media to politics on the left) but I’m not convinced. His examples are really small-bore. Yeah, college students and professors sometimes do dumb things. Facebook exchanges can be ridiculous. And, um… I can’t even find (though I haven’t read the piece really closely) a good example of a political idea that Chait thinks should receive more attention by liberals but has been suppressed by p.c. thought.
Ben Cisco (onboard the Defiant)
ABL said everything that needed saying on the subject: https://mobile.twitter.com/AngryBlackLady/status/560095430210383873
I thought it was good, too. I like this:
I’m also so, so sick of Chait’s constant refrain of “the Clintons saved the Democratic Party from liberals”. It’s so gross with these people. It’s like they have to return to that every three months. What is it? A stern warning? Reminiscing on their glory days?
Here’s the same lecture on how we must go not go back to Pre-Clintonism! Just replace “1970’s and 1980’s” with “1990’s” and you have his new column.
@BGinCHI: somebody probably said to him in a social setting that group a prefers to be called b, and he was embarrassed. So he wrote y.
I read it earlier today, checked Sully (mistake), and now my brain needs to be scrubbed with bleach.
@Kay: Why are these so called liberals in the media so wishy washy?
ETA: Chait isn’t the only one, E J Dionne and Mark Shields come to mind. They try so hard to be ingratiate themselves to conservatives.
LOL. True dat.
@Hal: Gosh, that sounds so much better!
@Linnaeus: I agree with the broader critique of Clinton’s triangulation, as I said above; I just think the “Sister Souljah moment” is the worst possible grounds on which to stage it.
(In fact, I had forgotten until recently that Clinton and Souljah had both been invited to speak at the Rainbow Coalition within a day of each other. Viewed in that context, his criticism looks a lot less optional and a lot more warranted; can you imagine what the Bush political machine would have done to him if he hadn’t distanced himself from her?)
So while I agree with Pareene’s point about Clinton’s motives, his attempt to whitewash Souljah (ahem) as a free-speech victim is absurd. Overcompensating white guy is overcompensating.
there’s a difference between protecting speech and insisting that it remain free from criticism
He is defending the prerogatives of his class– namely, other writers. The example of Hannah Rosin is on point– he is upset because mere twitter commenters mocked her bad ideas. It used to be that a pundit’s ideas lived or died in the social approval of other pundits. Now they’re subjected to criticism by the liberals among the hoi polloi
I don’t know, but I do know that “I’m here to save you from yourselves, Leftists, before you destroy everything” will come across as pretty obnoxious, so maybe he should take his own advice and persuade people instead of lecturing them.
Chait’s a political writer and his primary concern is almost always political optics. He’s the type who believes winning elections is the only way to enact meaningful liberal change, and that’s all this piece is really doing. He only briefly mentions this specifically in one paragraph, but it’s what he’s getting at. That the optics of this kind of activism look shitty to unengaged people, and it’s potentially politically harmful.
He’s not wrong, but everyone in the great liberal activist twitter circle jerk are getting their Klout scores up, so who cares about actual politics anymore. Twitter and Tumblr are where rights are won.
Unengaged people have never heard of any of the people involved.
Chait is worse, because he wants to redefine “liberal” to mean “everything I agree with”.
He bugs me because I always feel like he’s out front “liberals should go HERE, and they can’t go HERE”. I’ve just sort of had it with thought leaders :)
@stormhit: Democrats running this cycle tried to be wishy washy and inoffensive, how did it turn out for them?
Just Some Fuckhead
Charging political correctness is the last refuge of the douchebag.
Just Some Fuckhead
This saddens me.
@Just Some Fuckhead: I don’t know about Kay, but I will make an exception for you. BTW, how is your kitteh?
I don’t really see the threat to Hillary Clinton’s chances as a result of this, I really don’t. Is that what this means?
@burnspbesq: What on earth makes you think you’re going to get banned from LGM for posting three sentences that were critical of the hosts? I know you’ve read the blog at least a few times, you show up over there from time to time, it’s pretty obvious they hardly ever ban anyone. If that’s your goal, the least you can do is post a bunch of insane rants; your comment was vague and weak, there’s nothing even to argue with there.
(This is what he was talking about, btw.)
Just Some Fuckhead
@schrodinger’s cat: I post pics of him every day on Facebook.
Chait’s position reminds me too much of Sully’s common stance. ie – think they are standing above the fray when really they are rolling in the trenches. Especially that tsk, tsk, tsk stuff. Yes there is some kernal of truth in what he says but his stance is a facade.
@burnspbesq: drama queen much? People just made fun of you.
I dunno, seeing how easily terms such as racist, homophobe and misogynist are thrown around, I’m not so sure they aren’t the left’s equivalent of marxist, illegal, and racebaiter. In other words, terms that really don’t apply but are used to browbeat those with whom you disagree. And the problem with that is not so much that it is in most cases pure bullying, but that once the labeling becomes so widespread it tends to dilute the effectiveness of the overall argument. If anyone who says anything that might be construed as anti-feminist is automatically labeled a misogynist, regardless of the speaker (or writer’s intent) then it gives those who really are misogynists cover. I found Chait’s description of the women professor who forcibly took an anti-abortion sign and shoved the anti-abortion protestor, and then claimed she was not guilty of assault because of some trigger to be truly appalling. Triggers can work on either side, and should conservatives have a pass if they assault an anti-war protester because they may have a son or daughter in the military?
@kindness: You mean the very fair minded balanced arbiter of moderate rational debate type of person. Who goes apeshit or gets very pouty or patronizing, or disappointed if you disagree with anything they say?
It’s not really a ‘white man’ thing at all, but with these high toned pundits, it seems like it is.
Anyway, people, remember to not make Chait uncomfortable, or disrupt his particular sect of liberalism. That is important because…. Chait says so…? I guess.
@Irony Abounds: You have a point and you make it better than Chait, though I don’t think what you said can be fairly interpreted as Chait’s only or principal argument. You also took one of the few good examples Chait had.
Chait should stick to tearing apart Paul Ryan’s bullshit on the budget and the GOP’s bullshit on health care. He’s fine doing that.
But on this, and on race, he just sounds like a sheltered nitwit. Sure, take his argument to the end of the slippery slope he tries to construct for us, and free speech is chilled by an army of PC thugs. Fine, it could happen. But a few anecdotes and an annoyed dismissal of the value of shorthand like “mansplaining” and its ilk aren’t exactly a monumental edifice of an argument, and his insistence that this was a pervasive and damaging new/old trend was unconvincing, to put it mildly. The reason “mansplain” took off as a commonly used term is because it fucking happens so often. Only recently is it becoming possible for women, people of color, or other marginalized voices to say, to an audience of more than their living rooms, that, for example, Rand Paul was a condescending, preening asshole when he tried to “educate” an audience at Howard University about black history. Sure, there’s some pricks who take it too far, and social pressure to keep your mouth shut can be a negative thing. There’s inevitably some pricks who take EVERYTHING too far, but Chait only devotes thousands of words to bemoaning this particular outrage. Lame.
I’m a straight white guy, so maybe I’m a traitor to my tribe or some shit when I say that I’m glad that social media and other new forms of communication and expression have given previously-unheard voices the opportunity to tell straight white guys to shut the fuck up about shit they don’t understand. Straight white guys have had the megaphone to themselves for centuries. Chait’s article boils down to a bitchfest that those days are ending. And you know what? I don’t have a problem with a social cost being affixed to spouting ignorance or bigotry. It’s not a first amendment issue (as Chait implies but would surely deny if asked) when assholes pay a price for expressing their assholery.
anyway. Chait would be better off staying out of these discussions. Did I just prove his point for him by saying that? What was his point, anyway?
@stormhit: But he spent most of a longish essay NOT talking about optics or winning elections, but digging up 90’s stuff, or mocking outlier incidents, or complaining about students using speech to protest. If that was his point it was buried under too many layers of bullsh*t for me to be bothered to re-read it to find it. And the problem is if he was trying to convince “those PC Lefties” to change their “PC ways” he utterly failed, didn’t he?
@Irony Abounds: who gets a pass? People are crazy and do stupid and craxy things all the time. Just because someone offers a weak excuse for bad behavior doesnt mean that every other person in the same class of beings os implicated in that behavior. Feminism didn’t steal an anti abortion sign. An individusl person did. And no one backs her up.
” It seems to me now that the public face of social liberalism has ceased to seem positive, joyful, human, and freeing. ”
I also have wonder when, where and for whom those halcyon social liberalism days existed?
End of slavery and establishment of codified civil rights? Women voting? US Social insurance system constructing? Woman birth controlling? Summer of love and drugs hippying? Gay marriaging? Health care reform passing?
Maybe for other social liberals at the point of winning some great battle long ago. Surely there was no not never any nasty or bitter infighting or intemperate things said or charges thrown that would make a liberal uncomfortable. That never happened. Ever. Until this bad PC came along.
I don’t remember much PC blather involved in the health reform debate, but I do remember that no liberals ever ever called each other sell outs, or fools and knaves who were sacrificing the good for the unattainable perfect. That never happened. All liberals were ‘positive, joyful, human, and freeing’ and no one ever said a mean thing or questioned each other’s motives. See? No crummy PC issue raising its ugly head, no problems for liberalism!
@jl: The Suffragettes were such well behaved ladies weren’t they?
Friends don’t let friends write the sort of Limbaugh-lite slop that tickles Sully’s ever-more delicately calibrated fee-fees.
@Hal: Exactly. Clinton took a largely unknown Christian activist/rapper and sullied her name on TV just to prove he could kick around black people whenever he felt like it.
That’s when I decided I could never vote for him and that Ross Perot would make a better president. Given NAFTA, welfare “reform,” repeal of Glass-Steagal, and the like, I still think I’m right.
@Morzer: lol. If only those people weren’t so bold in their accusations and didn’t want anything, I totes would have supported Labor.
Patience. What I like is quiet patient people who know when to stand down when faced with true people of action like Oakenshotter or whomever
@Hawes: So you can’t say the N Word, but I think we can all agree that we haven’t ended racism. I’d like to think we won something substantive by effectively banning the N word, but I’m hard pressed to see what we have changed in people’s minds.
I agree. In effect, most of it is a noisy but fairly inconsequential power game over symbols. But there is definitely a scale of importance. An interesting book could be written on the large number of truly knee-jerk efforts, like the campaign to change the official name of Rhode Island.
Actually, you can say the “N Word”. People do it all the time. What you can’t do is say the “N Word” and not look like an asshole to a vast majority of people. Why? Because the people who have a problem with racists and racism are winning that particular battle of ideas. Racism is bad. Nothing to do with “PC” or “un-PC”.
It may be quite un-PC of me to say that Chait looks like an asshole complaining about people being PC, but that’s just the way it goes here in the free marketplace of ideas! Asshole.
@BGinCHI: The two words I was looking for: White Privilege.
Ah yes, I’m sure gay marriage canvassers persuaded people by telling them face-to-face “check your privilege, you white male!”
Such a persuasive line.
I think there’s a powerful critique to be made of aspects of political correctness from a left-wing point of view, in that it can and does get in the way of more consequential attacks on privilege and power by giving the illusion of victories that are, in sum, purely verbal or personally destructive of opponents without changing the underlying system. That said, it’s obvious that neither Chait nor the usual pseudo-conservatives like Sullivan who attack political correctness have any real interest in such a critique.
@Marc: Who asked Clinton to comment on it in the first place? Then again, there is Ice-T.
@Howard Beale IV: Stopped clock/blind squirrel getting a nut syndrome.
Even evil assholes do tell the truth every now and then.
Actually, I thought the attack on the IMF was semi-correct – it’s definitely imperialist. Corporate imperialist.
But now I am envisioning the cover of NeoCon Obsessions Monthly (Vol. XVIII, No. 4) – a picture of naked Beyonce, with the tag line ‘Black Women saying the rudest dirtiest things!’.
[‘It comes wrapped in plastic of course.’]
Which neatly avoids (or defines out of existence) the somewhat messy question of “who gets to decide?” If the loudest, most obnoxious, most profane person with an axe to grind gets to decide, then yes, PC is a problem.
Who the hell would be interested in a cover with a naked Beyonce.with bonus inuendo? Surely not conservative or polite and careful liberal white mansplainers.
More likely a cover of naked Huck, coincidentally deshamed with a strategically placed electric guitar. Talk bubble illustrating how well he censored a Ted Nugent ditty he sang. That would sell like hotcakes!
@burnspbesq: PC might be loud and obnoxious, as well as silly. Probably not overly profane. But nobody in particular gets to decide, other than public opinion. Maybe that is what Chait thought he was trying to say, but I don’t think he argued his case well at all, and said a number of untrue, self-serving and self-pitying things that invited ridicule.
@Ben Cisco (onboard the Defiant):
Note the date and time, for it is the first known instance of ABL saying anything even arguably worth paying attention to.
If you’re making fun of me, I know I’m heading in the right direction.
@Liberty60: Not like the good old days, where if Bull Connor said there was no racism in the South and Martin Luther King had said it there would be no difference in how it’d be perceived.
@Major Major Major Major: Fnord.
Major Major Major Major
@fuckwit: shibboleth accepted.
I am sure this was pointed out above but I just have to note how easy it was for the women’s movement I’m the 1970s to just explain reasonably to society how unfair it was to pay women less, refuse to promote them, and assign them the responsibility for all the housework. When we did this, everything changed immediately! No need for any nasty lawsuits and all that unpleasantness…
Villago Delenda Est
Which is precisely why the wingnuts are so outraged that anyone dares to call them out for their chronic and incessant assholishness.
Chait comes across as spectacularly ignorant here, especially because he completely ignores anything resembling context. One of the places trigger warnings came from was media fandom, and there were a lot of long, acrimonious discussions about what in the end was “What does it mean to be courteous and respectful of all members of our community?”
Labeling something “politically correct” always seems to translate to “I want to be able to be a dick and not have anyone tell me I’m being a dick.”
Yes, because the loudest, most profane, most violent people in this debate are the ones calling other people “racists” and not the ones calling other people “niggers.”
Let us know when you return to Planet Earth circa 2015 and not whatever bizarre parallel universe of downtrodden white men you’re currently visiting.
@Villago Delenda Est:
Lots of mainstream economists now propose a guaranteed minimum income.
Sounds like Marx’s solution to me…
Arguing with burnspbesq is like reading Aeschylus to a cage of hyenas. It insults your intelligence, and enrages the hyenas.
There, fixed that for ya.
Looks like you’ve been heading in the right direction for many years now.
@mclaren: Why are you wasting your time here when there is a revolution to be fomented? Come on, get out there and make it happen. Or whine like a toddler on blogs. Your choice.
Ask your Operation Earnest Voice handlers in the NSA for better talking points. Your current boilerplate script just isn’t getting the job of discrediting liberals done.
My cage of hyenas regards Aeschylus as a treat. Still, I would be happy to accept any video evidence you have of a cage of hyenas experiencing negativity in the presence of Greek tragedy.
Major Major Major Major
@mclaren: Jesus christ, what is wrong with you?
@Major Major Major Major:
A severe case of gilding one’s own cross.
@Morzer: I thought hyenas were partial to Aeschylus, and Sappho too but that should go without saying. I suspect BJ comment threads would provide endless entertainment for Aristophanes. Would that he were here!
I think he would consider that our happy little Nephelokokkygia was very much in his own spirit.
IIRC he had a strip about “people of color” versus “colored people” too.
but really the usual complaints about “political correctness” come from right wingers who are mad about not being able to tell ethnic jokes or use racial slurs in polite company.
Did anyone else see the story about Pope Francis inviting and hugging a transsexual today? 10 years ago that wasn’t politically correct, hell 2 years ago it wasn’t either.
@Morzer: You are more optimistic than I am. We should be so lucky if he were here.
Cardinal Santorum will be excommunicating the Pope any minute now.
” Cardinal Santorum will be excommunicating the Pope any minute now. ”
I look forward to Santorum’s continued, and increasingly strenuous and strained, bafflement about what it means.
I just though I should post a link:
Just Some Fuckhead
Thank you for your spirited defense of aggrieved privilege, Burns. I think it could have been a little more powerful coming from a person with cultural signifiers other than affluent, white, male and hetero-normal but as we are under intolerant assault by the forces of tolerance, we have to take what we can get.
Okay! Now do that with every one of the next 3,000 stupid right-wing books that come out.
This is something I’ve struggled with for a long time. I love the idea of a marketplace of ideas. But it’s vulnerable to the equivalent of a DDoS attack, the Gish Gallop or what high-school debaters call “spreading”. Generators of bad ideas can generate more of them than you can possibly give a full and fair examination.
JR in WV
I don’t recall anyone getting “banned” from LGM that wasn’t an obvious troll. Disagreement with a poster isn’t really trollish, and I dont recall anyone speaking with at least some manners getting banned for disagreement properly spelled out.
Just Some Fuckhead
@JR in WV: Burns is the Eden Jacobowitz of the Second PC Wars, ad 2015.
I feel the need to give a nod to Ward Churchill whenever political correctness is mentioned.
@Major Major Major Major:
While I’ve read the comments on these threads out of curiosity, I confess that I consider any article that treats the phenomenon of “political correctness” as… well… a real thing (rather than a weasel word for “I can’t be offensive in public anymore without people disagreeing with me”) not worth reading.
@Major Major Major Major:
It’s really best read in the context of Chait’s ongoing whining about being openly challenged by *those people*. Compare to his freakout that everyone wasn’t all that sad to see his TNR “die”.