Political correctness covers a wide range of concepts. The sane end of the spectrum is mainly concerned with avoiding genuinely offensive words and actions. In fact, it’s better described as basic decency than political correctness. But, as we know, there’s a darker side to the movement – an attempt to control and distort public discourse in what is supposed to be a free society.
In fact, in reading back the above paragraph I notice I’ve used the word ‘darker’ in a pejorative sense, which to some minds would be evidence of latent or blatant racism. The words “sane end of the spectrum” might also be suspect – perhaps suggesting a degree of prejudice against people with mental health issues. Clearly, I am history’s greatest monster.
There comes a point at which political correctness becomes an inquisition – a method of shutting down free speech by twisting words to political ends. But if you thought this was bad enough for those of us who dare to hold conservative opinions, it is much worse within the PC left.
Consider the case of American feminism which is currently tearing itself to pieces over the issue of ‘intersectionality.’ This unlovely piece of jargon refers to the compounded discrimination faced by people who belong to more than one disadvantaged group. On one level, this is a perfectly valid idea – different forms of prejudice don’t always stay separate from one another, but are frequently experienced as a combined assault. However, intersectionality can also turn into a game of PC one-upmanship – in which people who can tick two or more boxes on a diversity survey get to accuse those who can tick only one of oppressing them.
In an eye-opener of an article for the Nation, Michelle Goldberg describes the increasingly poisonous atmosphere within the US feminist movement:
“…even as online feminism has proved itself a real force for change, many of the most avid digital feminists will tell you that it’s become toxic. Indeed, there’s a nascent genre of essays by people who feel emotionally savaged by their involvement in it—not because of sexist trolls, but because of the slashing righteousness of other feminists.”
Here’s an especially jaw-dropping example:
“In a revolution-eats-its-own irony, some online feminists have even deemed the word ‘vagina’ problematic. In January, the actress and activist Martha Plimpton tweeted about a benefit for Texas abortion funds called ‘A Night of a Thousand Vaginas,’ sponsored by A Is For, a reproductive rights organization she’s involved with. Plimpton was surprised when some offended Internet feminists urged people to stay away, arguing that emphasizing ‘vaginas’ hurts trans men who don’t want their reproductive organs coded as female.”
Goldberg reports than one activist – “an abortion and transgender health provider” – tweeted the following complaint:
“Given the constant genital policing, you can’t expect trans folks to feel included by an event title focused on a policed, binary genital.”
One has to wonder whether it’s ‘binary genitals’ being policed here or the English language. When words can have multiple meanings, seeing evil in every turn of phrase makes reasoned debate impossible.
Of course, it’s very easy for us to laugh at the antics of the radical left, but are things really much better on the right? Only the other day Douglas Carswell was accused of being an EU ‘plant’ after making some innocuous remark or other. Judging by the comments left on various conservative websites, one can only conclude that it’s not just the PC left that needs to get a grip.