I was driving about running errands and listening to a few of Milo Yiannopolous' podcasts. He had me cringing at some of the things he had to say. This young man doesn't mince his words and unashamedly calls a spade, a spade. His podcasts are refreshingly honest and as I listened to them, they forced me to consider my stance on the way we all use language in a world obsessed by social justice. His style of speaking is inspired in part by Donald Trump's say-it-as-it-is brashness. Political correctness [being PC] is a reform movement that argues in favour of constrained language to empower the powerless victims against those who use language to support their advantages in society. But ever since Trump's rise to fame on the world stage, political correctness has been challenged and people are asking whether it is proper to continue using this kind of language sensitivity or whether it is kinder and more helpful to drop overt tactfulness in favour of speaking one's mind.
I hear you ask, "Uh… Tom, you used the term Social Justice. What heck is Social Justice?" It is the fair and just boundary between individuals and the societies they live in. Here in South Africa, everyone has entrenched rights under the Constitution. Social justice includes things like: basic health care; children's education; access to housing, sanitation, water and electricity; and, of course gender equality and the protection of minority rights, like the prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of one's religious convictions, sexual orientation, the colour of one's skin or one's ethnicity. These seem like noble ideals that one ought to embed in the founding documents of the New South Africa.
But one must also ask the thorny question, "Why do we need laws to protect powerless victims against those who use language to torment and demean them? Shouldn't the celebration of all diversity simply be part of the normal civility that exists between people?" Some say that political correctness is a vital necessity. They propose that one should curtail absolute freedom of speech a little. Proponents of political correctness believe that this new sensitivity in language may result in a better society. Politically correct speech is a language planning movement that tries to censor sexist, racist, and pejorative terms, banishing them from the English language. Political correctness means the alteration of one's choice of words to avoid either offending a group of people or reinforcing a stereotype. However, the South African Government is presently considering taking politically correct speech to a brand-new level. It is drafting new Hate Speech legislation that criminalises any inflammatory use of language intended to hurt another person or group of people but the provisions in this Bill are vague enough to include cartoons and other criticisms of the president and his cabinet, as they "insult" and "bring them into ridicule," according to the draft of the new law.
But, no matter how you look at political correctness, it may be seen as an altruistic, non-volatile, all-encompassing form of language intended to bring equality to all yet it is also an immensely manipulative, persuasive and influential tool that is used to control and shape the way you think. It forces you to hide your true feelings about others. It silences your voice. It is a form of censorship. Naturally, it is proper for us to find civil ways of talking to each other, using language that stems from empathy and love but when it becomes Velcro to the lips it'll backfire when you get fed-up with being nice, just because you have to. Trump's presidency is due in part to his political incorrectness, brutally saying whatever he wants.
Listen to the podcast to hear it.
Of all the slurs against Trump, nobody can accuse him of falsely representing his true feelings. There were millions of Americans who found their voice through Donald Trump's outspokenness. Is what he said about Muslims, Mexicans, women and other politicians hurtful? Of course it is but at least he revealed his hand and there is no doubt about his agenda.
Some people have a high degree of empathy toward others and tend to soft-pedal harsh truths, calling this behaviour tactfulness or diplomacy. They use every effort to avoid offending or confronting the other person to maintain goodwill and rapport. Feminists use political correctness in their quest to topple male supremacy. Take the way some of these gender-specific words were systematically replaced with their gender-neutral counterparts in an attempt to level the gender-divide: manhole is now known as a utility duct; flight-deck replaces the word cockpit; and chairman becomes chairperson, even though the 'man' part of the word comes from the Latin word 'manus', meaning 'hand' and is part of the origin of words such as 'manual' (a vehicle driven by hand) and 'manufacture' (originally meaning made-by-hand). In the 1960s, feminists began to demand that the third-person personal pronouns he, him and his be replaced with expressions like "he or she", "him or her", and the singular form of "them". One can easily empathise with transgendered or intersex people (those with atypical sex characteristics) who find no identity in the English language. If you were a transgendered or intersex person, imagine how difficult life would be when the only personal pronouns the English language offers you are words like 'him' and 'her'. But there are groups claiming to be oppressed or discriminated against, who will periodically attempt to change the labels by which society defines them to shape the way the world sees them without actually doing much to elevate themselves. Does this actually help in reframing society's view of them or does it merely push intolerance and hatred deeper into the oppressor's psyche? When it is politically incorrect to use a particular word, one often finds word contractions of the word that form euphemisms, like the 'f-word' to refer to the common four letter expletive, and the 'k-word' which replaces the ethnic slur directed at South African black people. You can't use the real words with impunity but nobody objects to their euphemistic counterparts. The American equivalent, the 'n-word,' came into mainstream use during the racially contentious O. J. Simpson murder case in 1995. Political correctness affects terms like 'coloured people' which is deemed offensive because the order of words puts 'coloured' first, emphasising difference from the mainstream, while 'people of colour' is acceptable because it puts the term 'people' first.
Some people allege that instead of encouraging supposedly marginalised groups to integrate with and assimilate into the mainstream of Western culture, political correctness ironically encourages them to emphasise and indeed to wallow in their marginalisation from society, and to make a public display of such. This is known as identity politics. According to this view, gays and lesbians are therefore encouraged to label themselves as 'queer' and make public displays of 'queerness' calculated to disturb the sensibilities of mainstream people, rather than integrating themselves into the mainstream society. I have a personal reference for this: I knew about my sexual proclivity from young and chose to hide it from the religion for fear of rejection. The Jehovah's Witnesses eventually excommunicated me (thank heavens) and I only then began my quest to find identity. Disparaging and offensive terms like faggot, pansy, poofter (my maternal grandfather's preferred word for homosexual men), moffie and homo once had enormous power over me and I remember how defenceless, misunderstood and marginalised I felt whenever these words were used. They were hardly ever said to describe me directly, because I chose never to reveal my sexual preferences to them (the dark shadows of the closet were a safer place to be), but I'd heard these words said by my family about others and by other schoolboys when I was growing up. I knew what these words meant and I felt the disgusted disdain of those who used them. They were partly responsible for my feelings of self-loathing which inhibited and suppressed me as a young man. Thankfully however, Mrs. George Cupples' children's rhyme, dating back to 1872, was never more apt, "Sticks and stones may break my bones | But names will never harm me." Sun Tzu, a Chinese general and military strategist of the 6th century BC, wrote, "All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near […] It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperilled in a hundred battles." Political correctness, programmes people to say what society wants them to say and discourages honest, heartfelt opinion as it may be hurtful, judgemental or tactless. Personally, I prefer knowing my enemy. I want to know what people think about me and I don't care whether they like or dislike me. After all, they are quite entitled to their opinions, as I am of mine. What matters most to me is that I foster a meaningful relationship with myself. No, I'm not a narcissist.
Slapping a ban on Pastor Steve Anderson for his hate speech against homosexuals seems like justice to many and it may have ultimately protected a minority against forecast righteous brutality but I'm personally okay watching the YouTube clips of Anderson frothing at the mouth, slamming his fist into the podium, spewing hatred covered in a thin Biblical veneer, yelling, "The same God who instituted the death penalty for murders is the same God who instituted the death penalty for rapists and for homosexuals, sodomites and queers! […] You know why God wanted the sodomites in the Old Testament to be killed? […] Because the sodomites are infectious, that's why. Because they're not reproducers, that goes without saying, they're recruiters. […] And you know who they're after? Your children. […] They recruit through rape. They recruit through molestation. They recruit through violation. […] Because each sodomite recruits far more than one other sodomite because his whole life is about recruiting other sodomites, his whole life is about violating and hurting people and molesting 'em."
One of Anderson's disciples (and a supposed friend and admirer) is Cape Town's homophobic Pastor Oscar Bougardt. He, referring to homosexuals, said, "Why should we be tolerant of their criminal lifestyle? Ninety-nine percent of paedophiles stem from homosexuality." I'm so pleased that he and Anderson said what they did because their statements are now on public record for all to see just how ill informed, bigoted and threatened these men are by homosexual men. By the way, I can't recall him ever slagging off lesbian behaviour, have you? Sun Tzu's advice about "Knowing your enemy" is so important and one of the best ways to get to know him is to give him a chance to speak. Bougardt won't take an interview, certainly not with this radio station. The station invited him to debate his beliefs but Bougardt declined to speak on air. By saying what he did, he shot himself in the foot, as did his mentor, Steve Anderson. These men are bullies. Here are seven characteristics of a bully: they threaten; they destroy property; they instigate fights and aggression; they poke fun at and belittle others; they shun others; they spread rumours; and they get victims to do things they don't want to do. I can count five of these seven traits that apply to Anderson and Bougardt. Neither of these men veiled their comments with political correctness. Had they done so, we might never have known how dangerous they are.
Here, in contrast is another religious group who hide behind Biblical political correctness (called righteousness as I see it). Listen to the veiled words found in the February 15 2011 edition of the Watchtower, "Developing a hatred for what is bad is not easy. We are born in sin, and we live in a world that caters to fleshly desires […] Let us be determined to 'hate what is bad […]'" I'm a consulting hypnotist and I understand the power of words. There is a very strong hypnotic suggestion embedded in this statement. The suggestion is, "God encourages you to hate what is bad." The Awake! magazine of January 2012 says, "God's view of homosexuality cannot be watered down. […] the Bible clearly states that 'men who lie with men' are included in those who 'will not inherit God's kingdom.'" They don't take a stance against homosexuality in the same way that Anderson and Bougardt do, but they defer the decision to God by saying, "God's view of homosexuality is [blah, blah, blah]" It's shrouded language but put these separate messages together and you get to the meaning they intend delivering. Their propositions are (1) homosexuals are bad; (2) God expects you to hate what is bad; and (3) the deduction is that you should hate homosexuals. Take a listen to an actual recording of a teaching session playing out at Jehovah's Witnesses Circuit Assemblies in 2016-2017.
Listen to the podcast to hear it.
Did you notice that the elder's concern wasn't that the 'disgusting' comment made by the teenager's schoolmate wrong but that it wasn't appealing to her classmate and didn't leave a good impression? These children are being taught to be cunningly persuasive. Furthermore, does it not constitute hate speech when the Jehovah's Witnesses admonish their members to shun their gay children? Shunning is the act of complete social rejection, or emotional distance which is a formal decision by the Witnesses to cease all interaction with an excommunicated individual. They expect parents to cut all ties with their homosexual children, not even allowing them to eat together. The organisation expects gay and bisexual men and women to refrain from both sexual activity and sexual thoughts involving other persons of the same-sex. Although individuals with any orientation can choose celibacy, it is quite impossible for any person to totally control and eliminate their sexual feelings. The Witness' literal and restrictive interpretation of Jesus' statement places an immense emotional load on its heterosexual, bisexual, gay and lesbian membership who try to live up to the group's expectations. These are substantial statements of hatred and bigotry but ones that generally go by unnoticed. This week (the first week in February 2017), media personality and SA Idols judge, Somizi spoke of his ordeal during the Grace Church's homophobic sermon. Somizi says, "[The pastor] started talking about how unnatural [homosexuality] is and how not even animals practise it. He said you'll never see a male dog with a male dog, a male springbok with a male springbok, so why must human beings do it?" It was then when Somizi stood up, took his bag and walked out of the church where he'd been in attendance for 32 years.
Political correctness is insidious. Here's an account of a journalist of long-standing, with an impeccable record, working for one of the most respected newspapers in the world, who could not get professionals in 21st century Britain to speak to him about a phenomenon that is probably the worst child-care scandal in the country in 40 years. It is a situation which defies belief. These were public servants, who would not talk about child-rape and prostitution, which they knew had been going on for years. They were not the rapists. They were not being paid by the criminals. But political correctness around multiculturalism had left them too scared to speak about these horrific crimes. No wonder these grooming gangs felt untouchable. The conflicts and confusions caused by multiculturalism left the staff unsure of their moral and professional values; the tyranny of political correctness meant they did not dare articulate or even acknowledge what they were seeing and hearing. There's a parallel in the bigoted world of Anderson, Bougardt and the Witnesses: ordinarily good men and women refrain from speaking up about these forms of hate speech because they simply wish to be politically correct.
You must remember the most ridiculous incident of political correctness when the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visited Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to explore trade alliances between the two countries. As part of his visit to Rome, Rouhani toured the famed Capitoline Museum that is home to numerous prized works of antiquity, some of which show human figures in the nude but because of Rouhani's Islamic beliefs, plywood boxes and panels were placed around these objects to obscure them from the Iranian president's vision and alcohol was not served at a dinner hosted in Rouhani's honour. What political correct lunacy is this? I at least take my hat off to the French who nixed a landmark dinner with Rouhani after the Iranians insisted on a wine-free meal with halal meat. The French hosts counter offered with a presumably alcohol-free breakfast, which the Iranians promptly rejected because it appeared too 'cheap.'
I do like the idea of genderless toilets and the abolition of old racist terms like the 'garden boy' and 'house girl' but overzealously correct speech is just too much. Political correctness, in my mind, at least, goes too far when the people pushing it think it justifies them to behave even worse than the people they're 'correcting,' and not realising the hypocrisy of it all. Where I think it has gone too far, is that people seem to think they have a right not to be offended, which they don't, and that people who say things that they disagree with should be shouted down. You should ignore people who say things that you think they shouldn't or you should argue back, but we shouldn't stop them from saying what they want to say or believing what they want to believe. Take Christmas as an example: why the insane sensitivity to Christmas with weak euphemisms like, 'the silly season' or wishing somebody 'happy holidays,' instead of the old-fashioned Merry Christmas. I'm completely sincere when I wish my Hindu friends Happy Diwali or my Muslim friends "Eid Mubarak!" ("Blessed Eid!") so it seems quite weird not to wish my Christian friends a Merry Christmas in case they're offended.
Billions of dollars of media 'programming' has changed the definitions of what people consider to be 'acceptable' and what people consider to be 'not acceptable.' Political correctness shapes the way we all communicate with each other every single day, and unless Trump sets a new trend, it is only going to get worse in the years ahead. Sadly, most people simply have no idea what is happening to them. Political correctness has been accurately described as Cultural Marxism. People in the West have been programmed through subtle brainwashing methods. The suppression of our right to free speech should be banned. Believing that truth is fact and it can't be changed just to suit a ridiculous agenda. It's mind control in all its ugly manifestations and should be banned from all areas of intellectual pursuit.
US Democratic Politician, Robert F. Kennedy, in a 1966 speech, said, "Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change."