Political correctness run amok

Intended for constructive conversations. Exhibits of polarizing tribalism will be deleted.
Post Reply
GandK
Posts: 1965
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2011 1:00 pm

Political correctness run amok

Post by GandK » Thu Oct 22, 2015 5:34 pm

I'm not a big fan of Fox News, but when G forwarded me this particular article, I knew I needed to pass it on:

Fruit fiasco: High school students face punishment for "racist" fruit basket

Dragline
Posts: 4452
Joined: Wed Aug 24, 2011 1:50 am

Re: Political correctness run amok

Post by Dragline » Thu Oct 22, 2015 9:30 pm

Blecch! This is why not to pay attention to the media.

My point better made here, especially starting at around 1:50: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JK7mGE3_Awg

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 11224
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: Political correctness run amok

Post by jacob » Thu Oct 22, 2015 10:07 pm

Upon further research, it appears that watermelon [and fried chicken] perpetuates a racist stereotype. See,
http://www.theatlantic.com/national/arc ... st/357814/
Yeah, I didn't know that either ...

Perhaps some introspection would reveal that seeing as apparently few people are even aware of some of these outdated stereotypes anymore, it's the PC-crowd who are [very ironically] the ones who are doing the perpetuating of the given stereotype that everybody else seem blissfully ignorant about.

It speaks volumes that it was some parent who got upset whereas the kids were blissfully unaware.

It reminds me of the "he and she"-feminists that have attacked me for using the "standard impersonal he pronoun" in my writings---something that's pretty much a global standard save for a minor subset of readers who happen to concentrate in certain demographics in North America. It, therefore, took me quite a while to realize [WTF] they were going on about. Perhaps it would be better to just allow such memes to die out naturally in the Kuhn sense than to perpetuate the discord forever.

User avatar
jennypenny
Posts: 6241
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:20 pm
Location: Stepford USA

Re: Political correctness run amok

Post by jennypenny » Fri Oct 23, 2015 6:09 am

I dunno. I think the punishment was over the top, but they could have used it as a teaching moment. My son's HS is 1/3 black, 1/3 white, and 1/3 hispanic, so they are used to dealing with diversity issues*. That gift would never have passed the smell test. They would have handled it differently, but it would have been seen as inappropriate, even if it was completely unintentional.

I don't like the current hypersensitive atmosphere or the silly focus on microaggressions. I don't think people should spend their days looking for ways to be offended. That said, I would never presume to tell someone who was African American what should or should not offend them or make them feel less than equal. I wouldn't with any group. Sorry ... but it's the same reason I don't think the white guys get to tell other groups, including women, how they should want to be addressed or what should offend them. It's not a "global standard" unless Europeans still see themselves as the arbiters of such things. The global standard is to treat women unequally, unless you want to ignore about 5 billion people.

*My son is on the HS soccer team, and his HS is in a league with many of the prep schools around Princeton. You wouldn't believe what some of the predominently white, upper class kids from those schools say to the players on his team. Thankfully, the team has decided to handle it by kicking their asses on the field instead of trying to go tit-for-tat with insults. One kid on the team is really funny. When they played the Hun school, a couple of players started calling him "spook" after he scored on them. Instead of letting it get to him, our player started narrating the game while he played "Oh no, did the spook just beat you again?" "Uh oh, the spook just scored again." They try their best to handle it with humor. When another school (I think it was Lawrenceville Prep) made fun of the kids on the team who were speaking Spanish by mockingly using spanglish, our school kids who were watching the game started cheering the players on using the same terms but in a positive and supportive manner to drown out the opposing players. I'm only relating this to show how frequently this stuff still happens. I hope the kids in his school focus on the support they get from their school and teammates, but it wouldn't surprise me if the experiences left them with scabs that never quite heal.

GandK
Posts: 1965
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2011 1:00 pm

Re: Political correctness run amok

Post by GandK » Fri Oct 23, 2015 7:31 am

The problem I have with this situation is that over the last 30 years, the public's locus of control in these situations has gone from being internal to external. We're now teaching kids that whenever they feel offended about anything, someone should be told, someone should be blamed and publicly chastised... basically the "victim's" life should grind to a screeching halt until some other person "makes them feel better." No one's emotional hygiene is their own responsibility anymore.

Certainly schools should correct bullying and jerkish behavior when it occurs. But I think they have an equal responsibility to correct victim thinking and self-pitying behavior. They need to correct the idea that someone else gets to control whether the offended party feels good or not. "The world is full of jerks. This is how to deal with them so they don't ruin your day..." is an important thing to hear. "Oh, you poor baby. Don't worry, we'll make sure this gets taken care of so he never says that again," while well-intentioned, is not. Because who the hell will do that for them when they're 35?

@jennypenny: I love what your son's team is doing. I wish that happened more. None of our kids' teams have had that much grit. Whenever there has been drama, it's been dealt with in the "poor baby" manner I described above. Hence my irritation with the topic? ;)

@Dragline: Great video! I love his work.

ffj
Posts: 1934
Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2010 3:16 am

Re: Political correctness run amok

Post by ffj » Fri Oct 23, 2015 8:01 am

The problem is people assuming intent. I remember one time cooking at the firehouse and for dessert I had bought a large watermelon that I put in the refrigerator. My supervisor was a black man and it suddenly occurred to me halfway through the meal he might become offended, which tbh really bothered me until I watched him eat the dessert along with the rest of us white guys. I think I had become over conditioned to what some may interpret as an insult.

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 11224
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: Political correctness run amok

Post by jacob » Fri Oct 23, 2015 8:24 am

jennypenny wrote:... it would have been seen as inappropriate, even if it was completely unintentional.
...
I don't like the current hypersensitive atmosphere or the silly focus on microaggressions. I don't think people should spend their days looking for ways to be offended.
But I think this is just what PC aficionados do---spending their days looking to be offended---by setting up a framework that divides the world into victims (e.g. women, blacks, immigrants, ...) and oppressors (e.g. white males) based on historical reasons and propagates a system in which those who associate themselves with the victim group keep digging into history to find what to most people are increasingly arcane reasons(*) to justify why they can keep seeing themselves as victims; and in which descendants of the oppressors must eternally apologize for something that happened a long long time ago and that they never did themselves; almost like they must suffer from some original sin.

(*) Which is why these exploits reach the papers.

What drives political correctness is no different than what drives any kind of enduring ethnic or religious conflict. Most of these also go back to some argument that most people consider unfathomable trivial/irrelevant; whereas of course those who are 'in it' consider it very important. In particular, a lot of fighting could stop immediately if people didn't keep bringing up the past.

Maybe some day, in 300 years, if the PC movement is successful, we can have wars between people who feel victimized by the word mailman and descendants of USPS employees (they are legion) just like we have wars today over the issue of minute differences in religious interpretations that originated centuries ago.

My position: I don't think PC are helping to create a better world at all. I think it is destructive to carry around such catalogs of past slights and continue to use them to frame the current world. Part of justice is that at least people should be know about the laws they're breaking before they get prosecuted. Making law up on the fly because someone's sensibilities were offended is ... I lack the word... not just. Furthermore, a system of laws that gets so complicated and massive that nobody can possibly memorize/learn the entire thing either is no good either. Yet this seems to be what the PC movement is striving for.

(I could mention a bunch of other persecuting instances with the same goals and behavior so it's not like PC is the only bad actor when it comes to justice.)

PS: So I did some research into things that I from a standpoint of political correctness could use to feel victimized. It turns out that the word angry derives from the norse word argr which means cowardly or unmanly; calling someone argr was serious enough to require a duel to the death, non-optional. If the insultee won and the insulter survived, the insultee was entitled to full restitution as well. So maybe add the word angry to the list in diversity training class? Calling someone angry might just offend some viking descendant with a historic or linguistic bent. Yeah, obviously, I'm just kidding, but in principle I could feel entitled to have strong feelings about the word "angry" which undoubtedly the PC movement should see as entirely justified.

User avatar
Ego
Posts: 4213
Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2011 12:42 am

Re: Political correctness run amok

Post by Ego » Fri Oct 23, 2015 8:47 am

The world is changing fast. While it is unreasonable for any group to think they have a monopoly on how other groups should be addressed, it is equally unreasonable for any individuals to demand that everyone refer to people like them in the way they as an individual deem fit.

If you don't agree with me then please understand that I find any reference to white guys offensive and insist that everyone here refer to me and people like me as "granfalloons".

My wife is not as easily offended by Mexican cultural references as the girl who had a tantrum about the Maximum Mexican night at Clemson. Who gets to decide what's right? Some people would object to the fact that I just referred to her as MY wife.

There is a fine line where we want to respect people but we also want to allow people to speak relatively freely. When we twist people into granfalloonism we force them to become good at telling lies.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preference_falsification

I'm not talking about outright racists being able to freely say the n-word. I'm talking about the old man who refers to flight attendants as stewardesses or to the primarily Puerto Rican neighborhood as the Spanish area. While we should consider the harm the sombreros did to the Mexican-American girl who decided to wrap herself in la bandera we should also give equal consideration to the wishes of others like her and to the intentions of the speakers (organizers).

Forcing those little lies of suppression on others can cause big problems behind the scenes. The very people who are most open to understanding where you come from will flee out of fear of offending. Demanding that others use very narrow, precise, constantly evolving and often contradictory forms of speech when speaking to particular people makes it not worth the trouble to try.

Who said it's okay for you to say futbol?
http://www.butterfliesandwheels.org/201 ... ay-futbol/

User avatar
jennypenny
Posts: 6241
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:20 pm
Location: Stepford USA

Re: Political correctness run amok

Post by jennypenny » Fri Oct 23, 2015 8:56 am

@GandK--I agree with you about victimhood. If this happened at my son's school, the principal would have lectured the aggrieved for being too sensitive about something as innocuous and well-intentioned as a gift, as well as lecturing the gift-givers for needlessly stirring up hurt feelings by not side-stepping any potential issues.

@ffj--It depends on the people involved. I would never take offense here because I know everyone well enough to know that any insult was unintended. In other groups, especially larger ones, it's harder to know intent, and so more care should be taken to avoid unintentionally poking at someone by making intentions clear and/or avoiding anything that might cause offense.

@jacob--You and I will always disagree about this. I know your feelings towards women, so I don't take offense to things said privately or on the forum. As I said to ffj, in a smaller setting where the participants know each other, people don't have to be so careful. I do think, however, that in larger, more public settings, language matters. I don't think people should be under any obligation to sanitize their language, but they should realize that by not doing so, they might be unintentionally reinforcing harmful attitudes and stereotypes.

@Ego--I don't buy the argument that the world is changing fast. People have always judged others based on ethnicity and/or gender. The tribes might change, but I think the behavior is hard-wired into humans and we should be conscious of it.


I'll stop. I'm just repeating myself now.

Tyler9000
Posts: 1554
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:45 pm
Location: Austin, TX

Re: Political correctness run amok

Post by Tyler9000 » Fri Oct 23, 2015 10:08 am

I tend to agree that it comes down to intent. There's no such thing as a racist fruit. Just racist people who either intend offense or find offense in the contents of a gift basket.

That doesn't mean, however, that people should avoid politely informing others why certain things could be construed as offensive or excuse all actions without question. I once worked with a very nice young man born in India who followed his country's tradition of drawing swastiks on his new car. He was, of course, not racist in the slightest, but we had to teach him that driving around in the US with that symbol on his car might require more insurance. ;)

Speaking of political correctness, I found this pretty funny in an "are we sure this is not the onion?" sorta way. A college has apparently banned the term "politically correct" for being politically incorrect. http://nypost.com/2015/10/22/campus-spe ... y-correct/

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 11224
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: Political correctness run amok

Post by jacob » Fri Oct 23, 2015 11:04 am

jennypenny wrote:I don't think people should be under any obligation to sanitize their language, but they should realize that by not doing so, they might be unintentionally reinforcing harmful attitudes and stereotypes.
Whereas, I think that pointing out how others should sanitize their language propagates the harmful stereotypes.

I'll explain further, first with a particular analogy and then more generally.

Case in point, prior to this thread, I had no idea that watermelons had racial stereotyping implications. Thanks to this thread I now do. Hence the watermelon-meme has been spread to me. If I spread it onwards, it'll keep propagating. How is propagating "how-to" information about racial stereotyping possibly good?

Conversely, if the watermelon had been comprehended as it was intended (here's a gift). The meme would not have spread to me (and others).

It's similar to reporting on school shootings. Telling everybody that school shootings are bad does not stop school shootings. What it does is to spread the concept of school shootings being bad to people wanting to do bad things thus resulting in more school shootings. PC policing has exactly the same nasty side-effects. Wanna bet that sales on watermelons will now go up as some jokers now realize that they can use the produce department to make insults based on race?!

In this case what is smart for one (the self-righteous parent), is stupid for all (kids who now have to suffer watermelon bullying because some kids learned how to insult and other kids learned how to be insulted).

Aside from the "school shooting"-syndrome, I think the PC warriors miss one very important point: Not everybody in the world is a racist, misogynist, etc.---That the world is divided into more groups than just us and them, namely
1) People whose intent is to offend with watermelons. (They are racist because they operate under racial stereotypes.)
2) People who are offended by watermelons. (They are also racist because they also operate under racial stereotypes.)
3) People who aren't aware of the watermelon issue. (They are not racist and will likely be offended by being accused of being a racist.)
(similar with other issues, mailman, Nazi, angry, he or she, ... )

I think ideally we want everybody to be in group 3? Agree?!

Yet PC-warriors seem to see everything in terms of either 1 or 2. IOW, what they say is that if you're not 2, then by law of the excluded middle, then you must be 1 regardless of intent. As a result, if you give a gift basket with a watermelon in it, you have to have had racist intents. If you write an entire book using the word mailman instead of letter carrier, your primary reason for writing the book must have been to oppress and insult women. And so on.

By ignoring 3 (and by focusing on words) PC fails to consider intent---the crucial part of communication. In that regard, PC suffers from a perniciously and deliberately poor listening/reading comprehension being seemingly unable to view any form of communication as anything but assigning people into either box 1 or box 2. And as a side-effect of doing this, they propagate the memes by pointing them out to group 3 people who want to join either 1 or 2.

Systemically, that strategy is precisely a case of what is smart for the one (the PC-crowd) is stupid for all.

Note that this is not always the case. If most people do belong to groups 1 and 2 and 3's are very rare, then PC-warriors definitely have their place and function. However, when the majority belongs to level 3 for a given case, here watermelons (and clearly these kids had no idea about watermelons and thus all belonged to 3) ... then all PC contributes is further damage by adding new fuel to a fire that's mostly embers only.

IlliniDave
Posts: 2541
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2014 7:46 pm

Re: Political correctness run amok

Post by IlliniDave » Fri Oct 23, 2015 11:15 am

It's pretty sad when the bureaucrats/administrators are so fearful of criticism that they'll throw children under the bus like that. It's also ironic to see the growing oppression that the anti-oppression movement exerts on our society.

GandK
Posts: 1965
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2011 1:00 pm

Re: Political correctness run amok

Post by GandK » Fri Oct 23, 2015 11:20 am

Tyler9000 wrote:A college has apparently banned the term "politically correct" for being politically incorrect. http://nypost.com/2015/10/22/campus-spe ... y-correct/
:roll: This does not surprise me in the least.

In 1993, when I got to my first Air Force base, I got there just in time for the annual "verbal sensitivity" brief's circulation (my first time viewing that document). This was a list of about 200 words that one could be reprimanded for saying. Some were obvious... racial epithets, etc. My favorite entry, though, was "female." At that time, during USAF basic training, it was pretty common that when a training instructor (drill sergeant) saw a female airman doing something she wasn't supposed to be doing, he would say something like, "Oy! Female! Don't do that!" when he did not know her name. Apparently there were women who took offense along the lines of "They don't call men 'male' when they talk to them!" But men were 80% or so of the base, so yelling "Male!" would likely not have identified the target of the rebuke. The result of this situation was that it became technically wrong to say "female." It might still be, I don't know.

As a point of interest, I was told by my coworkers that the list had existed before 1992, but it almost doubled in size at that time and began including words like "female." That was also the year a democrat (Bill Clinton) became commander-in-chief after 12 years of republicans. No one believed that was a coincidence.

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 11224
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: Political correctness run amok

Post by jacob » Fri Oct 23, 2015 11:44 am

@GandK - Maybe "airman" has been banned too now?

http://www.economist.com/blogs/johnson/ ... ered-words

ffj
Posts: 1934
Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2010 3:16 am

Re: Political correctness run amok

Post by ffj » Fri Oct 23, 2015 12:31 pm

@K

That's a whole thread right there; women in male dominated fields. The fire service also has mandatory sensitivity training which is heavily slanted towards the perceived oppressed. I actually had an HR rep during one of these classes tell me after some pointed questions on my part that women could falsely accuse males of sexual harassment up to 3 times before action would be taken against the false accuser. Furthermore, ANY accusation that involved sexual harassment or discrimination would be treated as gospel with immediate repercussions until/if proven false. The lady telling me this never blinked an eye at how short-sighted and condescending this policy was.

Sometimes I wonder if the cure isn't worse than the ailment. They were very proud of how tough they were on these issues without looking at unintended consequences.

enigmaT120
Posts: 1070
Joined: Thu Feb 12, 2015 2:14 pm
Location: Falls City, OR

Re: Political correctness run amok

Post by enigmaT120 » Fri Oct 23, 2015 12:35 pm

jacob wrote: It reminds me of the "he and she"-feminists that have attacked me for using the "standard impersonal he pronoun" in my writings---something that's pretty much a global standard save for a minor subset of readers who happen to concentrate in certain demographics in North America.
I thought I was the only English writer left who uses the male pronouns to also represent neuter/unknown. We could just say "it."

Dragline
Posts: 4452
Joined: Wed Aug 24, 2011 1:50 am

Re: Political correctness run amok

Post by Dragline » Fri Oct 23, 2015 1:08 pm

jacob wrote:
jennypenny wrote:I don't think people should be under any obligation to sanitize their language, but they should realize that by not doing so, they might be unintentionally reinforcing harmful attitudes and stereotypes.
Whereas, I think that pointing out how others should sanitize their language propagates the harmful stereotypes.

I'll explain further, first with a particular analogy and then more generally.

Case in point, prior to this thread, I had no idea that watermelons had racial stereotyping implications. Thanks to this thread I now do. Hence the watermelon-meme has been spread to me. If I spread it onwards, it'll keep propagating. How is propagating "how-to" information about racial stereotyping possibly good?
This falls under "one of those things they don't teach you in school", especially if you went to school in another country.

For edification on the history of these memes, its actually worthwhile to watch banned cartoons from the mid-20th century: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censored_Eleven

Many things are symbolic of others and the cultural connections/connotations are not necessarily obvious today.

henrik
Posts: 759
Joined: Fri Apr 13, 2012 5:58 pm
Location: EE

Re: Political correctness run amok

Post by henrik » Fri Oct 23, 2015 1:14 pm

jennypenny wrote:In other groups, especially larger ones, it's harder to know intent, and so more care should be taken to avoid unintentionally poking at someone by making intentions clear and/or avoiding anything that might cause offense.
If it's harder to know intent, then maybe more care should be taken to avoid assuming it's there?

GandK
Posts: 1965
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2011 1:00 pm

Re: Political correctness run amok

Post by GandK » Fri Oct 23, 2015 1:23 pm

henrik wrote:If it's harder to know intent, then maybe more care should be taken to avoid assuming it's there?
Yes. Hanlon's razor.

Did
Posts: 667
Joined: Mon Apr 01, 2013 7:50 am

Re: Political correctness run amok

Post by Did » Sat Oct 24, 2015 3:46 am

I got annoyed when Americans applied their own sense of racism to an Australian add for fried chicken.

http://www.theage.com.au/it-pro/kfc-ad- ... -m21e.html

As the article says, we like cricket, we were playing a black nation, there was an advert that included black people eating chicken, to sell chicken. We weren't aware of the Amercian chicken association.

Post Reply