Tobold's Blog
Thursday, October 06, 2016
The revolt against political correctness

Many of the thoughts that go through the head of a normal person every day are not politically correct. The evolutionary older parts of our brains are hard-wired to lust for members of the opposite sex and to mistrust strangers that don't look like us. So being constantly told by some finger-wagging world-improver that our thoughts are sexist and racist isn't very nice to begin with. And at some point that interdiction impinges on our political freedom: What if you believe that two wrongs don't make a right are are against so-called "affirmative action", the preferential treatment of minorities in order to compensate for previous discrimination? You certainly can't say that without being painted as a sexist / racist. And the same political correctness prevents any rational discussion of very real political problems like immigration.

People do get fed up with political correctness. In the past that expressed itself mostly in the number of fans that politically incorrect people like Jeremy Clarkson had. But more and more the revolt against political correctness is now reaching the voting booth. The Brexit, Donald Trump, or the rise of anti-immigrant parties all over Europe are very clear signs that people are fed up with being told what they can and cannot say or think.

And this is where the danger lies: The political correctness brigade isn't using very well differentiated tools. They use the exact same sense of moral superiority and the same arsenal of condemnation against the game developer who failed to use a colored face in his video game and against the politician who would deport millions of immigrants. Those are not the same degree of danger, but by treating them the same way, the political correctness brigade is actually pushing together very normal people with extreme right-wing nutters.

In a world with millions of refugees on the move we need a rational political debate on the problems and possible solutions. And that isn't possible without letting people express their natural fears and then addressing those fears. And the same is true about gender issues. If you condemn everybody who wants to have that discussion as sexist and racist, you're only driving them into the camp of the real sexists and racists. If the Brexit does great damage to both ordinary Britons and many vulnerable immigrants to the UK, that is on you, political correctness brigade! If Trump gets elected, that is on you too!

Let's say this again: political correctness is a synonym for being polite. My grandmother, who died before the term PC even came into usage, would have understood that. You may well have those thoughts but a well-brought-up person simply does not express them, much less act on them. Period.

I disagree. If for example Blizzard decides to make an advertisement for Warlords of Draenor showing a bunch of male orcs, the *polite* thing to do is to say nothing. But the political correctness brigade instead started a fight about why that ad wasn't more inclusive, showing female warlords (and probably wanted a gay warlord and a warlord in a wheelchair as well). And what is "polite" about complaining that the demon huntress in Diablo 3 is wearing high heels?

The mind police of political correctness is going way, way beyond what your grandmother would have recognised as polite. Not to mention that in all likelihood your grandmother used words to describe people of color that she couldn't say any more today.
@Bhagpuss: also politeness demands omitting emotionally hurtful facts. For example it's polite to not tell your aunt that her gift sucks. Or it's polite to tell "you look great" when you think the opposite. These are OK as nothing is at stake. But politics can't let such politeness happen. You can't just act like migrants wouldn't be overrepresented in rapes or that only 68 out of the million migrants in Germany could be given a job or that the US could find 5 (five) democracy-competent fighters despite spending $500M to raise a free Syrian army. Or that American blacks have 15 points lower IQ than whites in average.

I do not believe that these problems cannot be solved. But they must be addressed instead of acting like they never happened.

Who is this political correctness brigade? How do I find out more about them? Do they have a website? Twitter account? I mean, presumably they must be a single organised entity or you wouldn't be railing against "them" in these terms? It would undermine your argument a tad if the examples of political correctness you gave weren't perpetrated by a single group. Unless of course "Political Correctness Brigade" is just a convenient construct only used by people who don't like to stop and consider how their words and actions might affect the other human beings around them, and resent that being an adult in a civilised society means that they ought to.

One of the first things I was taught as a child was "think before you speak". THAT is your so-called political correctness, and apparently its "gone mad".
The idea behind Political Correctness is that people are individuals, not labels. The question of how to enact that statement is complicated. People don't like complex so they naturally simplify. Simplify enough and we end up with the extremes.
- Anyone who fails to offer full support any PC-related scheme must be an -ist
- Anyone who fails to see that different groups have different problems requiring different answers must be an idiot.

Any cause can be turned into a strawman. People like nice statements with which they can agree or disagree. Real issues are complex, and rarely have simple answers (otherwise they would have already been solved). When someone doesn't have an answer the temptation is to change the question into one for they can answer.
The power of a demagogue is that they can read the simple answer their audience would support and they rephrase the question to match that answer.
@ozzit: like gamergaters, PC brigade has no formal leadership. However you can start by looking at Hillary "basket of deplorables" Clinton. If you find someone connected to her or supporting her, you likely found a mamber of the PC brigade.
While Gevlon is overly simplifying things, he is correct in saying that the political correctness brigade is an unorganised movement of the left on the internet, just like Gamergate was an unorganised movement of the right. I'd classify both as a sort of hate mobs, although the tactics are different. The PC brigade rides in on their high horses and uses an air of moral superiority, while the right wing is more likely to work with insults or downright threats.

Are you really saying that you don't think these political movements exist on the internet, just because you can't find their websites? Try Breitbart for the right and the Huffington Post for the left, for starters. But they do pop up on every blog or forum.
Yeah, this politically correct brigade that is not at all made up likes to pick out extremists and paint normal people with the same brush! They do that because all those leftists are all the same!

Don't worry guys, while I couldn't find one of these brigaders in real life even though their numbers are definitely not at all exaggerated, I found an image we can use as a placeholder:
One of the things that seems to be confusing all of these political issues is the way that every thing in politics are framed as value issues when in fact quite often they are issues of interests(meaning what do I or my family get out of it?). For example the immigration issues are often about teh over supply of labor leading to lower wages and difficulty finding jobs. This is of great interest to the lower classes but doesn't really affect the more affluent in the country.

However when someone tries to raise this issues, it is turned into an issue of values: "You must be racist if you don't support immigration!" Obviously they are not talking about the same things. (Admittedly some racism is probably formed BECAUSE their interests are harmed by immigration.)

Anyway here is a link to a long blog post about this:
‘When You’re Accustomed to Privilege, Equality Feels Like Oppression’

The goal of what you're talking about -- inclusivity -- is to make everyone feel welcome. You're so used to seeing your face/body/gender/sexual orientation up there, that because someone else wants to see theirs, you feel slighted. That's a bias. And it's problematic for black/gay/whatever people because they have just as much right to see themselves represented as you do, but they historically haven't because we live in a white male dominated (in terms of power structures and authority) society.
I disagree that political/social movements bear responsibility for the political choices made by their opponents.

First, there is no way in most cases, including this one to identify a "first cause" movement to attribute reaponsibility to. Both Gamergate and Social Justice Warriors are responding to prior social movements and the history of the politicization of artistic and speech expression did not begin this millenium.

Second, the Brexiters and Trump folks are there own people. When they choose to why deny them the (individually very small) reponsibility of their actions? SJ warriors can pursue their opponents far but I don't beleive they are accused of having carried out voter intimidation.

Finally, shouldnt blame be better assigned to the political and movement leaders who choose wicked fellow travelers for counter-political-correctness movements? That counter-PC movement leaders would rather contribute to the likely material and humanitarian calamity of Brexit to occur than go it alone and lose politically should tell us more about the priorities of the anti-PC movement leaders than the SJ-warriors, for whom Brexit is at best a fourth-order side effect.
I think the difference lies in the intention of the message. I have no problem whatsoever with "bad language" if it is used to transport a (hopefully constructive) critique.

What I don't like is "bad language" just to be hurtful. Should be easy to differentiate.

If you don't already know it, search for "George Carlin - Seven dirty words" on youtube. Not a new problem at all.
@Bhagpuss, politeness is a worthwhile trait. But like all forms of behavior, it suffers from diminishing returns. It would be extremely foolish to value politeness above all else. In particular, if politeness prevents us from even discussing serious social problems, then it's clearly been taken too far.

@Rob Wygand, there is no particular reason why all groups of people must have the same social status. If less "dominant" people want to make a ruckus about their low status, they're welcome to, but nobody else is obliged to pay attention.
"And that isn't possible without letting people express their natural fears and then addressing those fears." That's the nut of the problem, isn't it? If someone says, "Syrian refugees are a threat to my job/culture/safety and I want them kept out," how does one "address" that sentiment? Tell them you think otherwise? Show them data on refugee populations that they may refuse to believe anyway? Appeal to their compassion? You can do all these things and many will still listen to the fears the animal part of the brain whispers to them. The problem isn't political correctness. It's that base fear.
Well, things like immigration and globalisation have very real, tangible benefits in terms of making goods and services much cheaper. The first people that would get hurt when Trump cancels all trade deals are the people shopping at Walmart. And the people who are working for Nissan in the UK are already under threat of losing their jobs due to the Brexit. So maybe we should start explaining those economic advantages instead of only arguing with the moral rightness.
"...we should start explaining those economic advantages instead of only arguing with the moral rightness." Yes, very good point. There's an opportunity there for individuals or parties in any number of countries.
@Chris Sure, no one is ever obligated to listen. But those with lower social status still have the right to make the argument. Eventually, if no one listens for long enough, you get social uprising, a revolt, a movement, or whatever the flavor of social justice of the month is, though. I just don't like to see criticism of those with lower social status, whatever it be, because it feels an awful lot like blaming the victim.

The first people that would get hurt when Trump cancels all trade deals are the people shopping at Walmart.

Come on, don't live here, so don't offer some derailed logic on what "might" happen when it's the exact opposite of what "should" happen. Walmarts need to die in a fire. Over the last 20-30 years the American economy has made a move from a production economy to what is known as a "service" economy. It's very difficult to maintain a decent standard of living on Walmart, Fast food and other retail sector wages. The trade deficits feed this, but only because Americans have priced themselves out of the job market with what is considered a "middle class" income. Because of this, goods and products ARE cheaper to make overseas, even with the added cost of shipping them "back" to the U.S. The trade deals Trump is talking about are the ones that allow trade imbalances to exist to the point of causing the American economy damage due to the high deficits from a lack of reciprocity. Where is the mutual benefit in that? There is nothing politically incorrect with demanding that trade imbalances be corrected.

On political correctness:

Political Correctness(PC) has been defined as some form of "liberal orthodoxy" by every dictionary that I've cared to reference. Someone above mentioned "politeness" as a synonym for PC. It's really an ownership issue where cultural relativism is concerned. The left has placed itself in the position of being the worlds "thought" police. What used to be allowed as part of any single cultures autonomy has been globalized into "group think", where knee-jerk reaction-ism demands adherence to the newly created "cultural norms" and, as you indicate in your post, people are becoming fed-up with being told what to think. Some people think that North Korea is wrong, and that's ok. Some people think Homosexuality is wrong, and that's ok. Some people think that owning guns is wrong, and that's ok. Some people think that trade imbalances are wrong, and that's ok too......etc.
@NoGuff: Re-read what I said. I'm not talking about people *working* for Walmart, I'm talking about people *shopping* at Walmart. Which is a great many of Trump voters. Walmart is full of cheap goods, nearly all of which are produced elsewhere, many in China. Erect trade barriers and tariffs and those goods become much more expensive. And the rise in consumer prices happens quickly, while any possible gains of jobs for the economy would occur much slower.
I was not talking about jobs either. I'm talking about the effect that the Walmarts, Targets, and other "large" retailers/service industries that employ millions of people, which pay very little in wages, have become the standard in typical employment sector jobs. Drive down any street in America and all you see are restaurants, gas stations, fast food establishments and strip-malls. After a few years, those same cities see rise to title-pawn, pay-day loan/check cashing and other businesses designed to take advantage of the low-wage retail workers(and others) who suffer from the economic woes of such a system. It's like Americans have been brainwashed into thinking that they "need" cheap crap made in China and must therefore shop at Walmart, and that success is measured by how often you can eat out instead of cooking good, wholesome meals at home for much cheaper. Whereas owning a gun and hunting wild game for meat is the pinnacle of being politically incorrect.
I somewhat doubt that 300 million Americans could feed themselves by hunting wild game for meat.
Political correctness or sustainability. My wish is that you and I both continue to have the freedom to choose between the two.
300 million Americans can't feed themselves by shopping at Walmart-prices either. Walmart is basically a piramid scheme where the taxpayers subsidize the Walmart shareholders and letting them make a huge fortune over the back of current and future generations.
Well, 100 million Americans already do feed themselves by shopping at Walmart every week. The so-called "subsidies for Walmart" are actually subsidies for low-wage Walmart employees getting food stamps, Medicaid, and the like. I'd be very much in favor of a minimum wage that would be high enough that the government wouldn't need to pay welfare to somebody working a full-time job.

Trump's stance on minimum wages is somewhat unclear.
That was my point exactly. How can you call a massively subsidize, massively polluting practice sustainable for 300 million Americans?
Well, as it stands the 100 million people shopping at Walmart have the choice of either getting cheap crap from Walmart or getting no crap at all, because these people don't have much money. The salaries paid by Walmart are independent of globalization, because even if Chinese labor is cheap, you can't outsource this sort of work to China. The cost of the goods at Walmart is cheap not just because of those salaries, but because they buy cheap Chinese goods. If you slap heavy tariffs on those Chinese goods, the prices at Walmart go up, but the people shopping at Walmart still don't earn more money.

As I said, my proposed solution would be a $15 minimum wage. What is your proposed solution?
Seems like nice ideas such as high minimum wages or universal basic income could happen a lot more easily if immigration were restricted.

I'm even starting to wonder if the elites are pushing for essentially unrestricted immigration precisely to head this off. A great mass of underpaid workers is surely preferable to a smaller number of potentially uppity ones!
I think if you raided the estates of American politicians, Democrats and Republicans, from members of Congress up to presidential candidates and checked the nationalities of the gardeners, housekeepers, and nannies working there, you would find mostly Mexicans. And I'd bet half of them would be illegal.
As I said, my proposed solution would be a $15 minimum wage. What is your proposed solution?

Basic Income for everyone, and I mean every human on earth, is the necessary next step in human evolution. We are technologically and economically capable to feed everyone and it's a disgrace that we don't.
And the 'archdruid' link that Wander gave upthread made a telling - even if possibly a little exaggerated - point: he said the US is restricting legal immigration more than illegal immigration. 'Cui bono' as the Romans said, before multiculturalism did for them.
Seven years ago when political correctness, affirmative action and "equality" began to surface in the gaming world, (it began if I recall correctly with calls for more female statues in WoW), I took a hard stand against it on my blog. Some of the posts in question gathered over a hundred comments which was unheard of for me on my little blog that had only been out for a few months at the time.

As a result I was categorized as "bad person" by the general blogging community for the crime of "bad think". The vast majority of bloggers stuck their heads in the sand and either refused to deal with the issue, (I don't want politics in my games so I will pretend that it's not happening), or they openly sided with the PC entryist brigade.

Now look where we are seven years later. The thing is, with the PC brigade they have no end-game. There is no point for them when they are satisfied. They are never satisfied. Because they seek to destroy by conversion. Us gaming nerds thought that we were safe in our corner of the internet with our little hobby. We had been left alone for 20 years precisely because we were seen as nerds and nobody wanted anything to do with us. It was our great good fortune but eventually it ended and they came for us too.

And when it happened most people didn't understand what was happening. They were too blind to see. Gamergate was not a reaction to bad gaming journalism. That was a red herring from the PC brigade. It was a reaction to the PC incursion into gaming. Gamergate is also not right wing. It is politically neutral. You would be amazed at the number of Gamergate supporters who identify as left wing.

If people are beginning to realize that this has gone too far then that makes me happy. But it also makes me sad because I wish that the PC and SJW entryists had been booted out early in the first place. When it was easy to do so.
This article sums up the situation quite well I think:

That article raises a good point but uses the same language it wishes its opponents wouldn't, just look at how he describes Noah, Bee etc.

The US should update her voting system where voting for the third biggest candidate is effectivly throwing your vote away. Not that our German system is flawless, but if one party doesn't get 50%+ alone it has to build a coalition with another party to get to 50%+.

This system means that parties have to actually work together and make compromises and that if you vote for the third party it might actually end up as part of the administration. Nothing like the clusterfuck US congress looks from here.
@thenoisyrogue that article epimotizes the problem the left and right currently have with communication: we're all arguing with our imaginary vision of the other side, because actual engagement is apparently too difficult when the other side doesn't actually stack up to the boogeymen we have made them out to be.

@NoGuff the comments on the PC left I'm still parsing out, but agree on the Walmart/trade problem. I've refused to shop at Walmart for two decades (finally convinced my wife Target is a comrpomise) but it's best viewed as a symptom of the bigger problem. Or a side effect?

@Rob Wygand laudable points but even I, leftie villain that I am, think the problem currently is an over-reaction in the PC crowd. People in the US are catching up slowly with the overall recognition of a new paradigm in mutual treatment of others, but it doesn't happen quickly. The SJWs exacerbate the problem by attacking their own for not being sufficiently dogmatic, and refusing to engage with those who are outside the "in crowd" beyond name calling, effectively demonizing everyone else instead of working on bridges to understanding. This is not a new is what the right has done all along for as long as I've been around (born '71) but the adoption of these tactics on the left have put us to shame. The reactionary result of this is Trump, Gamergate and other madness in which the feeling of an existential threat to those on the right has pushed the in to a corner, where they absolutely will fight, because unlike so many on the left who have lived in their shadow for so long and can (or at least should) be patient, the right is not used to being challenged as the default authority in society, and is reacting, as violently as it can without actually aiming for "revolution."

And (remember, I speak from the left): both sides here are wrong. The right needs to lighten the fuck up and start engaging with the other half of the country like its no longer a majority. And the left needs to remember that being the oppressor doesn't work, and start figuring out how to do social reform that people can actually understand, offer those olive ranches, rather than throw everything away for the sake of a bunch of moral/ethical superiority complexes.
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