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Political Correctness - Annoying Or A Good Thing?


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#1 MaraM

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Posted 25 November 2006 - 01:11 AM

Guesty and others in another thread brought up a good point when saying, "Politically correctness is really annoying now-a-days".

Yes, it sure can be.

People sniping at each other on the streets because of saying/not saying 'Merry Christmas'.

Women who snipe at a poor unsuspecting gentleman for opening a door for her - or dod forbid, he's foolish enough to refer to her as a 'lady'.

Many people - including myself - are often left just plain and utterly confused.

For instance, my lovely friend has always referred to herself when asked as 'A Native Indian" - now it's only politically correct if others refer to her 'First Nations'. Cripes, she (and I) wonder who got this great idea that being an Indian was an insult rather than a lovely thing??!!

And on and on this stuff goes - wonder where it actually stems from as while some of it makes sense, most seems very odd indeed.
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#2 Wildabeast

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Posted 25 November 2006 - 03:12 AM

I think it's gotten out of hand. Granted, it's not polite, or whatever, to call someone crippled. But to go so far as saying a person in a wheelchair for life is "walking challenged" is a stretch. It's no challenge, they won't walk again. But I have enjoyed the obvious shots at P.C. Like the "veritcally challenged" for people who are not tall. But then, nobody has ever accused me of being a nice guy. My sense of humor is not understood by a lot of people.... :thumbsup:
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#3 Guesty

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Posted 25 November 2006 - 06:49 AM

Personally its Rascial PC and religous that grinds my grit. I could write a book on this, i wont waste BCs bandwith ..but i agree with you guys..

#4 drivingmecrazy

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Posted 25 November 2006 - 08:18 AM

For me political correctness has the opposite effect from what (I think) was intended, partly because the only people who know the 'rules' are the ones who thought them up in the first place.

Some amazing council in the UK decided that, in council offices, coffee should be either coffee with milk or coffee without milk (black and white being a no-no). Silly me, I thought black and white were colours (oops l might be offending some US citizens by not using 'colors', oops I might be offending other people who use that spelling by not including them, oops I might be offending all of them by suggesting they might be offended).

If I describe someone as being as white as a sheet it's okay - if I describe someone as being as black as the ace of spades it's offensive - WHY? - Factually there are different shades of black and white skin so what's wrong in describing the shade?

I call Australians Aussies, they call us Brits but if I call Pakistanis Pakis (which I do) I am somehow being offensive. NO I AM NOT. I am simply being lazy or friendly in the same way that I call my friends, Daniel and Christine, Dan and Chris.

We in the UK are hog-tied by PC (renaming Christmas, Wintertide being the latest mad suggestion) in case it offends. Offends who exactly? Has anyone actually asked the people we have supposedly offended what they think? Of course not - the rule makers know best.

As a completely liberal soul without a trace of racial, religious or any other prejudice the crazy rule makers need to know that they are actually making me feel resentful rather than thoughtful. Many of my friends (not all so liberal as I) feel exactly the same way.

Resentment can so easily lead to prejudice - the rule makers are actually fostering that which they seek to prevent.

#5 Guesty

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Posted 25 November 2006 - 10:25 AM

Some amazing council in the UK decided that, in council offices, coffee should be either coffee with milk or coffee without milk (black and white being a no-no).



Thats my point. And that is where i will stand up against stupidity

#6 TheTerrorist_75

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Posted 25 November 2006 - 10:52 AM

I choose to ignore political correctness and just be me. If people don't like it they can walk away. As for opening the door for a lady, I open and hold the door for everybody. To me that is being polite. I drink my coffee black and that is the way I order it. I am an atheist, but I still say Merry Christmas. If I send an email or card I write X-Mas. To me the usage of Christmas, X-Mas or Holidays doesn't really matter compared to the fact it has just become a corporate holiday. I am also part Native American and while I do prefer the use of that title the word Indian does not upset me. I know who and what I am and don't let words bother me. I am also Italian, French Canadian, Dutch and English. I don't get mad when someone calls me the other names associated with these heritages.
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#7 drivingmecrazy

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Posted 25 November 2006 - 12:13 PM

I agree with you both, Guesty and TheTerrorist_75, and I refuse to bow down to stupidity but I also think that Political Correctness should be banned as being 'a lunatic that is running the asylum'.

Maybe I am over the top but it's so bad in the UK that a young guy was arrested for using offensive language. His crime? He was having a private conversation in a park with his friend about the weekend and he said he was doing F... all. Unfortunately an off duty policeman just happened to be walking past....

My final tale is a corker. A British Airways employee, as a commited Christian, wore a cross on a chain at work. BA banned her from wearing it because it was inappropriate for her to wear a religious symbol at work. She refused to remove it and was suspended. Our highest God bod, the Archbishop of Canterbury, got in touch with BA pointing out that he too wore a cross at work and oh, by the way, he might have to rethink the £10,000,000 that the Church of England has invested in BA. BA is now 'rethinking its policy' and the employee has been reinstated complete with cross. Amazing how PC can be forgotten when big bucks are involved.

Well, must take my 'bits from a number of nationalities' self off and get me a white coffee with brown sugar.

#8 Orange Blossom

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Posted 25 November 2006 - 12:46 PM

For instance, my lovely friend has always referred to herself when asked as 'A Native Indian" - now it's only politically correct if others refer to her 'First Nations'. Cripes, she (and I) wonder who got this great idea that being an Indian was an insult rather than a lovely thing??!!


I can address this one at least. Some years ago the people of India filed a lawsuit in Canada to reclaim the name 'Indian' for themselves. This is one, just one, of the reasons why "First Nations' was coined in Canada to refer to those descended from the people who were here before any Europeans. This term has jumped south of the border and is beginning to be used in the United States as well. I found this out in a class I took in 2002 that was taught by man born and raised on the Navajo reservation.

Among First Nations people themselves there is absolutely no concensus about how they wish to be addressed. Some are okay with Native American, others with American Indian, others wish to be called by their Tribal/National names such as Navajo, Lakota etc. and do not want an overall defining label.

Some confusions that occur:

1) Many people learning English as second language refer to native English speakers born and raised in the United States as native Americans unaware that Native Americans has been used to refer to First Nations people. And if you think about it, it makes sense. After all, isn't someone born in America, which is far larger than the United States by the way, in fact a native American?

2) People from the United States visiting in Germany referred to those with African dark-skinned, as opposed to pale-skinned, heritage as African-American. Response: I'm not American, I'm German. So what are we supposed to use when referring to these people living in other countries?

3) There is frequent confusion when referring to people from India or who are First Nations here. Example: a person born and raised in India but living in the United States, or in Canada, could be referred to as a Native Indian as opposed to a person who has Indian parents but was born in the United States or Canada who could then conceivably be called an American-Indian or maybe an Indian-American?

I find that sometimes I have to clarify someone's meaning. For example: Do you mean India Indian or are you referring to First Nations people?
--------
I too agree that "political correctness" goes way too far and additionally masks some of the real problems which then do not get addressed.

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#9 drivingmecrazy

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Posted 25 November 2006 - 02:12 PM

Thank you Orange Blossom for that clear and interesting explanation.

What I don't understand is why once acceptable phrases are SO offensive, apart from obvious derogatory ones like n....r - I even feel bad writing that.

Many years ago we in the UK used to call First Nations 'Red' Indians (I'm not defending this by the way) but there was no offense implied in it. All it conjured up was a romantic notion of a proud, special nation whose traditions and lifestyle had a magical attraction and who were a different nation from Indians from India. To my mind First Nations sounds like a name created by committee and out of keeping with wonderful names like Navajo. I accept that, to First Nations, the phrase I used earlier may be highly offensive for reasons I haven't considered.

Taking your point about Native Americans a bit further (don't know how to use quote!) surely nearly every country has its First Nations?

Guess what I'm asking is where does it all stop?

As much as I sometimes wish, I do not believe that history or attitudes will be altered by simply changing the way we refer to things. Bigots will still be bigots.

If I have offended anyone I am really sorry, for that was not my intention - I genuinely do not understand why things have become so sensitive in so many areas of life.

Edited by drivingmecrazy, 25 November 2006 - 02:17 PM.


#10 Orange Blossom

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Posted 25 November 2006 - 08:59 PM

Many years ago we in the UK used to call First Nations 'Red' Indians (I'm not defending this by the way) but there was no offense implied in it.



In the United States, the term 'redskin' was and is used and there has been much, though little known, activity to eliminate that phrase from use. I heard Ward Churchill say that this term came about because there was a bounty to be had for bringing in a dead Indian scalps. The skin became red with blood; hence, 'redskin'. On the other hand I have read that the term evolved from the fact that warriors from various nations would cover themselves with red paint. Maybe there is truth in both; I don't know. I do know that their skin certain is not red by any stretch of the imagination.

Here is a quote that includes both definitions. The author seems to favor Ward Churchill's explanation.

... an explanation of the term "redskins" ... states that the term is derived from the practice of American Indians painting their bodies with red clay before battle. That may be true ... there is much research today to indicate that the term’s derivation dates back to a time in this country when a bounty was offered on Indians, and those killed by the bounty hunters were scalped as proof of a kill. The hunters ... began referring to the scalps as "redskins," ... I do know that today many people (and not just those of Native American descent) consider the term to be racially derogatory.

From: http://www.dccouncil.washington.dc.us/SCHW...atement_rls.htm

And if you are into reading scholarly documents, there are two quotes at the beginning of this next one, a PDF file, that illustrate that First Nations people themselves are at odds over the use of these terms. The focus of this article is the use of various names associated with First Nations people in naming sports teams, mascots etc. There is a huge controversy over it.

http://www.willamette.edu/org/sls/journal/...ltraditions.pdf

All it conjured up was a romantic notion of a proud, special nation whose traditions and lifestyle had a magical attraction and who were a different nation from Indians from India.

Ah, now here is where some of the friction has come about. There is the stereotypical image of the 'Native American' based on various Plains Indians, among them the Lakota and Dakota also known as Sioux. In fact these peoples were and are of many nations, and I do not mean nation-state, with many different cultures, ways of life and appearances, as different from each as say, Russian culture and British culture. There were peaceable nations and violent ones and many with elements of both, just like any human society. The idea of the "Noble Savage" that is associated with the stereotype is persistent and not very accurate. You might be interested in reading some of Simon Ortiz' work simply to get some other perspectives. He is of the Acoma (the m is actually a glottal stop) Pueblo (a Spanish appellation) people. Vine Deloria is another writer you might be interested in reading. He is of the Lakota people. For a glimpse of traditional, though altered through significant editing and the desire not to reveal certain cultural practices, Lakota life read Ella Deloria's Waterlily.

To my mind First Nations sounds like a name created by committee and out of keeping with wonderful names like Navajo.


I suspect there were committees who came together to come up with the term First Nations, though I don't know for sure. And I know that there are many who do not want to have an overarching term, First Nations or otherwise, to refer to all the different nations of people.

Another interesting thing is that originally, these people defined themselves by culture not by genetic derivation. In the United States this definition is shifting toward genetic derivation even on the reservations. There is a real identity crisis for a number of people, both for those born and raised on the reservations and for those wishing to get into contact with their unknown cultural heritage. In countries in South America, there is a mix of defining people's identity by culture and genetics with a tilt toward culture. In the United States, there are similar contradictions, but we tend to lean more toward the genetic side.

Taking your point about Native Americans a bit further (don't know how to use quote!) surely nearly every country has its First Nations?


Yes, they certainly do. One of the differences might be that they were not misnamed under a conglomerate name that was then and still is used to refer to people in a completely different part of the world. On the other hand, misnamings have occurred in other places as well. For example, did you know 'Welsch' means 'foreigner' in their own language?, and yet these people were there long before those that called them 'foreign.'

I do not believe that history or attitudes will be altered by simply changing the way we refer to things.


That is one of the things I meant when I said that 'politically correct' speech can mask the real problems which then aren't dealt with. And nothing can change history, but what can change is the awareness of it and the multiplicity of perspectives and perhaps changing for the better so as not to repeat history.

Bigots will still be bigots.


Sigh, how true, and how I wish it weren't. Some people change, but I don't think politically correct speech is the agent of that change. Sometimes I think that avoiding using words makes them more charged with baggage than they were before.

Personally, I try to find out what the person I'm talking to prefers to be called or referred by, and I'll use that. If the person wants to use the title 'Miss' or 'Ms.' or 'Mrs.', that is fine by me. If the person wants to be called 'Indian' or 'First Nations' and he or she clearly is of that heritage and not just pretending (yes there are pretenders) that is fine by me. If the person wants to be called 'Black' or 'African-American' that is fine by me. The bottom line for me is, treat other people with respect whether it's 'politically correct' to do so or not.

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#11 ghostwriter

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Posted 26 November 2006 - 02:33 AM

Here Here, to you all, Political Correctness has become crippling (pardon the pun). Myself, it's simple, I say what I say, if the person/s don't like it tuff ! Political correctness to me is like a "Danger, don't enter" sign on a door. It just makes me more pig headed and determined to go and open that door and have a look around.

I think it's based on fear and was adopted and taken to the extreme due to the evolution of lawsuits etc. If someone calls me a w.o.g (Iconsider myself a European Mongrel) I just say thankyou and take it as a compliment.

Regarding xmas, last year Sydney CBD (CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT) decided NOT to celebrate at all. It was the first time where we did not have a xmas tree or decorations throughout the streets. This was done so as not to offend the non christians who reside here. This year they decided to decorate again.

Myself, I'm passed all that, but the kids, are they not growing up to quickly anyway?Xmas is for the kids.

No one does the basics anymore; thank you, please, your welcome etc. It's not offensive for a man to open a door, or pull out a womans chair. I say get over it, stop acting like animals and take pleasure from unexpected kindness! Smile at the elderly, remember what it was like to be a kid and smile at their tomfoolery.
If we all took a step back and considered how we would like to be treated, i do think the necessity to be "politically correct" would decrease.

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#12 drivingmecrazy

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Posted 26 November 2006 - 11:56 AM

Orange Blossom you are truly thought provoking. I have to confess that I held the stereotypical image of First Nations. The points you made have jolted me from my romantic reverie and I shall find out more about these people.

In this case I believe that the stereotype has been engendered by selective education - certainly true of my history lessons in school. The facts of history cannot be changed but, to this day, the presentation of those facts is changed, distorted or omitted altogether.

For example,(again from my schooldays) some British history textbooks stated that it was British and American forces that won the second World War. The reality is that British forces comprised virtually all the nations under the umbrella of the British Empire. Although there was some mention of Canadian, Australian, Indian, African forces et al, the impression given is that Britain and America 'did it' with some help from others. At the very least this is a distortion of immense proportions.

Whilst I have been writing this it occurred to me that 'political correctness' is a fragile term and is being used as a dumping ground for anything that is either sensitive or controversial. I believe I have fallen into the trap of muddling many serious issues with crass stupidity.

In my changed opinion 'political correctness' should be treated with derision and reserved for the inane (I'm slow but get there eventually) such as:

Calling a person in a wheelchair: physically challenged or otherwise abled. Factually the person is in a chair with wheels and no amount of pc will prevent me from seeing just that. Calling that same person crippled might cause offence, but then my friend's mother describes herself as being crippled with arthritis. Oh my, it's so confusing.

A school banning children from putting their hands up because it is victimising the children who don't know the answer. What? It won't make the children less or more capable but it will give them a false impression of what life is like in the real world. Sorry, should have said 'otherwise capable.'

Intentions to ban the use of words like 'history' because it is sexual discrimination - a college in Stockport, England had a long list of potential banned words. Taking it to its logical conclusion, where (banned) would this (banned) leave the (banned) future of the (banned) English (probably banned as racist) language?!

On the other hand, intolerance of any sort, be it racial/sexual/religious/physical etc. is vile, rocks the very foundations of society and is far more insidious than political correctness.

Where it all goes awry is in the way that countermeasures are selectively applied and/or applied unequally.

Many of the 'in case it offends' measures really have the underlying message 'unless it offends the minority people in society'. As a single example (otherwise this will end up being a book), in the UK it is deemed acceptable for, say, a Sikh to wear a turban at work but possibly unacceptable for a Christian to wear a cross. Should this not be as simple as 'everyone is free to wear whatever religious symbols they desire - unless it prevents or interferes with a their ability to do their job'.

Directly as a result of such measures, there is a rising ground swell in this country that believes there is 'us' and 'them' and that sensitivity towards 'them' is at the expense of the freedom of speech and expression of 'us'. Regardless of the rights or wrongs this is creating tension and extends to a belief that 'them' are beginning to hijack our country and should go back from whence they came. Needless to state many of 'them' are British born and bred.

There will always be morons who believe that all their troubles are caused by 'them' but, in this instance, 'them' can be interpreted as anyone or thing upon which to blame their own failings.

Ironic isn't it that the very measures introduced 'to not cause offence' actually cause offence in their own right!

Ghostwriter was spot on about fear of litigation, but if everyone is accorded the same courtesy then litigation would have no teeth.

It's easy for me to pontificate because like all Brits (rich or poor), I have a relatively good standard of living, food in my belly and a reasonably bright future. I wonder what importance I would place on being offended if I were literally starving?

Parts of John Lennon's Imagine springs to mind

#13 Orange Blossom

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Posted 26 November 2006 - 06:25 PM

In this case I believe that the stereotype has been engendered by selective education - certainly true of my history lessons in school. The facts of history cannot be changed but, to this day, the presentation of those facts is changed, distorted or omitted altogether.


Selective presentation of history. Bingo! Hast hit the nail on the head. Selective presentation is also used in today's news reporting :thumbsup: .

I think it is vital to get multiple perspectives. Can any one person or perspective possibly contain the entire truth? I have serious doubts of that.

Our history books have tended to present U.S. history from the perspective of the British Colonists. There is beginning to be more information presented about the various First Nations, Spanish and French. However, there is precious little about the Dutch, German, and other colonies caught up in the American Revolution. In addition, we never get the story of the revolution from the British perspective. I wonder if British texts from that time period would call George Washington and company infidels. Of course in the United States we have learned to call them revolutionary heroes. Hmm. I wonder what the Patuxet etc. would have called them. Invaders? An occupying force?

Intentions to ban the use of words like 'history' because it is sexual discrimination - a college in Stockport, England had a long list of potential banned words. Taking it to its logical conclusion, where (banned) would this (banned) leave the (banned) future of the (banned) English (probably banned as racist) language?!


Ooo! that sounds like satire to me, or were they serious? Add to the list woman, person, human, and humanity. :flowers:

On the other hand, intolerance of any sort, be it racial/sexual/religious/physical etc. is vile, rocks the very foundations of society and is far more insidious than political correctness.

Where it all goes awry is in the way that countermeasures are selectively applied and/or applied unequally.


Hear! Hear!

Should this not be as simple as 'everyone is free to wear whatever religious symbols they desire - unless it prevents or interferes with a their ability to do their job'.


I agree.

Directly as a result of such measures, there is a rising ground swell in this country that believes there is 'us' and 'them' and that sensitivity towards 'them' is at the expense of the freedom of speech and expression of 'us'. Regardless of the rights or wrongs this is creating tension and extends to a belief that 'them' are beginning to hijack our country and should go back from whence they came. Needless to state many of 'them' are British born and bred.


Ouch! a different and more insidious form of legislated intolerance, from my perpective, by creating divisions instead of dialogue among people.
---------
Here we are taught to say: 'a person who is visually challenged', 'a person who is deaf' etc. to use "people first language." This is supposed to place the emphasis on the person rather than on the 'disability'. Many deaf people, however, are incensed about this language change which they have not proposed. They think it will result in a breakdown of the deaf community and possibly result in less assistance and fewer accommodations for the deaf. From my understanding, many people who are blind feel the same way.

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#14 drivingmecrazy

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Posted 27 November 2006 - 06:49 AM

Just to lighten things up a bit, I mentioned in one of my posts that Stockport College in England (in 2000) banned a whole series of words and phrases for being politically incorrect.

Apart from history, the list included woman and Mrs (all are sexist).

It would be funny if the college wasn't deadly serious. In college speak the words are discouraged rather than banned although students can be expelled for using them. eh?

I don't know if the policy has since changed (Stockport no longer publishes it in detail - wonder why!) but the chances are it still stands because otherwise the college would have to admit it was wrong and UK institutions are never wrong.

The wonderful irony is that Stockport is part of Manchester!

Anyway, enough of my rambling, the following articles say it all.

http://www.boundless.org/2000/regulars/kaufman/a0000305.html

http://www.i-cynic.com/weekly_3.asp

Oops, just realized I should ban myself - Drivingmecrazy

Edited by drivingmecrazy, 27 November 2006 - 06:51 AM.


#15 Orange Blossom

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Posted 27 November 2006 - 08:38 PM

http://www.boundless.org/2000/regulars/kaufman/a0000305.html

http://www.i-cynic.com/weekly_3.asp

Oops, just realized I should ban myself - Drivingmecrazy


:thumbsup: :flowers:


Oh, that second article in particular. Dad laughed more than he has in a long time.

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