Political correctness is essentially a means of branding statements that one does not like, for whatever reason, as unutterable. It dismisses certain words and ideas from public discourse. To label something as “PC” means, in effect: “I forbid you to say that!” As an example, years ago I used the word “Oriental,” a word in long use in Western culture, and someone in the car with me erupted: “You can’t say that! The word is ‘East Asian.’” I was surprised, as I had never heard that before. So certain words are deemed “unspeakable” because the hearer dislikes them for whatever reason. In this case, when questioned, the woman who chided me for using “Oriental” said that the word is “offensive.” (I have noticed that the self-created “PC police” love to brand words or phrases as “offensive,” thereby dismissing them.) It had never occurred to me that “Oriental” would be “offensive,” nor its paired opposite, “Occidental.” They are word pairs used to locate parts of the world, nothing more. I know well in my heart that I have always had respect and fondness for peoples from Asia, so it came as an utter surprise to be told that my word for people I respected was “offensive.”
Another example, and one that affected millions of persons for years, was the use of the word “man.” If the Scriptures read in church, for example, said, “Brother,” some more “sensitive” women protested,“You are leaving me out!” When the word “man” was used in speech, meaning someone, or a human being, protests were even louder: "That is sexist! Male domination!” Apparently, some of these “liberated” persons had not learned in their education that in standard English for many centuries, “man” had two different uses: human being; and, the male of the species. These liberated folks did not know, apparently, that they were included as human beings when the word “man” was used. So many of us accommodated to their weakness and lack of education, as one concedes to the needs of children who have not grown up yet. No harm is done, really, if we see “human being” rather than “man” or “mankind,” and it is good to help others “feel included.”
Those who go around labeling the speech of others as “politically incorrect,” or saying, “You can’t say that!” are deeply rooted in the American political tradition. In fact they are deeply rooted in Occidental culture, and especially in countries where Calvinism hit hard. In Switzerland, a man was burned at the stake under Calvin’s authority because he would not say that God is a “Trinity.” He had different words for speaking about the divine. He used the wrong words, so he was burned alive. That Calvinist “theologically correct / incorrect” culture came to America with the English Puritans, who instilled it in New England, and it later spread throughout our young country. In time, human beings dropped the theological mask for their politically dominating intentions, and “theologically incorrect” became “politically incorrect.” In short, “PC” is an inheritance from our Puritan and Puritanical ancestors.
Secular, liberal-progressives in America are without a doubt the spiritual and political heirs of the Puritans, and so it should not be surprising that as with the New England Puritans, certain words and behaviors are deemed “unacceptable,” and “not PC.” I had an early taste of this Puritanical-correctness as a small boy when my family would visit a neurotic aunt. My parents warned me not to use certain words in her presence, such as the word “stink.” I was told that she did not allow that word to be said in her house or in her hearing. Here we have Puritanism in a secular-neurotic form. This aunt was clearly driven by a will to dominate others, to make them try to adjust to her ways, and she used her “sensitivity” to certain words to control the speech and actions of others.
“Political correctness” is an effort by secular liberal-Progressives and now by others to dominate the culture and to dominate individual citizens by telling them what they can and cannot say. Political correctness is, without a doubt, a prime example in our midst of the will to power, the desire to dominate others. It is perhaps the foremost way that the will to power shows up in everyday life. It is not only about controlling speech, but about controlling thoughts, attitudes, one’s inner world. Not permitting certain words or phrases to be uttered is a step toward from forbidding gestures and expressions. Indeed, I have often observed folks correcting others for thoughts and gestures. “Wipe that smile off your face!” In our country, especially with the power of political correctness, we have entered the totalitarian world lampooned by George Orwell in his insightful 1984, portraying a totalitarian, mind-controlling society in which one could be arrested not only for using “offensive” words, but for “face crimes.” In America, a person can be denounced for using non-politically correct language. The response to candidate Donald Trump has brought this disease into the light. Trump has openly and probably deliberately violated the rules set up by the self-appointed PC police, who dominate American mass media. Note how the Progressives, the heirs to the Puritans, hate Trump because he utters the wrong theological-political verbiage. A Calvinist would have burned him for having “the wrong religion.” Secular Progressives skewer him for using the wrong words, and being “so insensitive” to “minorities.” (And note how Progressives constantly divide up the body politic into “minorities,” and racial differences, and so on. It is the old political trick of “divide and conquer.” Progressives divide up the electorate in order to gain political control. And it often works.)
In reality, Progressives with their annoying charges of “politically incorrect,” or charging that someone is “insensitive,” or “offensive,” or declaring words “not pluralistic,” and so on, are essentially exercising their will to power, to dominate, not only politics and speech, but people’s thinking, imagining, and spiritual lives. “Politically correct” is a case of totalitarianism in action. For this reason, it ought to be exposed, resisted, and mocked, although anyone who attempts to do so will be dropped into the Progressive oblivion hole of “bad,” or rather, “hateful,” or using “hate speech,” and so on. Keep in mind what their charges really display: their own likes and dislikes; and their desire to control others. It is that simple, even though, as with the Puritans, it masquerades as holiness, now called “being sensitive to others’ feelings.” “Sensitivity” is the secular form of Puritanical “saintliness,” or “holiness.”
Now, having unmasked “PC” as a form of speech and mind control, this much should be added: A mature human being ought to govern his own speech, and not use words just because they are offensive. Truth will always be offensive to some. Consider how the gospel of Christ offended the Jews who could not tolerate the spiritual revolution that Christ brought. Or consider how the Catholic hierarchy would not tolerate some views of the Reformers, such as Luther, who wanted, among other things, a more open community of faith, however misguided his understanding of “faith” was. Truth will be offensive, and a truth-teller must be prepared to accept rejection and persecution for speaking the truth. (Spiritual truth is highly offensive to Progressive intellectuals.) However, only a fool or a cruel human being deliberately utters words just because they are offensive. When I spoke of “Orientals,” I know well that I intended no disrespect at all, so the person who chided me was playing PC police woman, not a kind friend at that point. She should have asked me, “Do you know that some Asians feel offended by that name?” Had she questioned me, I would have given the matter thought, and tested it empirically, as is my wont. Those who charge others with not being “politically correct” or of being “insensitive,” and so on, are not interested in questioning, but in controlling. That is what “politically correct” language is all about: mind control, domination.
Wm. Paul McKane
25 January 2016
Feast of the Conversion of the Apostle Paul