|Montreal, January 19, 2002 / No 96|
by Edward W.Younkins
Multiculturalism leads to politically correct language. Such language must be consistent with multiculturalist principles. This means that language should: 1) not favor one group over another; 2) not infringe on any group's right to sovereignty; 3) not interfere with the peaceful relationship of any minority group with those from other groups; 4) not hinder society (i.e., the state) in its attempts to protect cultural groups (i.e., social, economic, and ethnic minorities) whose views are declared to be equally valid and who have the "right" to equal opportunity, integrity, and point of view; and 5) not promote stereotypes of any kind.
The obsession of the morally-superior, sensitive, and conspicuously compassionate
elite with the subjective feelings of people is part of today's prevailing
therapeutic vision of man. This infatuation with sensitivity has spread
throughout the media and academia leading to the creation of feel-good
euphemisms which part with accuracy and unambiguity in the interest of
feeling and sympathy. Unfortunately, these "linguistic smile buttons" simply
camouflage reality rather than change it.
Advocates of political correctness attempt to homogenize our language and thought not only to enhance the self-esteem of minorities, women, and beneficiaries of the welfare state but also to preserve the moral image of the welfare state itself. One approach to reaching this goal is to eliminate disparaging, discriminatory, or offensive words and phrases and the substitutions of harmless vocabulary at the expense of economy, clarity, and logic. Another approach is to deconstruct a word or phrase into its component parts, treat the component parts as wholes, and focus on secondary meanings of the component parts. For example, the term mankind is said to be exclusive, misleading, and biased when it is employed to refer to both men and women.
The politically correct fail to understand that language is the result of an evolved social process that corresponds to a systemic order achieved without the use of a deliberate overall plan. Language simply arises out of accidents, experiences, and historical borrowings and corruptions of other languages. No one intended to exclude women when generic terms like "he" or "mankind" were used. With respect to human beings, the male gender was used to denote the species. On the other hand, both countries and ships are referred to as "she". Using "he or she" or "him or her" simply clutters the language and conveys no further information. However, such use does imply that those who use the masculine terms hold hostile or exclusionary thoughts toward women! This leads people to believe that every use of generic male terms is evidence of male antagonism toward women when, in fact, such usage merely avoids awkward phrases and cluttered language.
Political correctness supplies a language through which it is easy to be a victim and always someone or something that can be blamed. Think of terms like "culturally deprived," "developmentally challenged," etc. Political correctness involves a lot of people attempting to explain the reasons for their lack of great success. These victim-type explanations or excuses generally include the idea that a person is having a rough time because of his particular race or gender. Essentially, political correctness is a way to rationalize who you are and why you are not better than what or who you are.
Victims are taught that their failures and suffering are invariably the result of some unfair and rectifiable condition that social engineers could remedy if the insensitive would simply let them. This reinforces the erroneous views that human life is perfectible and that all suffering is a deviation that can be corrected. People are led to believe that the world should be a place where they never suffer disappointment or failure. Of course, the tragic truth is that people can fail and that individuals are unequal in talents and achievements.
On some campuses seeking higher standards of human accomplishments is no longer valued as highly as politically correct thinking. Academic freedom through free speech is accompanied by high social costs on campuses where truth is viewed as nothing more than different perspectives being offered by different groups in order to promote their own interests. Education-imposed biases restrict students' thinking when curricula are developed to be nonsexist, peace-centered, anti-biased, and politically correct.
Broadly conceived, political correctness includes a number of initiatives such as: altering vocabularies in order not to offend particular groups, affirmative action in admissions and hiring, multicultural education, and broadening the scope of classical texts to include those written by minority authors and women, not because of the quality of these texts but because they reflect minority realities. Then there are the workshops in which people are taught by "experts" how to be attuned to others' feelings and how to avoid being found guilty of "sexual harassment," "racial insensitivity," and so on.
The government has, in essence, eliminated most free speech protection in the workplace. Free speech, which is an economic good to academics through which they make their living, has fared somewhat better in the educational world. But political correctness (and multiculturalism) threatens free speech in both the academic sphere and the non-academic workplace and ultimately the very foundation of North American society.
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