In Praise of PC.
Language is a weapon. Some language is all about power.
Language is employed by the powerful to control the less powerful and keep them in their place.
The people who have the power have been white Anglo-Saxon males. The people they control are women, gays and ethnic minorities.
A whole raft of language grew up that was derogatory to all these groups. It was recognised that this language was both a put-down and a way of demonstrating superiority. It was intended to remind people of their inferiority. It was intended to reinforce the status quo.
All that language contained a huge volume of connotations that did not need to be stated. When those derogatory terms were deployed it was fully understood what message they contained. It was powerful.
What was being conveyed was that women, gays and ethnic minorities were inferior and should know their place and bow before their white Anglo-Saxon masters. They were either not as clever, emotionally unstable, perverted, disgusting, uncivilised, or a mixture of all of these.
This language was intended to undermine the confidence of these groups and to raise the esteem of the white man who was reasserting his superiority. Even the most stupid, ignorant runty white Anglo-Saxons could feel superior to women, gays, and ethnic minorities. The language asserted that.
Racial groups, women and gays were demonised, ridiculed, stereotyped and kept down.
We had our sluts, fags, spics, niggers, wops, wogs and a whole host of other put-downs – each reaffirming the power balance.
Political correctness came out of a movement towards equality. It was no longer considered correct to have a hierarchy of inequality. The stereotypes no longer held up. It was obvious that women, gays and ethnic minorities were not inferior. They had a right to be treated with respect and as equals. They should not be put-down in an abusive derogatory manner.
Political correctness was about not deploying derogatory power language that is aimed at asserting superiority and depowering other people.
I like PC. I think we need it. I believe in equality (and by that I do not imply that all people are equal – some are obviously better at things than others – but that all people are equally important and should be treated with respect and afforded equal opportunity) and the myth of Anglo-Saxon superiority is simply wrong.
I believe that we should judge people by the content of their character;
We should be tolerant of people who are different;
We should not deploy language designed to create power hierarchies.
That is PC for me.
Of course, PC, just like Health and Safety, has often gone too far. We have gone into the realms of the absurd.
I am all in favour of causing offense. I am in favour of challenging attitudes. I am not in favour of stereotyping or power games. There’s a difference.