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clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right

i've never been a fan of "political correctness". in fact, when i was more actively involved in social causes, i used to get a bit of a cheap thrill by baiting the sort of people who insisted that all evils in the world could be eliminated if we simply imposed restrictions on acceptable language and shamed anyone who didn't share our views.

i worked in an atmosphere that had a lot of that element to it and was routinely put down, sadly by other women, as a "bad feminist" because of the fact that i wore dresses and make-up and didn't apologise for it (feminist don't wear fishnets...), ignoring a lot of the more meaningful parts of my life and personality in favour of what they could see on the surface. so i know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of a politically correct diatribe and i don't have a lot of patience for it.

that said, now that i'm out in the "real" world (as opposed to an overly academic, self-reflecting dream-world), i am starting to notice a lot of the things that got these people so riled up to begin with. i was speaking to a couple of co-workers today and both of them, one of them a pretty senior person, were going on at some length about how they only wanted to have men as bosses, not women. i was pretty clear that i thought it was stupid to make assumptions based on gender either way (i've had bad bosses of both sexes), which immediately gets me branded as some political correct language cop cracking down on them for expressing opinions (it's amazing how many people equate challenging an opinion with challenging their right to hold that opinion).

how did i end up on the wrong end of both sides of this debate? i don't care what anyone says, it is asinine in this day and age to talk about women and men as somehow homogeneous groups (whether you're judging them from the left or the right). although this is common sense to me, it's apparently heresy to most individuals, who are afraid to disturb the convenient little compartments into which they place everybody. (i will also add that i think this is especially an issue with gender. i don't believe that it would have been considered acceptable for a co-worker to say she didn't want to work for anyone who was black, for instance, although i'm sure there are people who do say such things.)

although this has been in my mind today, it's something i've noticed a lot and on an ongoing basis. on the one hand, i detest it when anyone cries out that they're a victim every time someone says something that hurts their feelings. on the other hand, i hear enough stupid statements about others based on broad stereotypes, mostly from people who should know better, that i also understand the urge to yell.

and here i am, arguing with both sides and wondering why people are so hung up on maintaining their preconceived notions, even in the face of evidence that those notions have lost whatever marginal usefulness they might have had. i believe it was shaw who said that common sense was the least common of all senses. it's a statement that unfortunately seems to gain currency over time.

Comments

Andrew Evans said…
This is a great blog! I suggest you read Daphne Patei's book "Heterophobia" She is a gender studies professer in the states who seams to have a similair perspective to you when it comes to "identity politics". I am a straight, white male who performs stand up comedy. Challenging opinions held by women on stage is death to someone like me. I am not allowed to have opinions about women, unless they are positive, or men are ultimately to blame. I do not go out of my way to make fun of women, but if I see a hypocrisy withing the feminist movement or something that just doesn't make sense to me, I would like to voice it. Keep challenging those opinions, the world needs you to do it!
Andrew Evans
www.angryandrew.com
flora_mundi said…
haven't ever been shy about the opinions, so please drop by any time...

i can't help but notice that a disproportionate number of us common sense types seem to come from or have lived in halifax... must be all the extra fluoride in the water down there.

as long as you're here, why not read more?

losers?

just a short time ago, i waxed prosaic about trump supporters who felt betrayed by their candidate pursuing in office the exact things that he said he would. short version: i have no sympathy.

today is a bit different. in the wake of america's bombing of a syrian air strip, in response to a chemical weapons attack by the syrian government, my facebook and twitter feeds were peppered with plaintive shades of "we believed you". these are the people who heard trump say that he wanted the united states to step back and focus on defending its own. indeed, trump did say such things, over and over; america cannot be the policeman of the world. even arch-liberal cynics like me had to admit that this was a refreshing argument to hear from someone outside the paul family, and, could easily have been turned into trump's greatest argument against hillary clinton. [he chose to go another way, which also worked.]

trump also said, repeatedly, that america needed to invest heavily …

long division

after the united states election last year, there were the usual calls for the country to unite behind the new president. that never happens anymore, because, since george w. bush scored a victory in 2004, having launched the country into a war in iraq for no reason, the people on the losing side of a presidential election have been pretty bloody angry about it. democrats hated bush 43. republicans really hated obama. democrats really hate trump.

it didn't help that trump didn't make the typical conciliatory gestures like including a couple of members of the opposite party in his cabinet, or encouraging his party to proceed slowly with contentious legislation. barack obama arguably wasted at least two and as many as six years of his tenure as president trying to play peacemaker before he felt sufficiently safe to just say "screw you guys" and start governing around the ridiculous congress he was forced to deal with. not-giving-a-shit obama was the best president in …

don't speak

you might think that it sounds dramatic, but linguistic genocide is something that happens. people in power will go to great lengths to eradicate certain languages, not just for the sheer joy of making the world a lesser place, but as a way of beating down the culture that's associated with it. language has a unique reciprocal bond with culture, and every group that has attempted to break down another has recognised that forbidding a cultural group from communicating in their own language is an extremely effective way to tear apart their culture.

there are lots [and lots and lots and lots] of examples of this sort of thing, some successful, some not, but far too many to cover in one blog post. however, i thought it was worth looking at some languages that have been the subjects of active repression, and what the political consequences of that have been.

devastation :: the native north american languages :: it should come as no surprise that the largest genocide in history [by a ma…