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Witless
This is going to be a strangely structured post because I am so split on this topic that I can't bare to not post both sides of my beliefs on this.

Firstly a definition so we're clear with what I mean:
QUOTE
Political correctness (also politically correct or PC) is a term used to describe language, or behavior, which is claimed to be calculated to provide a minimum of offense, particularly to the racial, cultural, or other identity groups being described. The concept is not exclusive to the English language. A text that conforms to the ideals of political correctness is said to be politically correct.


I'll start with why I am pro-PC

Lets blow away that 'hmph' noise people make when they hear the words 'political correctness', as if it's a smelly phrase. I don't deny there's much to mock and make fun of in the PC movement (and quite frankly.. name a movement that this isn't the case), but that doesn't mean it's just something to 'hmph' and and see as pointless.

PC terms don't stop prejudice. It would be stupid to assume that just because using the word 'human' instead of 'mankind' to refer to our race would banish sexism from existence. But reinforcing the idea that when talking about grand things we say man, reserve human as a term used primarily in biology classrooms seems quite frankly very rude. Take these examples:
Master/Mistress
Bacheler/Spinster
There isn't even a decent term in existence in English for a female in a higher ranked position.. They have to mostly settle with sir, or ma'am.

When someone is given a job based on their race to fill equal oppurtunities quotas, most people jump in with an example they heard somewhere of some guy that didn't get a job even though he was more qualified than the ethnic minority bloke that got the job over him. I can't say I have ever heard of such a thing occuring, and on what basis were those claims made? They pinned down the guy that got the job and demanded to hear a list of his employment background and education to make a fair comparison? They looked over his shoulder at every turn and waited for him to make one small mistake and delcared him incompetent? I don't know about how accurate these claims are. The acts were brought in, in the first place because in certain areas of certain places there was proven prejudice, while in others there was at best only circumstantial prejudice.

Political correctness is handy at times because it irons out a lot of unfairness. It's not a perfect system (as I stated earlier). But as almost everyone can relate. It's annoying to have be made to feel like crap by something socially acceptable, and then be told your the one being awkward for being upset by it.

Now for why it bugs me

Problem is it so easily goes too far, some people make rediculous demands upon speech patterns and behavioural patterns that go way beyonf the sensical. A strong figure in the PC movement once demanded that the black in blacksmith be removed to not stir pain in the black population in the states. I can't say I have ever really felt much emotional pain due to a man who shoes horses being called a blacksmith to be honest.

Some people have demanded that every phrase that denotes some kind of violent feeling be banished from the language such 'to kill two birds with one stone'. It's a little far fetched.

But that brings me onto my next point. It's entirely true that there may indeed be people viciously offended be those examples I have just made. It's such an overwhelmingly subjective topic, (quite possibly why people get so hot blooded over it).

Even if people want to say "there needs to be a balance". Which I feel repliers to this topic are itching to type out. Then where? where's the line? I dare to say that no matter where you draw the line just as many people will be offended as before, and the situation will be exactly where it was before with no improvement.

Then there's the possibility that we could do nothing and the situation could fix itself. Distasteful words have fallen out of common use many many times before, that were once acceptable words to be uttered in church quite freely. But then I suppose you could argue that they became distasteful because a few pioneers pressed for them to become so.

Indeed it's true that the majority of racist and sexist terms that are now unacceptable became so only due to the woman's movement of the 19th century and the later Black rights movements in the 20th. (yes this paragraph probably should be in the pro PC section.. but it only made sense after the last paragraph so 'Bleurgh..')


Overall I can only really conclude that it's unconcludable (real word? probably not..) and the debate will rage on forever more for the foreseeable next few centuries, and perhaps forever more until the human race comes to an abrupt end, and PC issues will be the least of our concerns. (Woman: I'll drive us to the store. Man: I ain't letting no woman drive me around. Woman: But the radiation from all the nuclear fall out has caused your legs to fall off. Man: Touche`)

(On an amusing side note, even the Political correctness page of wikipedia has the statement:
QUOTE
The neutrality of this article is disputed.

Evidently it's painfully hard to please people even with a definition!)
Mata
For the record, there was recently a case of a caucasian guy successfully suing one police for 'positive discrimination'. He had managed to get one of the people to go on record saying that the force had deliberately not bothered to screen a large number candidates that were white because of government imposed targets for the required enthic mix in the forces.

This in itself provides a good point for this debate, because it provides a real-world example of the problems that striving for equality can bring. The British government has said that each police force needs to comprise of a certain percentage of 'ethnic groups'; however, in the north of the UK there are notably less people from non-European backgrounds, due to various historical factors. Those with different skin colours who do live there are just as reticent to join the police as others are across the country, resulting in forces having problems reaching the targets and the 'positive discrimination' issue.

Is it right that the government should try to force the police to get the ethnic mix that government wants them to have? Does the good of a representative police force outweigh the bad of prejudice against white applicants?
That_Guy
In my opinion, the phrase "Positive Discrimination" is an oxymoron. Will giving certain races a higher chance of being hired REALLY help race relations, or will it increase tension even more?

Being a policeman is fundamentally the same as being, say, an ice cream truck driver, or a doctor. You do your job, you get paid. I could care less about the color of your skin because I'm a customer, not a census pollman.
Mata
There is a point of view that the suffering of those who lose out to 'positive discrimination' is outweighed by the benefits of having a more representative police force. In a situation that is already tense (as most situations requiring the police will be) then it can only be beneficial to an operation for issues of race/racism to be lessened or removed.

An advantage may also be found through the internal awareness of different cultures that may develop inside the forces from a better mix of backgrounds: by this I mean that racism inside the police forces can be best combatted by making racist officers confront their opinions of others on a daily basis. This would then have a trickle-down effect to the quality of policing those officers can offer.

I don't think I agree with 'positive discrimination' as a policy, because it seems to be taking one sort of racism and trying to negate it with another (albeit well-intentioned) one. I'm not sure that you can counteract anything in culture usefully by inverting the values and enforcing them; however, I can also see the reasoning behind the policy, and I find it hard to fault the logic on a basic level.
oobunnie
QUOTE
I don't think I agree with 'positive discrimination' as a policy, because it seems to be taking one sort of racism and trying to negate it with another (albeit well-intentioned) one. I'm not sure that you can counteract anything in culture usefully by inverting the values and enforcing them; however, I can also see the reasoning behind the policy, and I find it hard to fault the logic on a basic level.

The logic? Logic is assuming all variables to come to the best solution. Considering what has been a less then stellar rep. for racial hiring I would have to disagree with the logic. As far as my understanding goes, racial hiring is meant to help control the diversity in the workforce. I don't however understand giving grants to companies that "fill there quota". This would logically lead to companies hiring or casting to hire certain racial groups to benefit from the grant money then hiring the best qualified. Not in my opinion a great solution. But then again I really don't think that there is a great solution to this problem. Don't implement racial hiring and you give the reflection of diversity over to the hiring workforce which may not agree with what you think is an acceptable percentage of minorities being represented. Tough call really.
As for political correctness. Meh as long as you don't upset most people (your never going to be able to please the really fanatical people so why try) then go with it. Oh and don't use what can be offensive terms in an intentionally mean way.
CommieBastard
A point in defense of political correctness: just because a term does not offend people, does not mean it ought not be removed. Language shapes thought and belief, and frames our society's entire political discourse. One of the main points of political correctness in language, which I think people miss, is to stop the language reinforcing prejudice - create a level playing field. If the language itself is biased against women, black people, Asians, gays or whoever, then it disadvantages them.
oobunnie
I suppose it's all up to the judgement of how a term is being used, and to what degree it's being used.
No matter what terms or phrases you remove from language there will always be different ways to state the same perception. Working in a bar I can get this alot from certain types of men. On a general basis they don't use derogatory terms like "bitch" or I dunno "wench" but it really doesn't stop them from trying to treat me like a piece of meat anyway. Why? Because people think they can act however they want regardless of societies ethical restrictions. People are very creative. Stomp one idea out and they'll come up with two more.

(I hope this made sense. It's four in the morning and I've been doing way to much studying. Damn you mid terms!)
Mata
I occasionally call Sues a wench, but most of the time I'm the one making dinner or cups of tea, so I'm allowed to get away with it smile.gif

Language does define how we think about things. I was chatting with a guy last night who grew up in Thailand but who has been in England for 14 years. He would always say 'martial art' when a person from the UK would say 'martial arts'. I found this interesting, because in all other ways his speech and diction was excellent. He said that in Thailand there isn't a way of indicating in a word that something is a plural, instead it would always be done by the sentence, for example 'this paragraph contains many word', the use of 'many' indicates the plural so the 's' is not needed.

When he was young, Thai kickboxing was an accepted part of what a child would do, but the language shaped his perception of combat forms so that he perceives there to really only be one 'martial art' that expresses itself in a variety of ways. Despite knowing that the correct English form is to say 'martial arts' when speaking of the plural, his understanding of the concept of martial arts has been shaped by his early language so that he always thinks of it in the singular sense.

Which is a long way of saying that yes, language can change the way people think, and the way that people think changes the way that they act, so the hope is that politically correct language will change the behaviour of people. Maybe it won't happen this generation, but it's got to start somewhere!
LoLo
QUOTE (Mata @ Oct 20 2006, 04:19 AM) *
Which is a long way of saying that yes, language can change the way people think, and the way that people think changes the way that they act, so the hope is that politically correct language will change the behaviour of people. Maybe it won't happen this generation, but it's got to start somewhere!


A lot of the time though political correct language becomes so out of control that it just seems silly and it loses it's initial intent. I've noticed more using political correct terms used more often to mock than to make a level playing field anymore.

You can add to that too, how people can't seem to figure out what is actually politically correct to call people. Perhaps this is just where I'm at, but it is really hard to know what to call people if you want to refer to their race. Examples : Here you can call someone from Mexico, a Mexican-American, which quite a few don't like because they are from Mexico. The thought may then be to just call them Mexicans, but again a lot don't like that because some people haven't even been to Mexico and were born in the US, but they don't want to just simply be called Americans either because they want to hold onto their origins. So then there's the term Lation/a which I have been informed is not that PC of a term because it connects them back to Europe by the use of the term "latin" which relates them to people they see as oppressors. So the last term is Chicano/a which from what I've been told is an ok one, but some people still have a problem with it.

I think my point was being PC can get out of control, but for some reason just completely leveling the field and calling people, people for some reason doesn't even seem to work. I think it's a good concept but in practice, doesn't seem to do what it's supposed to.
oobunnie
QUOTE (Mata @ Oct 20 2006, 11:19 AM) *
I occasionally call Sues a wench, but most of the time I'm the one making dinner or cups of tea, so I'm allowed to get away with it smile.gif

Okay so I happen to think "wench" is an amusing title as well, it was 4 in the morning and I tried my best to come up with something, possibly Ho would have worked better. But then again maybe I can use to to further explain my point that context of use is very important. In the situation of you using the word wench it is in a joking manner not meant to offend, and is thus taken as such. Now if some random guy were to call me wench when I was working and used it in a rude way I would probably be offended. I can use this word for example as I to have a story involving it. One night when I was working there was this one guy who preferred to refer to me as girl all night long eg. "Hey girl, I want to add that guys beer to my tab". I found this to be very rude and finally snapped "Actually sir I am to be addressed as bar wench". Thats the thing about the English language, unlike most languages ours relies heavily upon the use and placement of a word.
What was my point again? This still doesn't seem very lucid. I need more sleep. unsure.gif
Witless
I guess maybe you could say it comes down to numbers. Which is said.. but I guess true in this case.
How many people are being offended by anyone term?

If a racist term only offended 1 person in the world we'd probably never get rid of it. We'd all come up with reasons and situations as to why that term was ok and how ingrained into society it is, so that we could NEVER do away with it, (though that's not true, words have been sucfessfully artificially removed from english many many times before, even within the last 50 years).

But we would probably happily remove a term that wasn't even originally offensive just because certain people applied meaning to it. An example would be:

And mata.. feel free to censor this word if you think it should be.

'lady part'. That word was originally less sensitive than the word 'darn' (honest truth!). Infact historically the worst words to ever utter were words related to religion. So..
Damn, Holy mother, and Hell being used in a cursing way were like sins... then later even the words that were the softer alternatives like, 'darn' and 'heck'. Were very very bad. Yet 'lady part' is now the word most loaded with moral evils and some of the others are allowed in sesame street!

Part of my brain keeps tugging on my morale fibers saying that "it's wrong to let numbers of people offended dictate which words are ripe for omiting from everyday speech, and which words are harmless." But I cannot say I can figure what else could or would realistically be done.

EDIT: hehe... it changed the word to 'ladypart' automatically. *giggles like a child*
pgrmdave
I think that political correctness for the sake of not offending people tends to be silly, and bad in some ways. We shouldn't strive not to offend, we should strive to be respectful.
Daria
Political correctness even affects little things- example soya milk. It is now Soya Drink and is not allowed to be referred to as milk because it does not come from an animal.

I am not sure if this could be regarded as SPAM...
Calantyr
QUOTE (Daria @ Nov 15 2006, 07:15 PM) *
Political correctness even affects little things- example soya milk. It is now Soya Drink and is not allowed to be referred to as milk because it does not come from an animal.

I am not sure if this could be regarded as SPAM...


That's not political correctness, that's advertising standards. Advertising it as milk is seen as false advertising as it is not secretions of female mammal mammery glands. However the definition of 'milk' also includes the juice and sap of plants, so it's actually pretty pointless in changing it.
monkey_called_narth
this may be a bit off the topic... or not depending how well i can swing this. i kinnda go both ways as well...

For one, i am definatly for the idea of forcing companies to have qoutas causing them to hire people of diferent races. Generally this qouta is a small percent, of people whom otherwise, the company wouldn't hire. Thus the idea that, "well this n' is stealling my job" is normally just a dramatic way to complain about that fact that some white boy was not hired, for whatever reason. Also considering the fact that a woman can expect to make 70 cents to every white males dollar, and a person of african decent can expect to make 60 cents... they already have the short end of the stick.

other general things:

im also into the idea of putting the person befor the race/disability/whatever. i.e. a person with downsyndrom, a girl that is blind, a man of african decent.

I suport this because people -can- use terms to dehumanise people... i.e. the retard, blind girl, black man.

'cause, as mata stated befor, word patterns can affeft the way you think.

but, there is also a point of definatly going to far.

Somtimes Pyrsons like to hange the spelling of some words. i dont understand how Wymen can sell out to the idea that having a Y is better then an O, cause matter of fact, men is still in the word. then again, who am i to contradict the grrrls of today and the way they change spelling of all Hymankind. Generally, i can understand mailperson, chairperson, ect. But i dont see how spelling everything with a y is going to chang the Wyrld.

p.s. Wymen scare me.
That_Guy
I'll go out on a limb and suggest that differentiating earnings based on race and gender may or may not be a direct result of discrimination by the employer. Such blanket statements, as far as the extent of my knowledge can tell, do not take into consideration factors such as overtime hours, work ethic and the like. Said factors are possibly affected by cultural or physical (Body composition, not physical appearance) differences.

I've dug up a rather interesting essay on the issue of discrimination and business ethics, which I beleive relates very well to the topic of political correctness: http://www.friesian.com/discrim.htm

An excerpt:

QUOTE
Ethnic stereotypes that are not based on any experience or real knowledge of their subjects are mere bigotry, and there is plenty of that in every human community. But these views of the anti-discrimination laws tend to assume that all ethnic prejudice or stereotypes are bigoted and irrational, and that is simply not the case. On the other hand it would be far too much trouble, and too fallible, to take things on a case by case basis and try to determine which stereotypes are accurate and which are not. It would be very odd to have the United State Government, say, making official pronouncements about the moral and social virtues and vices of various ethnic groups. That would certainly offend everyone and please no one. The alternatives consequently are either to leave employers alone, to be rational or irrational as they wish, or to force them to bear the costs of inflexible non-discrimination on the principle that the costs overall to society may be less than the costs of allowing bigotry.


Interesting stuff. More later.
sirdudly
A lot of public schools wont teach and study Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn because it uses the word "nigger" a couple hundred times. Often people don't understand the message behind the language. Twain uses the word to show how stupid it is. I believe that the schools who ban the book because of a satirically used derogatory word are no better than the racists in the story.
bryden42
I have a real (it happened to me) case study that illustrates all kind of things that are right and wrong with political correctness and equal opportunities policies.

I was the theatre technician for a higher education establishment. as part of the back stage course students were expected to be able to safely rig a number of lanterns to a predrawn plan and be able to operate the lighting control desk. I had had a heads up that in the coming intake of students there was a girl with spina bifida (sp?). the young lady was completely dependent on crutches or wheel chair to get around. I put my thinking cap on and came up with alternate methods of teaching and assesing the girl that did not involve her using our scaffolding tower or our lighting control box. I had already determined that it would not be an issue to bring the contol desk down to the student so that she could operate from ground level. or if this was not going to be acceptable to the student I had rigged a safety harness system to the vertical ladder leading to the control box. This seemed to satisfy my health and safety officer and I was a happy bunny as I had managed to overcome a hurdle in the teaching of the course and would be able to deliver a comparible experience to the student. The issue was going to be the Scaffolding tower. The scaffolding tower is on wheels for easy manouverability around the theatre, but the regulations regarding the tower meant that everytime the tower is moved the person at the top has to come down whilst it is transit. I ran a risk assesment specifically with our new student in mind past our health and safety officer and she deemed that the risk of falling was too high for someone with lowered mobility. I looked into a number of alternatives including winch system, saftety aresst harnesses etc all of which would not have worked in the context of the theatre I was based in. I eventually came up with a suspended grid of pipes at ground level to simulate the grid in the roof. It was going to be a lot of work for me but the studentwas going to be able to rig her lights and be able to demonstarte her skills for an exam. This seemed to please my superiors and all was good. Until the student arrived. The student was not happy with our solutions and demanded the right to haveaccess to the scaffolding tower claiming that we were discriminating against her and offering her a lesser experience than the rest of the students on the course. This was an ongoing issue for the final year of my job there and I left for other reasons before a solution was found.
As an institute of learning we had a duty of responsibilityy toward sthe safety of our students. The student had rights under the disability discrimination act (and thats just the legalise part of he argument). Which wins?
On a personal note, I disagreed with the students inclusion on the course, she was taking a vocational qualification to work in an industry where she would not be able to physically carry out the work for which she was training. I am well aware that everything should be done to accomodate her wishes, but old theatres are simply not adaptable in the way that most workplaces are. I think she is chasing a vocation that is sorely going to let her down, and I have always thought of theatre a as very equal environment to work. The attitude is always the best person for the job does the job.

Thoughts anyone?
bryden42
*bump*
i am really quite interested in finding out what you guys would have done, thoughts on the matter!
pgrmdave
If someone cannot complete a job, then they shouldn't do it, even if they have no control over whether or not they can perform at the job. It isn't discriminating to tell a quadraplegic that they can't be a construction worker. So long as all workers are held to the same standards, then I don't think it's discriminatory. In the specific case where it was a student learning, the student's saftey takes precedence.
bryden42
QUOTE (pgrmdave @ Dec 17 2006, 05:50 PM) *
If someone cannot complete a job, then they shouldn't do it, even if they have no control over whether or not they can perform at the job. It isn't discriminating to tell a quadraplegic that they can't be a construction worker. So long as all workers are held to the same standards, then I don't think it's discriminatory. In the specific case where it was a student learning, the student's saftey takes precedence.


Thanks for the feedback pgrm, Its nice to get some feedback in the positive.
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