Tuesday, April 25, 2006

In the Age of Politically Correct

I watched with trepidation this Age blossom and pollinate over the last twenty-plus years. Now its seeds are growing all over the world. In several places, it has become a noxious weed.

Even the term ‘Politically Correct’ has been deemed politically incorrect. It’s “offensive’. I still haven’t quite determined who is offended by it and why. But I am astute enough to note the furrowed eyebrows and tight lips when it is mentioned.

Mick Hume, an editor of spiked online of the UK, aptly coined it “The Age of Intolerant Tolerance”.

“The pattern goes like this. Tony Blair says that we have to meet the extremist threat by 'championing our values of freedom, tolerance and respect for others'. Then his ministers announce new plans to criminalise 'indirect incitement' of terrorism, along with tougher proposals to outlaw 'incitement to religious hatred'.

The government must have a different dictionary than I do. Mine defines tolerance as 'broad-mindedness' or 'permitting free expression of views one does not share'. In the Whitehall Newspeak edition, however, tolerance appears to mean the opposite. In order to defend our tolerant society we apparently have to ban views that most people do not share. Welcome to the age of intolerant tolerance.”

Hume’s new label is apposite for this growing weed. The UK is not the only fertile soil for its growth. Pervasive here in the US, it permeates through every faction of our society, even in science. And our government condones or secretively encourages it, as long as it is to their advantage.

How do we turn the tide? Start with yourself, your neighbors, coworkers, friends, newspapers, local societies and committees. Start with the grass roots. Prolific, strong and healthy grass eventually chokes weeds which dwindle down to form a balanced ecology. And the pasture thrives.

“We need to tolerate the 'free expression of views one does not share', in order that we can sort out the truth in the open, instead of trying to bury difficult issues beneath a pile of bans. Let everybody freely express their views - and let us all have the freedom ruthlessly to question, criticise and interrogate everything that is said, about everything from religion to race, from suicide bombings to British values. Now more than ever we need freedom of speech for a frank and 'broad-minded' debate about the sort of society we live in and where it is heading.”

Reiterating a quote from Voltaire:

“'Think for yourselves, and let others enjoy the privilege of doing so too.”

Too bad we have forgotten how to think for ourselves.

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