“So you like Trump ’cause he’s honest, and you respect that… But he’s honest about being racist. That’s like saying you like rapists ’cause they’re real go-getters, and you respect tenacity.” ~ Keon Polee
There are a whole bunch of people around right now who are very against the concept of “Political Correctness.” These people count it as a great injustice when someone loses a job or is publicly shamed just because they may have expressed views that are offensive or repulsive to huge swaths of humanity. Likewise, they revel in the times when people say things that seem sexually or racially insensitive, while celebrating as Heroes of Free Speech those brave few who are willing to “tell it like it is.”
One of those “heroes” spoke up this week… The controversial Governor of Maine, Paul LePage, expressed some of his ideas about the folks who are trafficking heroin into Maine and are responsible for the state’s heroin epidemic. Here is the video of his remarks:
Just in case you don’t watch, here is the absolutely unbelievable quote:
“These are guys with the name “D-Money,” “Smoothie,” “Shifty” – these types of guys. They come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here to sell their heroin, they go back home. Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave… which is a real sad thing, because then we have another issue we have to deal with down the road.” ~ Paul LePage, Governor of Maine
If you DIDN’T watch the video, chances are you just read that quote and thought, “Nah… That can’t be right,” and you just went back and clicked on the video to see if he actually said that. I did the same thing. In the comments section of the post in which I read about this story, a person wrote that he liked Governor LePage because he “tells it like it is.” But the more I think about the phrase “tells it like it is,” really it starts to sound like a whole different way of obscuring language with Political Correctness. If you think about it, in cases like this, saying someone is just “telling it like it is” has become PC code for “I agree with the racist thing this person has just said.”
And this anti-political-correctness movement has its tentacles in EVERYTHING right now. It affects conversations about what’s happening in Oregon… It affects a perceived “War On Christmas” and results in people saying “Merry Christmas” like a middle finger… It affects how Christians speak about Muslims… It affects how people speak about refugees… I was writing about this stuff three years ago when I wrote about people letting go of using the word “Retarded.” It’s everywhere. People file all of their prejudices and bigotry under “Everyone Is Way Too Worried About Political Correctness These Days,” and that way it’s really easy to dismiss it when someone looks at them and says, “Hey. That’s not okay. You’re better than this… WE’RE better than this!”
Listen–You might have a very real concern and fear that all our white daughters are getting knocked up by black men. You might see this as just ONE MORE THING that deteriorates racial purity in this country… But if you decide to voice that concern (or, as in the case of Gov. LePage, it accidentally slips out), don’t blame “Political Correctness” for people calling you a racist. People are calling you a racist because you just said something that is from page one of the White Supremacists Manual that they keep beneath the Confederate Flag in the same drawer as the “Skinheading Clippers” in the church lobby of the monthly KKK meeting.
Incidentally, three days ago the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency arrested three people and charged them with distributing heroin in three different Maine counties. Below are the mug shots of “D-Money,” “Smoothie,” and “Shifty” Governor LePage was referring to…
I’m not completely sure which one is which, but I’m relatively sure that there is only one person in this line up who has any chance of “impregnating Maine’s young, white girls.” And that chance is… remote.
People who say offensive things about minorities and women and immigrants and LGBT folks and NOT some sort of champions of “Free Speech.” Yesterday, an officer who patrols in the area Tamir Rice lived in (before the 12 year old was gunned-down and killed by police officers for carrying a toy gun in a park… All before their squad car even stopped rolling) made this comment to Tamir’s grieving mother (after accusing her of “just want[ing] money”): “Raise your kids not to play with fake guns stupid bitch.” It’s just not okay. And the guy in the video below ended up losing his job because his un-PC statements were caught on tape. I won’t be captioning this one…
Guess what? You don’t get to say racist crap free of consequence. Stop trying to hide your hatred behind bogus claims of “people being way too politically correct.” I mean, sure–You have every right to say racist things… And we have every right to call you a racist. You have a right to spew a bunch of bigoted garbage… And we have a right to call you out on the grossness of your bigotry. We have a right to get it on video. And we have every right to tell the people who sign your paycheck. And we have every right to expect the people around us to treat each other with respect. And we have every right to demand that people in positions of leadership are held to a higher standard on this… Whether those people are officers, Church leaders, governors, congressmen, or political candidates.
And as a side note (on a side show), this is why Donald Trump is so concerning for the GOP… I’m aware that there is plenty of racism within both major political parties in America, but this issue has become a real problem for republicans. Trump may draw some large crowds right now, but embracing this “Anti-Political Correctness” movement is a huge mistake. You might still be able to win a lot of local elections by being the party of Anti-Gay, Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Refugee, Anti-Black Lives Matter, Anti-Muslim, Anti-Poor People, etc… But the country–as a whole (and the world as a whole)–is moving in a very different direction. It’s moving slowly, but it’s moving. Embracing that image with fear-mongering, politically incorrect candidates is a terrible decision. I suspect the leadership of the republican party is much more comfortable when their candidates keep their racism where it belongs… Off camera.
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Thanks for writing this.
I totally agree that free speech allows us to say whatever we want, including the basest things we think.
I also believe that free speech simply doesn’t mean consequence-free speech. Denigrating someone or an entire group of someones may result in a firestorm of blowback.
Saying something stupid or hurtful or wrong is a right we have, but it carries not the slightest bit of protection against the free speech of those who hear you and object, sometimes fiercely.
You are missing the bigger picture in this debate. The bad people want to divide our nation. One of the ways bad people manipulate and divide good people is by confusing them. That is why we are spinning our wheels discussing meaningless topics such as the heart motivations of people when they use the words “white” or “black”.
The goal of the truly evil people is to have no one hear what you are trying to say because they will focus on the way you say it instead.
The bad people turn the debate from an honest conversation about immigration or terrorism or drug addiction to a haughty sermon on the opponent’s heart and motivation. It is a classic way to manipulate and dominate. Has dishonest intentions masquerading as innocence and righteousness. Don’t be deceived by the political correct argument or the free speech one. Goodness is simple and honest and direct and kind.
If you are being kind with your language, you are being politically correct, and you probably have nothing to worry about. But is someone says something like “I’ve got nothing against niggers and fags” and then cries foul for being called out on it, it is either out of a place of pure ignorance, or a place of stubborn racism. Here’s something I wrote a few years ago:
“I should mention that I’m not writing this out of a place of trying to be politically correct. A lot of times, political correctness just comes out of a fear of seeming “out of style” by using outdated terminology. As terms get older, they come off as more offensive. And so, when referring to someone with brown skin, “Colored” becomes “Negro” becomes “Black” becomes “African American” becomes “Person of African Descent.” Using outdated terms doesn’t necessarily say anything about a person’s heart–Just because a grandma somewhere refers to someone with brown skin as “colored” doesn’t make her racist…. Grandma might just be wearing last season’s shoes (though, if grandma is informed that using “colored” is offensive and she still insists on using that term despite the fact that it offends people, she might want to ask herself why she refuses to change). But if she is using the term “Colored” to mean “something that she hates,” Grandma needs to have a little talk with my Junior High Bible teacher, because she should be ashamed of herself.”
“If you are being kind with your language, you are being politically correct, and you probably have nothing to worry about.”
So generous of you, Chris, to allow certain words that you deem correct to be used by certain people you deem acceptable so we don’t have to worry about repercussions from the thought police. And are you the person we should all go to judge the worthiness of our vocabulary?
My point was that maybe we shouldn’t judge people for the way they look or the way they talk and listen to what they are trying to say. I think the Governor of Maine was upset about heroine drug use in his state. He stuck his foot in his mouth during an emotional speech. I’m sure he is regretting it. Why not leave it at that? That really is all you can conclude unless you are speculating and judging and then you will be displaying an absurd liberal bias.
I could easily argue that if you are being paranoid with your language, you are being politically correct. I could even more simply argue that if you said, “I’ve got nothing against blacks and homosexuals” you could still be accused of being racist and a homophobe. If terms truly get more offensive as time goes on, why hasn’t The United NEGRO College Fund been called to task? Please don’t tell me it’s a trademark issue. America is smarter than that. Why haven’t you’ve gone after Senator Harry Reid for using the world “Colored” when referring to a black person? Probably because it doesn’t fit the narrative. Don’t get me wrong, I think all politicians are cheaters and liars, so I don’t give a lot of credence to what they say. However, using outdated terms could simply mean you don’t have a whole lotta extra time on your hands to worry about what the current “acceptable” socio-economic pronouns are on this week’s approved list. Early in 2015, I had a discussion with a co-worker/friend who, yes, happens to be black. We were discussing how she was called a term of description that she thought was outdated. She didn’t necessarily think it was offensive. I asked her how SHE thinks she should be referred to. She HATED, I repeat, HATED the term African American. I asked her, “what about the term ‘black folk’?” she said that seemed fine, but I could also argue she knew it came from me. A co-worker. A friend. She knew it came from a place of warmth and endearment. How do you account with that with your broad brush strokes? Now, I never heard when exactly the term “Person of African Descent” came into the lexicon and when it was put up to a vote within the “People of African Descent” community. Perhaps you can enlighten me. Perhaps grandma not wanting to change what term she uses isn’t because she’s a racist, but maybe, just maybe, she is tired of having to keep up with political correctness or because she is just old and has no desire or energy to wear this year’s shoe style. Just a thought…
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Is it better to shame someone for being insensitive to other races and genders than it is to shame someone for being a certain race or gender?
Before I address that I should say something about myself. I am a 45 year old white guy from long island NY. The first girl I ever kissed was black. My first live in girl friend was Guatemalan. I shared an apartment wall with a gay night club in San Diego and would go dancing there on the weekends without a lick of apprehension. I’ve been to Drag Queen shows. I even agreed to marry a Japanese lesbian so she could stay in CA with her girlfriend. She of course offered to pay me handsomely but decided to back out, unfortunately.
I tell you this because I want you to know how serious I am when I say NO. It is NOT better. Imagine firing someone because they believe the moon landing was faked. Or that the Illuminati secretly runs the world. Cause that’s what you’re talking about here. Scared people believing things they haven’t crawled out of themselves for long enough to see the truth about.
I’m pretty sure the PC movement got its start calling people Maintenance Technicians instead of janitors. Which is great. But things have gotten out of hand. If anything, cats should be angry when people call each other pussy. Cause you don’t see cats killing each other for oil do ya?
Point is, the road of censorship spirals downward. Like you said things are changing , slowly. And that’s how it’s most likely going to stay. Unless you give people a reason to keep spreading hate. Like censoring in a way that forces people to make a choice they normally wouldn’t have by simply observing natural progression.
Believing a bunch of disproven conspiracy theories is not the same as political correctness… It just displays a level of a certain kind of intelligence.
Also, letting someone know when their racism is showing is not the same thing as “censorship.” If someone says something hateful and prejudiced and discriminatory–and you tell them about it–it isn’t “giving them a reason to keep spreading hate.” Unless they are the sort of person who enjoys doing things that they know hurts other people. In which case, we’ve got some bigger problems to worry about…
“Is it better to shame someone for being insensitive to other races and genders than it is to shame someone for being a certain race or gender?”
This is the perfect question to ask! Well stated!
” We have a right to get it on video. And we have every right to tell the people who sign your paycheck.”
Chris– this quote of yours is really disturbing to me. You know that the people you target are strangers to you. You are acting like a judge and jury without a trial. All you know is that they said something that offended you. They may have families with children who will suffer if you cause them to lose their jobs. You need to be careful or you will become a member of a different kind of lynch mob.
It seems to me to be absurdly easy to avoid giving inadvertent offense: you listen to the people around you and you pay attention to what they are saying, and then you attempt to correct your own behavior so you can more easily stay in communication with them.
Not every black American is going to like the term “African American.” I get that. I really do, and I attempt to listen to my friends when they either advise me or tell me outright. I’m OK with learning how people want to be described or called because — it doesn’t really affect me to correct my behavior. Not in the slightest. I own nothing in the arguments. When I was growing up the term “colored” was slightly out-of-date and somewhat derisory, and “Negro” (capital-N) was becoming preferred. Then “Afro-American” and “black/Black” became useful terms. Then “African American” became popular. I don’t spend much time trying to be perfectly up-to-date, but I can get the gist of what one group of people prefers, and I’ll try to be consistent.
I might not remember perfectly, but I’ll make the attempt. As far as I know, today, “Native American” is preferred over “Indian” in the United States, while “First People” is preferred in Canada. I’ll attempt to use them in the right place, and not worry too much that I’m hyper-precise, because I want the people I listen to and with whom I want to communicate have a friction-free conversation, where I’m not using offensive terms because I’m disinterested in the importance of their identity. (And it is always possible to just ask them how they want to be identified.)
I’m learning to accommodate myself to how other people want to self-identify, and that’s fine for them to teach me. Again–what am I possibly in danger of losing when I am asked to change my referential terms?
The people who want to express their frustration over being asked to change their terms baffle me. What is so hard about being reasonable with other people? “I didn’t mean anything by it” is fine, I suppose, and people make mistakes–but if we are confronted with someone who says “Please don’t use that word to describe me,” what is the actual reason we get affronted by this? It escapes me.
If you’re open to listening to others, and not offended by other people, especially those who don’t have the same white/male social privilege in society asking you questions or challenging your “facts”, you and I will learn from other people in other genders, races, cultures, and so on. Asking questions incessantly and personally, and expecting to be educated on things like these which can be found on-line, is disrespectful of friends and acquaintances, though.
First Nations is the term for indigenous peoples covered under the out-of-date “Indian Act”, there are also Metis who have some European ancestry as well, and the Inuit, who live in the most Northerly Province and Territory, and in Alaska, I believe, would want to be called “Eskimo’s”.