Political correctness started out as something that the far right used to say about ideas such as women's rights, multiculturalism, pluralism, oppression, and basically anything that was being called "offensive."
One of the most potent attacks on it in "the early years" was this one: Bloom, Allan. The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987.
In other words:
"P.C." became a label attached to a wide range of liberal positions, including environmentalism, feminism, and, in particular, use of inclusive, inoffensive terminology related to various groups. Rooted in dissatisfaction with university policies and fear of cultural change, charges of political correctness became a popular way to attack liberal activists and their causes.
These days, political correctness is all about "language, ideas, policies, and behavior seen as seeking to minimize social and institutional offense in occupational, gender, racial, cultural, sexual orientation, handicap, and age-related contexts."
Hmmm. That's an interesting description, wouldn't you say?
So what we have is something generally used by people who oppose ideas like giving rights and respect to LGBT people being used as an excuse to defend LGBT people.
I could have sworn I just recently talked about internalized oppression.
Anyway, that's what it is when an LGBT person uses the concepts of "PC" as a pejorative. When they attack the very things they are supposedly seeking for themselves.
Let's get into a fascinating reality here, though, that the right utterly ignored.
You see, I was a member of the right at the time that in came into vogue. And way back then (which, in terms of the daily speaking on such matters, was in the mid 80's), I first said that line about political incorrectness being an excuse for being rude.
When the now famous television show was broadcast, I actually avoided it, because the title, when I saw it, was "We're going to be rude to pretty much everyone, so get over yourselves right now."
Allow me to point out, if you don't mind too much, that getting over yourself is a luxury that groups of people do not have. Individuals may, and some can and do, but that is not a universal thing.
So why was it that the Right decided long ago to ridicule and mock the idea of minimizing social and institutional offense?
How about because, for the most part, at the time, the Right was filled with sexist assholes who didn't want to pay women more money, racist assholes who wanted PoC to stop "stealing their jobs," and assholes in general who wanted all this change to stop.
Well, they are conservatives, after all. Change is what they are fundamentally opposed to (that is why they are called conservatives, you know -- they conserve the status quo, they resist change). They wouldn't be conservative if they didn't oppose change.
It's really that simple.
So what else is there that involves minimizing social and instutitonal offense?
It's something. Something that can be argued as a traditional value, no less. A critical component to people getting along, which sorta requires that we minimize social and institutional offense, like grease among gears. Ever run an engine without any oil? Note that eventually it seizes up and stops and is ruined, and that in the interim it gets really really hot?
oh! I know!
Etiquette. Funny word. It's French, of course. And the French have a had a long and interesting history of examining social norms and systems of behavior. At one point in history, they were the most stratified culture in all of Europe, after all -- and intentionally so.
Hence the shock of being told to eat cake.
It means "ticket of admission," basically -- and etiquette is the ticket of admission to the social milieu. That is, the thing you must have in order to be able to move around in society.
To be part of the world around you.
One of the nice things about the LGBT movement is that it has, to a great degree, overcome the idea of being LGBT as a barrier to that admittance over the last 50 years or so.
Etiquette is often described as "knowing which fork to use." Which has led a lot of people to give it connotations of dinner parties and formal occasions, but etiquette also governs what one can discuss at such places, and how one discusses it.
Manners, however, are described as the adjunct to etiquette. And they are, in the end, even more important -- manners are what you do when your neighbor doesn't know which fork to use.
Manners are what prevent people from telling asswipes that come in and complain about political correctness that they are asswipes.
It can be argued, therefore, that I am an ill mannered woman. Which is true. I have great manners, but I know they are manners, and I know when manners have little social value.
How do we know what manners to use and present?
Well, online, at large popular blogs, we have Terms Of Service. These are the written rules of manners, but they are seldom perfect. If I were to get up and create a really big and serious site that had to deal in good manners, I'd use Miss Manners' book as the Terms of Service.
Yes, really. It genuinely does cover pretty much everything.
Reminds me, I need to get a new copy of it.
Manners are what tells us that we shouldn't use the word faggot to describe a gay person when we, ourselves, are not gay.
Isn't that political correctness?
Why yes, it is.
It is also manners.
When a person studies value systems -- things like morality (which is inclusive of morals for those who think there is a difference), values, ethics, and the like, one also has to study things like etiquette, manners, courtesy, honorifics, and the like.
If you don't, you miss a piece of the whole, as they are all intertwined, all part of a massive set of rules and concepts that govern how you are allowed to be in society as a whole.
In your own home you can be anything you want -- the minute you engage others, you are supposed to have manners and courtesy.
Early on in the internet, it was realized that people were, for the most part, in their homes when they were on the internet, and so they needed to be reminded that they were interacting with other people and that's why we have terms of service.
Manners are a form of responsibility. The right to freedom of speech (insert appropriately uplifting music here) does not come without responsibility. You literally cannot say whatever you like -- that is not, in the US, freedom of speech.
In the US, freedom of speech is you can say almost whatever you want so long as you are willing to suffer to the consequences of that statement.
Among the consequences is censure (not censor, but censure) on the basis of piss poor manners you Neanderthal cave dweller.
Which is another issue I have, as people seem to conflate censure with censorship. Let me make something clear: censorship means you cannot say it, period. Censure means you said it and now people are shitting on you for it.
Clear enough? No? Another example: on some forums, there is the ability to block certain words from being used. The same applies to some blogs. There is a system in place where you can type in words that are then blocked. They are barred from ever being shown. That is censorship. Censure is when someone posts something and then later has their post removed, or edited, or are otherwise punished for what they said.
Keep those distinctions in mind.
Censure has the effect, sometimes, of creating a sense of self-censorship. Which is not the fault of the person who is doing the censuring, but he fault of the person who is self-censuring.
They are, when they do that, abdicating responsibility for their own words -- they are not living up to the full measure of their rights.
Pretty nasty stuff there, huh?
And see how it all affects the ideas around political correctness?
When someone is talking about how they are hating the whole politically correct atmosphere of something, they are saying, rather clearly, rather directly, that they are feeling the effects of censure, and they are wondering what the hell? Why am I being punished?
Well, it's because you broke a rule of manners, etiquette, and courtesy.
Do you know why cussing isn't very popular? Why it has the effect it has? Why things like nitwit, fuck, ass, dumb, etc. are hurtful?
It's because they are disrespectful, and they break down the simple power of courtesy, which is, in the end, there to do little more than provide the grease between two wheels that might not always get along.
They keep the social machinery moving, you see, and things like those bad words they act to stop it -- they spark. And in a really tense situation, where anger is just lying underneath it all like a room surrounded in black powder, a spark is all that's needed to make it go boom.
That's the purpose of these things.
This is also what is meant by the notion of a "safe space" -- to have a location where all the people are treated equally by the individuals in authority, and where the rules act to remind people that it isn't really all that ok to call someone a dumbass .
Which, of course, some will be getting a kick out of because I do call be a dumbass here. But, as we know, this is not a safe space -- that's not the goal nor the purpose of this place.
And, sometimes, in a heated debate, people -- even people who like each other -- will call each other various names and get in jibes and digs at each other. And then head out and get a cup of coffee and talk about how that insult was a good one and that one was pretty poor.
Now, as noted, all of this was triggered by the debate surrounding a particular film, and it would be unfair of me to not express my particular sentiments regarding the film, so I'll tack that on here at the end in the possibly vain hope that it will cause everyone to forget the above, which they are already in the process of forgetting because it's inconvenient to them.
In general, I find the film to be highly problematic overall in terms of content, subject matter, and execution. The writing is juvenile -- I've heard better dialog written by 8th graders; the acting is wooden and unbelievable -- and successful camp needs to have some aspect of believability; the production values are sub-par -- I've seen better ones on a student film at a third rate university for far less money than was spent here; and the overall trailer is basically one giant gay male come on full of misogyny and transphobic slurs.
I think it would be safe to say that I would rather subject myself to any major hollywood disaster of the last 10 years in multiple viewing sequences than ever even think of seeing such an awful piece of cinematic trash. Hell, I'd rather be tied down and forced to watch Priscilla than than this piece of trash (and I am somewhat markedly a hater of all but two films having to do with trans folk).
And I can, indeed, say all of that based solely on the trailer, since the trailer itself does, in fact, contain all of the assorted junk and such that many trans folk are accusing the entire film of having.
Just the trailer is that problematic, and the trailer is derived from the film itself, and so there's a very reasonable expectation that if the trailer alone is that defaming (and it is, truly) then the film cannot possibly be any less so, and most likely is even more so.
So that's my general take on pretty much every single argument I've seen that has any real merit regarding the whole mess surrounding that film that shall not be named.