Advice From the Trenches

The PC Act: One reader wonders if people are hiding their ignorance

Dear C and Dr. B;

Here is something that really bothers me – dealing with a person who is so deliberately PC that I just know it’s an act they are putting on. Like – when someone is nice to your face, but behind your back, they are messing with you. I’m talking about people who have read the PC handbook, and know how to behave and what to say, but sometimes I get this really strong feeling that inside, their thinking is just as prejudiced and ignorant as ever.

I feel like being politically correct really backfires in a lot of ways – when you know what people really think, you know what you’re dealing with. When they cover it up, you don’t know what’s coming. And if they secretly screwed you? They’ll never admit it..

It’s not like I want to see people call each other names, but I think there’s something to be said for transparency.

Cellophane Sal

Dr B says: Do you really want people to call you an asshole, bigoted or ignorant? What is now called political correctness, and has been deemed bad, used to be called tact and was good. Prior to that it was called white lies and was mostly good. The reason humans don’t have telepathy is that you really don’t want to know what sick thoughts are in everyone’s head.  

What is transparency anyway? Most people have very little self-knowledge. For example, you project what YOU feel, and you assume that is what everyone else is really thinking, but that’s all you, babe! 

Being polite and inoffensive just helps people live together. Just look at things since the POTUS has blown the cork off that bottle and continues as a role model telling people just what is on his mind. Violence is exploding. People shoot each other over differing opinions. Please let’s go back to “please,” “thank you,” “may I” and “pardon me.” And please – learn some manners yourself.  

C: You missed the boat on this one, Dr. B. The issue that this reader brings up is not about manners, it’s about a type of oppression that continues to exist largely through tacit agreement. The fact that it is now not “acceptable” to voice racism openly doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist anymore – just as keeping quiet about child abuse does not mean that the child was not abused – it simply means the abuser will get away with it, and the abuse will continue.

You, Dr. B, have an upper class education, a home, a car and a job. In your situation, it is easy to be content with “polite and inoffensive.” If you lived in poverty, with no degree and little hope of advancement, and under the constant threat of police violence, you might possibly think otherwise.

I don’t think our reader was suggesting that we go back to racial slurs or hate mongering. I believe Sal is talking about the fact that you can’t solve a problem that no one will openly admit exists. Haven’t you noticed that the first and most important step in overcoming alcoholism or addiction is the ability to stand up and openly admit that you have a problem?

The problem with PC is that it is a double-edged sword. Yes, it makes things “nicer” and keeps society “polite.” I’m sure that every cop who uses unreasonable force against people of color is careful to mask their racism in polite society. Unfortunately, it does not stop them from reflexively shooting Black people when the adrenaline is pumping and there’s no time to think about being polite.

Yes – I think it’s fair to say that our POTUS has fanned the flames of a lot of extremist groups that before were behind the scenes, but let us NEVER forget that he did not create these groups – they have existed and operated for hundreds of years. Yup, we can see their ugly faces in a way that we never could before. However, I’m not sure that the POTUS has managed to increase this core by giving them an open platform – if he had, you would see very different numbers in the polls right now. What he HAS done is flush them out. They have been exposed. If this country gets a chance to heal and restore some dignity to the government, perhaps now a real conversation can begin regarding the problems that continue to exist behind our scripted PC rhetoric.

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