Wednesday, June 27, 2007

PC backlash

Hey, I know a lot of things went into la la land with PC stuff. The jokes about being politically correct were funny for awhile. I taught Kindergarten when we were going through the transition from Halloween parties to "Fall Festivals." Didn't make any difference, really. The kids still bought Halloween costumes, and I read my collection of whimsical, and even spooky, picture books. No worries.

Then it became Winter Break, and for most of December we were busy in the classroom doing crafts and studying, well, in a five-year old style all kinds of celebrations and customs that roughly coincided with Christmas. Didn't much matter. The children had a good time doing all of it, and the adults knew that the kids knew that whatever went on in their homes would be the real deal. Or whatever didn't go on in their homes.

But, you know, being politically correct had its beginnings in ugly stuff. Racial slurs. Religious bias. Bigotry and hate. No one expected mountains to move; mountains didn't move. But more books featured multiracial children in less stereotypic situations. Families in books were more diverse, more confused, more realistic, and multi-ethnic. Moms in the books went to work, and not just as teachers or nurses. Children needed these changes, and educators, most of us, welcomed them.

What's going on today? What is this thing about free speech meaning it's cool again to say any damn thing one pleases about whatever group of people that's caught the attention of the speaker? I'm confused. You know? If it's square to be PC, is it cool to verbally abuse anybody and everybody again? Isn't a racial slur still a racial slur, but it's okay because, "well, no one's going to call ME politically correct?" Humor doesn't have to be ugly. There are more problems with hate groups than ever, and you know what? That's still a bad thing in my book. But hey, I know I'm not the only one who feels that way? I don't want to gag anyone that wants to talk. But I'm not going to listen to them, white, black, male or female, if what they're doing is spouting something that is belligerant, abusive, and, well, stupid.

We're not there yet, you know. We are not on the other side of the struggle and in a place where so-called "jokes" don't offend, and further the hate. I live in the South-and my neighbors aren't the Huxtables.


Martin Heavisides said...

Around our household there's still a great deal of emotion invested in the shift from 'Christmas' to 'Holiday' in the schools--my wife thinks it discriminates uniquely against her faith. Me, I think it's a silly quarrel. I'm not going to quarrel with somebody who wants to call it 'the holidays', or one friend who more inventively has wished us a happy solstice for years. I call it Christmas.
I'm solidly behind free speech, but I think people surrender that freedom if they use it to repeat mechanical abuse. Nobody has to take it from them, they've already disposed of it personally.

birdandbuffalo said...

Generally, people know when they've overstepped the mark. I know I do. Freedom of speech can never be an excuse for being offensive and bigoted. That old thing about treating others as you wish to be treated yourself - still applies.