Political Correctness Prevents us From Having an Honest Conversation about Race and Racism
Debate Rounds (4)
My argument is that the force of political correctness is so strong within America today, that an honest conversation is all but impossible. I will argue that we are further away today than ever before in our history about coming to any sort of societal agreement about these contentious issues. I will further explain what exactly political correctness has done and how we can move forward.
I look forward to a civilized debate.
Political correctness is the concrete needed for any sort of open national discussion for anything. It"s about respect. In the past, disputes, disagreements or discussions which deliberately involve the reference or analysis of different societal groups or races have frequently ended in violence. That is because a knowledge or acknowledgement of different groups has been missing. People have been stereotyped, villainized or referred to in derogative manner that causes sensitive issues to be mishandled which results in an discussion turning into an argument, for emotions to escalate and then for conflict to ensue. That is because when people feel hurt, or mis-represented they get defensive and show anger, further widening whatever social voids where there in the first place.
That is why political correctness is so important. It"s about using terms that minority groups feel comfortable with. It"s about avoiding that escalation of anger by using the words that don"t upset people. That"s not hard, to abandon past terminology that is associated with insults or that people just see as offensive.
Secondly political correctness is a form of public pressure for national debate. No one will hold people directly accountable for political correctness in their personal lives. Who we do hold accountable for it is politicians, government officials and celebrities. For two reasons. Firstly, because these people are the officials. They have chosen to have a position that they have; to become a national figure. No one forced them to appear on that national TV show, or to join a party. They must accept the consequences of being held accountable in a way that we would not hold casual comments of personal conversations under scrutiny. That leads on to the second reason which is that it is because these people represent the rest of the society that we need the system of political correctness. They hold huge influence and public opinion flows from them. So we need to make sure the respect starts there. The pressure to be politically correct makes us a civilised society. If the example leads from there, if the message comes that it is not acceptable to cause unnecessary offence, the message that "hey we come in peace, we just want to have a democratic talk to solve our differences" then is spread throughout the rest of society. We can"t solve prejudice in a day, no one is claiming that. We start by making sure that our societal superiors, anyone who speaks publicly, show that vital respect.
Thirdly, it"s really not difficult. Sometimes, people paint this as a vast web of words that is constantly changing and that someone cannot possibly begin to comprehend. If someone wants to talk publicly about a national issue, all it takes is a little research to find out what is acceptable. Something that in its self that means a lot, and builds bridges of communication between different groups.
As for the occasional mistake, someone who is clearly trying to mean well but accidentally uses the wrong word, then that is forgiven. As a society we actually become quite forgiving when we see it was a genuine effort.
So, no it does not inhibit open discussion but allows it on a public level. It"s platform for open discussion and without it discussion will become arguments and mass arguments always end in violence. That applies for when talking about race or and racism, sexism or any other form of discussion.
Thankyou for reading my argument, I await your response.
About a year ago, a youtube video entitled "10 Hours of Walking as a Woman in NYC" became quite famous and has since received over 40 million views. See (https://www.youtube.com...). For those who haven't seen the video, an attractive, younger woman walks around NYC for 10 hours to showcase her difficulties with sexual harassment or cat calling. In her 10 hours walking, she received over 100 catcalls from "men" on the street. How hard it must be. The video went viral, was reported on substantially in the media and used in many cases as a prime example of how men are still extremely sexist.
To understand and question sexual harassment in our society is an extremely interesting topic that needs to be addressed and eventually abolished. Unfortunately, it never will. If you watch this video above you will notice something very interesting: of the 30 or so (with over 100 unknown ones they claim they videotaped in 10 hours) sexual harassing men, not one is white. Not one is Asian, Middle Eastern or South Asian. All of them are black or hispanic. Interesting. Does this mean that in general blacks and hispanics sexually harass women more than other groups? Maybe. Does this mean that these former groups are incapable of sexually harassing young women? Of course not. But the question stands, if we are going to single out "men" for these heinous acts within the video, is it fair to paint all men with the same brush? If there were a spate of shark attacks on a beach would it make sense to put up a sign saying "warning, beware of fish?" If we are truly concerned about ending sexual harassment against women, wouldn't it make sense to attempt to find answers to whether or not certain groups are more prone to sexual harassment? If all of the members within a study are from a certain group, why is it racist to point this out? Why is it racist to try and understand if certain groups are more prone towards a certain type of behavior? How does this help us define and fight the problem?
The above example is one of many that can be used to show how political correctness stifles an honest conversation about race.
I would define political correctness as a moral force which dictates societal behavior. This force began with good intentions. America has a contentious and bitter history with race, religious ethnic and gender relations. To begin paving the way towards a more holistic future, political correctness states that we need to begin with language. Words have power. Language is the carrier. If we can change the way people talk, so the argument goes, we will ultimately change discrimination once and for all.
Good intentions. There are words in our society which cause offense and these words should be abolished. There was a time when black people were referred to as "negroes" or "colored." Black people collectively decided that these words were offensive and in the modern period, one would be hard pressed to find someone outside of the most racist parts of the south still using these words. Victory!!! Or is it?
There is no doubt that having these words and many others viewed through a prism of sensitivity has done some good. One needs to watch what they say or they might offend someone. Who could argue with that? This is the good news. What has ultimately transpired since, is a mode of behavior which prevents people from viewing issues of race, ethnicity, religion or gender within any context. When an event takes place, political correctness dictates that it is discriminatory to view or correlate any particular group as having general characteristics. We must be blind or else view the wrath of the political correctness witch hunt.
For the sake of the topic, let's solely focus on race. Since the days of lynchings and fire hydrants, the U.S. has made substantial strives in race relations. But race tension and race confusion are at an all time high. From events like Ferguson, Baltimore, to basic sociological questions which strive to pose any correlations between actions and race, the system is closed for discussion. Those who try to bring up race within any medium are "racists." Political correctness is to blame. Like in the example above and many others, political correctness makes it impossible to view race as a factor within any sociological phenomenon. To see people as different races or to even recognize the very idea of race, is to ultimately be racist.
My opponent has done a great job of defining, what she believes to be, the benefits of political correctness within the context of language. She has argued that political correctness has opened up debate and make our communication more free. She has further argued that as a society we have become more accepting of peoples' mistakes when it comes to using non-Pc language. I would challenge her to find examples of where this is the case. As I will show, political correctness has contributed to a culture of fear and demonization where critics feel they are fighting racism by casting the big R word on anyone who has made an unfortunate mistake in their language use, making the climate one of fear and hostility over one of growth and understanding. I look forward to her rebuttal.
I will follow with the example introduced by my opponent: "10 hours of walking as a women in NYC". My opponent stated that 100% of the abusers in the video were male and black. He then seemed to suggest that as a consequence of political correctness it is OK to make connects (accusations) as to the act of cat-calling and harassment and the gender of the people in the video but not to their race.
It is acceptable to do neither. To use this "evidence" to claim "men harass women in the street" or to use it to say "black men harass women in the street" is equally politically incorrect and for good reason. The first claim is sexist and the second is racist. Both claims associate an act with a physical attribution ie some one"s gender, the colour of someone"s skin. Alternatively to this, the politically correct thing to do would be to criticise the act itself on a moral or ideological basis. So, to say "it is wrong to harass people in the street."
Only with this response is there is no stereotyping or prejudice against a grouping within society. This is infinitely better because it means that instead of starting a "blame game" about who"s fault an issue is and what sort of prejudices people should create as a result of whoever is to "blame", this way we actually stimulate change. Disagreeing with the act is something everyone can agree with and this positive attitude is much more likely to actively promote the wanted action. In this case, to stop street harassment.
Furthermore, to state a fact is not politically incorrect, so you can point out the 90% the people in the video were of the same gender or race. As long as you don"t insinuate anything from that then that is perfectly politically correct. Which just goes to show that political correctness is not some sort of mine field. It"s just about not being offensive, it really isn't rocket science.
My opponent seems to have challenged me to find examples of when honest, politically incorrect mistakes have been forgiven. I accept. Just this year, Benedict Cumberbatch used the word "coloured" on an American television programme. The term is offensive because it doesn't recognise different ethnic groups but tends to be seen to label all sorts of ethnicities, as anyone who is not "white", under the same term. It has often been referred to as a "one-size-fits-all" description. What Benedict Cumerbatch was actually saying was a very positive comment appealing for a review of the lack opportunities for all ethnicities in the acting industry. Seeing this, the response of organisations like Show Racism The Red Card acknowledged this saying "Benedict Cumberbatch has highlighted a very important issue within the entertainment industry and within society. In doing so, he has also inadvertently highlighted the issue of appropriate terminology and the evolution of language." It was not "this was an unforgivable act of discrimination and Cumberbatch should be ashamed of himself, regardless of the fact that he was promoting positive ideas to eradicate racism within the work place".
So, to conclude, my opponent has somewhat missed the point. Political correctness gives not further lee-way to racism or sexism. Another example of how it allows for and encourages positive, necessary change in society. I eagerly await his response.
Jblock forfeited this round.
So, the benefits of political correctness work in two ways. These benefits correspond to the two ways in which political correctness changes the behaviour of national figures.
The first of these is in language. Political correctness filters out hurtful or offensive language that is likely to hinder open discussion and positive change. It does this by requiring whoever is speaking in question to use appropriate vocabulary. Without this respect people become offended and, when some one feels personally attacked, violent rather than diplomatic solutions are likely to follow.
The second is in not allowing stereotyping. This means connecting gender, race, ethnicity or such to a certain act and hence defining someone by a certain physical trait or religion. It instead encourages beliefs and acts to be criticised rather than people which keeps the criticism impersonal causing a greater chance of positive change. So, for example, this would mean (and this is by no way my own opinion) that one would say 'the belief in the bible is stupid', rather than 'Christians are stupid'.
Now, lets address the arguments against:
This is that political correctness is causing a fear culture that means no one feels comfortable to express their opinions. This is entirely untrue for two reasons. Firstly, it's not a difficult or complex idea, it only involves a little understanding and respect, it is a very simple concept. Secondly, no one is expected to uphold these principles in their personal lives, it is a system designed to put pressure on public figures.
Another argument is that it diverts people's anger to whether someone has used the correct word rather than the bigger issues being discussed. This is a common lie as it misses the point. Being politically correct fundamentally allows for the discussion of larger issues as it firstly shows respect. It refuses to give fuel to angry,senseless critics because it shows complete courtesy to everyone.
Political correctness is a force for good. It is the concrete needed to build national debate, or the platform essential for mounting societal change. It' s time to recognise what a positive impact it has, and will continue to have. I hope my opposition replies, I look forward to his response.
My opponent has a very strange understanding of political correctness and the effect it has on society -- although she has done a great job of defining it. My opponent takes exception with my desire to associate certain groups with particular actions. This is not politically correct, she argues, but does not seem to explain why.
In the video I referenced above, there is a particular call to action taking place: women walking in urban areas are sexually harassed on levels not acceptable for a modern society. If we are concerned about this problem, then naturally we should find ways to solve it. Doesn't this make sense for a progressive society? There are many ways to do so, but one starting point would be to assess if there was one group doing more of the cat calling than others. My opponent says "As long as you don"t insinuate anything from that then that is perfectly politically correct. Which just goes to show that political correctness is not some sort of mine field. It"s just about not being offensive, it really isn't rocket science."
So it is okay to think it, but not to act on it because we might offend someone? To reiterate my earlier analogy: if there is a spate of shark attacks on a beach, what is the benefit of putting up a sign that says "beware of fish?" How else can we begin to unravel the problem of women being cat called on the street if it is racist to possibly suggest that certain groups of men do it more than others? Of course this is only one video, but for argument's sake, let's say there was a study done called " A million hours walking as a women." Let's say 100,000 young and attractive women walked for 10 hours across major American cities. In the data collected afterwards, let's say black men cat called women 3 times their population size. Would my opponent still think it is racist to suggest that there is a greater problem with black men cat calling than other groups?
It seems that what my opponent and others obsessed about political correctness are really concerned about, is that a stupid person will make a general judgment against a group. This is unfortunately a problem that cannot be fixed. If science shows a particular group may have certain attributes and a stupid person decides to act on that in a negative way, there is nothing one can do. Because black men might hypothetically harass women more than other groups does mean that if I meet a black man in the street, I will automatically think he will sexually harass someone. Much like, I am aware of the fact that black men have extremely disproportionate numbers in professional sports, but if I meet the average black person on the street, I am not going to assume they are automatically professional basketball players. This is what stupid people do. There is no cure. Political correctness seems to think it has the antidote but stupid people will always be here.
My opponent believes that political correctness does not tarnish a person's reputation when they make an unfortunate mistake in their language use. She uses the example of Benedict Cumberbatch and his remark about "colored people." I do know of this example very well myself, but I think it is actually a point against her. As she points out, Cumberbatch was saying positive comments about the lack of opportunities for different ethnic groups. It seems that people could care less about this important point. He said a naughty word and the political correct police got their way. A simple google search shows that this was reported on thousands of times in the media and actually a headline in a number of them. Is this really necessary with all of the problems we have in the world today? Does this really need to be at the forefront? More importantly, people didn't really care about the "positive" aspects of what he was saying but focused much more on the unfortunate use of this one word. So once again, the politically correct witch hunters were able to succeed in their jihad. Do not focus on the content, just on the language. In the end, no one benefits. If there was a zombie apocalypse, my opponent and others would be more concerned about whether or not the term "zombie" offends anyone than how to actually cure the virus.
I would be curious to hear my opponent's thoughts on others whose lives have been ripped apart by the politically correct witch hunters. Like a particular chef, who admitted to saying "nigger" when she was held up at gunpoint in the 70s, has now had her financial empire ruined because of political correctness. We currently live in a country whose drug laws incarcerate black people at a rate of something like 10 to 1. We currently live in a country whose global imperialism allows our president to shoot and kill any colored person he wants in a foreign country because they might have terrorist links. But who cares about that? Last year a billionaire with dementia, who pays his black employees millions of dollars a year, told his black girlfriend (in the privacy of his own home) that she could sleep with black people, just don't put photos up on Instagram. Do people understand what a big deal this is for the cause of racism? If the liberal media can bring this monster down with the help of the political correctness army, racism will surely dissipate. After all, he is the last bastion of it.
Political correctness has created a paranoid society. Political correctness is the Mccarythism of the day. Political correctness does not solve problems, it just allows lazy people to have a voice and think they are contributing by being "outraged." Most importantly, political correctness prevents our society from having an honest discussion about race. If Paula Dean can have her financial empire ruined for what she said, why would anyone, ever, want to take a chance by speaking their mind about any subject related to race, no matter how true or important their words and thoughts might be. Until people can be honest, speak honestly and think freely, true racism will never disappear. It will only hide in the shadows and continue to fester.
I will leave off this discussion with a personal anecdote. I own a large wine store in New York. Anyone who has been to a wine store in an American urban area will notice -- most of the time -- one very interesting thing about the selection: certain items are either locked up or put in a place where it is difficult to steal. These items generally are Cristal, Dom Perignon, Moet, Hennessy, Grey Goose and Patron. What do all of these items have in common? They are all popular in black communities. Mostly because of hip hop but also because of targeted advertising. These items are locked up because they are stolen the most. This is not my opinion, this is a fact.
Of course if you came into my store and asked me why these items were locked up, I would have to lie. I couldn't say, verbatim, what I just wrote. This is not politically correct. This is racist. Even though statistics show that shoplifting in urban areas is done by black people at a significantly higher rate, as a store owner, I have to be color blind. It is further politically incorrect for me and every other liquor store owner, to put these items in a different area. We are grouping them together for a reason and the day will come when someone decides to sue a store for discrimination and these items will have to go on the shelf with everything else. But who cares if small businesses lose money to shoplifting. The most important thing is that people aren't offended. Thank you political correctness. Thank you!
In reading my opponent's response I became increasingly surprised and frustrated. My opponent seems to have entirely ignored the logic of my argument and responded with a nonsensical argument. I evidently need to make it plainer that plain, if I'm going to get a logical counter.
So, firstly and fore mostly, I was asked by my opponent "Is it politically incorrect to think gay white employees steal less?" Yes! Of course it is! As I have already explained, that sentence has just completely defined millions of people by there race, gender and sexuality. It has stereotyped them. Accusations like those bridge the divides in society. They stir up a hailstorm of negativity that channels itself in our brains into prejudice. Once more, they are completely unnecessary! Why is it necessary to play a hate infused blame game that targets people who have done nothing wrong, other than having physical characteristics similar to the same as those who have committed a crime? To make ourselves have deep rooted prejudice, or to teach the next generation to categorise and generalise individuals they have never met based on their race or gender? It's not. It solve's nothing. It creates problems. Instead we must tear out whatever it is that we don't like at the roots. In this case it may be that we are trying to stop stealing. So we say 'stop stealing'. We condemn the act and the individuals who did it. We do not respond with prejudice.
This is a principle I have now been forced to repeat. I have been accused by my opponent of taking "exception with his desire to associate certain groups with particular actions" but I allegedly do "not seem to explain why". I hope this refresh of round 2 will help..."Both claims associate an act with a physical attribution ie some one"s gender, the colour of someone"s skin. Alternatively to this, the politically correct thing to do would be to criticise the act itself on a moral or ideological basis. So, to say "it is wrong to harass people in the street."
My opponent thinks that in order to stop issues in society we need to 'assess if there was one group doing more...than others". Again, this is just an excuse of prejudice, and refers to the 'blame game' I mentioned earlier, that halts positive change. In fact my opponent made an excellent list of some major problems facing us in society, and yet he doesn't support an idea that will actually change things.
Again, I have been quoted by my opponent, and again I have been misunderstood. My opponent made this quote from an earlier argument "as long as you don't insinuate anything from that then that is perfectly politically correct. Which just goes to show that political correctness is not some sort of mine field. It's just about not being offensive, it really isn't rocket science". By taking this out of context my opponent then went on to somehow declare that I am saying 'it's ok to think something offensive but not to act on it'. Maybe my opponent should go back and read the rest of the paragraph. If he does, he may find what I was actually referring too. That it is not politically incorrect to state a statistic like " 90% harassment of women, in this study, was done my black males" but that it would be politically incorrect to add on to the end of that sentence "... therefore black people harass women more than any other racial group". I hope my opponent understands the difference. One is a fact and one is a racist conclusion.
I could go on to address further incompetent questions made to me in my opponent's argument but the story is the same and I do not wish to repeat myself.
My opponent thinks that only stupid people make judgements about groups. This is a naive falsehood. Everyone is capable of prejudice. Everyone stereotypes and everyone make sweeping judgements. It's a natural human instinct. It's started whole world wars through nationalism. Here is an BBC article that tries to openly refer to and explain what it acknowledges as "One of the least charming but most persistent aspects of human nature" - an aspect that political correctness aims to challenge.
Completely contrary to my opponent's argument about the stupidity of certain individuals who will always want to cause trouble and need to be ignored, my opponent has decided to only acknowledge those sorts of people in reference to my Benedict Cumberbatch example. I will only re-iterate how forgiving people were, including the mass organisations set up to counter the harm that prejudice, and hence political correctness, causes.
I'd like to further point out that I'm shocked that my opponent has decided to compare someone being a different race or gender, to them being a zombie or a shark. Just the short of vilianisation that political correctness aims to counter.
My opponent has decided to stray from the motion and criticise the press instead as his argument weakens. The press may decide to bring attention to a politically incorrect incident over a national crisis but that is a separate issue with how our press tailors to all sorts of unfair acknowledgements of news and a problem that is nothing to do with political correctness. The press will write about a dramatic football game or a black and blue (or is it gold and yellow?) dress over a geographically distant crisis.
Just as religions can not be defined by they're extremists, neither can political correctness be defined by those who use it as a made excuse to cause unnecessary violence. They are not seen as part of the anti- prejudice movement, but are just regarded as all extremists are, violent trouble makers.
I am also very glad that my opponent's wine store locks up commonly stolen items. That is very sensible of them. It may not have any relevance to this debate, but it's always nice to know. I'm no lawyer, but I'm also pretty confident that anyone who attempts to sue a store for taking safety precautions with commonly stolen items is going to be pretty unsuccessful and end up in debt with legal bills.
I look forward to a response that understands and addresses my argument.
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