The Instigator
fresnoinvasion
Pro (for)
Winning
29 Points
The Contender
Zasch
Con (against)
Losing
23 Points

Political correctness is something that should be acknowledged as a threat to society.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/8/2008 Category: Society
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,303 times Debate No: 1552
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (17)
Votes (12)

 

fresnoinvasion

Pro

First off I want to say that I am new to this. Im just trying to have a simple round to become oriented with the system. Im sure there are many who agree, but i had pick something, so ya.

First off i just want to introduce the idea that PC (Political Correctness) is cultural Marxism. "Political Correctness is cultural Marxism… If we compare the basic tenets of Political Correctness with classical Marxism the parallels are very obvious" -Bill Lind. PC introduces the idea that everyone must be pleased, everyone is equal, and we must change the way we express ourselves to make others happy. That is not all true.

PC takes our freedom of speech, and stops us from saying what we truly feel, even if its for the greater good.

I need arguments to defend, but thats my opening argument.
Zasch

Con

You bring up the contention that political correctness, by seeking to not offend people, then is comparable to Marxism by making "everyone equal". You claim it is a threat to our society that must be acknowledged. Political correctness, however, does not appear to be a new concept in our society but rather it seems to be a term invented to allow certain groups of people to feign victimisation in order to make their speech more palatable to the general public.

The idea of changing the words that one uses or the way that certain topics are handled in order to conform to cultural expectations is as old as humanity itself: there have always been "taboo" topics, certain words that implied far more than one might literally take from them, that sort of thing. In my household, any references to kissing or that sort of thing was considered quite taboo.

This is not oppression - this is simple politeness. There are certain things that one does not do for fear of breaking social convention, such as go nude to a business meeting or calling a man "madam". The actual harm of these is very low (excepting very rare circumstances, your nudity will not maim or kill), but the purpose of politeness is not to prevent actual harm but rather to create a "common ground" by which people in a society may interact on an equal and comfortable level. Regardless of what you may think of the chief executive of some company or group, to call him "sir" rather than various disaparaging titles (some of which may refer to race or sexual orientation) helps to create a more productive atmosphere for goal-achieving behaviour. This benefits society directly by allowing a wider range of contributions. Indeed, one can say that politeness has a very important role to play in helping to prevent the marginalisation of minority groups. When one uses a racial slur or makes a reference to gender even in a joking manner, it helps to reaffirm the idea that the targeted minority group is "different" and "separate" from the dominant group. The perpetuation of this meme slowly results in these groups being treated separately and, ultimately, in forming their own insular cultures. Division is not in the best interests of any nation, and the promotion of unity is a very important aim of politeness.

This does not at all imply that free speech out to be stifled or that certain ideas must become off limits: indeed, history has shown time and time again that attempting to legislate this sort of thing is rarely effective. However, even the most scientifically dynamic of societies have had standards of politeness that do not infringe upon their ability to research and speak. In the United States, most speech is protected under the Bill of Rights, and it is social mores that create an atmosphere of "political correctness". In this view, however, political correctness (far from being the antithesis of freedom of speech) becomes the realisation of freedom of speech. I personally wholeheartedly agree that any person ought to be able to make whatever racial slur he or she wishes. However, is it not equally important that the people around that person be able to then register their displeasure, either through speech of their own or through "voting with their wallets"? I should note that both people in my scenario are presently free under our society to execute their respective actions.

Furthermore, the definition of "political correctness" itself can be somewhat confusing for a debate such as this. So long as free speech rights are protected, is it not "politically correct" to be railing against the "politically correct"? For instance, when Mr. O'Reilly goes on the television to demand that various retail outlets use "Merry Christmas" rather than "Happy Holidays", is he not demanding that people change their (consequentially neutral) speech in order to prevent him and those who agree with him from being insulted? By using a definition of "political correctness" that encompasses anything that anybody may be offended by, the definition becomes too wide and loses its power to describe society.

Thus, what we see is that politeness in general serves an important function in promoting social stability without at all sacrificing the ability of society to move forward in freedom and liberty. Indeed, we see that exercise of political correctness is an affirmation of freedom itself. As well, many definitions of "political correctness" are too broad and become useless in discussion.

In the face of all this, the charge that political correctness is somehow cultural "Marxism" appears to be quite irrelevant: unless state-based harms can be demonstrated, it is exceedingly difficult to say that politeness infringes upon ones legal right to free speech or that it at all "threatens society".

I look forward to your response!
Debate Round No. 1
fresnoinvasion

Pro

Thank you for your arguments,
first off you brought up,
"In the face of all this, the charge that political correctness is somehow cultural "Marxism" appears to be quite irrelevant""There have always been "taboo" topics..."

An article was published by Agustin Blazquez with the collaboration of Jaums Sutton, its posted on http://archive.newsmax.com...
I think a piece of this article would help to explain.

It [PC] was developed at the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt, Germany, which was founded in 1923 and came to be known as the "Frankfurt School." It was a group of thinkers who pulled together to find a solution to the biggest problem facing the implementers of communism in Russia. The problem? Why wasn't communism spreading? Their answer? Because Western Civilization was in its way. What was the problem with Western Civilization? Its belief in the individual, that an individual could develop valid ideas. At the root of communism was the theory that all valid ideas come from the effect of the social group of the masses. The individual is nothing. And they believed that the only way for communism to advance was to help (or force, if necessary) Western Civilization to destroy itself. How to do that? Undermine its foundations by chipping away at the rights of those annoying individuals. One way to do that? Change their speech and thought patterns by spreading the idea that vocalizing your beliefs is disrespectful to others and must be avoided to make up for past inequities and injustices. And call it something that sounds positive: "Political Correctness."

One idea that we must rid of is that PC was always around, a taboo of not wanting to talk about kissing is not PC. Of course your not going to want to talk to your parents about the girls you kiss and how it was. But that is not PC. We as a whole have been made to believe that PC is just being polite, nice, whatever, as i will get to later. But in actuality, that is not it. PC was a weapon against us to eliminate our free speech and thinking. Right now we have just mild effects of the plan set up by the Frankfurt school, but it will get worse. And we should acknowledge PC as a threat to society.

"The idea of changing the words that one uses... in order to conform to cultural expectations is as old as humanity itself"

Can you explain to me these "cultural expectations" and why conformity is good.

"This is not oppression - this is simple politeness."
You constantly referred to PC as "politeness" Which i find flawed. I can be polite, open doors for people, compliment them, yada yada. But PC is not that. It is not only the things you say, as you implied that its not taking away freedom of speech. But it is also the things you do. Like passing SB777 in California which will allow members of the opposite sex into each others bathroom, if they claim to be gay. In an attempt to please a small group, you put girls lives at risk. The gays are not the ones im worried about, im sure that would work, but what i am worried about is if some guy lies. He has a door literally wide open to do terrible things. But my point is that SB777 is not simple politeness. Holding a door for a person is polite, politeness never has negative outcomes. But most PC things do have a negative outcome.

"it helps to reaffirm the idea that the targeted minority group is "different" and "separate" from the dominant group... Division is not in the best interests of any nation, and the promotion of unity is a very important aim of politeness."
Division? This is an effect of NOT being PC? I agree that we must be unified, but PC makes everything seem ok on the surface, but what is the person really thinking? I am not fighting to use demineing terms, but i am fighting to respect our freedom of speech. If one is a certain was at home, shouldnt that be what he shows to the world? PC creates these two faced people that are filled with terrible feelings, but don't express those things. Im sure your thinking,"why would we want people to express bad feelings?" Take this for an example. You boss is a complete jerk. But you don't want to say anything because you dont want to offend him. So when he asks what you think of him you are PC and say, "oh your great". But the boss has had the feeling that you dont like him so he asked you that you if you said he was horrible, he would change his ways. But when he heard you say he was great, he just thinks you like a "stern hand". So on the surface it seems to be unified, but what is really happening is bad feelings. And sometimes those feelings need to be brought out in order to understand life and each other.

"definitions of "political correctness" are too broad and become useless in discussion."
We must understand that no matter how one interprets PC, it was meant as a tool to harm us.

"unless state-based harms can be demonstrated, it is exceedingly difficult to say that politeness infringes upon ones legal right to free speech or that it at all "threatens society"

First, PC is not "politeness". There are many examples, obvious examples of state-based harms by PC. SB777 in California, trying to take "under God" out of the pledge of allegiance, purple pens, awarding for mediocre accomplishment. Its out there, and there are many examples.

I look foward to hearing back from you.
Zasch

Con

Zasch forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
fresnoinvasion

Pro

Due to the time running out on my opponent, all i can do is extend all of my arguments.

PC affects every second of our everyday lives and does cause harm to the people, states, and nation. If everyone stopped worrying about being PC, we as a whole will begin to understand ourselves, eachother, what seperates us, and what brings us together. Then and only then can we solve our greatest problems, instead of putting a band aid on them.

I've defeated all opposing arguments and proven PC is a threat to society and must be acknowledged. For those reasons I strongly urge you to vote for me.

Thank you.
Zasch

Con

I apologise, I've become quite busy suddenly and thus my time is very limited. I will, however, provide this respnose (I should note that I ran out of space, and so I cut a bit out):

1. You cite Newsmax as some sort of authoritative source for anything. It would be akin to me citing the People's Daily, but regardless of that, the contents itself is irrelevant: Whether or not political correctness is "Marxist" in origin or not is a simple attempt at poisoning the well ("PC is marxist! You don't want to be MARXIST, do you?") which ignores the logic of the argument in favour of superficialities. Child labour laws are also Marxist, but most of us can overlook that fact because the idea of such laws is good.

2. Cultural expectations can include anything from "One wears clothing when one goes out" to "In a debate, one doesn't insult the opponent.". Conformity in this sense is good because it provides us with the foundations of society: if we all simply acted as our base-passions directed us to with no thought for anyone else, society itself could not collapse as everyone begins to attempt to impose their will. By equalising things in this manner, people are able to interact on the same level, opening the doors for art, science, and other human endeavours.

3. But if you did not act in a polite manner, those around you would have a very negative disposition and would likely act to punish you for your impoliteness. For instance, there are no actual harms to going up to your professor and implying certain things about their mother, but it is extremely impolite and interferes with the ability of the academic society to progress, and thus your professor would likely react in a negative fashion. There is no moral difference between "Don't use the n word to refer to people of colour", "Don't make insinuations about your professor's mother", "Don't but in line", "Don't laugh at a disabled person"...they are all forms of "politeness" or "political correctness".

4. You reference to things like SB777 in California. Having read the contents of that bill, however, I see nothing that would lead to the harms you state; it appears to deal solely with discrimination in education. For future reference, I ought to note that neither Newsmax nor WND are regarded as particularly accurate, impartial, or intelligent sources of information.

5. Politeness very often has negative outcomes! Politeness often results in information being lost as two parties attempt to be as polite as the society expects them to be, and that loss of information can result in troubles in relationships, misunderstood instructions, and the like. You are creating an arbitrary standard between "politeness" and "political correctness" - whereas the former is apparently defined in a manner as "acting in a manner that is in conformity to the expectations of proper society", and the latter seems to be "saying things I don't like", when in fact the former definition seems to be a quite acceptable one for "political correctness".

6. There are a great many situations where one doesn't act as one does in the home! In my home, I wear extremely informal clothing, crack inappropriate jokes, eat like a slob, and generally behave in a very informal manner. At school or work, I obviously do not such thing because that would be extremely socially inappropriate. These conventions exist because, if people were to act in such a manner, business could not get done. So too is the case similar with honesty: Let us use a more relevant example. Suppose your boss is gay. Whatever you may feel, it would be against politeness (and, thus, "political correctness") to then address your boss with a sexual slur. You *can* do it - nobody is saying this is not permitted behaviour. However, it is not politically correct/polite to do so, as those around you will likely take some form of action to punish you (even if that just means a disapproving glare). You have not demonstrated how society asking you to address your gay boss with "Sir" or "Ma'am" rather than an anti-gay slur is a "threat to society".

7. You say that, no matter the definition, it is a tool to harm us. This demonstrates that you aren't really even thinking about the subject at all: the definition of political correctness is obviously of paramount importance when we discuss whether political correctness is a threat to society. You have pre-judged a term without meaning as automatically conforming to your worldview.

8. Can you demonstrate the harms of taking "under God" out of the pledge? The only harms that seem to result is people getting upset - that is, people getting upset because to take under God out of the pledge is not politically correct.

All you have demonstrated is that you have a wildly inconsistent definition of PC (though you have also stated that you don't even care about the definition, since you know - on faith? - that PC is bad). What it boils down to is that you label anything that you don't like as "political correctness", while refusing to label the exact same things for positions that you DO like as being PC. 'Under God' has no apprecialbe effect on anything that matters in this country whatsoever, whether ti is in the pledge or not, but removing it offends people's Christian sensibilities...this is no different than offending the sensibilities of gay people.

You fail to demonstrate why there is any division whatsoever between "political correctness" and "politeness": Both seem to involve self-censorship for purposes of increasing social cohesion. Whether it is opening a door for someone, saying "God bless you" after someone sneezes, refraining from commenting on someone's hideous choice of fashion, not bringing attention to an obvious disability (for instance, not saying "Haha! You're blind!"), not using offensive language, not using language that disparages minorities...where does "politeness" end and "political correctness" begin?

Political correctness is a straw man invented by conservatives to give them a socially acceptable way to state controversial opinions. Calling John Edwards a "[disparaging name for a gay person]" becomes fine because Ann Coulter is able to claim that ANY criticism of this is simply the "PC police". Conservatives are allowed the ability to say offensive and shockingly racist or narrow-minded things because they can now deflect criticsm onto the liberals by claiming their rights are being oppressed. If a liberal gets angry if you use the word "retarded" rather than "special needs" or "disabled" and this is PC, why is it not the case that a conservative who gets angry if you use "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas" is also being PC?

"Political correctness" is an invented term designed to attempt to stifle certain forms of speech in favour of certain viewpoints (namely, conservative viewpoints). EVERYBODY has a set of things that offend them or do not offend them: the liberal may dislike overtly religious terminology, but the conservative may dislike overtly secular terminology. The only difference between these is what specifically is considered polite and impolite, and yet only the liberal seems to endure claims of "political correctness".

Your position, in lacking coherency and consistency of application, then must be negated. Political correctness poses no threat to the stability of society - and you have given NO examples of where the very fabric of society itself is threatened by political correctness. Remember, it is not enough to merely demonstrate that there may be some harms with political correctness: the resolution stated clearly that we need to acknowledge it as a threat to *society*. You have failed to defend any aspect of your argument, and thus we must return in the negative on this resolution.

Thank you, and I do apologise for missing a round.
Debate Round No. 3
17 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Zasch 6 years ago
Zasch
[[[I'm done with this arrgument.]]]

Okay.
Posted by sadolite 6 years ago
sadolite
All right, political correctness does not exist and politicians don't use it to marginalize peoples poisitions. I'm done with this arrgument. I can tell when a debate becomes pointless to both parties involved. It has come to an impass and neither side will give. Thanks for the sub debate.
Posted by Zasch 6 years ago
Zasch
So your whole argument basically comes down to this bizarre blanket assertion that people don't find those things offensive. That's fine if you think so, but if people don't find those things offensive then you've just contradicted your whole argument. If they do find those things offensive, then you've just contradicted your argument.

Have you thought this position through at all? It seems more that you're carrying a grudge because someone once took offense to something you said and less that you sat down one day and logically charted out your thoughts on the matter.
Posted by sadolite 6 years ago
sadolite
Everyone is politicaly incorrect, so everyone is equally offended. So why even bring up the fact that your offended by anything and get on to the topic at hand. Polititical speech is not offensive, vulgar speech is offensive. How I decribe a person or organization as long as it is not in the context of being vulgar is my perogitive. You don't like it to bad. It still doesen't change what I say and it will still have to be addressed. Crippled, retarded, mentaly challenged, physically chalenged. Both examples say the same thing respectively. None of them is vulgar. I missed the referendum that made the words crippled and retarded vulgar words. I find the NAACP to be the most biggoted organization in the entire U.S. I'm not offened by it though.
Posted by Zasch 6 years ago
Zasch
The phenomenon of being unable to speak about controversial issues in a calm and logical fashion among those who have gathered for advocacy of one position on that issue is not something that is restricted to our recent past, nor is it something that is restricted to one side of the political spectrum. I live in the State of Utah - bringing up that gays ought to have equal rights is not only a recipe for "marginalizaton", but may also induce violence. You may notice that neither the society of Utah nor the society of the US have been threatened by this - indeed, you will notice that it has not particularly affected my own positions or advocacy.

I agree with you that emotion-based adjudication of the correctness of various political or philosophical positions is bad. However, I can't particularly say that it is a "threat to society" when it has been around for so long and typically does not actually result in stagnation of the flow of ideas. Obviously I'm not likely to find a receptive audience among a gathering of conservative Mormons, just as you are unlikely to find such an audience among a gathering of die-hard environmentalists - this has been true throughout history for basically anything. There are other groups, however, that are more receptive to argumentation - political correctness does not function as a "brand" that forever mars your ability to speak (since otherwise nobody would speak, since everyone is considered to be "politically incorrect" to someone).

The harms appear to be minimal, and most societies seem to have weathered the fact that jerks and closed-minded people exist just fine.
Posted by sadolite 6 years ago
sadolite
All of your examples imply that the person is intentionally trying to insult some one. Try saying global warming Isn't caused by man at a environmental activist gathering. Political correctness, when applied, means you are not allowed to speak because you may say something that might offend someone, even if your point might have merit. Once accused of being politically incorrect you are forever marginalized and considered not worth listening to.
Posted by Chuckles 6 years ago
Chuckles
I agree with arguments saying political correctness is bad, it's just very hard to find an argument that is worded well. Many people try and prove this resolution and end up confusing or embarassing themselves.
Posted by Zasch 6 years ago
Zasch
Since you haven't actually given reasons as to why political correctness is somehow distinct from any other form of social norm (in fact, you haven't actually given reasons to anything you've said, merely assertions), your point can be empirically disproven.

It may be a surprise to you, but most societies actually have levels of what they call "politeness" and "respect" - thus why, for instance, you address a superior officer as "sir" rather than using a term for a child conceived out of wedlock. Does it change anything you are saying? Well, yes, it does: "retard" differs from "physically challenged" in that the former term is also a term of disrespect, whereas the latter term is a term of respect.

If you think the fact that you call your boss "Sir" or "Ma'am", or the fact that parents will be offended if you call their children "devil spawn", or the fact that people of a certain race will be offended if you use a certain term to refer to them poses a threat to society...well, you need to provide far more logical reasoning and evidence than you have provided. In fact, all of this was already covered, so you might want to read the discussion that occurred before you came in.
Posted by sadolite 6 years ago
sadolite
Thus proving the point Political Correctness is a threat to society. Political speech is never offensive, and anybody who is offended by political speech is an intellectual moron. Some people think Hitler and his ideas were great. I'm not offended by that , I just disagree with it, It's a political point of view. Most people who espouse political correctness don't know the difference between vulgarity and political speech. The fact that I may call someone retarded instead of physically challenged is absolutely absurd. It doesnt change the the fact that the person in reference is any less or any more retarded. But if you do call them retarded you will be tared and feathered and shunned into the bowels of vulgarity.
Posted by Zasch 6 years ago
Zasch
Except that you've provided no way of differentiating "political correctness" from simple politeness, nor have you provided a mechanism of explaining how the term "PC" has become a crusade-term for the right-wing of the United States to attempt to marginalize left-wing speech (thus, in effect, creating two versions of political correctness - one for the Republicans, and one for the Democrats).

In fact, you've offered nothing new at all.
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