Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Political Correctness, a Temporary Subject

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Political Correctness, a Temporary Subject

Article excerpt

Behind the lovely, turbulent spleen-venting that is the argument over political correctness lies something far more authentically American than the spirit of goodness and love for constitutional freedoms that ostensibly motivate the disputants.

That something is malice for one's fellow man.

For those opposed to P.C. doctrines, what a joy it is to tee off on those fascistic language suppressors who are out to destroy freedom of speech by punishing people for Badspeak.

For the P.C. champions, what a delight to flail away with gusto, labeling the unfair, the benighted and the wrong-minded with some of the most poisonous words in the lexicon of what passes for English in this era of galloping illiteracy. "Racist!" is one of their favorite epithets; "sexist!" is another.

At first glance, it may seem a bit odd that folks so eager to stamp out words hurtful to the feelings of others should be so quick to strike with such hurtful words. The explanation is that this is not such a high-minded battle as both sides want us to suppose.

Opponents of P.C. are not above overstating the case either. Their alarms about the threat to the First Amendment and the rise of brain-washer tyrannies on campuses ignore both the durability of the Constitution and the historical tendency of the American campus to careen from absurdity to absurdity with the shifting winds of popular whim.

It hasn't been so long ago that colleges cravenly let themselves be terrorized by federal Red hunters. That followed shortly after the age of competitive goldfish-swallowing but before the age when colleges started surrendering to student tyrannies that shut down campuses and had rough sport with professors for high-minded political reasons.

The P.C. dispute is one of those arguments Americans enjoy for the opportunity they offer each participant to say something nasty about everybody whose view of the world gripes him. In its most terrible form, this kind of argument once centered on American attitudes toward communism. …

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