Dawkins offers another installment of The Philosophy of Twitter today.
Today I posted a series of tweets, relevant to this discussion and designed to be read in order:-
As a pejorative, “Politically Correct” has lost its bite. It’s now a cliché. What we have is an Orwellian (but unofficial) “Thought Police”.
Rotherham Police & Council were fearful of the Thought Police:
Let’s learn to lose our fear of the Thought Police.
Academics fly kites, try ideas on colleagues & students, often rejecting them after discussion. “What if . ..?” “Could it be that . . .?”
It’s a pity if we have to look over shoulder for fear of PC Thought Police, Verbal Vigilantes, Feeding Frenzy of Political Piranhas.
Yesterday I raised an academic, philosophical question on vulnerability of all our existences to apparently unconnected causes such as WW1.
And many responded in interesting ways. But also many responded with vitriol as if offended by the very idea of asking academic questions.
Maybe Twitter is not the place for fully worked out exposition. Maybe it is a good place for thinking aloud & seeing how ideas will fly.
This is what many of my tweets try to do: think aloud & see what others think. It works for some readers. If you don’t like it, don’t follow.
Okay let’s see how one of these ideas will fly – the idea that “Politically Correct” is vieux chapeau so now let’s talk about the Thought Police instead.
That doesn’t fly very well, as far as I’m concerned. The problems with “politically correct” are not just that it’s stale. One problem with it is that it tends to be right-wing and ill-natured. Yes, concerns about nomenclature can sometimes come across as meddlesome point-scoring or tiresome literalness or any number of other annoying things, but then again contempt for concerns about nomenclature can come across as immovable smugness, too, so where does that leave us?
One place it leaves us is saying that “Thought Police” is hardly an improvement. It implies that we should never ever correct our own thinking. Well is that true? No. Of course it’s not true. We all used to think all kinds of things that we know recognize as both wrong and shitty. How do we learn better? For one thing, by being told. Complaining about the “Thought Police” just sounds like saying you’re already perfect as you are so shut up.
Katy Cordeth put it neatly on the RDF thread.
I dunno. PC Thought Police, Verbal Vigilantes, Feeding Frenzy of Political Piranhas.
These terms are politer than Cunt, Twat, Nazi, I’ll give you that.
They hardly seem designed to encourage rational, civil debate.
As I might have said before, I don’t twitter myself. Is it all just name calling on that network?
I’m actually a fan of political correctness. I think for the most part it’s awesome. We have this phenomenon to thank for the drop in racism, homophobia, sexism. Even if you just happen to be ginger and are picked on for it, your employer or headmaster will summon the guilty party to his office and read this bully the riot act. You might object to this but, like pork products being draped on the outside furniture of a religious establishment, no one other than the pig itself has cause to complain.
Seriously, how can any decent person not love PC? It’s only right wingers, Daily Mail/Express readers, Fox News viewers and other haters who rail against political correctness.
Yup, pretty much.