Movie Friday: Stewart Lee – Political Correctness

A friend put me on to a new standup comedian:

There is a general misunderstanding that pervades the society we live in, and it comes from a grating lack of historical awareness. I’ve made somewhat oblique reference to it before, but the problem arises when we look at conditions today and assume that they were ever thus. For example, the words “political correctness” have taken on an almost pejorative connotation, implying an over-sensitive “culture of victims” where every word you say must be scrutinized and agonized over. What this view necessarily neglects is the reasons why those practices came to be in the first place. Whatever your feelings on welfare are, for example, there was once a time when there was no state welfare and poverty was a death sentence. Abolishing welfare isn’t an answer to anything, and suggesting otherwise is being criminally ignorant of history.

Stewart Lee points this out in a very dry way:

“…if political correctness has achieved one thing, it’s to make the Conservative party cloak its inherent racism behind more creative language.”

Racism, in a de facto sense, is inherent in conservative ideology and cannot simply be whitewashed over. When we forget our history and the struggles that it took for us to get here (however your feelings might be of “here”), we expose ourselves to the possibility of looking at the world today and crying “injustice” over issues where the alternative is far worse.

Like this article? Follow me on Twitter!


  1. grassrute says

    Brian, sorry to keep you waiting, I was away for the weekend.
    I fall into the 84% who think political correctness has gone mad. Being of small mind, I have never drawn a link between political correctness and racism. I wouldn’t refute a racist comment because it wasn’t politically correct, but rather because it was wrong. I would sooner link political correctness to something like renaming a Christmas tree a “Holiday Tree.”
    Considering the recent discussion on Right-winged rhetoric, I found this statement hypocritical: “Racism, in a de facto sense, is inherent in conservative ideology”
    Those who believe this appear to cause hardship to conservative African Americans: Isn’t persecuting African Americans for aligning with conservative political views racist?

  2. says

    Isn’t persecuting African Americans for aligning with conservative political views racist?

    Um… only if you don’t understand what the word ‘racist’ means, I guess. The black community finds it just as galling to see black people parrot conservative talking points as the atheist community finds it galling that women are more religious. It strains the understanding to see someone cling tightly to the same ideology that has been the boot on their/our neck for generations.

    So political correctness has “gone mad” when people start doing things that you personally don’t agree with, but when you agree with them it’s okay? It must be nice to be the sole arbiter of right and wrong without having to justify your positions.

    The issue about the rhetoric was that the right is rather fond of using aggressive and violent language to make political points. Racism is not necessarily violent, and in the context I used it (with, by the way, a link to explain exactly why I said what I said), it is not violent. I’m not sure where the hypocrisy is.

    Sean Hannity can go gargle some balls at a Mojave truck stop. Any analysis from Fox News anchors will be immediately dismissed (not because it’s conservative, but because it’s the propaganda wing of the Republican party) and references to it will be roundly mocked.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *