PC and Don Lemon

Don Lemon recently had a conversation with CNN’s Chris Cuomo about the question of right and wrong https://www.rawstory.com/2018/11/cnns-don-lemon-explains-rethink-friendships-politics/ . On occasion, popular culture pundits synthesize the issues of the day into concise summaries of a particular truth. rawstory.com perceived this particular ad-lib moment and reposted it to amplify its significance. 

“If your friend is espousing policies that are detrimental to women, to gay people, to minorities, whatever, and is on the wrong side of history and seen as racist and on and on, then I think you need to rethink your friendship.”

This is a quote from Don Lemon in the discussion reported by Dominique Jackson. All told they brought up a list of polar opposites: right vs. wrong, good vs. bad, friend vs. ex friend, political vs moral, and while they didn’t say the words specifically, they alluded to political correctness. This all came up around the topic of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and her husband George Conway having ‘indiscreet’ public differences of opinions on Donald Trump. This brief unscheduled and unscripted crossover discussion between talkshow hosts has grown into a delineation of moral indecision. 

In earlier times domineering rulers, and/or theologies spelled out the answer to questions of proper behavior.  Rules were clear and punishments severe. Over time the responsibility for moral decisions fell primarily to the church. Recently, lets say the past 60 years, religion has proven itself to be a flawed steward of morality, it now ventures into secular politics on every issue. Child abuse, and a litany of morally reprehensible treatments of unwed mothers and others, all of which is hidden within a code of secrecy has changed the popular notion of preachers into vile hypocrites obsessed with sex. 

They began their efforts with presumably honorable intentions which have mutated into despicable behaviors under the guise of moral superiority. The cause (sustain the bureaucracy) outweighs the individual and so the human realities are obscured by the church bureaucracy. Morality and moral example on their part are diminished accordingly. They started out as arbiters of good and bad, right or wrong. Now, the status of good vs. bad is not the key issue of morality. The zeitgeist of society has shifted because of our current understanding that many versions of good and bad exist simultaneously. This common knowledge seeps into our daily lives diminishing the value of good v. bad theologies and is replaced by Political Correctness(PC).

Now, to be clear I am not really talking about the PC movement currently bamboozling universities and making fools of themselves as they try to define a fledgling philosophy. As the notion of good vs. bad wanes the rise of the “Golden Rule,” “the rule of reciprocity” steps in to replace it. Now, this has been a secondary element of mystery based theologies all along. PC is merely asserting its supremacy in the discussion of what is moral. It asks the question of coexistence: Can we get along and treat one another fairly? The question of an entities’ good or evil status by arbitrary methods is far less relevant in the PC world. 

As an example lets look at religion’s obsession with sex. Gay people are evil and not good in the eye of certain religions. In the realm of PC the person who is gay may be a great neighbor and have lots of friends and be easy to get along with and enjoy and cherish so their PC score is very high. The criteria for acceptance or rejection comes from experience with that person, not arbitrary, mystery-based 2000 year old rules. People see the direct result of experience over backward fantasies espoused by pedophile priests. So, the question becomes whose version of ‘good’ will be the criteria? PC is winning the battle due to the self immolation of Evangelicals and their political support of D. Trump, the endless chronology of abuse in the Catholic church, religion’s lack of relevance for youth, and authoritarian proclivities without the wherewithal to follow through. 

Neither a mystery god, nor a threat of hell have enough relevance to be the criteria for living a healthy existence in society any more. So, Don Lemon is saying we should reevaluate our friends according to their personal beliefs. Actually, his term – ‘espouse’ could mean anything from simply having an opinion to preaching it in the public square. This is the crux of the PC decision to keep or change your friends. 

Can you get along with a person who has different opinions than you? I don’t expect my friends to have identical points of view; debating questions of the day with friends is boring if you all are on the same side. But if a friend actively seeks to change society in what I consider to be a harmful way then my friendship will be withdrawn as will my placement of them on the PC scale.

But, what about bonds that are stronger than politics? My father produced two gay offspring, my Dad and I still love one another yet we are polar opposites on the political spectrum. Fox News was made just for him, I am sure. He regularly votes against the interests of his gay sons. In his mind any punishments we get from society are earned by us for being this way. So he and I have reached a place where we each come half way towards acceptance of one another. We are polite. I still love him, but he gets low PC marks from me. 

If we followed the old religious rules of such things he wouldn’t make the effort to come half way. His theology and conservative bigotry are deflated by love. He had to buck the theologic system that is so inbred he could only come half of the way. Today’s generations have that partial rebellion as a model for their own resistance. They are deciding their allegiances and friendships waste too much time and effort living up to an ancient, fantasy-based god and his stupid rules. I won’t harm you and you won’t harm me. We all get along. Bigotry and its kin – theology, be gone.

[Sorry I have been gone so long, I have been writing a book about the hurricanes on St. Croix and had little time to blog. Bill]

 

Sex, Slaves, & Inconvenient Truths


What we see in the great cultural divide of 2018 is a society shaken by a dual worldview. The church represents tradition and reliance upon ancient codes for defining right or wrong. That attitude is frozen in place by traditions and authoritarian dominance. The reasoning that created those rules is defunct, making them irrelevant in the current culture while they continue to be enforced by an enduring moral designation of ‘bad’. All of Christian authority comes from the long tradition of having placed, at some point in time, the designation of ‘good,’ or ‘bad’ on every aspect of life. The current mode of Political Correctness uses a different set of criteria. PC has no need of judgment regarding an ultimate right or an ultimate wrong in the sense of good vs. evil; PC criteria is focused on whether individuals and thereby society are being harmed or not. If you actively harm others your PC ranking sinks. 

Bigotry harms other people. Bigotry is immoral. Why then do evangelicals support Trump given his support of bigotry? Neither Jesus nor Paul condemn slavery despite its omnipresence in their time. Paul even returned a slave to his master; I’d call that support. So, are we still fighting the Civil War? Yes, it seems we are. But, before we get to far afield here let’s look at sex, too. Sexuality has changed a lot since the Bible was compiled. We now know an incredible amount of detail that seems to change some ancient declarations of sexuality from ‘bad’ into ‘good,’ or at least a harmless, ‘Okay.’ Biblical sexual morality has little relevance to modern social existence though rape and the like remains evil. Many sexual condemnations seem bellicose, hyperbolic and impotently unreasonable.

So, once again it seems kind of pointless to make these remarks when Evangelicals are creating the greatest fuss. They condemn, using antiquated moralities, while endorsing the most infamous counter-example, Donald Trump. The people supporting these old biblical canards, such as The Alliance Defending Freedom, are over-the-top. They acquire the designation, ‘hate group’ for their manic behavior. Yet they seem to thrill to the amoral behavior of the current president. Is hypocrisy the best description for this? I mean If Jesus throughout his life barely discussed the obvious immorality of slavery, at a time when it was omnipresent in society, why do evangelicals ignore the immoralities of Trump? It is obvious, their master, Jesus, taught them how to do it and by example condones the behavior. Trump is the new Christ.

Did Jesus teach child abuse too? You would think so if you live in Pennsylvania this week. Who teaches child abuse to the priests and how does someone like Archbishop Wuerl learn the techniques of shuffling abusive priests to other parishes like pawns on a chess board? Is this like ignoring slavery because it is convenient? Perhaps Political Correctness is the wrong course of action; “God” in truth, actually prefers slavery and child rape–it is as plain as the nose on their theological face.

PC Envy

Political Correctness appears to have usurped religion’s title as arbiter of morality; Religion wants the title back. 

Political correctness has, until recently, been under the thumb of religious control. Now, religious forays into actual politics have whittled down their stature and made them simply another player in the game. The amorphous PC world is often seen by them as a rebellion against religion, but, in truth, secular opinions are only now being freely heard. This has the effect of normalizing a more secular society. All this coincides with the growth of the internet which facilitates and accelerates rapidly changing attitudes and knowledge.

It is my contention that the ascendant Alt-Right/Authoritarian/Trump wave currently plaguing society is due to their own efforts to combat Political Correctness as a whole because, without domination of the game they earn a low rank on PC scales. Their efforts result in a jealous desire for PC stature that they refuse to earn for themselves. They are clawing their way out of that self-imposed hole using the least PC tools available; those efforts make for a fierce and determined, amoral contender.

Political correctness does not come from the courts, the law, or church. It comes from the heart of society and its shared sense of humanity. Political correctness does not rely upon a specific dogma. Political correctness is a shared consensus not an actual organization or club that one belongs to. It is the spirit of the times, the zeitgeist of the moment. It has no owner or president nor structure. Anyone is welcome in the world of political correctness. All humanity and its enterprise exist somewhere on the scale of political correctness.

People and entities are ‘self-ranking’ within the politically correct hierarchy. Entities obtain status through being observed and then unofficially ranked by consensus within the society. There is no chart or record or award for ending up at some point or other on the ranking chart. An entity’s rank can change in an instant. It is a matter of a multitude of perspectives on that entity and its behavior. One’s perspective changes constantly, so, from any person’s current perspective this question is repeatedly being asked: is that entity fair to the rest of us?

The list below is an observational description of PC.

  1. One speaks respectfully about all issues and the people who hold those various opinions whether they agree with them or not.
  2. One stands up for their beliefs and asserts them in a respectful way without insulting the integrity or humanity of those around them.
  3. They listen to the opinions of others and respect them for their merit, civility, and disposition in society.
  4. Each entity puts into practice, through action, this common moral assertion: The Law of Reciprocity (do unto others as you would have others do unto you).
  5. The test for civility is not found in the designation of ‘good’ in opposition to ‘evil’ for there are many goods and many evils. The test for civility is how one – good, in-between, or evil – collaborates with others who may, or not, be good, or evil, or a mixture, in the quest to coexist peaceably.
  6. Political Correctness is about civility – shared respect and fair treatment of others.
  7. As with all social structures PC can itself become oppressive and exclusive and over-adamant of its perceptions and conclusions, and therefore become guilty of over-reaching itself. This should be pointed out and addressed when it happens.

The Trump/alt-society (including White Evangelicals, White Supremacists, and the 1%), demands a rank of high-status in the PC world similar to that of say, Civil Rights. Religions expecting their prior stature say: ‘We demand the esteem we have always had.’ Political Correctness does acknowledge their prior stature, but the alt-right’s rank is always low on the PC scale due to their rebuke of the Law of Reciprocity. This demand for a clearly un-earned high status causes the PC folks to cringe. The Alt-right’s self-righteous approach misses the point of a non-structured entity like Political Correctness with no authority-based leadership. 

“Deep and sincere religious belief” is the call of desperation from the religious authoritarian perspective. That phrase is being used to rationalize the religious domination of our culture. An example: “If a man lies with a man as with a woman, they have both committed an abomination They must surely be put to death.That authoritarian command obviously runs counter to the Law of Reciprocity and common decency as well. The recent Supreme Court decision, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, illuminates the piercing point of the wedge being used to pry open the law which would allow the codification of religiously based bigotry. It comes in the form of that deceptive phrase: “deep and sincere religious belief”.

In the Alt-Right mindset, a deep & sincere religious belief alone is sufficient to override all of the following: deep and sincere beliefs of all others, the Golden Rule, Civil Laws, common sense, common decency, respect, and love. 

There is no mechanism for deciding the supremacy of deepness, I mean, a splinter in my finger feels deep but fracking shale in horizontal wells is also deep. How does one measure the sincerity of a given belief? What constitutes a ‘religious’ belief? It seems redundant. How is it different from a regular belief? “I believe for every drop of rain that falls a flower grows,” makes for a great song lyric but is patently untrue; is it a serious religious belief? It was written by Erwin Drake, in the genre of ‘faith song’– a musical prayer. It is a beautiful sentiment that was very popular in the 1950’s pop music scene. At what point does belief overtake sentimentality; at what point does belief supersede veracity?

This dominating attitude is the cause of religion’s low rank on the PC scale. Religion is based in mystery and is full of fantasy. The verifiable qualities of their supernatural beliefs don’t exist. Rational thoughts or behaviors are irrelevant in religious belief. Insistence in the authority of ‘belief’ diminishes their stature once the bluster has settled and the face behind the facade is made visible. 

Religion and Political Correctness have different goals:

  • Religion is attempting to define good and its opposite, evil. Political Correctness is an attempt to make manifest the ways we all get along together.
  • Religion places people in good or evil categories (often for their obsessive concern: sex) while PC individuals self-rank according to collaborative fellowship without fantasy or mystery.
  • There is no organization or hierarchy or dogma for PC ranking; it amounts to organic fairness. Religions create dogma, rules and rituals to maintain authoritarian dominance over its followers; this creates a with-us or against-us mentality.
  • Good and evil or a mixture of the two exist in all people to some degree. Both religion and PC control the mixture through a shunning process. Religion has legalistic authoritarian rules that lead to exclusion when violations occur. Low PC ranking amounts to a natural repudiation from society, but not outright exclusion. 
  • The rules of religion are spelled out in documented legalese. The rules of Political Correctness ebb and flow; they resemble a sensibility of the moment more than a list of moral approbations.
  • Mystery-based, ancient religious edicts regarding moral behavior may contain any number of extraneous, sexually misbegotten, non-instinctual, older, authoritarian demands. PC seems respectfully amorphous in contrast and a bit avant-garde. 
  • We all have stock in Political Correctness, but most of us have zero stock in any more than one Religion; none of us have stock in every Religion.

When the Alt-Right seeks to pick a fight with an amorphous foe, how do they know where to aim their arrows? Trump’s scattershot answer to that question is to be amorphous too, in an aggressive way. If PC has no structure why should he? Sure, he can codify their bigotry into laws through an ambiguous ‘belief,’ but the stacked court can’t define politically correct; that is our collective pride and privilege to decide. We need to be politically active about what is correct.

To PC or Not To PC

A recent commenter has me thinking about the nature of Political Correctness(PC). So, I found an article about the topic by Moira Weigel in The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/30/political-correctness-how-the-right-invented-phantom-enemy-donald-trump. The history of the term is fascinating. My question is: What does it mean to be accused of political correctness? It seems to me that Donald Trump uses those two words to call people smart!

I don’t mind being called smart, but PC carries with it many connotations. By using this trick of rhetoric – naming an imaginary opponent: The PC – he envisions a triad of straw men. There is the stereotype PC person: upper middle class liberal, academic or urbanite, personified as a snobbish, middle-aged, bald, goateed, guy in glasses wearing a corduroy jacket with leather elbow patches, and reading Proust. There is the good, clean Christian farmer of hearth and home, with ball cap, bib overalls, a Bible, a hound dog, a wife and a blunderbuss. (I was a farmer for eight years, sans wife and blunderbuss. And a non-theist so the Bible stayed on the shelf!) Then there is the savior class of rich folks: Trumpites. Or as Trump promised: “I’m going to hire the best people for my Cabinet”; best does not mean a ‘qualified expert,’ it means wealthy. Money, apparently gives one superior knowledge of any and all things.

Trump has convinced the farming third of the triad he would help them. He complains about Political Correctness, but then – he lies often and blatantly. His behavior suggests that the lie – an immoral, deceitful, attack-on-civility – is preferable to the cautious, respectful, moral, civility of being politically correct . Honestly, he won the election by advocating dishonesty. I’ve spoken on this blog about why I think this behavior is appealing to Evangelicals and other Trump supporters in spite of the obvious conflict. They are moralist who have almost nothing to moralize about without fags to pick on, or muslims, or women or whatever is on their list that day. They are willing to make faustian deals with anyone just to get an ounce of the superiority that gay-bashing provides. Their identities are based upon their ability to look down on someone “lesser” than themselves. The low-caste groups they love to hate are protected by political correctness. But, the moralists really want to call them names, pick on them and abuse them. The urge to bully others is a primary driver once it takes over.

They either can’t think for themselves or don’t want to; sometimes they are guided by religious dictates that require thoughtless allegiance to antiquated rules excluding “others”. They desperately try to maintain a status quo that has passed them by. Verbal meanness is something they have been denied by political correctness and it burns their biscuits. Trump has opened the floodgates of their anger and allows them to be as condescending as they want now. This will likely be their only reward from him.

Inbred prejudice is partly a survival mechanism; they are using what god gives them to survive. When they think about it, I mean seriously and objectively think, they realize that they aren’t treating others the way they would want to be treated and are embarrassed by their thoughts. It clashes with their prime religious directive, “Do unto others…” At least I hope that they are embarrassed, the future will be irredeemable if they are not. That dissonance makes them angrier. They see that they are on the poop end of the stick where it is quite unpleasant so they lash out at what they consider oppression. Passions are raised when they see gays getting legal protections and the muslims getting away with a normal life, and women as bosses so their gut level reaction is anger.

Unfortunately, their role-model is Donald Trump, who wears the facade of money well. His behavior is not the least bit polite. He looks great in a tux, but don’t mistake that for being civil. Dressing up a bully does not make the ill effects of his behavior any easier to take. Unless, of course, you have never stayed at a hotel as fancy as his, or worn your own tuxedo, or flown in your own jet. Those people fall for the shtick and the bluster. They know they are bound to this devil by their faustian bargain and at some point will begin to regret the deal. The politically correct people will eventually accept them back and forgive them because it is the PC thing to do. Until that happens Trump’s battle with civility must play out.

The hard part for evangelicals is that they gave up any moral high ground they may have had. In the past, they could at least say God was on their side. They can’t say that now, they made a deal with the devil and their’s is a vengeful god!