Robin Ince on PC

Robin Ince has a few words about political correctness.

Political correctness means different things to different racists homophobes misogynists concerned citizens. For some, it is a mindless removal of offensive words based purely on doctrine, they are cancelling the racist jokes for no other reason than statue 8 paragraph C. Some people cannot believe you may not make homophobic jokes and quips about rapes because you’re playing it safe rather than because you’ve thought it through and, via a combination of empathy and reason, you’ve decided it may be a better night without those jokes. You haven’t banned those jokes, you’ve just come up with other ones.

This is why I think PC can be good for comedy. It makes you think about what you are saying and why you are saying it. You still have the freedom to say it, you just might have spent a little more time thinking why you are. The cost of free speech when well-used is to think about its value and what you want to use it for.

So true, not just for comedy, but for any kind of communication. If you aren’t thinking about your audience, you aren’t being effective. You can spit on a Bible in front of an audience of atheists, but if you’re trying to talk to a group of creationists, you’ll lose them immediately and they won’t bother listening to you. “Political correctness” is a bullshit term used to disparage something important: thoughtfulness and honest discussion. Complaining about political correctness just means you’re admitting that you have zero interest in listening to the other side.


  1. Doubting Thomas says

    “Complaining about political correctness just means you’re admitting that you have zero interest in listening to the other side.” Exactly.

  2. Anders says

    I dont think most «anti-PC» people are complaining about other people being «PC», but they are complaining that they are being called racist/asshole, unfairly deplatformed etc for not being, or seeming not to be, «PC». That said i think «PC» itself is an unhelpful counter-smear, that at the very least is being overused.

  3. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    It is a huge mistake to reify the disingenuous framing of “political correctness” when referring to what would more accurately be characterized as “using awareness of societal power imbalances to inform common courtesy.”

  4. Snarki, child of Loki says

    IIRC, “PC” started as a joke, from lefties ribbing those “leftier than thou”.

    As usual, the conservatives didn’t get the joke.

  5. chrislawson says

    Snarki — it’s not that conservatives didn’t get the joke, it’s that they didn’t care where it came from so long as it was a useful fallacy.

  6. llyris says

    I like Neil Gaiman’s explanation of political correctness – “it’s really just treating people with respect”.
    “Oh my God, that’s treating people with respect gone mad”.

  7. says

    The people who complain about PC culture have one of their own. Saying that very few soldiers are heroes, or that god isn’t there or doesn’t care, or that the US supports dictators and fights immoral wars. Or kneel during the playing of the national anthem.

  8. Ray, rude-ass yankee, Bugblatting Flibbertigibbet says

    Politeness and respect used to also be called “common courtesy”. Back when courtesy was, you know, more common.