Posts Tagged ‘Political Correctness.’

When the Government passes laws against hate speech or sedition or anything else that restricts freedom of speech, there is debate to be had. All rights and freedoms have to be balanced against other rights and freedoms. I can argue that I have the right to run naked down Collins Street, but many would argue that they shouldn’t be forced to look at such a sight; the question then becomes how reasonable is it for me to say just look away? Many who supported the tightening of the sedition laws because we couldn’t allow people to encourage violence, turned around to argue that racial vilification laws are an unreasonable restriction. Whatever the law, people will be trying to find the appropriate balance, and not everyone will agree that it’s been found.

But about twenty years ago, I’ve noticed a strange thing happened with the term “politically correct”. It probably began before, but I remember John Howard saying about Pauline Hanson that while he disagreed with her, it was refreshing that she felt able to say what she was thinking. The implication being that we were meant to draw was that while the Labor Party had shut down free speech, now people were free to question.

While acknowledging that many of the laws which restrict people’s capacity to incite hatred or violence do not have universal acceptance – (“It’s my democratic right to call you names!”) ¬†– I find that more and more often I’m coming across a strange phenomenon: The person who tells you that he or she can’t say what they’d like to because of this political correctness, but the nudge and the wink is enough! We know what they’d like to say, if only this PC straightjacket didn’t restrict them so much.

Often though, it’s not laws or regulations that stop them. What they want to say isn’t covered by anti-discrimination or racial vilification laws. All that happen is that someone will tell them that they’re an ignorant fool and that they’re attitudes are just offensive. So they’re “forced” to keep their views to themselves, because they don’t want to be told how wrong they are.

A couple of days ago, I wrote about a certain Melbourne columnist (He Who Must Not Be Named) and his comments on the Adam Goodes incident. While sipping my latte (of course, too early for Chardonnay), I made the mistake of picking up the Herald-Sun today and reading the Letters Page. It seems that many of its readers think that Goodes was a little too sensitive, that the term “ape” is not racist and that the AFL was over the top. And, of course, that the girl was a mere thirteen.

I wonder if a story appeared that an Islamic thirteen year old had said that she thought that 9/11 was a wonderful thing would the same readers say that she was just a child, and that I was over the top for complaining. Or would they say that people lost their lives in the September 11 attacks? Whereas, of course, calling a person an ape never did anyone any harm, and besides they get called Neanderthals all the time and that never worries them.

Of course, it might if they could spell the word well enough to look it up!