It starts with George Carlin. I’m late to the party, but I’m here now, and the man was admirable. As a writer, his insistence on words that have concrete meaning resonates. At the end of the day, they are just words, but they preform an essential function. We could debate the reasons for this, but it seems like the more visceral the words, the more they convey meaning that can’t be misunderstood.
Once upon a time, I was a contractor with a large organization and the lead for our company was trying to boost morale. After everyone at the table had talked in circles around the issues, I finally said “look. We get it. The company is our pimp and we’re the hookers. You aren’t going to make the situation better by telling us that we’re in a relationship, but you can stop beating us.” I made the project manager deeply uncomfortable, but he knew exactly what I meant. Was it a PC way to go about conveying my point? Probably not. But it was effective.
I don’t like mushy language. Hallmark, while an interesting company, chafes my hide. Company mission and values statements are probably the worst possible example of mushy language taking over the word. They string these words together like excellence, integrity, and value, but what does that tell you about the company? Only that they say the same shit every other company in the world says. My whole professional life is about puzzling through dense prose to find the meaning and its simplest expression. Words matter to me.
Bill Maher is one of my favorite social/political commentators. Thoroughly liberal – I’m not even sure what that word means anymore – he seems to say what he thinks, whether that thing might offend someone or not. I don’t want to put any words in his mouth, but he seems to think that post-enlightenment western culture, with its rationalism and scientific method and liberal values (taken from wikipedia, because I had to look it up: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free markets, civil rights, democratic societies, secular governments, and international cooperation) is superior to cultures where women are mutilated, homosexuals are killed, and changing your mind about God is a death-penalty kind of crime.
He wouldn’t be wrong. In pretty basic measures like infant mortality and longevity, you’re just going to do better in a country that is operated along principles common to Western culture. Yeah, we had a rough time getting here: dark ages, witch burning, the Inquisition, etc. But we’re here now and it is a place that was worth getting to.
Bad ideas are bad ideas. And we should call them bad ideas, even if suggesting there is some kind of an equivalency is the more PC approach.
Now, you can argue about means to an end and what you want out of the exchange. Most confrontations don’t end with someone having a fundamental change of mind.
So am I politically correct? Probably not, at least when it comes to talking about and challenging ideas. I’m George Carlin politically incorrect. I’m not Donald Trump politically incorrect, which I’ll get to in my next post.