Shimura Curves

Friday, May 19, 2006

Vague Musings About "PC"

Maybe I should have posted this on ILX, where the argument started, but I just don't feel like revealing my soft, white underbelly in such an adversarial hellhole.

Thread started by some jerk saying that anyone who objects to potentially racially offensive comments is a PC-Nazi. Cue typical ILX beatdown, but then someone steps up with an salient and pithy story which basically knocks seven shades of shite out of the original poster. However... he kind of diminishes his point by calling the protagonist of his story "Special Ed". When I object and say "actually, you've kind of invalidated your point by using such a loaded term which is derrogatory towards the disabled", black dude turns around and effectively calls me a PC-Nazi by saying I'm guilty of what first jerk is complaining about for "missing the point of the story because I'm so blinded by a term". Like, dude, would you have been able to see the point of the story if the epithet was "Nigger"?

Yeah, I know, Race is the Elephant In The Room on ILX and I've spent my whole life being told by various people that whatever -ism I'm complaining about (sexism, homophobia, discrimination against the disabled) is just not as Urgent and Key as Racism, like a Huge Wrong makes a Not-So-Huge Wrong "Right" or something. (Instead of the idea that it's ALL symptomatic of the same white, male, middle-class, heterosexual entitlement bullshit*, and while we divisively tie our hands by arguing about it, they shaft us even harder up the ass. (No Boris jokes, please!))

But what irks me is this idea that I'm objecting to the term "Special Ed" because of some kind of PC-Nazism. Spend a high school semester on the BO-tard** Bus, going to school at the adolescents' wing of the local mental hospital because you've had a nervous breakdown, and see how sensitive you become to terms like "Special Ed" and "Sunshine Coach" and yeah, even "BO-tard".

I know I kid around all the time about mental illness - we all do. I use phrases like "nutter" and "mentalist" and "psycho" with abandon, sometimes even with affection. Sometimes it's a defense mechanism.*** Sometimes it's a lazy way of saying "wanker". Is this really any more acceptable than using "gay" or "retarded" as an insult? Is it PC-Nazi to care?

Or is it hypocritical to use these terms when you have been fighting for recognition that mental illness is as much as "disability" as anything else? (Disability in this case meaning something you didn't choose and don't necessarily have any control over, so therefore workplaces, educational facilities, etc. should make an effort to provide concessions or support to enable you to do your job/study/whatever in spite of it.) I'm losing the plot and this is turning into hand-wringing.

I guess I should just strive towards more accurate speech. Even in flamewars. Anyway, 20 anonymous comments by Monday...

*And no, sorry, being 3 out of those 4 options does not invalidate my opinion, thanks.

**Very localised Upstate NY insult there, from BOCES, technical and vocational training (stereotypically often given to those of less than average IQ or income) as an alternative and/or supplement to higher education

***There but for the grace of god, go I, etc.


At 6:34 PM GMT, Blogger Mistress La Spliffe said...

I think people who say shit like "PC Nazi" know they're too mentally petrified to adjust their perception of the world to accord with certain realities - essentially, they're too stupid to be tactful. They just want the rest of the world to stop giving them shit for offending people, because it's not thier fault, damnit. They're just stupid and tactless. Another word for PC Nazi could well be stupidist. You're a stupidist, Boom!

I think sexism, homophobia, and discrimination against the disabled get less attention than racism because the first three, in the eyes of the dominant ethnic group, are *part* of the dominant ethnic group - not really coming with the visceral idea of "barbarians pounding at the gates". It's a different sort of paranoid object, in the sense that someone from a shat-upon ethnic group will look at the woman, gay whoever, or mentally struggling person and see before all else a member of the dominant ethnic group. From what I remember.

At 7:48 PM GMT, Anonymous mitya said...

i stay out of this stuff because I'm a straight, white, heterosexual male, and so whatever I think IS invalid and I am the Great Satan.

At 8:55 PM GMT, Blogger melanie said...

Personally I'm part of the Big Jewish Conspiracy that secretly rules the world, so I just sit back and chuckle fiendishly at this stuff.

At 11:27 PM GMT, Blogger Miss Daiquiri said...

Chicken, that thread was uuttterlt troll from beginng to end. I think you are\ totally correct and when i'm not in an internet cafe printing out features brief and PR pone num,ber, having left my drunk drunk friends behind because I jhave togo to Latvia to interbvoew trance DJ at early hour tomorrow i love you lots!

Verfic word: metafog! Rulez! Obscures and mists over! Yay, metafog!


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