Tired of Political Correctness

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I may be in the minority here but then again, I may be in the silent majority. The truth of the matter is I don't know because it is unpopular or uncool to state your thoughts today (and probably always has been) if they're not the same as a majority or vocal minority due to being "Politically Correct". I like to think I'm open minded and don't take things too personal if someone makes fun of males (as you see on Facebook than you do women), pokes fun at my beliefs, or comes at my ethnicity. I am not a child, I know other people will have personal opinions and ways they view the world and at times they will differ from mine. This includes the way they speak and have been brought up. I've been offended in the past but have miraculously somehow made it through without having to throw a tantrum and raise a stink.

In listening to the Episode 336, I was blown away by Shawn, Elysium and Cory apologizing for using terms like "grow a pair", "bitch", and "Don't be a pussy". Are you kidding me? It's ridiculous to me you guys thought you had to apologize but even more ridiculous there are people out there whining about this. I understand not saying certain words in the presence of children or women but these words/phrases and how they are used being derogatory towards women in particular is ridiculous. Where do we draw the line? How about terms like "That's a dick move" or words like tool, geek, nerd, punk, etc? Are these commonly used terms that are typically derogatory towards males now off limits too? Get over this holier than thou approach to life and let little things like this go. If something offends you that much, walk away, stop listening whatever it takes to make you happy in your own world. I for one won't change phrases I use to appease someone with a low self-esteem and I sure won't be apologizing for it if they bring it to my attention unless I really am in the wrong.

If this offends you, I do not apologize but recommend you get some thick skin or better yet, grow up. Oh wait, have I now offended the young?

I've been offended in the past but have miraculously somehow made it through without having to throw a tantrum and raise a stink.

So why throw this tantrum and raise a stink about the podcasters deciding to change how they talk to avoid offending a part of their audience?

Actually I had the same thoughts as Jeff. One of the things that always appealed to me about the podcast was that it always just sounded like a bunch of friends, hanging out, having some conversations. With them now concerned about censoring their language, it will probably take the natural flow from the conversation.

Of course I don't see it as offensive, but then I'm male and I speak like that as well. Just the same, however, it is how the guys on the podcast speak. I guess it simply comes down to that the podcasters would rather not offend people than speak naturally.

Nevin73 wrote:

Actually I had the same thoughts as Jeff. One of the things that always appealed to me about the podcast was that it always just sounded like a bunch of friends, hanging out, having some conversations. With them now concerned about censoring their language, it will probably take the natural flow from the conversation.

Of course I don't see it as offensive, but then I'm male and I speak like that as well. Just the same, however, it is how the guys on the podcast speak. I guess it simply comes down to that the podcasters would rather not offend people than speak naturally.

Or, you know, change the way they speak naturally so as to not drive away a big chunk of their audience.

[size=6][color=grey]Yes I tend to agree with this sentiment, in a non-binding way[/grey][/size]

Political correctness is an odd notion, because for as often as it comes up in arguments, you never see anyone arguing for political correctness. It's almost as if the term itself is nothing but a rhetorical frame that is placed around a nebulous and facile set of opinions solely for the purpose of attacking them.

If you want to talk about words and offense, maybe ditch that intellectual laziness and instead use some precision. You're bringing this up in relation to gendered language and seem horrified that someone might apologize for using it - let's explore that. Why might somebody apologize for using gendered insults?

Words have meaning. They actually have more than one type of meaning - a word on a page or hanging in the air contains intent, it contains aesthetic qualities like rhythm, weight and imagery, it contains connotations and, importantly, it contains a hell of a lot of context. There's the context of the word in the sentence, paragraph, page, context in the overall argument, context within the group dynamics and context in the lines of power running through society.

Words contain ideas, and ideas can and must be criticized. We don't get to just decide that they're meaningless because it's inconvenient to think about all of the different complex dimensions of meaning that are contained within - the only time we have the privilege of doing that is when we exclude the people who are directly affected by them from the conversation.

So here's the point I'm working my way towards:

Jeff_1 wrote:

If something offends you that much, walk away.

This is an argument that works. This is what happens 99% of the time, and we all have to live with the consequences of that. This is how you wind up in a homogeneous echo chamber that is allergic to self reflection. This is the exact systemic mechanism that transforms a well-intentioned space into a pile of toxic sh*t that people who know better correctly avoid.

If someone thinks about the words they use and the context they contain, and from that reflection decides to change their behavior and apologize - that's not a weak person capitulating to a corrupt society. It's a person willing to admit that words contain ideas, and ideas require thought. Even if thought takes work.

I can see your point but equally I think it is important to moderate our language when we and society in general deem it necessary. I mean, we do it every day in myriad situations from being in front of children or at work in front of your boss (or your staff!) to your family and friends. We have very, very complex social structures in which we interact between people using ever-changing and evolving rules and that's just life as humankind know it.

I think that a lot of our language is used unnecessarily, some of it foul, some of it carelessly or lazily. But it is we who define what the rules are and when we decide to adhere to them and so it is we who can decide to change those rules.

I'm not necessarily on board with the need to announce it to all and sundry or saying "I'll improve" without having pre-defined changes and an action plan in mind so that when the rules are broken you know what you should have done instead (maybe they do? They never answered my question...). It's a personal choice though, and one we make every day already... so I don't really see the problem.

There will always people who are offended perhaps too easily and those who are too quick to offend. We just have to remember that it isn't always one side that is right or wrong - every situation is different and we are all shaped differently through our experiences in our own cultures so in my opinion we should tend to fall on the side of giving the benefit of the doubt - especially if it's not aimed at ourselves or from within our cultural sphere.

Jeff_1 wrote:

*excised rant*

Dude. Don't be a dick.

Tanglebones wrote:

Or, you know, change the way they speak naturally so as to not drive away a big chunk of their audience.

There is certainly a market for people who hate those terms. The easiest thing to do if one dislikes their use of language is to listen to something else. At some point with this sort of thing you decide if you accept the idea or you decide to ignore it.

If something offends you that much, walk away, stop listening whatever it takes to make you happy in your own world.

Good advice. Unfortunately not followed, but good in the abstract.

Nicely done Farscry. Well done indeed.

Switchbreak, this is more than just being about words/phrases that offend. What I wrote about is in the context of using those very words/phrases in relation to terms commonly identified with the term "Politically Correct" in gender, ideology, and age as I referenced tongue in cheek. Words/phrases are simply the mechanism we are using that evoke the response both pro and con.

I understand your argument and agree to some extent that there are words/phrases you really can't even apologize for. Where's Michael Richards (AKA Kramer) since his comedy routine outburst? In my opinion, and that's all it is here is my opinion, there has to be some level of maturity as it relates to these issues otherwise everyone will find something to be offended by. If everyone then voiced their opinion in an effort to avoid the "echo chamber" is that really a better place? I don't know that it is.

When is what we say not going to offend someone? If "man up" is going to be taken as an offensive term, I almost don't want to know what's next. I somewhat do for the comedic element it is sometimes taken to.

Nevin73 wrote:

Actually I had the same thoughts as Jeff. One of the things that always appealed to me about the podcast was that it always just sounded like a bunch of friends, hanging out, having some conversations. With them now concerned about censoring their language, it will probably take the natural flow from the conversation.

This is an interesting conundrum - the problem is that it sounds like a casual conversation between friends, but we do not and should not speak in public like we do with our friends in private. The podcast is public. When you talk with your friends, they have a better understanding of intent, context, and you as a person to judge whether or not you are being racist/sexist/muppetist/whatever when you say something. It is a good and fine decision to think, "I do not know exactly who this is reaching, so I better hedge my bets," when making something for public consumption.

The base of the original post is this - it is wrong for people to be offended by what was being said, and people shouldn't have to adjust themselves according to that offense. That is an exceptionally dangerous stance to take, because just like the listener doesn't really know the speaker intimately, the speaker (or you) cannot know the listener intimately, either. Sexually-slanted negative terms - "bitch, pussy, grow a pair," as you cite - are part of a very low grade but constant method of making women feel inferior. These are not neutral terms, as some people would like to think. Are there women, men, aliens, and Lego figures out there who have tuned out the gender-role connotations of these terms and now just see them as neutral jokes, jabs, and friendly insults? Sure. But there are still those who have not, because they are constantly bombarded with such a stream of minor but unending offense. To say that people like that simply should "grow a thicker skin" is extremely ignorant of the reality a great deal of people face.

edit: As a side note, I'm just about done with people who think that sweeping things they don't like under a derisive "politically correct /EYEROLL /SIGH" header and then trying to frame themselves as the last "real" person in a crowd of scared sheep makes them somehow an awesome and noble person fighting against a crowd. There are definitely elements where this is taken too far, but being proud of the idea that you reject understanding others and being aware of their problems is just not great.

Thank you, bloo.

Amoebic wrote:

Thank you, bloo.

Yep. That was a home-run post, Bloo.

I'm not defending that people should not be offended. People will either be offended at something or they won't, and that is fine. I guess I'm just going to have to see how the podcast "feels" now that they will be more aware of what words they use and how it will affect their audience. To me, that would seem exhausting.

I'm also thinking of the DGR where those guys obviously do not care what people think of the things they say. That podcast truly does feel like a bunch of friends just shooting the sh*t. I guess, as the Conference Call does seem, let's say "tamer", that it would make sense that the GWJ guys would not want to alienate their audience.

Jeff_1: I don't think there's anything mature about refusing to educate oneself on gendered language - and believe me, there is a lot of education to be done on the topic, it is actually an entire area of scholarly pursuit - and instead defensively presenting the entire thing as "everyone finding something to be offended by." I think that kind of lazy and petulant response is a mark of immaturity.

And, for the record, I do actually think "man up" is a crappy term and I'm annoyed by people who use it. I don't really care about the scary slippery slope you see that putting us on - looking at the top of that slope, I'm not too invested in staying there.

Nevin73 wrote:

I'm not defending that people should not be offended. People will either be offended at something or they won't, and that is fine. I guess I'm just going to have to see how the podcast "feels" now that they will be more aware of what words they use and how it will affect their audience. To me, that would seem exhausting.

I'm also thinking of the DGR where those guys obviously do not care what people think of the things they say. That podcast truly does feel like a bunch of friends just shooting the sh*t. I guess, as the Conference Call does seem, let's say "tamer", that it would make sense that the GWJ guys would not want to alienate their audience.

That wasn't all directed at you, not even most of it. I just used the "conversational tone" point as a jump off, because it was a reasonable one to think about.

Switchbreak wrote:

Jeff_1: I don't think there's anything mature about refusing to educate oneself on gendered language - and believe me, there is a lot of education to be done on the topic, it is actually an entire area of scholarly pursuit - and instead defensively presenting the entire thing as "everyone finding something to be offended by." I think that kind of lazy and petulant response is a mark of immaturity.

And, for the record, I do actually think "man up" is a crappy term and I'm annoyed by people who use it. I don't really care about the scary slippery slope you see that putting us on - looking at the top of that slope, I'm not too invested in staying there.

My thoughts on the issue.

Jeff_1 wrote:

Get over this holier than thou approach to life and let little things like this go. If something offends you that much, walk away, stop listening whatever it takes to make you happy in your own world.

So - I do share some of your concerns, my initial reaction was somewhat similar, but I have to say the above advice applies equally to you. You may not agree that what was said was offensive, but... it's not your sandbox - the only vote you really get is subscribing or not. I agree there's a discussion to be had when it comes to political correctness, but really only in the realm of government enforcement. This just isn't a very good use case to have a real discussion, because it's simply a conversation among friends made public. The people actually having the conversation dictate the subjects, format, and terminology, and anyone offended can simply decide to not listen. I think that's a good thing.

One of the issues is the that term "politically correct" is used to mean "liberal ideology", which is what is usually meant. When people say they are not politically correct, they are rejecting liberal values and ideals, and as such it becomes a talking point. However, each side has their own coded language, so there is "politically correct" speech on the Right as well as the left - "State's rights", "opportunities instead of outcomes", "takers vs makers", all of these phrases and more are intended to change the conversation in the same way as gender neutrality is. This fits more with the original use of the phrase to designate coded language that satisfies a particular political viewpoint. The fact that it's been associated with liberals is a good indicator of how well Frank Luntz and others have succeeded in manipulating language in the public mind.

But of course, it's not done with equality as an ideal; it deliberately rejects that, because that's a liberal goal, not a conservative one, in the modern political dialog. Being "not politically correct" is another way of saying "I'm not changing just to suit you". It's a rejection of change, ultimately, which is what modern conservatism has come to (as opposed to the older ideal of *slowing* change for the sake of perceived safety.) It's defiant and frustrated and fearful all at the same time.

I'll admit that I don't listen to the conference call nearly as much as I used to, and one of the reasons was certain individuals having a predilection for the word 'f*ck'. I just got tired of hearing it. That and certain people ending every other sentence with the word 'right'.

Well, I'll share a story from this weekend about what happened over in the Sports forum. I joined in some trash talking and ended up using some derogatory nicknames that were very un-PC. I got called out and, as the old Irish proverb goes, if everyone in the bar tells you you're drunk, it's time to take a seat.

Here's the thing - I think we all can tell if something is super offensive or even borderline criminal. Sending pictures of beheaded rape victims and saying "you're next" is obviously beyond the pale. So is making 9/11 jokes to piss off Yankee fans (something that I've seen on baseball forums). But this morning I realized that the normal politically incorrect trash talk I grew up with as a Southern working class kid can easily go from joking to downright mean.

I hadn't actually listened to the latest podcast till I was doing some yard work today, and I have to admit that the GWJ crew I think are not out-of-line in what they're trying to do. It's one thing to get upset about everything idiots say, another to try and set a better tone. And it's something I'm going to try and be better about.

Robear wrote:
If something offends you that much, walk away, stop listening whatever it takes to make you happy in your own world.

Good advice. Unfortunately not followed, but good in the abstract.

People follow this rule frequently. There are a ton of people who used to post here who don't anymore. They don't announce their departures. They just stop reading.

We've had enough replies along these lines both on Twitter, the forums and email it's worth a reply. I don't normally engage in P&C discussions since I have to police them, but since it's about the show I'll make an exception. Hope you like bullet points! These are more of a catch-all than addressing any particular person.

I can't believe you're apologizing! - We didn't apologize. Listen to what I said in the show again. Maybe you feel so defensive about it you think there should have been an apology in there so you mentally inserted it.

Just be yourself! - We are. That's exactly why we're curtailing this particular line of language. Do you think when we stop recording we slick our hair back, paste on our goatees and run around town slapping women on the ass? To put it in plain terms, I can't tell you that you're acting like a woman when you're doing something weak and then look my wife if in the eye and tell her she's strong without a subtext of "but never as strong as I am, since I'm a man." In many ways my wife is stronger than I'll ever be. I try to live an honest life.

Where do we draw the line? - It's up to you, I wasn't making any edicts. Personally, I've decided that words and phrases that suggest the people I love are lesser than me because they don't have dicks are factually wrong. I lose nothing in making the distinction and I create a reality where maybe I make someone's day a little less sh*tty.

You're just doing this to be politically correct! - I don't give a f*ck about political correctness. Addressing this small thing publicly does nothing but alienate a portion of our predominantly male audience and generate offended missives like this one. We're not trying to win downloads here.

I like it because it's just friends talking! Keep the salty language! - We are. I've already corrected a number of emails thanking us for promising not to swear any more. We didn't promise that. We'll still curse and that will continue to be a problem for people with kids in the car. What we won't do is say things that casually insult half the planet because we're too lazy to think of something more clever.

But you say "don't be a dick!" or "man up!" all the time. Double standard! - That's why I addressed both on the show. Phrases like "man up" don't have the same charge because they're complimentary toward my gender. I point them out as something we're also going to curtail because one informs the other. I can't say man = strong without suggesting women = weak so both forms have to go.

Trying to create an equivalence between "grow up" and calling someone a "pussy" is a false dichotomy. It weakens your point and shows me just what a poor job you're doing imagining what it's like for people who aren't you. Men and the young don't have a society telling them they're weak, emotional, sub-humans every day simply because of which chromosome they were born with.

I'll finish with a question of my own and I hope people who take issue with this small thing can answer it honestly and without a thousand words of rationalizations.

What are you actually afraid you'll lose in this equation?

I personally thought it was refreshing that you called out the behavior on the podcast, and it lead me to do some serious introspection on my own part. Seriously, one of the reason why I have been listening to the podcast for 5 years is that you are the type of people that try and grow.

Praxis, baby.

NormanTheIntern, I couldn't agree more with the exception of the government enforcement statement. I wanted to let the hosts know that not everyone has the same opinions as those they specifically addressed with their statement during the show. It seemed like the hosts were changing things up to satisfy these folks. It's their call and I'll still be listening every week and catching up on the episodes I miss as I was here.

Switchbreak, there are many areas of scholarly pursuit I don't particularly care to educate myself on such as the study of handwriting, the study of ghosts, the study of eating dirt, etc and there is alot of education being done these areas as well. This is in part because I simply do not have enough time and with the time I do have, I personally don't find alot of value in these areas of study nor would I with gendered language. Does that mean I'm going to be ignorant in some of the aspects of these areas of study? Of course, just as I’m sure you are with eating dirt but as I stated earlier it is much broader than gendered language. This is just what got me started with my post.

We are going to agree to disagree here and that's great. What I find interesting is I posted knowing there would be some who agreed and some who disagreed with my opinion. I knew there may even be some personal attacks such as my being called lazy or immature. Am I offended? No, you don't know me. Now, if you knew me and personally attacked me with these terms, I might feel differently. When terms like these are used on a podcast as in this example are not personal or directed at the listener, trivial as it may be, I understand that there are some listeners that get upset. I'm not struggling to grasp the concept here and get it even without the Doctorate in gendered language. This thread was started to let folks like yourself know that some of us won’t lose any sleep over someone saying “man up” or calling somebody a dick.

Is it of any consequence to me that you feel "man up" is a crappy term? Not really as I alluded to earlier. Will it keep you from hearing it in the future? Probably not. Will you educate those who use it in front of you or will you walk away? Will it depend on the setting? Would you consider it a double standard if the answer is it depends? These are more rhetorical questions than anything else.

I never mentioned a slippery slope; I only brought attention to the fact that I don't know what the alternative of the "echo chamber" would look like. Would the net result be better or worse? If you can answer that knowingly, please also post the winners of the Kentucky Derby coming up in May. Hopefully that won’t offend the people from PETA.

Jeff_1 wrote:

Is it of any consequence to me that you feel "man up" is a crappy term? Not really as I alluded to earlier.

Well, you never know. You or someone you care about might wind up in a situation where some jerk or bully has decided to treat people badly based on whether they conform to his idea of what a 'real' man is, and you might wish that the people around that jerk or bully were more willing to do something about it, even something as minimal as not join in. And maybe those bystanders are more likely to do so if we don't use language that perpetuates the idea that some men aren't 'real' men.

I just want to echo what Charlie Hall said on Twitter. The high bar that you've set for yourselves and the show is just one of many examples of why I've been listening to it since Certis and Fletcher were talking about picking flowers in Oblivion for hours on end. That you all were willing to talk about that publicly was brave and commendable.

We all grow up, and no one does in the same way or at the same time. The only constant is change. Hallelujah. Where's the tequila?

I spent most of the morning talking about 3rd Wave ska venues, and now there's griping about political correctness? The 90's really are back!

Jeff_1 wrote:

We are going to agree to disagree here and that's great. What I find interesting is I posted knowing there would be some who agreed and some who disagreed with my opinion. I knew there may even be some personal attacks such as my being called lazy or immature. Am I offended? No, you don't know me. Now, if you knew me and personally attacked me with these terms, I might feel differently. When terms like these are used on a podcast as in this example are not personal or directed at the listener, trivial as it may be, I understand that there are some listeners that get upset. I'm not struggling to grasp the concept here and get it even without the Doctorate in gendered language. This thread was started to let folks like yourself know that some of us won’t lose any sleep over someone saying “man up” or calling somebody a dick.

No, you rather clearly don't understand it, because you are comparing two things that are very different.

If someone calls you lazy or immature, you have every right to be offended. You may choose not to be, based on the chain of reasoning that they don't know you well, and these terms do not in fact apply to you, or you don't care what they think about you.

Let's go a step towards the other side: Let's say you're like me, and you're kind of from the sticks. People from your area are frequently called rednecks, and derided for their lack of education (and general hygiene, and inability to keep lawns that don't have half-disassembled cars on them, etc.) Now, I shrug that off because I know it doesn't apply to me. I'm well educated. My family is reasonably well educated. My extended family is less well educated, and cars on their lawns are not unknown to happen. But I know they're good people. In any case, I know that when people make comments about rednecks or hicks, those comments don't apply to me. I don't identify as a redneck, despite my background. I might occasionally call people out for saying those sorts of things, but I don't really feel like anyone is making implications about me or my background when they say them. If somebody called me a redneck directly, I would most certainly call them out on it--I would point out the implications, that they do not apply to me, that I do in fact come from that sort of background, and that it is rather bigoted to assume that people with that sort of background act like cavemen. If I were a better person, I'd do this more often when it's not directed at me--but because I have the privilege of not having it apply to me, I let it pass a lot of the time because I don't notice it, and it doesn't seem that important. I should do better.

Now the final step: First, let's say you're a woman. Women are frequently treated as if they are physically inferior to men, intellectually inferior to men, and ruled by their emotions rather than their intellects. When somebody calls someone else a "bitch" or a "pussy", the implications of using those terms are that "you are weak" and possibly "you are ruled by your emotions", with the further subtext "like a woman". When you hear that and you are a woman, you know it's not directed at you. However, the subtext is very much about you--the insult itself wouldn't make sense without that subtext. When you hear this sort of thing over and over again, it is repeatedly saying "women are inferior to men", even though it is never necessarily directed at a woman, even though it is never necessarily directed at you. And it doesn't just prod you with those ideas over and over again--it also reinforces them in the people around you. Everybody who hears that hears the subtext, hears the reinforcement that "that person is being put down by being compared to a woman". And of course, that wouldn't be a put-down unless women were inferior.

So there's a difference here between "someone insults me", "someone insults something about me that they don't know is about me and that I don't identify with", and "someone insults something about me that I do identify with".

In general, people don't insult you directly very often. And as a man, you don't identify with insults directed towards women, or insults that imply women are inferior. You're not expected to suck it up 24 hours a day 7 days a week and called bitchy or overemotional if you do dare to complain about it.

So yeah... kind of different.

I applaud the choice of the podcast folks to make this change, because this is exactly the way that things get made better. When people's actions say "oh hey, it's worth it to make an effort to not insult women", that goes a good distance to counteract the message of people whose actions say "it's worth my effort to go out of my way to post on an Internet message forum to complain about other people making an effort not to insult women."

(And sorry, post is kind of scattered. I have to run or I'd do more editing to clarify.)

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