It’s been a rather busy week or so for the PC speech brigade.
By now, even generations as yet unborn will have heard about the incendiary brouhaha surrounding Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” fame and his remarks critical of homosexual activity early last week. And over the weekend, disgraced PR executive Justine Sacco was fired after posting a Tweet conflating the AIDS epidemic with race. If the Internet were a real place, both issues set it ablaze like so many four-alarm fires.
I’ll save any long winded bloviating about the stories for a later post, but briefly:
It might well be me (I am younger so forgive any youthful ignorance–and correct if necessary), but does it seem that the stakes of speaking one’s two cents have evolved over the years? That we’ve perhaps traded thick skin for brittle eggshells? It feels like it. I get the since in absorbing commentary on days departed that folks then were more likely to confront opposing opinions or creeds with equally vociferous dissent, rather than mere offense.
Dissent is the desired quality over offense, as at least dissent stands the chance of advancing a discussion towards a conclusion (it nary matters which conclusion). Offense, however, spells the end of the talk as the aggrieved party is now focused not on the merits of the point of contention, but how it makes them feel. Many an argument has died on that alter of political correctness.
Hardly any can talk of welfare reform without being accused of hating the poor and wishing them kicked to the streets. Honest discussions about the necessity of Medicare reform really means you want to look Grandma in the eye as you push her over the Hoover Dam. You can’t talk about spiraling crime in inner-city neighborhoods without engendering “racism” epithets. And now, Phil Robertson can’t espouse a personal opinion informed by his personal faith without him really meaning that he hates gay people. Am I still allowed to ask about the weather any longer? Or do I risk alienating meteorologists who can just sense the coming retort about their predictive abilities?
It’s bad enough that people aren’t allowed to make admittedly course, though still honestly held statements (or just ridiculous jokes, like Sacco) without the social media thought police stoking up the war drums of pseudo-outrage. Nowadays, it’ll cost your job, too.
It’s not enough to disagree any longer. No, now we have to make you pay for it. Is that the price we’re willing to pay to insulate against “hurt” feelings?