BY DOMINIC WIGHTMAN
Political correctness can be so stifling and inelegant. Originating almost a century ago in Russia with the term politicheskaya pravil’nost, it undermines Western values and builds needless barriers. It is a net which its clumsy proponents designed for all to be trapped in. However, like that other macro and unhelpful fishing practice, bottom trawling (no, don’t go there) – which destroys far more ocean habitat than any other fishing technique – the mechanism of political correctness causes severe collateral damage to free speech. It also impairs one’s ability to offend when, increasingly in our era of l’absurdité, offence is wholly merited.
PC is far too general and subjective in its composition to be effectual. Its attempts to change the world – into what only its proponents consider to be a better place – have failed, repeatedly. Yet its flaws are so blindingly obvious, one need not list them, except for the sake of convenience (and for the benefit of A-Level students taught by Marxist drones):
- Political correctness doesn’t eradicate controversial views in any way.
- Political correctness only censors, not changes.
- Political correctness runs against the grain of Western values and slows society’s progression.
- Political correctness only prevents words from being said, the motivations and views behind them do not change.
- Political correctness neither ensures that respect nor understanding needed for civilised debate are employed.
- Political correctness neither defines society’s boundaries nor ensures the safety of minority groups.
- Those who oppose political correctness do not want to make prejudice acceptable as proponents of political correctness suggest.
- Political correctness has the tendency to enter the realms of the absurd. Some have banned the term ‘brainstorming’ and replaced it with ‘thought showers’, as lawmakers thought the term may offend epileptics.
In the real world where political incorrectness thrives, I can be as insulting as I like to my secretary. She is an extraordinarily rude person – an incorrigible potty mouth. She will walk into my office with a “Good morning, your c***ship” and I will respond with a “Morning, you rancid hobbit.” She’s a somewhat vertically-challenged Gurkha but nimble as a goat – she could slit my throat in a second with a kukri. Through common sense and compassion I know her boundaries and she knows mine. We have a good chuckle. The ensuing atmosphere is free and (regressive use of the word) progressive. We love each other dearly. We work damn hard together too. The insults that fire between us add a frisson of gratification to the dullest of tasks. Filling in our company tax returns, for example, becomes a far more entertaining task with expletives flying hither and tither. It would be a tragedy for us if banter became constrained by the straitjacket of political correctness. There is zero chance our repartee will be the cause of an employment tribunal – my secretary would never succumb to such dishonour, the scrawny old bag. We have absolute trust between us, and the obscenities and invective deepen that bond of loyalty, rather than eroding it in any way.
So, how does my excellent working relationship with my secretary fit into the progressivist political correctness net? How do the advocates of PC explain away the great positives of our political incorrectness, which assist real-world progress as we do our bit for UK Plc? How can these proponents accuse either of us of being oppressors, or, daresay, perpetuating injustice? We are hardly the Old Guard – a term defenders of political correctness in The Guardian have tried to write off PC opponents with.
And what about the Deputy Editor of this magazine who regularly addresses me as “the pedantic, ageing twat” while I often refer to him as “that arriviste twink”? Does young Bembridge’s rudeness and ageism add to or take away from our working relationship? I know we both agree it is a definite plus not to work with dullards. Does my rudeness or – by expression and tone – conceivable homophobia make me a bigot in any way in his eyes? Not at all. He knows that freedom of banter trumps the shackles of political correctness and that, as we have got to know each other, badinage has more assisted than hindered along the way. He knows he can count on me as another straight ally.
There is a restaurant not far from my home where the chef is so talented there was a perennial queue of takeaway orders for him during lockdown. He’s the most politically incorrect (and the unsightliest) bastard you’ll ever meet yet he and his cuisine enjoy universal adoration. Take-aways arrived on our doorstep during lockdown with messages along the lines of “hope you choke on this, you Liverpool-supporting w****r” and “I wiped my **** on the duck breast as I know you ordered it for yourself, Wightman.” It is not just his food that is rich and characterful – as a person he attracts loyalty, however politically incorrect his profanities. If one so desires bland and mediocre fare with bland and mediocre service then frequent Subway or go stuff yourself on the nuts and seeds of Holland & Barrett, served to you by some leather-shoed vegan.
Political Correctness is terribly flawed, practically and philosophically. It’s for characterless lefties. Lazy short-cutting privilege checkers. They clearly did not do enough research when they coined the phrase.
A 2012 study found that swearing can enhance the effectiveness and persuasiveness of an argument. In addition, cursing can also convey an emotional reaction to something – take note, Bembridge – without us resorting to physical violence. And while PC brigade puritans might consider swearing less than savoury, a recent study revealed that people who curse often actually lie less and have a higher degree of integrity.
The fact is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle you need not fear or hate them just as to love someone does not mean that you agree with everything they believe or do. The truth is that you do not have to compromise to be compassionate or correct.
The net of Political Correctness has been built with a false thread. It fails to recognise irony or nuance just as the moral relativism of Cultural Marxism is by design so deconstructive and fluid that it too often fails to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong, winding up the sound masses. Both political correctness and its mother, Cultural Marxism, will disintegrate. There are too many decent people around with plenty of common sense and they will dispatch them.
Dominic Wightman is Editor of Country Squire Magazine.