The difference between niceness and PC

Proph explains it really well:

For where niceness is concerned with protecting a social order concerned with community, PC is concerned with protecting a social order that is explicitly anti-community (indeed, one that parcels up community into competing and hostile groups, some of which are entitled to PC protection and others subject to explicitly PC nastiness). Both require conformity to socially-established norms but order these norms toward different ends. The order which niceness seeks is fundamentally cooperative, communitarian, and traditional; it is pious and humble. Political correctness seeks an order that is noncooperative, individualistic, and revolutionarily novel as a matter of principle. It regards desecration and shock as a means to that end.

PC is therefore a direct competitor to mere niceness; both seek the protection of a social order, but the social orders they envision are irreconcilable. Niceness has no interest in protecting the manifold absurdities of modern liberal society. Political correctness has no interest in what it sees as the stultifying, arbitrary, and suffocating rules of traditional society….

It goes without saying that, while both niceness and PC proscribe certain behaviors and manners of speech, PC’s scope is comparatively limited; it protects with greater intensity many fewer people (and does not because they are people but because they belong to the groups they do), where niceness protects everyone. Niceness prohibits meanness; PC prohibits insensitivity.

2 Responses

  1. As you probably know, the word “nice” originally meant something very much like sensitive or delicate, so that in the eighteenth century a man who was easily offended by disagreeable odors was said to have a “nice” nose and a connoisseur of music was said to have “nice” ears. A fastidious man was said to be a “nice” man, and it was not usually meant as a compliment. In Johnson’s Dictionary the word is pejorative. In time, however, the phrase “nice man” came to mean a cultivated man, or a gentleman, and by the middle of the nineteenth century the word was generalized to all things agreeable: “nice weather,” “nice food,” etc.

    What is interesting is that, over the course of about 200 years, the meaning of the word nice has inverted. A nice man used to be a man who was easily offended, by disagreeable odors, sounds, food, etc. Today a nice man is a man who is himself inoffensive, who is in no way disagreeable. From readiness to take offense to unwillingness to give offense.

    The reason I mention this is that PC trains us to be nice in the original sense of the word. A man who nearly passes out when he hears a racial slur is exactly what was meant by the phrase “nice man” two hundred years ago. He is making a display of affected refinement. To bad we’ve lost the term people used to use to name these prigs.

  2. A classic example of PC “niceness” from 1993:
    http://www.baptistpillar.com/bd0204.htm

    The homosexuals vandalized Church property, terrorized women and children, assaulted Church members, and disrupted the services. The police did little or nothing to control the unruly mob for a long time. Finally the riot police arrived and did help to control the situation to some extent.

    No One Arrested

    As incredible as it may sound, not one of the unruly mob was arrested. The news media ignored the whole thing. The newspapers refused to print anything about the assault. This shows the unholy bias of the news media.

    If a group of fundamental Christians had stormed a meeting of homosexuals, you may be sure it would have made the news. The newspapers, the television stations, and the national news media would have made sure that the whole nation knew that Christians were attacking homosexuals.

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