Proph has reposted one of my favorite of his Collapse: The Blog articles: Is Political Correctness Merely Niceness? It’s a very good illustration of Orthosphere reasoning.
Commenter David mentioned the following in a recent post, in response to which I promised a later follow-up:
Left-wing political correctness embraces very simple values that were once conservative values as much as liberal ones: talk to people using respectful language whether you agree with their actions and attitudes or not. Do not stereotype the actions of a whole group by those of an individual.
PC is similar to niceness in that it exists to limit respectable discourse and thus to protect the existing social order from excessively severe attacks. That is where the resemblance, I’m afraid, really ends.
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.
PC also reacts in comparatively more severe ways to violations of its sanctions than do the merely kind. Because kindness is simply a disposition whereas PC is an institutionalized ideology, violations of the former are treated with, at worst, coldness and avoidance where violations of the latter are subject to often quite devastating and disproportionate retaliation. PC is therefore far more overtly coercive than mere niceness.
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.
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