"It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong." Richard P. Feynman

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Mad March of Political Correctness

Janet Albrechtsen has a fine article on how ridiculous political correctness has become and how it is stifling debate on important issues on the basis on not "offending" anyone.

MARK Twain knew a thing or two about political correctness when he said: "Sometimes I wonder whether the world is run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it."
It's tempting to think of the PC crowd as just a bunch of busybodies who are having us on. Early episodes of Sesame Street carry adults-only warnings. Enid Blyton has been cleared of all golliwogs. And last year a Seattle school renamed Easter eggs "spring spheres" so as not to offend children by alluding to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Political correctness seems to march to an imbecilic beat.

And she concludes:
The principles are clear enough: free speech is not a Left-Right thing as Mark Steyn said. It's a free-unfree thing. You don't get to cry in favour of free speech just to defend those with whom you agree. And free speech must include the right to offend. If we prosecute offensive opinions, we just encourage ever more ridiculous claims to protection. We fuel that marketplace of outrage. And we end up shutting down the true genius of modern Western civilisation: the contest of ideas.


  1. Just posted this comment on The Australian's site.

    "Well said Janet. I have come to the conclusion that PC is, in fact, an act of cowardice or, to be kind, timidity, whereby the perpetrators say or do things which they perceive others will applaud. It takes a certain amount of courage to speak of ones conclusions when they are different from those of one's peers."

  2. In the last general election but one, I lost count of the number of times when people asked me "Am I allowed to say that?". These were people on their own doorsteps in a country which was noted by foreigners for its freedom of speech since at least the eighteenth century. Fear of the Thought Police is all-pervasive.

    A friend, who was brought up in South Africa, put it thus: "I think the British people have been tamed". Sadly, I think that's right.

  3. That "spring sphere" story sounded unbelievable to me, so I looked it up. The sole source was a caller to a radio talk show who didn't give her name, refused to name the school where it happened, but did give her age as 16. In other words, it was a crank call. But being offended is more fun than 5 minutes of fact checking, so it got repeated endlessly on blogs. Also, it didn't happen last year, but early April this year (though that might just be a coincidence).

    "Climate Common Sense is not a sceptical site"