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Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Is Political Correctness the morality of the 21st century?

Since several days, I have been wondering if Political Correctness is similar to the morality of the 21st century. Hence, I decided for a Google search and noticed a 2018 Telegraph opinion (below), which helps in (not) answering my question.

Indeed, it's interesting to view Twitter as the extralegal (sic!) court of the public opinion, including public naming & shaming. Alternatively, Twitter could also be viewed as a modern version of the Inquisition

Political Correctness used to be a label, used by the Right to condemn the (arrogant) opinions of the Left for (ignorant) statements by the Right. This explains the following articles: 
- The American Conservative, 2018: The Thin Line Between Political Correctness and Decency;

Over time, Political Correctness has evolved beyond the classic Left-Right divide. Some recent examples:

In my view, the court cases by a (small) minority of (extreme) climate activists against duly elected national governments is an additional example of Political Correctness. Please see my blogs of 2017 and 2018

Many people claim they are entitled to their opinion. Indeed, the freedom of speech - whether or not thoughtful - is a democratic right. The right to litigate is another democratic right. The right to litigate against others in order to restrict them in thinking, speaking and/or acting might seem another democratic right. Actually, it's more like a decay of democracy from within. 

I suppose the above is why the Russian President said “the liberal idea” had “outlived its purpose” - a.k.a. has become obsolete (FT-2019). To some extent, he has a valid point. This also explains why the classic Left-Right Divide of 1800-2000 is transforming into a new Great Divide between Nationalism versus Globalism of 2000 - onwards (my blogs).

Ultimately, Political Correctness is like a coin with two sides, each showing an opinion: arrogance (eg, Left, Globalism) and ignorance (eg, Right, Nationalism). Morality is rooted in philosophy. Arrogance and ignorance both are an insult to philosophy. 

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The Telegraph title: In the new politically correct religion, being male is the original sin and forgiveness is impossible

Opinion written by: Madeline Grant

Publication date: 8 September 2018


"Figures out last week suggest more trouble ahead for the Church of England, with fewer people turning to God in old age. This should come as no surprise. The proportion of the population describing itself as being “of no religion” in the broadest sense has increased dramatically – now over 50 per cent, up from less than 30 per cent in 1980.

Yet the decline of certain organised religions has been accompanied by the emergence of a powerful new morality, with none of the redeeming qualities of the old one. Characterised by a rigid adherence to politically correct standards, a dismissal of the value of free speech, and the elevation of the principles of identity politics above all else, it has its own sins and its own Inquisition to seek them out on social media.

Beware causing offence to a hyper-sensitive Twitter zealot, or merely failing to signal your virtue with sufficient enthusiasm

You don’t need to look far to find the victims of this disturbing new phenomenon, from the author Lionel Shriver – who questioned a publisher’s diversity policy – to the ordinary people who have been hounded out of their jobs or threatened for making tasteless jokes online. Beware causing offence to a hyper-sensitive Twitter zealot, or merely failing to signal your virtue with sufficient enthusiasm: you will receive a punishment akin to an old-fashioned flogging in the virtual town square. Twitter users may do their shaming in the spirit of righteousness and “progressivism” – but don’t be fooled, it is bullying masquerading as justice.

The anatomy of public outrage has much in common with religious guilt. The mob requires “sinners” to confess their crimes, and preferably to perform their shame and penitence publicly. Twitter, with its combination of hive mind and anonymity, forms the perfect breeding ground for all of this. Of course, no one is burnt at the stake, but lives and reputations can be irretrievably destroyed in contemporary witch-hunts – and the punishment is often utterly out of proportion to the crime in question.

There are new religious texts, and a priesthood to interpret them. Consider the contemporary obsession with different types of “privilege”, and the call-out culture that has accompanied it. It views every thought and mode of behaviour as predetermined by our inherent privilege, itself determined by our gender, race or sexuality. “Micro-aggression” theory insists that the “privileged”, however well-intentioned, are constantly guilty of “unconscious bias” – in their conversation, attitudes, even body language. From “the rich man in his castle, to the poor man at his gate”, this logic goes, our ability to understand others can never move beyond the accident of our birth and our social and economic circumstances.

And in this deterministic world-view there is a new original sin – male privilege, which you achieve simply by being born a man.

Like the wealthy citizens of the Middle Ages who endowed monasteries and hired monks to pray for their souls after death, you can purify yourself – but for a price

In an era of original sin, we shouldn’t be surprised to see the emergence of charlatans, like Chaucer’s Pardoner flogging fake holy relics. I recently stumbled upon an event called Women Teach Men weekend – a male “wellness retreat” for the post-#MeToo era. Its organisers claim it will “increase emotional literacy among men and create a community of men that can be better allies to each other and women”. Helpfully, attendees can detoxify their masculinity for the nugatory sum of $900. Like the wealthy citizens of the Middle Ages who endowed monasteries and hired monks to pray for their souls after death, you can purify yourself – but for a price.

This new morality-by-mob phenomenon, then, mirrors religion – only without any of the charity and forgiveness we might associate with faith.

Following the journalist Toby Young’s “fall from grace”, when boorish, sexist tweets from years earlier surfaced, triggering a firestorm of outrage and his removal from a string of prestigious roles, he detailed his “Trial by Twitter” experience in a powerful, painfully honest essay. Here, he observed that the hardest thing about weathering the storm was being denied the opportunity to continue with his worthwhile work in education. “In the eyes of my critics,” he noted, “I am beyond redemption.”

To err is human, to forgive divine. Right? Not in the age of Twitter.

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