PC, free speech, and the mockery of virtue
By Alisa Craddock
In 1993, PBS aired a Firing Line Debate entitled "Resolved: Political Correctness is a Menace and a Bore." I think Judge Robert Bork hit the nail on the head when he summarized the PC epidemic thus: "Political correctness…is part of a mood of radical egalitarianism which has taken hold [in our society]…equality does not occur for all people without coercion…We're seeing it in the speech codes, which are judging speech not by what it objectively means, but by how somebody perceives it, over which the speaker has no control."
In fact, I think we can say without being accused of exaggeration that our society has a neurotic obsession with taking offense. It's practically an informally recognized addition to the Bill of Rights: You have the right not to be offended. (Another way of saying it is, you have the right not to have to hear the truth, if that truth makes you uncomfortable.) But PC is not merely about not being offensive. It's about who can offend who. And that's another reason why it's such a menace.
Judge Bork did not argue, and neither will any sane person with a modicum of civility, that our right of free speech means that kids on college campuses, and those in the mainstream of society, should not observe some basic restraints, such as in the matter of name-calling. The racial epithet "nigger" is so offensive to blacks that it is referred to even in conservative news as the "N-word", as though it were a vulgar reference to a filthy act or a private body part. It has officially become a "cuss-word". Ann Coulter's recent use of the term "faggot" in describing (non-homosexual) John Edwards caused a firestorm of outrage, even among some free speech advocates (Annie does like to stir the pot). And (black) Rev. James David Manning just last week caused even rabid anti-Obamaists (like me) to cringe at his reference to Obama's mother as a "trashy white woman" and saying Obama himself was "born trash". And this is a man who claims to have "The Word" in his mouth. I don't think so, Reverend… That's a horribly degrading thing to say to or about anyone. You just don't call people "trash". Not if you respect the dignity and worth of each human person. Not if you remember how the Lord offered the first stone to the men who would have executed the woman taken in adultery, on condition that the one who was without sin should cast it.
His words are no better than those of Rev. Wright who has caused such a storm of controversy with his own racial and anti-American slurs. Neither man speaks for the God I worship. But more importantly, where has civility gone, when even men who supposedly speak for God cannot keep a civil tongue in their heads.
There is a curious thing one observes in the battle between political correctness and free speech: one discovers that both are weapons of the Left. It is the Left which advocates speech codes, but it is also the Left that promotes pornography. And while Satan is laughing with delight, there is something that has been swept aside. Neither one of these apparent ideological adversaries represents authentic justice.
The reason is, once again, the absence of the morality factor. That is, in the absence of an immutable moral code of conduct, neither speech codes nor free speech represent the kind of values one used to call "American". Schools used to form children and young adults in upright citizenship, building character on a set of tried and tested moral virtues. Instruction in civility and decency, doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, and a well-rounded education in the classics made for stable, balanced, thoughtful young adults. Now that foundation for good citizenship has given way to moral diversity (the wonderful thing about standards is there are so many to choose from…) and speech codes to engineer "right thinking" global citizens with no principles except to offend no one …and to protect universities from lawsuits by the arbitrarily and trivially offended.
What happened to thoughtful discourse and the freedom of ideas? Is this not what education is all about? Is it not what our Founding Fathers had in mind when they established the First Amendment? But now, if the Left wants to win an ideological discussion, they don't challenge the Right's ideas by proposing an alternate idea and defending it with facts, they simply refer to their ideological opponents as Nazis or Fascists, or the Taliban, or make accusations of McCarthyism, or the Inquisition. They use name calling. They inflame, not with facts, but by association. They don't have to prove someone's behavior or ideology resembles Nazism or the Taliban, they just have to suggest a resemblance through name-calling, and let the listener fill in the blanks. They prey on ignorance and fear. When the voice of reason is attacked in so unreasoning a fashion, when a vaguely suggested aspersion is their argument instead of an objective stance on a specific point of disagreement, discourse crumbles. It's like boxing a shadow.
If you have to call someone a name to win an argument, you don't have an argument. That's why you shut them down with name-calling and by casting aspersions on their character.
A case in point. Last month, Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern made comments to an assembly of fellow Republicans, about the homosexual agenda almost identical to some that I have made in my columns:
"They are going after our young children, as young as two years of age, to try to teach them that the homosexual lifestyle is an acceptable lifestyle."
"If you have cancer in your little toe, do you just say that I'm going to forget about it since the rest of you is fine? It spreads! This stuff is deadly and it is spreading. It will destroy our young people and it will destroy this nation."
These statements were part of a speech which was secretly taped, and were strung together as though they were one long anti-homosexual tirade. The response was predictable: "We have received close to 30,000 e-mails," Kern said. "When this first hit YouTube, the vast majority of the e-mails were hate mail - vile, vulgar, profane." She was called bigot, hate-monger, closed minded bitch. And those were the printable responses. I have received similar responses to some of my own columns.
There is nothing in these comments of hers that is false, though mainstream America may not be aware of it because it is rarely reported, even on conservative news broadcasts, and the well-financed propaganda put out by homosexual rights groups finds plenty of venues in which to promote their agenda, or depict them as victims. But I have reported on many occasions, and offered evidence, that homosexuals target youth, both for sexual and ideological indoctrination. It makes perfect sense. If you want to gain acceptance for your "cause" you have to change the attitudes in the culture, and increase your numbers, and to do that, you have to go after the youth. So if you want to persuade the youth that homosexuality is "normal" you have to get to them before they are old enough to discern that mating involves a male and a female. You have to instruct them before their parents have had a chance to teach them about God and about morality or about the birds and the bees. You have to begin to get to them while they are still innocent, when their parents wouldn't dream of discussing sex with them because they are too young. You have to destroy their innocence and rob their childhood.
I remember reading in Dr. Jeffrey Satinover's book, Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth (Baker book, 1996) about a little boy in fourth grade coming home from school in tears, confused and upset because his gay teacher had described for the class how to have safe anal sex. But the indoctrination is not only happening here or there as an aberration. It is policy in a growing number of states. In Massachusetts, an organization called Mass Resistance and its earlier incarnations, the Parents' Rights Coalition and the Article 8 Alliance, have been resisting the state endorsed and enforced homosexual indoctrination of their children for several years. California also is aggressively promoting the normalization of homosexuality under the guise of protecting children from bullying, through its passage of SB 777, a law which mandates, among other things, that textbooks used by children reflect positively on homosexuality as well as transgenderism (aka Gender Identity Disorder to the well-informed). There are additional cases that crop up, in addition to gay pride parades, and the infamous and obscene Folsom Street Fair, the annual "charity" event that presents an excuse to behave publicly in the most obscene manner possible (where children are present) without consequence.
I thought I had seen the worst of it with the Folsom Street Fair, until I learned of a book that was assigned as required reading to students in one Illinois public school, Deerfield High School. [Be warned—extremely graphic] Angels in America is pornography, pure and simple. It not only graphically describes homosexual sex but also describes sexual activities in the crudest terms with angels (said by some to be the sin of Sodom—desiring sex with angels) and with Mother Teresa. How can the force-feeding of this material to impressionable adolescents be defended? "[The play] is defended as a literary work that shows forgiveness, kindness and compassion," said Peter LaBarbera, of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality. "Of course, the first question that comes to my mind is, how many classical works of literature are there that show these virtues without delving into graphic homosexual sodomy?" (This disgusting, offensive book won a Pulitzer, by the way. Like the Nobel Peace Prize, the Pulitzer has now become a propaganda weapon in the hands of liberals, in this case, giving pornographic literature that would rival the writings of the Marquis De Sade "legitimacy" by awarding it a literary prize.)
The outraged parents complained, and Lora Sue Hauser of North Shore Student Advocacy got involved. The first approach was to try and prosecute under the laws that forbid distributing harmful materials to minors. Though Hauser was initially told by an attorney at the State's Attorney's Office that the materials did qualify, it would be impossible to prosecute because all the school had to do was claim that the book had some educational purpose, and the law is thus thwarted. Later, they denied that they had admitted that the materials were obscene, according to Hauser in an interview with Matt Barber, Concerned Women for America's Policy Director for Cultural Issues.
The only compromise the school (which has a history of homosexual advocacy) would ultimately make is to make the reading optional rather than mandatory reading, under the teacher's supervision, which only makes the material more enticing to teens, and is rather like letting the fox guard the henhouse.
This is not the first time Deerfield High School has made the national news. Last year, 14-year-old students were compelled to attend a mandatory panel discussion featuring homosexual upper classmen and which "secretively featured inappropriate discussions of a sexual nature in promotion of high-risk homosexual behaviors" reported Concerned Women for America. In addition, the students were compelled to sign a confidentiality agreement—in other words, not to tell their parents what they had been forced to listen to.
When schools want to assign objectionable materials to students like Catcher in the Rye, and parents complain, the schools cry censorship. But when we don't acknowledge the duty of schools to form children in right moral conduct, when we let an arbitrary idea of free speech supplant common sense, then upon what basis can you "draw the line" When you let the morally depraved determine what is "moral", what is "offensive" or what is "educational", aren't you subjecting children to emotional abuse?
And when you try and make laws that prosecute those who stand against that abuse, aren't you endangering the very idea of freedom? When a tiny, twisted minority of individuals can pervert the law, the culture and the morals of a society from within, is it not in greater danger than from any outside force? When those whose lives exemplify virtue and self-sacrifice are denigrated in such vile terms as defy description, while the most reprehensible of conduct, speech, and ideas are promoted and glorified, and our children grow up without knowing what loveliness is, when evil is called virtue and virtue is called evil, and such is countenanced and protected by the organs of government, are we not ourselves at that historical brink recorded so often in history? Will we not collapse from our own corruption as so many civilizations did before us? The enemy within is much more dangerous than any outside invader. Ms. Kerns analogy of a cancer was an astute one, for cancer spreads insidiously throughout various systems of the body, and can become terminal before the patient even knows he is sick.
"A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." — Ariel Durant (Russian born American Writer and Historian.
Alisa Craddock is a columnist and activist in the culture war, a convert to Catholicism, and describes herself as a Christian Libertarian. She may be contacted at alisa.craddock at hushmail.com.