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Has "Political Correctness" Gone Too Far?

Our newly appointed Minister for Health objects to people who say that political correctness has gone too far. Has it? When political correctness tries to shut down debate about the right-to-life, the nature of marriage, immigration, etc. it becomes a threat to free and open debate and therefore to free and open societies.

So should we be worrying about 'political correctness'? We are seeing the growth of what are called "safe spaces" in our universities. These are designed to 'protect' students from hearing opinions that they find 'offensive' or 'oppressive'. All offending opinions are excluded from these 'safe spaces'. Speakers with 'oppressive' views are denied speaking platforms.

I understand that two journalists were to speak on opposing sides of the abortion debate at Oxford University. They were 'no-platformed' because the very title of the debate - "This house believes Britain's abortion culture hurts us all" - was deemed to be "anti-choice" in and of itself. The event was cancelled.

Is this attitude growing? Are our universities, which are supposed to promote the free and open exchange of ideas, now dedicated to shutting down such exchange with their new 'safe spaces'?

It seems to be easy now to press a charge of 'hate' or 'abuse' against someone and the law takes it very seriously. If you are against open-door immigration, you are a 'racist', if you oppose gay marriage, you are a 'homophobe', if you oppose abortion, you wish to 'oppress' women and deserve to be expelled from polite society and 'no-platformed' at universities!


that title for the debate does seem a little one sided
but i understand in debate rules a topic is given and then the debate is pro or con

probably not the way we would do it here

students need both safe places and places for open debate
but open debate needs to be civil and respectful

there is a lot of nastiness out there
some of it fostered by the internet culture

racism, homophobia, and blatant sexism are all out there and can be disguised as opposition to immigration, abortion and other "progressive" policies

we do have Donald Trumps remarks which he then claims is just being "sarcastic"

balance is hard to find
Personally I DO think PC has gone too far.
i suppose it depends on what is meant by PC

here it is not PC to use derogatory racial and nationality names
in my youth that was common and not considered "wrong"

when i lived in NYC in the 60's it was common and acceptable for men to make remarks at me as i walked down the street
but there were things and places "ladies didn't do or go" - it wasn't "PC"

so what is or is not PC seems to be determined by societal norm
what is offensive changes with the times
we live in a specific moment in time

here we are discussing the desire of some students in our universities to be protected from what they consider "Offensive"
how is that to be determined?
how "big" physically and psychologically is a "safe space"?

and more interesting - why?
why are some of us so sensitive at this moment in time?

I think opinions should be freely voiced but in a respectful manner.
Respectful manner? Shouting "homophobe" at someone?

Edited at 2016-08-15 07:54 (UTC)
were they a homophobe?
I have no idea what this incident was but emotions can be high and tempers frayed when comments are taken personally.

religious objection to marriage equality can be a mask for homophobia
That would certainly not be respectful. I think people should be able to agree to differ and to respect other's views, which are are often held out of religious conviction.
But whose political correctness?

Some Christian groups find it 'correct' to insult me for being who I am- apart from being a fellow Christian as well, that is.
For years the national State-sponsored radio and TV station here in Ireland has rung a church bell (Angelus) at 6.00 pm. since the station started.

The 'Political Correctness' people are now complaining that this offends the sensibilities of our small but growing non-Catholic population.

This, to me, is political correctness gone mad! Why can't those people just reflect in whatever way they like when the bell rings. It is just a moment in the day to reflect on the important things in one's life.
Like here with non practising Anglicans, I know you have a lot of non practising Catholics now.

The truth is that all too many people just don't care either way about so many things.

As a soldier's daughter I have a huge objection to being reminded to pause for thought on days like the 11th November at 11am but the media seems to think it's their job to hector people- I remember the dead of all wars every day and none of the media types seem to be willing to ask people to remember the thousands of miners (also the granddaughter of miners on both sides) killed during that awful industry's history.

So many hypocrites both religious and non religious. A reading of Luke is a good idea.
the problem comes with symbolism

that angelus bell proclaims Ireland as a "Catholic country" - which indeed it was and struggled to keep it's faith
that angelus bell says "We WON!"

but now with a growing group of non catholics that angelus bell is saying "You're not one of us" and they are saying "Oh YES we are!"

we are having some of the same problem here - white southern protestant evangelicals feel their dominance of culture is threatened - 10 Commandment monuments - laws to protect protesting marriage equality "religious freedom" seen as threatened

cultural change is never easy
Should Millet's 'l'Angelus' be removed from public viewing in Paris? It presents a Catholic scene that some people may be disturbed by.

Or does its financial value make a difference?

as i'm sure you realize, a painting is not the same as a daily symbolic action

from an American view point that bell on a state owned tv station is a church and state problem

if the tv station is owned by the state is is therefore owned by ALL of the people of the state
it must represent ALL of the people and not just one faction of the people

in the USA with our separation of church and state one group can not have preference in a public state sponsored time/event
if there is to be a symbol or prayer any and all groups must have access

Perhaps the ringing of a single bell and not the pattern of the angelus might help the situation?
It seems that every society unavoidably makes something sacred. It used to be God. Now it is minority groups.

May 1968 Paris slogan: Il est interdit d'interdire ("It is forbidden to forbid").
ah but minority groups seem to be dear to god's heart

were not the slaves in Egypt the hated minority yet he lead them out of slavery?

were not samaritans the despised group but Jesus made one the center of his parable

and the samaritan woman at the well - doubly anathema

it is indeed forbidden to forbid - no one should be denied - as the above indicate
To the extent that political correctness aims to prevent genuine racism, genuine misogyny and so on, we can all support it.

But, to me, all the above replies are simply nit picking and, like our Minister for Health, supporting and promoting PC. He says we should be afraid of those who are worrying that PC is going too far.

Edited at 2016-08-16 09:03 (UTC)
well, i don't know anything about your Minister of Health and what he is afraid

what came to my mind was our Franklin Roosevelt
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself

here in the US we believe minorities must be accommodated
we don't always live up to it
we have had some very bad failings
but it is what we strive for
it is who we are
and that has little to do with being politically correct
This morning's paper here tells of the South African Angus Buchan who is anti-homosexuality. He publicly speaks his mind on the subject in many places. Recently he was due to speak in Scotland. His platform was boycotted by a group called Scottish Borders. People said: "We were very pleased that Scottish Borders worked with us to ensure there is no place for Buchan to preach his messages of intolerance".

So much for free speech!
I know nothing about Angus Buchan
But here in the US we have laws against discrimination
homosexuality is protected behavior
to advocate making it illegal or to speak encouraging discrimination would be rejected
people do have those opinions - they are homophobes

so if Mr Buchan falls into those categories three cheers for those who protested
that is not free speech it is hate speech and calculate to incite
hate speech is not needed for a peaceful society
It is sad to read that a Black Mass was held by Satanists in Oklahoma yesterday, an important Catholic Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady and that a further blasphemy followed. All of this is being done with the official sanction of the legitimate authorities.


Edited at 2016-08-16 13:00 (UTC)
i read the link
thank you

Adam Daniels is a bit of a provocateur
His "Satanists" are really just a protest group and his "Black Mass" just a provocative piece of showmanship.

He has every right to rent a public space for his presentation

Notice that the Bishop is given full access to his material by authorities and has every right to protest and organize protests

That's how our system works .
The government remains neutral
It's not official sanction
You pay your money - you rent the space
The archdiocese could rent the space too

the catholics
the satanists
the evangelicals
get in line
the state is neutral

everyone has a right to present his religious beliefs
for the state there is no such thing as blasphemy

Our country has no religious affiliation
We are a secular nation
That disturbs some who would like to see us as a "christian nation" but our founders were clear from the beginning that all versions of belief have an equal space here.
Or no belief at all - freedom for and freedom from

We are proud of our heritage that includes both avid Christian sects and adamant atheists.
Perhaps it makes our outlook a bit different
We want to protect the minority view
We will not allow bigotry, intolerance and negativity trying to present itself as "religious belief"

it's not easy
but no one ever said our democracy would be easy

Edited at 2016-08-16 19:47 (UTC)


Universities as safe spaces for critique, debate, and dialogue

Thanks so much, Br. Kavanagh,for raising this!This is a huge issue in higher education in the US (fueled in part by a conflict at the Jesuit-run Marquette Univerity in Milwaukee) I agree that universities needs to be "safe spaces"- but safe spaces to question, critique, argue, and debate - all of which can be done candidly and respectfully, challenging ideas without attacking persons. I teach theology in the US and, having always considered myself a liberal Catholic, I increasingly find myself defending the right of ultra-conservatives to voice their views and not to be demonized into compliance. If people can't have open dialogue, they'll find other, perhaps more destructive ways, to express their heart-felt beliefs. I'd go so far as to say that oppressive political correctness serves as a recruiting campaign for religious extremism in its many forms. It's a life and death matter that people of opposing views can talk honestly to one another.
- Alan McGill

Re: Universities as safe spaces for critique, debate, and dialogue

Good to hear from someone with practical experience.

Re: Universities as safe spaces for critique, debate, and dialogue

the more things change etc

I taught theology in a catholic university 50 years ago (yes, i'm that old).
I was a liberal catholic and was one of the people trying to get my conservative colleagues to allow liberal voices to be heard on campus.
I well remember the struggle to allow a catholic anti-war group to be allowed to even be on the campus, let alone to speak.

It was the suppression of liberal catholic voices that was part of my decision to leave the field. I was part of the protest at the Catholic University of America over the forcing out of a well known liberal theology professor and author. If that could happen to him, and to a friend of mine also, the handwriting was on the wall for me.

However, it seems there are two issues being discussed here .
One, is the problem, very much an issue on college campuses here, of the discussion of controversial ideas.
The other, is the place of religion in public life.

"Political Correctness" does not mean the suppression of minority or unpopular ideas.
It is a term that has out lived its usefulness.
But, recent history has shown that which was minority opinion and subject to derision has become majority opinion.
It it all too common for any majority to want to dominate.
And for the minority to protest.
And there is tension in that.
How to handle tension safely and creatively is the challenge.
Not every situation meets the challenge.