Political Correctness Is a Long Way Away From Here

Sunni's picture

Since NonEntity accused me of running a politically correct site a couple of days ago, I’ve devoted a fair amount of time to thinking about that issue. Is this a PC place? I suppose to a statist it might look like one: I have flat-out stated that pro-state comments are not welcome here. But after serious reflection on the question, I have come to the conclusion that outside of that pro-freedom bias, NonEntity is mistaken.

To me, political correctness is a form of self-censorship undertaken in an a priori effort to avoid offending some unknown person or group. It is intended to blandify communications, avoid acknowledging uncomfortable history, and/or neutralize any possible negative emotion. Thus I was bemused—after the deep surprise passed—to reflect on a few contentious threads here from the framework of it being a PC place. Seems pretty silly to me ... but since some apparently see it otherwise, I’ll elaborate on why I think the PC accusation is off base.

Here’s what I wrote in Getting the Lay of the Land, regarding the focus and tone I strive for here:

The primary purpose of this group blog is to provide a place to explore ideas and issues relating to freedom and individualism. ....

My goal here is to provide a place where individuals can respectfully, civilly consider and exchange ideas and information via conversation with other participants.

It is true that for some, the subject of religion is linked to freedom. To all, I suppose, it is as individualistic a matter as any could be—and it is because spiritual matters are so deeply personal and subjective that conversations can quickly overheat. I am relatively uninterested in exploring religious issues at present, in part because my internal religious wars have played out, but mostly because I see no value in pursuing the subject. As long as anyone who participates here does not try to force a religious message on the rest of us—e.g., posting a prayer atop each blog entry or comment—it is simply none of my business what they think, feel, or worship. And I was very pleased (and enriched) that individuals from differing faiths and those of no religious faith felt welcome to contribute their thoughts here.

It was that respectful, civil tone that I perceived to be threatened by NonEntity’s challenge to Mama Liberty’s comment on “human design”. One reason I thought it was personal is this: in two previous entries, I quoted someone who made essentially the same statement as she did; and NonEntity participated in each comment thread, without bringing up his “hard time” with design statements. Perhaps, not knowing those individuals’ religious views, his radar wasn’t triggered; perhaps other ideas engaged his attention those days; or perhaps something else of which I am unaware led to this apparent pattern of targeting only M.L.’s statement. But it did appear to be personal, and thus problematic for me. If I was wrong in that judgment, I apologize, NonE.

The personal issue is the reason for my comment, not the subject matter. And that’s also why I do not view the matter as trying to enforce some PC standard here. I care more about forming and maintaining good relations with individuals I respect than seeing eye to eye on every issue; and it grieves me to think that the tone of this place is shifting to be less respectful or tolerant of some of those individuals—especially since this is not a religious-themed blog, and those individuals do not try to convert or somehow push their beliefs upon others here. It seems to me that most people need to find something to believe in ... some basis for hope in their lives; and it is simply not my business to tell them that their choice is wrong when it in no way impacts me. More to the point, it’s very difficult to keep such topics from becoming problematic, as I mentioned in the Lay of the Land essay:

Some actions ... that are not welcome here include: framing questions or issues in a non-neutral or incivil way way (e.g., assuming ... that religious individuals are necessarily hypocritical or incapable of rational thought ...)

So, to bring this interminable ramble to a close, I do not see the issue as one of political correctness, but rather one of showing tolerance and respect to individuals who participate here—people whom I care about. Since none of them has made faith an issue here, I do likewise. Truthfully, religious issues are so inflammatory that I have been disinclined to pursue them in this group conversation; I’m willing to explore the topic [that latter exploration really begins here, but that’s a lot to go through] from any number of angles ... but not in an antagonistic way. And I strongly prefer that any pursuit of the subject here is similarly non-antagonistic. Being the hot-headed reptile I am, if I can accomplish that, I’m pretty sure ‘most anyone can. It may take a bit more effort, but in my experience that has always been well rewarded.

Unfortunately....

My goal here is to provide a place where individuals can respectfully, civilly consider and exchange ideas and information via conversation with other participants.

IMO the goal is no longer being achieved. I wandered away because I felt that ideas were not being civilly consider and that irrational "shouting" (for lack of a better term) was drowning out the exchange of information via conversation. The change has been fairly recent. You know what I think the cause is.

I hope you can get things back to how they were.

I know that I've made it

I know that I've made it clear that religious rights (and for that matter the right to be free from religion) is one of my hot buttons, but honestly I am not sure how to respond in this case without "arguing for the sake of the argument."

In the handful of freedom lists where I am still mostly active, I would not have hesitated. In the handful of Pagan lists where I still post, I would not have hesitated. On my own blogs, I would not have hesitated.

Here, I don't want to mess with the atmosphere.

Even mentioning my reluctance is going to have consequences.

Was it Voltarie?

Was it Voltaire who said (something like), "If you wish to converse with me, first define your terms" ? (and I use the nonstandard punctuation in that Voltaire's statement did not have a question mark in it, so putting one within the quotation marks appears to me to be problematical, even if considered grammatically correct.)

My dear Sunni,

I am sorry if I've caused turmoil. Turmoil is not my intent, thoughtful reflection is. But also sometimes I'm an ass, and in case some of that has occurred here, I apologize for that.

Next, let me assure you that I was not claiming nor hinting that you were directing political correctness here. I was simply pointing out that on the occasions where I have questioned the methodology of inquiry versus blind acceptance I have been jumped on from several quarters for intolerance of belief in other's gods - when that was NOT the issue at all. The issue was the subject of how we process ideas and arrive at beliefs.

Note that I above stated "inquiry versus blind acceptance." I am guessing that several readers of that phrase may have considered that I was making a direct insult to their personal ideas regarding various gods or similar. Here we come to the "define your terms" part. That is not my intent at all. As I pointed to in another post which raised much ire, I think this "religious" functionality in the mind is some form of biological leaning. Note that I say leaning, as that leaves open the possibility for change. We are born with certain programs in place, suckling is obviously not learned. As we grow and our abilities increase, we have the opportunity to learn new options and make choices. We don't have to, but we have the opportunity to.

My dictionary says: Religion n. belief in super human controlling power, esp. in a personal God or gods entitled to obedience; system of faith and worship; life under monastic conditions.

and Superhuman: exceeding normal human capacity or power.

My personal focus or belief in the essence of the word Religious: To accept something without question. (faith)

Note above the phrase "entitled to obedience." If you conflate "accept something without question" and "entitled to obedience" I think that you have the tools for pure evil. I'm not saying that pure evil must necessarily result, only that you have the tools.

And so I want to make clear that I am not speaking of a sense of spirituality when I speak of religion. As I have attempted to explain elsewhere, I have a sense that there is a spiritual nature to life, one which to date no one has had the ability to describe or dissect (to the best of my knowledge.) And, much to their credit, many formal religions place inquiry high in their set of practices.

So it is not uncertainty, nor belief, which is the idea within the penumbra of "religion" that I speak of when I mention "religion." No, it is the idea of the sense of blind obedience to the dictates of another(s) with which I take issue.

Consider that "democracy" falls under the spell of "religion" in this country. Regardless of the fact that - when you examine the concept of democracy what you find is a dictatorship of the majority over the minority. This is belief in contradiction with reality. And it is unquestioned by most. It is accepted on faith.

Consider the "HIV/AIDS" belief, apparently worldwide. The fact that there are NO facts connecting these two concepts together, and some very good reasoning showing that there is no link beyond the political/financial/industrial profit motives for the support of such a connection. THIS is not science, it is not rational inquiry, it is religious in nature. Those who attempt to point out discrepancies in the data have their lives and careers destroyed. And so we have co-opted the fortunes of civilizations to the benefit of the government and the medical/pharmacological/research communities.

Do you see that I am not speaking of "spirituality" here when I declaim the idea of a religious belief?

Remember when "AIDS" first hit the scene? The claims were that we would all be dead by now. If you are curious about the issue, go and read "Inventing the AIDS Virus," by Peter Duesberg for some enlightened study of the issues by one of the world's most highly regarded scientists. That is, until he spoke out with reason, after which he was politically destroyed. This is an inquisition.

Politically Incorrect

I did not mean to imply, Sunni, that you had created an environment of political incorrectness. Rather what I was attempting to point out was simply that I had found a pattern of response to the issues I had brought up for discussion which were religious in nature rather than objective. I was attacked, not for the nature of my questions regarding the way in which we think, but rather out of the belief that I was promoting one form of god over another, or no god or personal attacks on certain individuals. The "political correctness" nature of this, which I questioned, is that it appears that I am being told that any idea that anyone has cannot be challenged because to challenge any such idea is no different than making a personal attack on that person. WHAT? If that is so, then how may anyone ever question anything? And that, it seems, is the core issue and problem with the idea of "political correctness" and similarly with "religion." It MUST BE ACCEPTED... because. Obedience to ideas without question. I think this is scary, and, I repeat again, not because it has anything to do with spirituality.

I find the universe and life itself to be totally mysterious. This does not lead me to accept what someone else tells me is the truth. And even if it did, that is of no concern until I start enforcing my beliefs upon others... back to democracy, and HIV/AIDS funding and legislation of all, based upon NO tangible evidence, only a religious faith in a very flawed theory.

Need I point out that "Weapons of Mass Destruction" and so on was also a religious belief? There was NO evidence. We were required to believe. The "War on Terror" is the same thing. To the best of my ability to determine it, there is no terror outside of that which "we" have created or instigated. The "War on Terror" is a religious manipulation of people for the sake of consolidation of wealth and power. Once again, spirituality has no part in this.

I have no answers about the spiritual nature of life. I have a lot of questions. I think that, whatever it is, it is quite a "magical" thing. In saying this I am not suggesting that it is unknowable, only that at this point I have not a clue what may be entailed. I use the word "magical" as a metaphor, not a description of reality.

In another forum I frequent, Liberating Minds, there is a discussion on the nature and even the existence of morality. The discussions on this subject are challenging and contentious to say the least, but they are not flame wars, they are respectfully conducted. I am just expressing my frustration that I've not found the attitude of serious debate here on this subject of the willingly blind acceptance of ideas, be they of the nature of gods or laws or drugs or the "evils" of other civilizations.

I broached the subject not as an accusation so much as a challenge to examine the nature of the discourse. I will also note that my own personal frustrations most certainly taint my phraseology and I welcome being called out on this. (Well, intellectually I welcome it, but not-so-much the emotionally part. ;-)

I feel a bit of confusion in that Sunni's stated goals of this space may seem to be in conflict with some of my ideas, yet it is in the nature of human interaction that I believe we will find the salvation to our desires to seek a harmonious and loving environment in which we may thrive. There is a great move on toward dividing and conquering on the part of those in the positions of power. While "survival" may appear to be a proper response to the conditions we are finding ourselves in, I believe that in the end it is exactly that separation and isolation which plays into the destruction of life as we would like to embrace it. And so, while I do not have "the answers," I am trying to point out that I believe that we need to find ways to come together, to become larger communities with respect for individual choices and interactions, and develop the tools for facilitating such interactions, if we are to thrive, both emotionally and physically. This then is what was behind my suggestion that "barter" is a regression from our goal, not progression toward it. I'm not challenging the goal. To me, respect for others is the greatest tool we have. Fear is the antithesis.

I don't have answers. I have a lot of questions. I reject religion and political correctness as these concepts assume answers and shut down questioning. I find this to be an anti-life stance.

The thing which charmed me about Sunni is her sense of celebration of life. I think this is more important than I can say. I may make a mess of it, but that is my core desire, to find the space for each and everyone of us to engage in the celebration of life as we see it.

- NonE

P.S. I was FAPed all day yesterday, so that, as well as the desire to be measured, prevented an earlier response.

"for the prettiest one"

NonE, you've tied so much into that issue that I am not sure it's worth untangling for anyone except you. And I am pretty sure that you and I debated some of those topics a few times before.

I can't and won't speak for anyone else. But if it's really about the language and the phrasing, who gets to pick the language that another person uses? How is that less dogmatic than religion or politics? Isn't that the core of control?

It's one thing to express that the words someone chose don't fit the ideas you had.

It seems though we're moving beyond that.

Dissent is something to be cherished, it's tests the worthiness of our ideas without spilling blood.

But should my thoughts be defined by your use of terms?

Individuals

Sunni, I think this principle of yours is at the core of why people engage in conversation here:

I care more about forming and maintaining good relations with individuals I respect than seeing eye to eye on every issue...

This principle is not even about individualism, it's about individuals -- and about respecting each individual as a unique, irreducible, irrepeatable human being.

You know this and, which is more important, you try your darnedest to live it. You also know that it's difficult to do so: the path is filled with stones and brambles, those tasty blackberries are guarded by prickly thorns, and the temptation is always close by to lapse into disrespect for those who disagree. In my experience, you do not allow the difficulty of the task to dissuade you.

Spinoza once wrote, "All things excellent are as difficult as they are rare." I have confidence that you will find the right solution, difficult as it might seem at the moment.

The light within me honors the light within you.

Since I am pretty sure I am

Since I am pretty sure I am adding significantly to the problem, I'll take my leave for a while.

Sometimes my inner Coyote gets the best of me.

It's nothing permanent, I just don't think my methods will make things better right now. So I'll find something else to obsess over. Hmm, maybe the price of Pringles Salt and Vinegar Potato Crisps…

G'night all.

NW

No words

I have no words to convey how saddened I am to read this.