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.