There is so much talk about the downside of “political correctness” that I sometimes wonder if we remember what the intent of it was in the first place. The Big Idea of “being PC”, when you cut through it all, is just simple respect for the other person: accepting him/her as just a human being, not a racial construct or an ethnic construct or any other societal construct you want to put on it. It means that if you are not black, you do not get to use the word nigger, because it’s offensive as hell when uttered from non-Black mouths. You do not get to use the word faggot for exactly the same reason. Words like this, when uttered by those outside the community, become weapons and little more… and yet there are people out there who seriously believe they should have the right to say any ol’ nonsense they want and that it should be covered by America’s concept of free speech.
Now, we know that unfettered free speech is a bogus idea — one does not yell Fire! in a crowded theater — and yet there are people out there who simply do not and will not understand the affect of their words… or maybe more likely they know exactly the kind of effect those words have, and they’re playing it for all they got. If you really look at the arguments from the “Free Speech!” crowd, it’s pretty much just that: they want the right to insult and belittle and demean and then get away with it, all under the guise of “See? Political Correctness!”
In Canada, we have hate crime laws that will call down anyone who, for example, denies that the Holocaust ever happened or attacks a lesbian couple at random simply because they’re lesbians. Some people think our hate crime laws give too much leeway, that as a result anything can be considered a hate crime. I dont happen to agree, sorry. Hate crime laws are good for maintaining a society that is both civil and respectful. It’s not “thought crime”, despite the efforts of some people to frame it as such. You’re free to think any messed up thing you want. But the moment you commit to an action or a policy or a law that makes those thoughts a part of our justice landscape, you have gone too far.
Then there are those who maintain that religious affiliation should be exempt from hate crime laws, that a business owner can claim his religion forbids him, for example, from baking a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage. That’s nonsense, and he knows it, but he’s going to try and run with it anyway, and he will happily shout “political correctness run amok!” when he gets called down for it. If you open a business, you do not get to pick and choose your customers, sorry. He has every obligation to make that cake, simply because faith has nothing to do with eggs and flour and sugar. And yes, I would also say that a black baker cannot deny making one for the Klan in the unlikely possibility they asked him to, nor can a Jewish baker deny service for a Catholic wedding. If you open your doors to business, you serve anyone who comes through the door, unless there is a specific province or federal law that forbids you from doing so, like age requirements for alcohol and cigarettes. To mask your queasiness with certain customers as “eww! political correctness!” just frays the social fabric a bit more every time.
As usual, this storyline traveled a bit further than I intended, but it laid the groundwork for a few more things down the road while touching on a number of important themes, like the nature of friendship, knowing when to keep your mouth shut, dealing with loss, making that first stab at independence from your parents, and, oh yeah, realizing that maybe you do indeed have a boyfriend. So it sprawled a bit, but hopefully not too much.
OK, Valentines Day is coming up, so we’re doing a quick little storyline about that, then it’s Movie Night, with the premiere of THE NAME OF WHEAT, just for the Oscars. Fun times ahead. LOL