Mark Strong, Managing Editor of the Daily Nexus and author of a column with the whimsical title “Politically Incorrect”, is troubled and has turned to his readers with a pressing question:
What is “politically incorrect”?
“Goodness!” you might be saying. “How could dear Mark write a column called ‘Politically Incorrect’ without knowing what that means? Surely the Nexus, of all student newspapers, is rigorously dedicated to accuracy and would never print idiotic bullshit that flies in the face of basic decency under the guise of bravely opposing conventional wisdom?”
Strong reassures us somewhat in the next paragraph by exhibiting his subtle analytical skills:
That’s a question I’ve been asking myself for a while. With 18 articles claiming the title, you’d think I’d have figured it out by now. But the question is actually twofold. “Politically Incorrect,” the column, is not the same thing as politically incorrect, the concept, any more than a house is the same as its foundation.
This really is a crucial distinction. Mark Strong’s eighteen episodes of concern trolling are in fact not identical with a term that is widely used to make various forms of bigotry socially acceptable.
Nor is his column identical with the television show once hosted by fellow freethinker Bill Mahar, the title of which Strong honors by using as the title of his own column. (“Honors” here is the politically correct term for “steals”.)
It soon becomes clear that our faith in Mr. Strong was not misguided, as he demonstrates a keen understanding of how “politically incorrect” is used to perpetuate racism, sexism, and other systems of institutional discrimination in a society where outright hate speech is no longer acceptable:
For the sake of this column, [political incorrectness is] about delivering a take on an issue free of the usual constraints and pretensions of social etiquette. We all have a stern and Sharpie-wielding soldier stationed somewhere between our mouths and our brains, ready to scribble out any statements that could leave us vulnerable to the criticism of others. For people like Mel Gibson and Michael Richards, that guy is doing us all a service. But he’s a conservative censor, strictly by the books, and his indiscriminate scribbling often leaves those of us with actual points silenced just the same as those who blame their personal shortcomings on “the Jews.”
This is the problem with political correctness. For all its promise of tolerance and progress, it fails to make the crucial distinction between the reasonable and the reasonless. A white supremacist and a white philosopher might share nothing in common beside their use of the word “nigger,” but from a politically correct perspective, this is enough to set them equal. When it comes to being politically correct, context is thrown carelessly out the window.
Mark Strong here excellently brings out how racism can be given a pass when in the correct context. It is difficult indeed to defend the writers at Taki’s Magazine, but if you’re a college professor of Philosophy (a discipline that definitely doesn’t have issues with diversity) you can claim that you’re speaking in an “academic context” and that you are really just being coolly analytical and why are these students walking out of your class?
Another example that Strong might have mentioned is the “hipster racism” of Lisa Lampanelli, though her delivery was so artless that even accidental racist Lena Dunham distanced herself from the “joke”:
Me with my nigga @lenadunham of @hbogirls - I love this beyotch!! say.ly/oKP5chO— Lisa Lampanelli (@LisaLampanelli) February 18, 2013
Our Nexus writer concludes, tongue firmly in cheek:
So what is politically incorrect? We could come up with Webster-worthy definitions for the next 50 years, but none of them would ever quite hit the nail on the head. It’s the line between racism and reality, the comment you’d think but never say, the punch line that makes the audience groan. It’s the aborted child of every argument, the thing you’d rather drown in the tub than raise to call your own, and more often than not, it’s the pure, unadulterated truth.
And with that nod to Daniel Tosh, Mark Strong makes it quite clear what the pure truth is:
@tanehisi "politically incorrect" itself is a politically correct way to describe oppressive ignorance at best and sheer bigotry at worst.— Andrea S. (@andreaTshang) April 7, 2013