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Why I have “banned” the term “political correctness”…

Not that I have, but I am certainly taking pains to avoid it. It was one of my New Year Blog Resolutions. (Another was to write less… 😉 ) Why? Because I suspect the term conceals more than it reveals these days, and hinders discussion.

I just did a search on this and found an interesting post: “Political Correctness” and Privilege on Definition — A Feminist Weblog.

…This is in no way an effort to force others to agree with me or conform with my worldview; in all honesty, some of the people I insist on showing respect to would not return the favor. I am not attempting to tell others what they can and cannot say; it would be nice if other people agreed with my priorities and sympathized with my opinions. I believe in absolute freedom of speech, but also that decent people should have a few limits on what they will allow themselves to say. And freedom of speech is not freedom from critical analysis, freedom from criticism, freedom from opposition.

Freedom of speech is also a responsibility. Since I have the power to say whatever I like, I also have the responsibility to say things that I think are well-reasoned and respectful. This does not mean that I will not argue, will not disagree, will not pass judgment. This does not mean that I will not express ideas which many people probably find offensive, radical, or objectionable. It simply means I will try to express these ideas while avoiding any unnecessary use of terms purposely designed to marginalize or misrepresent already oppressed people.
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Posted by on February 5, 2007 in Multiculturalism and diversity, Observations

 

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Racism and racists and The Plonker’s latest foot-in-mouth attack

I have been giving much thought to Jim Belshaw’s post Race and racism in Australia. He is quite right to say that pseudoscientific racism, the kind that was official policy in Nazi Germany and more widely accepted elsewhere in the not too distant past than we now find comfortable to admit, is probably a minority position in Australia. Jim prefers the word “prejudice”, the term “racist” having become a generic term of abuse that shuts down discussion. This is certainly worth considering. I will let Jim explain, but do read all his post:

…By global standards, we live in a remarkably open, pluralist, tolerant, polycultural society. We have transformed ourselves as a country and a people. Yet based on our own reporting of ourselves, an outsider could be forgiven for thinking that this is a place were racial bigotry runs rampant.

Mr Andrews is not known for his ability to handle things in a sensible and tactful fashion. Yet when I look at the facts, the ones who introduced and then followed up the race issue were the media and commentators more broadly. They created the problem.

There are a small number of genuine old style racists in the Australian community who do try to take advantage of this type of event. They did so in Tamworth following the controversy. As happened with Tamworth, they will fail.

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PC not, but in a healthy way

I so bridle at the term “political correctness” that I resolved at the beginning of this year to avoid it. One reason for that is that the term often becomes a fall-back position for those who want to justify their prejudices, to do or say something that probably deserves to be “unspeakable”, or wish to beat up on folk with even mildly progressive thoughts in their heads, asserting as “common sense” the most reactionary attitudes and propositions. On the other hand, Nicholas Hudson pretty much gets it right in the Oxford Dictionary of Modern Australian Usage (2ed 1997).

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Posted by on September 6, 2007 in Education, Films, DVDs, TV

 

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Education moans and giggles

The giggles first. I am really looking forward to Summer Heights High — that’s Graeme Blundell’s preview in The Australian.

IN a local television industry characterised by meretriciousness, intellectual timidity and corporate contempt for viewers, Chris Lilley may be the closest thing to a comedy genius. Lilley’s award-winning We Can Be Heroes: Finding the Australian of the Year is already part of the sublime lineage of TV mockumentaries that includes The Larry Sanders Show, The Office, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Kath & Kim and Extras, all of them unconventional comedies that unfold within a mock documentary format with a lateral twist on reality.

in Summer Heights High, an occasionally quite savage new series, Lilley goes back to school to send up pretension, intellectual vanity, political correctness and do-goodism in general.

Playing all the characters, he captures some of the wonder and most of the horror of life in the public-school system, a foreign continent of coruscating slang, brutal bullying, profanity, delusional teachers, recalcitrant students, racism, homophobia and crushed innocence.

Bring it on! ABC Wednesday 9.50: this is the web site.

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My, my, my…

Looks as though I will have to go in later and add a note to Literacy — Why I reject Kevin Donnelly’s educational analysis. Not that all the currently prevailing voices on schooling and education have suddenly found enlightenment, but it does seem there could be a degree of hope. This past week, for example, the ABC’s right-wing Phillip Adams, Michael Duffy, had a useful interview with Jane Caro & Chris Bonner, authors of The Stupid Country: How Australia is dismantling public education. And today in The Australian we have “FORMER Liberal Party adviser and outspoken critic of the school curriculum Kevin Donnelly…” But (yes, Virginia, you may start a sentence with “but” from time to time) when he praises Labor Party education policy and slams Julie Bishop there may be cause for concern; I do hope the Big D does not get the ear of too many on the Labor side of politics where it is not after all unprecedented to find education reactionaries. Perhaps Dr D has been reading his tea-leaves about a possible electoral outcome in, they now say, October, and jobs that may open up therewith…

See Labor ‘winning’ the education debate.

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Mixed reactions to Basquiat (1996)

This is a good movie, I have decided, even if David Bowie really remains David Bowie and not Andy Warhol, but I can’t help wondering about the worth of the scene it portrays. Were Andy Warhol and company really rather ludicrous? I really don’t know. I do know that much of the lifestyle represented in this movie ultimately leads straight down the toilet. But there is the paradox: this doomed young Haitian was pretty bloody brilliant. I am sure the art capitalists have done rather well out of him too. Is Robert Hughes right?
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Posted by on May 9, 2007 in Aussie interest, Cultural and other, Films, DVDs, TV, Reading