#039;Morally#039; rules over #039;politically#039;

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 22, 2002

There is nothing wrong with being political, and there is nothing wrong with being correct. So what's so wrong about being politically correct? Political correctness is only political and only correct when society's over-riding need is to be morally right.

Because neither politics nor correctness is wrong, the evil (or, at least, limitations) of political correctness isn't immediately apparent to everyone.

Political considerations and procedures are necessary in any social enterprise. Politics is no more problematic than the trade-offs, accommodations, and even compromises necessary for two or more people to work out a solution to a social problem that probably will not fully satisfy anyone but is at least tolerable by most.

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Politics per se, then, is amoral, i.e.,

morally neutral and with no moral content. Morality (rightness) comes into play in how politics is conducted.

It can be conducted well and, therefore, morally. It can be conducted badly and, therefore, immorally. "Dirty" as an adjective for politics is only appropriate to motive and method.

So, too, we not only cannot fault the effort to be correct--it is crucial.

Being correct means having the facts complete and accurate. Like "political," "correctness" is amoral. We might say (but incorrectly), "Hang the picture at the right angle." Because how a picture hangs on a wall is a matter of personal taste or preference but not a moral judgment. We would put it correctly" "Hang the picture at the correct angle."

(I use "correct" in regard to language, because it is a matter of what communicates accurately rather than what has moral value.)

The simplest way to lay it out is by contrast, i.e., to point out what political correctness is not.

In a word, it is political when being moral is the more important quality. It is being only correct, when what is needed is being right. What political correctness is not is morally right.

It lacks common sense and is unreasonable. People, both professionals and enthusiasts, get carried away with the ideals they keep spawning and end up unable to make practical assessments in everyday situations and lack the good sense common among all classes. Political correctness is arbitrary and inflexible. It's a black-or-white perspective and a one-size-fits-all approach.

Political correctness is confusing to the non-politically correct and self-defeating for its advocates. However arbitrary and inflexible on some matters, it is inconsistently ambivalent and rigid on others. It is nonetheless intolerant of disagreement with itself and indulgent of divergence in the name of diversity. It paints with a broad brush that covers over issues that need to be dealt with and exaggerates the seriousness of its pet gripes.

To the politically correct, tolerance is the ultimate virtue even when they will not tolerate objections. Discrimination is intolerable even when they disassociate from people they don't like. There is no such thing as sin--except to say there is sin.

A most curious thing about the politically correct is that it is seldom recognized by the politically correct. I have never heard a person say, "I am politically correct." They just are and think it's normal.

I must admit that political correctness on some things (my things) is convenient. It seems to be politically correct to discourage smoking, and I'm all for that. Declaring a thing politically correct saves the trouble of having to present evidence or offer a good argument. You just shake your finger and turn your back.

If a politically correct thing is also morally right, the political correctness can be tolerated. If it is morally right but not politically correct, I discriminate on this.