This is the reason I hate trying to attach labels to myself which sum up my belief systems in one word: Every label I’ve ever used has been sullied in some way. I don’t think there’s a political party out there I haven’t identified with and left in disgust. I consider myself an atheist, but have one or two churches in Chicago that I consider spiritual homes. I was a Christian at one time, Muslim another time. I’m a tree hugger, free trader who believes in local capitalism, pacifist who supports the military, health nut and organic food supporter who believes people should have the right to eat whatever junk they please, and professional sports buff who thinks all teams in all sports leagues should be forced to pay for their own goddamned playing fields while the cities are freed of exorbitant league entry fees.
It looks now like I’m soon going to be forced to remove myself of a long-lasting label I’ve always worn with pride: Politically incorrect. Somehow, political incorrectness has been hijacked by the very people who forced me to wear it in the first place: A bunch of tradition-thumping rednecks who grabbed on and clung for dear life as politically incorrect and first amendment rights became the automatic rallying cries for people upset over the fact society at large isn’t letting them be bigots anymore.
If you’ve been paying any kind of attention over the last week, you know the name Donald Sterling is now cause celebre among even people who take pride in not following professional sports. Sterling is a bigot who happens to have a ton of money which he poured into the NBA team he owned until last week, the Los Angeles Clippers. Sterling sounding off about black people is no surprise to those with any knowledge about the NBA. Even when he took over the team back in the 80’s, the other owners tried to vote him out. Unfortunately, they appear to have gave up that fight after 1982 because money talks and the Clippers were rolling in it, in spite of being the poster boys of bad basketball for almost all of Sterling’s tenure. Sterling was finally caught on tape reaming out a woman who may or may not be his mistress because he hated the idea of her hanging out with black people. The fans and players in the league rebelled, and commissioner Adam Silver acted decisively by throwing Sterling out of the league. It was the right move.
Where political correctness enters into the equation is with the people who are terrible enough to come to Sterling’s defense. They’re trying to turn Sterling into a martyr on some kind of misguided first amendment principle, and bitching about the girl recording the conversation. The common argument is being made everywhere on the internet – big shock, I know – and, pathetically, in print. The basic idea is that Sterling got slammed for his political incorrectness, and that he should fight the NBA and be granted his team back. It’s coming mainly from the people who do the most griping about personal responsibility, but then again, those who complain about personal responsibility the most these days don’t seem to believe in it a whole lot themselves, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Still, though, it’s a direct failure of the personal responsibility people to show they’re not just a bunch of stodgy old coots clinging to old-timey beliefs about other races which are as far-flung as they are far-off.
What the hell happened to the political incorrectness that I came to know and embrace? Political incorrectness as I know it doesn’t excuse anyone from being a fucking idiot; in fact, political incorrectness doesn’t work at all if you’re an idiot. If you’re going to go against the romanticized fable forever being coughed up by a group of people with abiding faith in a particularly narrow set of ideals, you damn well better know exactly what you’re talking about. Being politically incorrect is not a buffer against stupidity or being wrong about something. If you do turn out to be wrong about something, you need to take the opportunity to learn a little bit more and acknowledge your mistake, whether or not your stance on the issue at hand needs to be waived.
Political incorrectness, to me, is only the right and ability to question a set of ideals. It doesn’t matter what those ideals are – being politically incorrect is being able to poke holes in a blanket cover of values, forcing the people who abide by those values to go on the defensive. It’s a way of checking reasoning and making sure a group knows exactly what it is they’re trying to get the rest of the world into. In short, it’s the “what if” to the regular “what” of the politically correct.
If political correctness wants something to happen, political incorrectness is there to make sure all possible scenarios are accounted for. Political incorrectness isn’t there to excuse your bigotry or stupidity and free you of the consequences. It was never meant to be a rally for people too dumb to understand science, political science, international relations, or basically anything contradicting what they learned in Milktoastville Public School or the Church of Cowboy Jesus.