IT’S NOT POLITICALLY INCORRECT, IT’S STUPID.

On the street, in newspapers, on TV or in social networks, it’s very easy to hear insults and abuse, which are often openly and proudly assumed. From the most widely accepted as repulsive to the ones considered more innocent, many people claim that such insulting and offensive terms are delivered in the light of a self-proclaimed right to be politically incorrect. They are right about it: they are incorrect; but they must be named for what they truly are: politically stupid.

I wish I could mention a single episode, one of those inspiring moments, epiphany like that was sufficiently clairvoyant to me about the discovery or perception of the importance of political correctness (PC). However, that was not the case and I think it rarely is. The PC comes always through confrontation, from an internal shock that puts us on a collision course with internal stereotypes and prejudices. These prejudices result from the continuous perpetuation of the same normative that derives from the imposition of values and concepts from the predominant forces in society. And yes, the fact is that, surprise(!), the overwhelming majority of societies are heteronormative and patriarchal. The Portuguese and the European are also predominantly white and classist. This is how it has been for more than 2000 years in Europe and it has not changed so much up until today.

The same way that societies undergo transformations as a result of confrontations and/or compromises between different realities so does language. Expecting to maintain an unaffected language, attached to values and concepts that have suffered transformations reflecting everyday reality is as old fashioned and out of touch with reality as it is to want societies to remain permanently based on the same dynamics, when they naturally change and evolve. There are multiple examples and they tend to be very easy to grasp if one makes a simple effort to look back at how words have always been instruments used for the sake of maintaining social stigmas and absolute separation between those who had power and those who did not. Racial segregation provides, in recent history, one of the most powerful and elucidative examples of how words can be used for the sole purpose of perpetuating and emphasize discrimination: “scum”, “nigger”, “darkies”, “colored”, “monkeys”, among many other terms were – and are – always used as a way to ensure differentiation between dominant and dominated, in the logic of preventing any change to the status quo.

When analyzing the current challenge to the vocabulary commonly used in reference to women or LGBTI* people, often people voice out their protest against the so called politically correct, even if they tend to do it in an inconsistent and incoherent manner. On top of the food chain from where I stand – being a white, heterosexual, and middle-class man – discrimination was something I’ve never felt. I understand it but I get it as an external factor, identify it in its forms but always as something inflicted on someone else. I am fully aware that in order to understand its full implications, I have to try wearing a skin that is not and will never be my own. Nonetheless, what is also absolutely clear to me is that to try to deny the physical and linguistic existence of this discrimination is as absurd today as it was in the past. Yes, to call someone “slut”, “whore”, “vulgar”, “poorly-fucked”, “poof”, “fagot”, “tail”, “undefined”, or even the full conscious and voluntary absence of pursuit of knowledge will always be insulting. Always. It’s not only diminishing, discriminatory or offensive sometimes. Those who feel broken down and diminished in their essence, insulted and offended in their natural right to existence and equality, feel it so whenever these or other terms are used. Thus, to actively refuse to comply with eliminating this linguistic and behavioral practices can never be seen as any kind of defense of tradition, culture, idiosyncrasy or language. Those who affirm themselves as politically incorrect for not understanding this are not the last barrier of defense against some sort of politically correctness crazy “crusaders” or “fundamentalists”. Bigotry, racism and other forms of discrimination will never be politically incorrect. They are what they have always been – wrong. Wrong in their moral essence, social consciousness and political declaration; wrong because they are a means to perpetuate the inequality that derives from social constriction and heteronormative imposition. It will never be funny nor just a lousy joke. Those who do it need to urgently realize it. Therefore, it is time we start calling it for what it is: it is solely and exclusively politically stupid (PS).

 

By Joao Albuquerque, YES Vice President

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