Saturday, April 22, 2006

Absolutely Discriminating

(WARNING..THIS POST MAY BE EASILY MISCONSTRUED UNLESS READ WITH AN OPEN MIND)
Today’s proponents of Political Correctness are pushing the concept of being unconditionally and absolutely non-discriminatory in our every-day social dealings.
Must we treat everyone we meet equally? Is this even possible? Should I treat the guy in the next car who has just cut me off in traffic and gave me the finger, with the same care and respect as my best friend? Of course not. The absolutists in the PC crowd are pushing this "equal no matter what" agenda as if it's a given. This agenda is manifest as social pressure to conform to their interpretation of new custom.
To quote John Stuart Mill, "One who does anything because it is the custom makes no choice".
From early childhood on we learned that we form bonds and relationships with family, friends and associates just by interacting with them. We start not to treat them equally and we develop a discriminating sense of who we are more comfortable to be in the company of. “I like John, we get along great and he’s my best friend. Bill’s OK but I’d rather hang around with John.” Is this sense of discrimination OK or because of its sense of exclusivity, is it in fact a form of prejudice?
Was this a natural process with positive potential or was it in fact pathology leading to eventual racism? Is being comfortable around like-minded friends and relatives now a form of racism through exclusion? I think not.
Not many years ago, the term “discriminating taste” carried a positive connotation. Now, anything with the word discriminate carries instant rebuke from the PC crowd. It is as if the very nature of our “freedom to choose” is being hi-jacked. If we choose and make the “wrong” (in their view) choice, even if it is right for us, we are immediately branded by the absolutists as weak minded and maybe even racist and to suffer everlasting guilt for it.
My suggestion: Don’t fall into their trap. There is a difference between being discriminating and being prejudiced. We should never confuse the two.
Go ahead and continue to discriminate, not because of skin color, ethnicity or religious factors, but because of the person's worthiness. To be discriminating in our choices is part of our nature just the same as the qualities of fairness, generosity and respect for our fellow man.

22 comments:

San Nakji said...

PC is such a lazy term. People blame others for being 'PC' because then it makes them feel better for their own bigotry. You have every right to choose your friends. No one is taking that away from you. However, Roman, I would expect more from you than falling into the 'blanket everything I don't like at PC crowd'.

roman said...

san nakji,
The PC crowd is progressively getting into a lock-step mindset. Most of what is prescribed by this movement is OK and harmless. It is the absolutists that I have a problem with. To them equal is equal no matter what. Their idea of equal treatment means that we must love and care for people who are unworthy of our respect the same way that we love and care for our own family. This is the part that makes no sense to me. Should an unrepentant murderer be on the same level as, say, my best friend? Of course not.
This is my point.
Bigotry involves a much stronger sense of alienation such as intollerance of anyone that may be different in some way. The word conjures up the term prejudice which in this day and age should be relegated to history.
All I am saying is that equal does not mean equal no matter what. No group or movement should coerce us to accept that unrealistic ideal. Our nature will not accept it.

Oricon Ailin said...

Okay, as a Christian, God asks me to love and care for everyone equally. I am to be fair to everyone. So, THAT I do try to do.

However, I think the PC's out there, particularly in THIS country, have gotten WAY outta hand. Yes, we as US citizens should have the right to choose and the freedom to express ourselves.

But, half the time, I don't know if I'm gonna say something that might be "offensive" to others. I don't know if my openness about being Christian is gonna get me shot or thrown in jail these days.

I have no problem with promoting equality and fairness. I do have a problem when those out there who are going too far with this "PC" thing stop me from being who I am. And face it, that is what's happening in the good ole' USA. It's true.

Vman said...

i completely agree, that's why i love real time with bill maher, who used ot host a show called politically incorrect.

roman said...

Oricon Ailin,
We are constantly being told to treat everyone equally. We can try but surely that is an unrealistic demand. Instead, we should treat everyone with the respect that they deserve. If one of my neighbors treats me with respect and is pleasant towards me, how can I not act the same way towards him/her?
If, on the other hand, my other neighbor is openly hostile towards me, I am not going to act hostile in return but I am also not going to treat this neighbor the same way as my good neighbor. In order to stay true to our nature, we treat people well based on whether they are deserving and not because of what the PC custom calls for.

roman said...

vman,
I love Bill Maher despite his somewhat liberal viewpoints. He is just plain funny.

San Nakji said...

No one with a so called 'PC' agenda is going to force you to be friends with everyone. No one is forcing you to hang out with serial killers. However what is a problem is treating people differently not based on their qualities as a human being, but soley based on stereotypes of race, religion body type. This is unacceptable. To me PC is just a way of not causing offence. Why do people need to hurt other people so that they can feel better? People have hijacked PC to make a point that bigotry is ok. You are free to have all the friends of one type as you like, however you cross the line when you actively go out to offend others. This is the point of PC. PC is not about forcing you to do anything.

roman said...

san nakji,
OK relax. Take a deep breath and exhale. Believe it or not, we are in agreement on this issue.
I know that no one can force me to be friends with anybody that I don't want to be.
I am only making the point that there is a distinction between treating a worthy person the same as an unworthy person. We should never be afraid or feel guilty when we choose between the two. This is not a question of race, religion or ethnicity. It is a matter of respect and common dignity.
My only point here in this post is to make people aware that the statement "treat everyone equally" does not apply to people who treat us disrespectfully or in some undignified way.
It is a subtle but important, IMHO, difference.
Why make this point? I have heard too many times from friends and relatives the following: "I'm sorry but I just cannot relate to so and so because.." They then tell me in great detail of the rudeness or disrespect they suffered because of some coworker or other individual.
Why be "sorry" to choose? Just make your choice and go on with your life. This phenomena of guilt and shame is a slow but steady change in our social customs. I happen to feel that the PC wave has overstepped its boundaries and is encroaching on our private liberties. It is now so engrained in our every-day social dealings that we feel like we are walking on eggshells most of the time. One off-color joke or off-the-cuff remark is now grounds for instant disagreement.
I never recall this being the case just 15 to 20 years ago.

Pete's Blog said...

Oh tis dangerous ground Roman.
To set down on the blogasphere what most people only venture to think.

I think people are economical by nature. They routinely typecast Group A, but will treat a member of Group A on their merits when/if they meet them.

I believe much of the PC issue (within this are labels like "liberal" and "Christian Right") is a media beatup.

Political correctness is too generalised a word and its "advocates" too diverse to be a useful concept.

Pete

beatroot said...

PC is a curse. You say that it is about "treating people equally'. If it was then I would have no problem with it. But it isn't. It's really aboout treating people differently. Treating people as 'special'. That's 'identity politics' for you.

It's also about closing off debate about something. It's about protecting the 'vulnerable' from things they don't want to hear. It's about treating adults like children. It's about conformity.

It's really just about language. And words can't hurt us.

roman said...

spooky pete,

I agree. PC does have too broad of a scope to be of any use in identifying its pros and cons. We all want to treat people with the same courtesy and respect that we would like in return. Sometimes, we do not get that. In view of some comments received and what I recently have read on other blogs, it is a term which lends itself to way too many interpretations.
I made this mistake with my brief value judgement of "philosophy" some posts back.

roman said...

beatroot,

Very interesting. In a certain sense we are talking about a very similar phenomena except your approach is from a more direct and focused viewpoint of PC.
You are referring to "groups" while I was approaching it from an individual standpoint.
I agree, wholeheartedly, that some special interest groups are riding the PC wave to their benefit and to everyone else's detriment. Some groups deservedly so but way too many see this as a chance to get "special" treatment.
Good observation.

sara said...

MAY PEACE BE UPON YOUR SOULS, HEARTS, MINDS, AND BODIES...AMEN.

BROTHER ROMAN,
GREAT OBSERVATION YOU MADE HERE!

But let me say, that maybe this guy driving the car has a problem, a dying someone or something...etc.. I'm trying to say that we can't be fair all the time, we're human, but try to be more understanding and give at least 71 excuses for ppl surrounding us...
That doesn't mean he has the right to hurt you by a bad word or act, but we have to work more on our capabilities to forgive...
Guess this is enough of my blabbing...

However I agree with ya.

With respect,

roman said...

Sara,
Forgiveness is important. When our dignity is attacked and we suffer disrespect, it clouds our judgement and may temporarily disturb our sense of goodwill towards our neighbors and friends. We need to always stay conscious of how others affect us and make sure of our inward emotions in order to keep control over them. This is the way that we avoid multiplying negative attitudes toward all who we come in contact with.
Peace and happiness to you, sister Sara.

Fahd Mirza said...

Just to tell you buddy that I am back.

roman said...

fahd mirza,
Glad to hear you're back and on Blogger too. Hope to exchange ideas and perspectives with you as usual.

Dr Kuha said...

Anyone who thinks we should "love everyone equally" needs to understand that to do that devalues the love that you would give to people who have earned or deserve it. Also, never underestimate the value of hate. I hate, hate, hate Pat Robertson, Jeb Bush, Rush Limbaugh, and Bill O'Reilly. I love my family and friends. I hate the people who wrong my family and friends in ways that they don't deserve.

I only reserve things like "pity" for those who truly deserve to be lower than the lowest pond scum on Earth.

roman said...

dr kuha,
Don't hold back, tell us how you really feel about Pat, Jeb, Rush and Bill.
BTW, what is wrong with pond scum. I hear it serves a very useful purpose in our natural environment. Something to do with creating breathable air, I think.

Anonymous said...

I don;t think you read Roman's remarks carefully. He did not speak of bigotry. All he is saying is the right to choose who you wish to associate with and the right to say how you feel without being labeled for it. Not everyone is a bigot or racist because they may disagree with another's opinion. I feel the underlying message is keep it to yourself if you don't want to be "a marked man".

Renegade Eye said...

There is not now, or ever been something called political correctness. It was a concept created by a conservative writer, whose name I forgot, simply to discredit the language of antiracism and antisexism.

Dr Kuha said...

Hahaha!! You got me there, Roman.

sonia said...

Ren,

There is not now, or ever been something called political correctness. It was a concept created by a conservative writer, whose name I forgot, simply to discredit the language of antiracism and antisexism

Well, at least you admit that the 'language of antiracism and antisexism' exists. Since it was such a long sentence, it was shortened to PC. And so it exists!