Friday, May 19, 2006

Semantically Correct speech

There is no such thing as "politically correct" anything, certainly not "politically correct speech", so I propose Semantically Correct (SC) speech.

Political means unjust domination. To be political means to manipulate the masses to gain power over the masses and become financially secure, famous, important. Thus, anything that's political is always already corrupt.

Semantics is "meaning in language usage", or "the relations betweeen signs and the influence of these relations on human behavior".

In other words, good semantics is saying what you really mean, in a manner that will make sense to your intended audience, so they can autonomously adjust their actions if necessarry, for their own and others benefit.

If I want a woman to help me or listen to me, I cannot call her "bitch", for example, or "chick", or "girl" or "you sexy witch".

If I want a native American to help me or listen to me, I cannot refer to him as "chief", "how", "Tonto", "injun", or "redskin".

To speak respectfully and optimistically seems to be the underlying basis of the Politically Correct speech movement. I think most of us can champion and applaud that. But to gloss over real phenomena, to downplay a heinous crime, to sugarcoat a grievous situation is a troubling, linguistically incorrect, mishandling of the original object of PC.

Here is my comment posted to "Politically Correct" post at Mr. Angry:


I champion the underlying issue of Political Correctness, the desire to include everyone and to not make fun of anyone.

When right wing evangelical whackos attack PC, they talk about how "innocent" it is to say "he spazzed out", "fat guy", "trailer trash", "colored guy", "those people", "tree-hugger", or "weaker sex".

All these things are said by Non PC twerps with prejudice and White Male Patriarchal Religious zeal, as if God was a White Male Republican, probably American too.

So even though I hate all politicians and politics, as an Ethical Anarchist, I still applaud the sane aspects of PC.

I hate the term "politically correct" which implies you belong to the Communist, Fascist, Demopublican, Labour, or whatever, party.

It' more *correctly* "Linguistically Correct" or "Nominationally Correct" or "Semiotically Precise"...??? Somebody help out here, not you, you white bread cracker.


Semantically Correct speech is respectful and optimistic, but not deceptive in phobic glossings, criminal coddling, or political bias.

To call an illegal alien an "immigrant", gangsta rap "urban reality", a static corporate web site "online presence", or an occupying force "liberators" is Politically Correct and Semantically Deceptive.


Miss Kitty said...

Thank you for this sharp and insightful commentary. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU. You have put into words what I've been trying to figure out for about 18 months now. Your post helped me figure out why I think so-called "political correctness" is necessary. Thank you for putting it into words. I have only been able to do it by in-class exercises that could possibly get me fired (though they haven't yet).

I'm a college English professor in my early 30s and have noticed that 1) most of today's college students consider themselves Republican/conservative (and almost always without really thinking about it--it's just easier to go along with what Mommy and Daddy and Rush tell you to think) and 2) anti-PC.

One goofball, who always whispered ugly comments under his breath when fellow students spoke up, said in class one day, "I think it's fine and dandy to call other people names. Why do they get so upset, anyhow? You're just telling the truth."

"Oh, really, asshole?" I replied.


"I said 'Oh really, asshole?'" The class was dying with laughter now. "I mean, I'm just telling the truth."

He dropped the class that afternoon.

steven edward streight said...

Political anything is always incorrect.

Thus, "politically correct" = oxymoron for hydroimbeciles.

I wanted to be an English professor when I was younger. I wanted to attend NYU mainly for the class on Rimbaud. And Rilke.

I got into advertising instead, then, eventually, internet marketing.

Y"ou say most college kids are Anti-PC, right wing neocons?

But I thought most professors were liberal, Marxist, radical.

I am cynical toward all politics, and consider myself an Ethical Anarchist.

Pampered children become sadistically insane.

Speech and Word Policing is always totalitarian, either Right or Left.

Miss Kitty said...

A lot of people do think most profs are Marxist, left-wing radicals. :-) And quite a few are. And quite a few others are everything but.

I guess one could call me left-leaning, Southern-poor-white-done-good, fallen-off-the-wagon-pagan-Episcopalian-agnostic feminist yahoo with a big dash of "country sense" thrown in. Messed up, but it works.

Pampered children become sadistically insane. Yep. I see it every day. I wish parents could see that money does not equal time spent with one's kids, and that kids who have everything sometimes turn out very poorly.

Speech and Word Policing is always totalitarian, either Right or Left. I'm trying to figure out why I don't like this sentence. Maybe because I don't want to think of myself as totalitarian? I try to get *all* my students to use their brains to figure out good arguments rather than hurling names at those who don't agree with their views. "Calling names will earn you NO new readers," I tell them. "If you do that, all you're doing is preaching to the converted, so to speak." But I also find it's very satisfying to hurl a name now and then.