Notes on political correctness


A question that seems to arise frequently in my circles is whether or not the idea of political correctness is inherently evil. Perhaps I need new circles.

The thing about political correctness is that it is just a form of polite discourse. And some people resent any sense of obligation toward being polite.

Jen Sorenson, Slowpoke, 2005Viewed through a hostile critique, political correctness is simply a modern term for euphemism.

Most men can recall learning all sorts of nifty words, for instance, denoting women’s breasts. Titties, gazangas, melons, rack, and so on. But in my youth, if the question of a women’s breast size came up in the presence of elders, one might speak in terms of endowment. Large breasts were described as “well-endowed”. I would not, at age twelve, have used the phrase “mondo gazangas” in the presence of my grandmother. It’s not some yoke of social slavery, but, rather, being polite according to the company I was in, and also avoiding a distracting family scandal.

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A note to Alexandra Petri


A note to Alexandra Petri, when she is done swooning over Sen. Rand Paul:

Rand Paul hits that point, generally speaking, before most people. He hates those squiggly, new light bulbs! His toilet doesn’t work! He wants people to know! Probably the only reason he objected to the pat-down was that the screeners would discover his full-body tattoo of the Constitution in Braille.

But the man has a point.

I know that in America all people are created equal. But I didn’t realize that this meant we all had to undergo this much airport screening. Grandmothers. Granddaughters. People with metal hips who fought in the wars. Sen. Rand Paul.

Okay, so, just so it’s clear: We can all be outraged, now? That is, now that it’s happened to Senator Rand Paul, it’s officially out of hand, now? We can say all this stuff about TSA and not be denounced as terrorist sympathizers, and the like?

I mean, it’s Rand Paul, right? Which means it’s a credible civil liberties issue. Or is that only for the right wing?

Asking the obvious question


Could someone please explain to me the following?

  • How is it that a known serial adulterer being accused of asking his second wife, with whom he was cheating on his first wife, to open the relationship so that he could continue to bang the woman who eventually became his third wife, can reliably count the scandal as an asset among allegedly conservative family values voters?

John Darkow, Jan. 18,  2012What the hell is happening to American conservatives? I generally speculate something about neurotic tensions at the breaking point, but my conservative neighbors think that an unspeakably evil form of character assassination.

Just what is going on in Republican America?

Those annoying details


At first it seems like a simple notion: If you root against Tim Tebow because he openly expresses his faith, raise your hand.

Tim Campbell, January 12, 2012 (detail)Cartoonist Tim Campbell raises the issue in an editorial cartoon, that he might demonize—quite literally—those who would criticize the Almighty Tebow; the frame includes what appears to be Satan raising his hand.

Yet such questions are not so simple.

Some are disgusted by the idea of Tebow’s greatness, since he’s not actually that good of a quarterback in the context of the NFL; despite his wins, he finished the regular season with a 72.9 rating, which works out to about twenty-eighth in the league, behind such luminaries as Tarvaris Jackson (79.2) of the Seattle Seahawks (7-9), and Colt McCoy (74.6) of the Cleveland Browns (4-12). Tebow’s success, such as it is, owes much to his fellow Denver Broncos (8-8).

And, certainly, there are some among those critics who would focus on the fact of Tebow’s faith alone.

But Tebow’s faith is a Christian faith, and one wonders as he “Te-bows”, much as one might wonder about other players sharing that Biblical faith, when and where Jesus comes into the picture.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reminds:

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Then, of course, are the rumors that Tebow, in his autobiography published at the ripe old age of twenty-three, distorted the story of his gestation and birth for political reasons.

Which, in the end, makes Tebow’s faith seem more an advertising pitch to increase his monetary value in the American capitalist marketplace. And that might mean that the real devilish work is from those hands not raised in Campbell’s cartoon; the people who would celebrate Tebow’s blatant disregard for the words of Jesus Christ and willingness to deceive people in order to spread the Good News.