Thursday, March 17, 2011

Politically Correct Incorrectness

From Caves of Spiel
"Boss, I'm not one of those guys who can be politically correct. I just speak my mind." Faker words are rarely spoken. People who generally announce they are about to be politically incorrect are usually disappointing. Sure, they say things that are controversial and just plain rude, but they are usually careful enough not to say it in front of anyone who can DO anything about it.

This mania for politically correct political incorrectness has become a bane of existence. Of course, you need people to be politically incorrect. You need them to push the envelope, to walk the razor's edge, to plunge into the waters of serious discourse with nary a heed to their own safety. Problem is, very few actually do all those things. Least of those who announce they are about to be politically incorrect. Much like pimple creams, they promise much and deliver little. Also, much like pimple creams, they tend to be pasty and flaccid, but that's a whole different story.

Used to be, being politically incorrect used to mean something. Now it's become excuse to bitch, bitch, bitch. Bitch about how the prime minister of this country has no backbone, bitch about how the country is run by a "foreigner"(the fact that she holds an Indian passport and has been 'living' in this country longer than the moaners somehow making no difference), bitch about how removing Ganguly from the test/one-day/IPL/Ranji/district/gully team is going to have fearsome consequence for those responsive. Blatantly racist and jingoistic comments are paraded in the guise of political incorrectness when the speaker knows fully well those who he is railing against either (a) don't give a damn or (b) are too cowed and marginalized to say anything.

The value of political correctness has somehow been obfuscated by all this hot air blowing around. To be politically correct is to respect someone else's feelings (remember them?). To be politically correct is to maintain silence when words will only hurt, not heal, even though that joke you thought of was like, really funny. That does not mean jokes have to stop. That does not mean pain will silence humor. But who is entertained when a celebrity tweets a joke about the tsunami in Japan, when men are still fighting to save the country from nuclear disaster? The same ones who say Japan deserves what happened because of Pearl Harbour/It's not a Christian country, that's who. Who is entertained when someone tells a racist joke about a minority group too scared to hit back openly? People who would gladly watch that group burn, that's who. To be politically incorrect about those who are weak, those who are hurting is easy. True political incorrectness is what's missing. The courage to mock the strong, openly, at a forum where they will be affected and may lash out, that's what's missing.

I love humor and comedy. I worship the art of George Carlin and Jon Stewart. People like them have been politically incorrect when and where it matters. In spite of that I have made mistakes. Mocked people with words that weren't funny, just cruel. I have been guilty of spreading my arms in a martyr-like pose and saying "Hey, can't you take a joke?", not realizing that the jokes weren't any good to begin with. I have failed as a funnyman and as a human being. But I have tried to learn from them. I have understood that a joke that is about someone is truly successful and meaningful only if it can make the subject laugh. They rest is just gravy.

It's time we started being more politically correct when it is easier not to be so and politically incorrect when it actually made a difference. It's time we started using the very human desire to vent to some good use. It's time I stopped ranting about this and did something constructive.


Dibyojyoti said...

Good read. But wouldn't outright political correctness take the gloves off in a society where we are shocked to see even a bare finger wagging obnoxiously at us??

Web said...
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deadman said...

Yes it would. But if you think about it, we are not really shocked at such things. We just pretend to be. My point was that political correctness too has its place, just like political incorrectness. It's called kindness and consideration.