Why Conservatives Call PC Tyranny “Silly”

The combination of tyranny and anarchy known as political correctness keeps gaining ground in Europe, while American conservatives remain fundamentally clueless—and stubbornly incurious—as to why it’s happening. Thus the Swedish Parliament recently amended that nation’s constitution to ban speech insulting to homosexuals, and Germany has said it will withhold from the United States important evidence on 9-11 suspect Zacharias Moussaoui, because of Germany’s disapproval of the death penalty that Moussaoui might face in a U.S. court. To Europeans, the possibility of capital punishment for mass murderers is a greater offense than mass murder itself. Nothing new in that of course. For a long time it has been evident that the liberal mind views discrimination as a worse crime than homicide. Still, it’s pretty shocking to see a supposed Western ally, a country we had staunchly defended from totalitarianism for 45 years, refusing to help us against our mortal enemies because our domestic criminal laws are not exactly to their liking.

But what is also disturbing is the continued refusal of conservatives to take these things seriously. For example, columnist Bill O’Reilly, while concerned about the possible consequences of Germany’s non-cooperation in the Moussaoui case, simultaneously dismisses the decision itself as “politically correct nonsense” and a “dopey policy.” While O’Reilly is not a conservative so much as a loud moderate, his line echoes what influential mainstream conservatives have been saying about PC for many years—that it is a ridiculous fashion to be mocked rather than a threat to be taken seriously.

Would that it were so. In reality, PC is an inevitable and logical outcome of modern liberalism. If you believe, as modern liberals do, that everyone is substantively (not just procedurally) equal, then it follows that (1) you must not judge or punish enemies or criminals, (2) you must not exclude unassimilable aliens from your country, and (3) you must not criticize people with alternative lifestyles, because to do any of those things is to place yourself in a superior position to the people you are judging and excluding. The moral imperative to avoid such a violation of equality is at the core of the liberal world view and the liberal psyche.

The question is, why do mainstream conservatives persist in calling political correctness “dopey” and “silly,” despite the fact that PC is so obviously central to the liberal project, and despite the fact that PC—as the conservatives themselves worriedly point out—is progressively taking over the Western world? A superficial reason is that it takes a lot less effort to call something “dopey” than to understand what it is and why it exists. A deeper reason is that, as long as the conservatives keep calling PC a mere silly excess of liberalism rather than a fundamental aspect of liberalism, they do not have to oppose liberalism itself and so can remain respectable citizens of the liberal order.

At some point, conservatives must be honest about what they believe and what they’re willing to fight for. The truth they must understand is that they will never be able to offer serious resistance even to the supposed excesses of liberalism, so long as they refuse to see that those excesses are part and parcel of liberalism itself. The truth is that they will never be able to oppose the liberal tyranny that is taking over the world, unless they oppose it on principle.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 17, 2002 12:21 AM | Send


One aspect of the German decision is human rights imperialism, something the US pioneered and carries on systematically.

Posted by: Jim Kalb on June 17, 2002 8:59 AM

It isn’t clear to me that the procedural/substantive equality distinction holds up without *in addition* allowing tradition the status of arbiter — thus making tradition *more authoritative* than procedural equality itself. Since most “conservatives” in the cult of the Founding aren’t about to allow arbitrary tradition (the main source of which is the Continent) to trump procedural equality the distinction breaks down.

Posted by: Matt on June 17, 2002 11:13 AM

I’m trying to come up with a word list of politically incorrect words that one can work into one’s writing or conversation to avoid self PC programming. It’s sort of short now. Any suggestions?


Posted by: Duncan Frissell on June 20, 2002 5:35 PM

Here are some obvious ones. Use the words mother or father instead of parent; husband or wife instead of partner; son or daughter instead of child; boyfriend or girlfriend instead of partner; prostitute instead of sex worker; abortionist instead of abortion provider; and childless instead of child free.

You could describe something as “sinful”, speak of your “duty”, praise someone for their “mother love”, “love of country” or “love of God”, and use the words “masculine” or “feminine” in a positive context.

Don’t give up using expressions like “childhood innocence”, “soul mate”, “sexual perversion”, “fine character”, “morally weak”, or “masculine pride”.

At times, address women affectionately as “girls” or respectfully as “ladies.” Occasionally you could use the expression “our women”.

Never, after advancing a belief, finish by saying “that’s just my opinion”.

Posted by: on June 20, 2002 8:00 PM

Forgot to sign my name on previous post.

Posted by: Mark Richardson on June 20, 2002 8:02 PM

Great list of suggestions!

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on June 21, 2002 12:55 AM

Use “man” and “men” in the inclusive sense, and “sex” instead of “gender”. Use “he” instead of “they” in the singular to refer to someone of undetermined sex.

Posted by: Jim Kalb on June 21, 2002 5:55 AM

Boat’s are always ‘she’.

Or use the phrase, “Im not a ****** but….”.


Posted by: Stephen on June 21, 2002 7:33 AM

In letters or e-mails to women whose marital status is unknown, address them as “Miss.”

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on June 21, 2002 9:25 AM

Always use the word Mankind. I loathe the word “Humankind.” Many of the neocons use “Humankind.”

Posted by: David on June 21, 2002 12:56 PM

Openly declare your ethnocentricism by using A.D. and B.C. instead of the silly BCE and CE. Degenerate, depraved, and debased are all good terms to describe popular culture. When refering to a drug addict, he has a personal vice not a disease and is ‘morally unfit’ for civic responsiblities.

Posted by: Jason Eubanks on June 21, 2002 5:45 PM

There is a nice word “actress” to describe female actors. Try not to blaspheme. Don’t swear in front of women. Also, following on from Lawrence Auster’s posting, address married women with the honorific “Mrs” rather than the ugly and undistinguished “Ms”. (PS Thanks for the earlier compliment Lawrence.)

Posted by: Mark Richardson on June 21, 2002 5:46 PM

Use ‘stewardess’ instead ‘flight attendant.’

A child born out of wedlock is called a ‘illegitimate child’ or ‘bastard.’

Posted by: Matteo on June 22, 2002 10:18 AM

The term “flight attendant” may be annoying, but I don’t see it as politically correct per se. I believe the change was made when the airlines began hiring men for the same job. Would you call a male flight attendant a “stewardess”? However, I suppose we could call the men stewards and the women stewardesses. But the problem is that the men were never called stewards, so we wouldn’t be returning to a traditional usage. Perhaps on a particular flight on which all the flight attendants were women you could get away with “stewardesses.”

Also, calling a child born out of wedlock a “bastard” is not merely politically incorrect or traditional; it is a harsh condemnation of a human being for something that it not his fault, which we see even in Shakespeare.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on June 22, 2002 11:08 AM

I agree the use of “bastard” as a general-purpose term of abuse makes it troublesome. I might use it sometimes though. For example if I were giving an account of the life of X I might say “X then moved to Chicago, where he became a petty racketeer and fathered several bastard children” because the focus would be on the conduct of X rather than on the children.

Posted by: Jim Kalb on June 22, 2002 12:42 PM

I like to call male flight attendants “flight attendant” and stewardesses “stewardess”.

Posted by: Matt on June 22, 2002 2:46 PM

I do not find ‘bastard’ troublesome. As even in Winston Churchill’s History of English-Speaking Peoples, he refers to William the Conqueror as a bastard. However I do understand how this can sound and its use can be derogative.

I agree that the child should not be held accountable for his parents’ mistakes, but by using this term, people may think twice before having relations outside of marriage.

My point was that some people see no difference between having children inside or outside of wedlock. But these people are dense.

Posted by: Matteo on June 23, 2002 12:22 PM

A few more:

“Chairman” for males and females alike, not “chairperson” or “chair.”

“Take,” or “use,” or “abuse” drugs, not “do” drugs.

“Sell” or “peddle” drugs, not “deal” drugs.

(The expressions “doing drugs” and “dealing drugs” are left-wing in origin and are intended, through the pseudo-charm of “in-words” for the immature mind, to make drug abuse sound “cool” to teenagers, somewhat as “Joe Camel” was intended by the cigarette companies to make smoking seem “cool” to the same group. The fervent promotion of drug abuse among teenagers, SIMULTANEOUSLY WITH blaming drug abuse and its consequences on (supposedly right-wing) society at large, has long been part of the Left’s agenda.)

“Fireman,” not “firefighter” (no woman has any business trying to be a fireman).

Posted by: Unadorned on November 13, 2002 11:31 PM

What an interesting thread. No one is stopping you from using any term you like…however, that does not mean that you are immune from reaction to said usage. Sociolinguists would have a field day with these posts.

Any elementary study of etymology or historical linguistics shows that words and languages have evolved in usage and syntax since the days of the Ur-language. If it makes sense to a culture, the word or meaning changes (flight attendant instead of stewardess); if it does not, the word persists despite gender, for example (policeman).

And “chair” does the job quite nicely.

And Unadorned, tough.

Posted by: Jane on November 14, 2002 12:02 AM

It is true that language is very plastic, and that the discursive is separated in important ways from the ontological. On the other hand unless the postmoderns are right and the discursive is all that is the case there are immutable things denoted via our use of language. If we attempt to build a tower to the heavens to be like God chances are we will end up unable to talk to each other: just read a little Derrida and you’ll see what I, and Genesis, mean. On the other hand if you want a different perspective I recommend _After Writing: on the Liturgical Consummation of Philosophy_ by Catherine Pickstock.

Posted by: Matt on November 14, 2002 2:07 AM

Jane says,

“No one is stopping you from using any [non-PC] term you like…”

That’s not true, Jane. The left and the PC thought-control régime they are busily setting up recently caused a man to be arrested in England for the crime of insulting a Muslim who had praised the 9-11 attacks in his presence. That innocent Brit, who was defending New Yorkers and this country of ours (poor guy, and my heart goes out to him!), could now face seven years in prison for his “hate” crime, according to the newspaper.

Not too long ago, also in the UK (whence horror stories of this ilk seem to emerge weekly, nowadays) a 14-year-old schoolboy was arrested by police for having been heard to shout at a Pakistani boy during an ordinary schoolyard altercation, the words “Paki bastard!”

As discussed recently in the pages of Vdare.com, a woman in Michigan, Mrs. Barton, was convicted and jailed for the crime of being overheard saying privately to her mother, the words “I wish these spics would learn to speak English.” Her conviction was recently overturned on appeal and she was freed, but as Vdare.com points out, the conviction was overturned on very narrow grounds (instead of being heartily and derisively thrown out lock, stock, and barrel) — which does not bode well.

Thank God The Force * is with us, to allow us merely to remember what some of the former non-PC terms were and to permit us to tell each other.

BUT THAT FREEDOM MAY NOT SURVIVE . The PC mind-control police are feverishly toiling away even as we speak, dreaming of the day when in order to stamp out incorrect thought they have only to define its expression as “hate,” then send in the “Diversity Directorate” to make the arrests, doubtless in Elian Gonzales-type middle-of-the-night swoops, with doors smashed in and machine guns cocked and at the ready, such as the machine guns Hillary, Janet Reno, Doris Meissner, Eric Holder, and Greg Craig ordered pointed directly at the head of that 6-year-old child, ready to blow it off if he so much as blinked.

Anyone think this stuff is fantasy? In London the other day, as noted by Mr. Auster’s Nov. 13th blog entry starting with the words, “The BBC reports …,” over eighty Londoners were arrested for suspicion of hate — for suspicion of having the wrong thoughts.

If you can stomach it, read it:


( * The Force is the conservative portion of the blogosphere and internet. May The Force be with you!)

Posted by: Unadorned on November 14, 2002 9:33 AM

Unadorned: Britain does not have a constitution guaranteeing free speech. Britain is not North America, where you and I live.

Now, regarding the case in MI: any article that refers to the United States of America as “Occupied America” has a definite bias. But I picked through the rhetoric for some facts, which seem to be that the woman was incorrectly convicted and that the case was thrown out on constitutional grounds. So what’s the problem, other than wrongful conviction? That’s the purpose of Appeals Courts…the checks and balances of a justice system that sadly is not always right. Personally, I’m happy there’s an ACLU to fight free speech cases.

So far, you’ve demonstrated to me that you are legally entitled to say what you wish, as evidenced by the posts on this board. And that’s a good thing, is it not?

Posted by: Jane on November 14, 2002 10:09 AM

“Britain does not have a constitution guaranteeing free speech.”

Oh yes Britain does, Jane. Their constitution is unwritten and has always guaranteed free speech. But it’s being dismantled bit by bit by your side, Jane, just as our written one is.

Yes, we may dare to say un-PC things now. But will that last? One glance at the way things are going is enough to make a person wonder.

Jane, your side must understand that people are not going to take this sitting down.

Must the implications of that fact be spelled out? Moths aren’t the only ones with a weird propensity for flying into candle flames. Some political groups have the exact same weird propensity.

Posted by: Unadorned on November 14, 2002 12:28 PM

Unadorned: “Their constitution is unwritten and has always guaranteed free speech.” Could you please provide a source?

And what is “my side”?

Posted by: Jane on November 14, 2002 2:20 PM

Your side is, as you said it was, the pinko side — what is commonly called the Left. (Your question, of course, was rhetorical. You expected me to say what I just did, intending then to refute it.)

At the moment, I’m squeezing this post in edgewise at work, so haven’t time for more, but will look up a reference for the other detail and provide it in next post. I would have thought, by the way, that everyone in the world knew the English had an unwritten constitution which granted them freedom of speech. Your asking for a reference for that seems like asking for a reference for the statement that Lincoln freed the slaves.

Posted by: Unadorned on November 14, 2002 3:01 PM

Unadorned: You misunderstand my self-reference to pinko, because I’m certainly not “the Left”. The “pinko” is a facetious reference to Pat Robertson’s “Soviet Canuckistan” but of course I haven’t said where I am from, so I can’t expect anyone to know that.

To elaborate, I’m Canadian, and my politics have been largely shaped by living in a resource-based economy far from the Eastern centres of the universe. I referenced a book by SM Lipsett in another post that probably is closest to my political roots.

I’m also an historian by education and am surprised to hear that Britain’s unwritten constitution guaranteed “freedom of speech” as we would understand it in North America. Or I wouldn’t have asked for a source.

Posted by: Jane on November 14, 2002 3:43 PM

Here is an example of how Political Correctness — the absolute requirement that no favored minorities ever be offended by any word or action of someone not a favored minority, a reqirement which gives favored minorities political power far exceeding what their mere numbers would give them — results in qualified, industrious public servants losing their jobs because of their ancient use tasteless language:

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty forced out his Commissioner of Public Safety, Rich Stanek, after it came to the govenor’s attention that Mr. Stanek admitted in a deposition given twelve years ago that he had used the racial slur “nigger” “several times” and that he told racial jokes a few times. In a statement confirming his departure, Mr. Stanek said, ” “I have never used a racial epithet in a hateful or angry way toward anyone either during work or at home.” Nevertheless, the governor forced him out; complained that when Mr. Stanek interviewed for the job he failed to report the admission as something “we should know about if it appeared on the front page of the paper”; and gave, as his reason for the force-out, a reiteration of liberal philosophy, namely, “The people of Minnesota need to know that justice is color blind. There can be no basis to question that commitment in our commissioner of public safety.”

Posted by: Joshua on April 17, 2004 11:58 AM
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