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Dr Muriel Newman

The PC Agenda

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Political correctness is rarely out of the news these days.  Whether it’s stories about Josie Bullock being sacked by the Department of Corrections for refusing to give up her front row seat during a graduation ceremony, the on-going debate over whether fireworks should be banned, or the announcement by the National Party that they have finally recognised political correctness as an issue of public concern by appointing a ‘PC eradicator’, we are constantly being bombarded with PC headlines.

Let’s be clear from the outset on what political correctness is. Political correctness occurs when minority groups silence debate on a particular issue to appease their own sensitivities – and to impose their will on the majority of citizens. In other words, a minority group disagrees with an opposing viewpoint so strongly, that it does not want the debate to occur at all. Yet, the suppression of the debate is in itself contrary to the most fundamental of all of our democratic principles, the right to free speech.

Unfortunately over the years, politicians have harnessed political correctness as a device to manipulate the debate towards their own agenda. The effect of that has been to shift society away from one that was based on equal opportunities towards one that is predicated on equal outcomes. As a consequence, the very values that have helped to make New Zealand society strong and successful – entrepreneurship, self-interest, individualism, and the ability to express a view freely and openly – have been eroded.

In any robust debate, there is, of course, a fine line between being respectful and disrespectful. Unfortunately these days, it appears that everyone has developed a heightened sensitivity to perceived disrespect. The problem is that this over-sensitivity leads society down a path where people are afraid to speak their mind, where winning can no longer be celebrated – because it will create losers – and where mediocrity becomes the norm.

Any society is built on the contributions that have been made by people with a wide variety of talents, beliefs and skills. For a society to be strong, with a collective aspiration for success and achievement, people must be free to express themselves as they see fit. Just as there is little joy in living in a household where everyone has to tiptoe around afraid of upsetting someone, so too it is with a society.

We must be mindful that everyone in our society achieves differently, since each is driven by his or her own hopes and dreams. Our own responsibility however, as we charge ahead at doing the very best that we can with our life, is to remember not be overly sensitive to comments made by others with honest intent.

There is no better example of all of this than the recent experiences of Josie Bullock our Guest Commentator. Like the US civil rights icon Rosa Parks who refused to give up her seat on a city bus to a white man, Josie refused to give up her seat in the front row during a Department of Corrections graduation ceremony for offenders. In doing that, she effectively challenged the politically correct convention of Maori who have a vested interest in perpetrating cultural correctness in the public service. And while it is certainly in their commercial interests for Maori to promote cultural equality in New Zealand, whether it is in their social interest is yet to be determined.

The fact that Josie lost her job over this dispute creates an interesting quandary – which is more important: her rights to equal treatment as a woman in her workplace or Maori rights to have women treated as second class citizens? This is the subject of this week’s poll.

Political correctness was first used as a mechanism for state control in the former Soviet Union in the 1920s. Soviet ideologues discovered that the secret to controlling the way people think is to control their language: by changing the meaning of words and the use of language, history can be re-written, abnormal behaviour can be normalised, and truth can be replaced by official lies.

Dr Frank Ellis in his book Political correctness and the theoretical struggle explains that the techniques used to achieve these ends, include the use of intimidation, threats and vicious personal attack: “The intention is to use language as a weapon…creating a climate of fear such that incorrect opinion is declared ‘illegitimate’, ‘extreme’, or ‘racist’ and so on”.

A key strategy used by PC advocates is to suppress information – refusing to publish or discuss material that questions the accepted norm. The debate over whether Maori really were the tangata whenua and whether the ‘official’ version of the Treaty of Waitangi being used by the government is the right one, are good examples, whereby researchers who have raised legitimate questions and produced new information that casts doubts on the government’s agenda, are regularly demonized (as are others who dare to raise this issues, I might add from personal experience!).

Anyone who has the courage to speak out on contentious PC issues will find themselves being attacked these days in an effort to silence their opposition. How vicious the attack is will depend on the issue and how big the vested interests are that are being protected.

It is this fundamental attack on the freedom of speech that makes political correctness so dangerous. It is this that we should all be fighting. And it is this that National’s new PC eradicator should be attacking.

Every New Zealander should have the right to say what they think without being vilified. It is simply not acceptable that in a free democratic society a small minority group with a self-interested agenda – or indeed a government – can deny people the right to have their say.

This weeks poll. Do you agree with Josie Bullock that women should not have to sit at the back during official public ceremonies?

Your Comments:

If kids can’t “fail” then how on earth is there any achievement in “passing”? What is there to aim for? Reports should reflect this, a fail for substandard work and a pass for above standard work. Praise for failure breeds more failure and a lack of excellence. (9 Nov 05)

As an ex sailor from the 50s & 60s I am disgusted ay the way the military have to have Maori protocols observed at each and every function. They are no longer sailors but Warriors of Tangaroa or some other Deity – I am not sure which. (9 Nov 05)

With pc so part of our lives, I find it quite hilarious that go into any office for a Friday after work drink – be it in the public sector or private – after the first glass of Chardonnay, all the pc pretence is dropped and people give vent to their true feelings, what do you know, pc disappears! You can legislate against people, but not their innermost feelings, so in real terms pc only exists for people who wish to advance their careers. (9 Nov 05)

The people who formulated the Treaty of Waitangi were quite simple people.  They simply wanted it made clear that, as a result of the Treaty of Waitangi, everybody (be they maori, pakeha, asian or whatever) were absolutely equal in every respect.  I believe some intentions were misunderstood by both parties (i.e. maori and pakeha) but today’s society should not be subjected to paying for their forefathers mistakes.  My biggest issue is that there is not one person on this earth who has at least (let alone more than) 50% maori blood.  So, when maori talk about being robbed of their rights, it was, in fact, their own forefathers who robbed their own forefathers of their rights.  Therefore, we need to get back to what the Treaty of Waitangi was really all about and get on with being one people no matter what our colour, race, religion or whatever. (9 Nov 05)

I would like to suggest that a concerted effort be made to re-brand “PC” as Political Cowardice. It is a definition of PC that I have long espoused… and would love to see people of influence who the media cannot avoid quoting, use the term as well. It is sure to strike a chord in a large number of Kiwis… and, who knows, the use of the phrase “Policital Cowardice” just might “take off”. (8 Nov 2005)

If kids can’t “fail” then how on earth is there any achievement in “passing”? What is there to aim for? Reports should reflect this, a fail for substandard work and a pass for above standard work. Praise for failure breeds more failure and a lack of excellence. (8 Nov 2005)

Not an example of PC, but a concern of mine, which the article touched on, is the lack of understanding generally of what “ad hominem” attacks are and how they lower useful debate. Attacking the person rather than the argument is especially rife during PC discussions. I’d like to see responsible debaters pointing out occurrences when they happen so that awareness (and, over time, abhorrence) of the tactic gradually seeps into the public mind in the way that the PC debate is now happening. (7 Nov 2005)

One thing I have always had a beef with is the notion that the existence of the MoriOri (I think that’s the spelling) never happened. My kids are taught plenty of Maori history at school, but the fact that the south isand maori wiped out the mori ori is kept hidden. Perhaps this would be because the mori ori are in fact the real “people of the land”? (I asked a school support person once if the the history of the Mori Ori is taught and the answer was “oh no, that is offensive to the maori’s”). What avenues do we NZ’ers have to ensure that more of the real history of our country is taught and not hidden from view because certain minorities don’t want to be reminded that they also are guilty of “land grabbing”? (7 Nov 2005)

I would like to suggest that a concerted effort be made by you and those of your colleagues who can influence by way of “being quoted” to re-brand “PC” as Political Cowardice. It is a definition of PC that I have long espoused… and would love to see people of influence who the media cannot avoid quoting, use the term as well. It is sure to strike a chord in a large number of Kiwis… and, who knows, the use of the phrase “Policital Cowardice” just might “take off”. It is sometimes the “little things” upon which big changes turn.(7 Nov 2005)

The general idea that Maori tradition must remain fixed exactly as it was 150 years ago, and must not be questioned. (In the meantime, “Pakeha” culture has become a lot more egalitarian and foreward-looking; we gave women the vote, and so on). The attitude that Maori as a group must remain locked in the past and their ways can not be challenged is demeaning and patronising to Maori, and indeed all New Zealanders.(7 Nov 2005)

Josie’s situation has to be PC taken to its most illogical conclusion.Good analogy with Rosa Parkes. Time has honoured her stand yet our PC Govt. vilifies our own gutsy lady. This is an extension of the infestation of Maori PC reverse apartheid written into all our Acts of Parliament and local body policies. Having the Labour Govt. endorse the right of local bodies to have Maori Wards with separate Maori councillors is a further example of this PC. nonsense. (7 Nov 2005)

Hypersensitivity is inculcated in our schools, kids taught to be contemptuous regarding all authority. Minorities are still minorities eg ‘gays’ make up some 0.6% of society (same as schizophrenics), yet it appears ‘they’re calling the shots’ – but it’s contemporary society that applauds these misdemeanours. Maorism is well patronised by the PC-brigade (unless its Brian Tamaki) here the PC-5th column has found a glorious niche – culturalism.

The central problem with political correctness is that even those, who – out of a true sense of right and wrong – strenuously oppose it, are not at all clear what it actually is. This is probably PC’s greatest defence. Reduced to its essentials P.C is the polar counter-force to all those values, traditions, and institutions of the Western world that arose out of (true) Christianity. Therefore it is obvious why, in its modern form, it first appeared in Marxist/atheist Bolshevik Russia.

Political correctness is the inevitable result of applied secular humanism. It is the awful offspring of an unholy coupling of atheistic, or humanistic socialism, pseudo liberalism – and recently feminism and such things as “indigenous activism”. The overall aim is to “deconstruct” the entire value system of Western Christendom on the grounds that it is “monoculturally Christian”, “European”, “patriarchal”, ‘Imperialistic” etc, and replace it with its own “Brave New World”. This candidly stated intention is laughable or absurd only to the most superficial of observers. It must be taken with all seriousness, because it is demonstrably occurring before our very eyes!! Having virtually destroyed the spiritual foundations of old fashioned consideration for others and plain good manners, it now seeks to impose behavioural rules upon society on pain of consequences that become daily more obvious. 

“It is clear that thought is not free if the profession of certain opinions makes it impossible to earn a living”… Bertrand Russell.

The essential character of pseudo liberal political correctness can be ascertained by noting what it fosters and what it opposes. Generally, and exoterically speaking it attacks or rejects those values which arose originally out of Christianity, and seeks to replace them with their opposite. It opposes almost all things culturally European, and particularly European colonisation, (i.e. civilisation of backward peoples), but only by association, for it lies within the nature of the case that the real target of politically correct, Marxist type thinking has always been that element of real Christianity inherent in European culture.

Josie certainly has my support. I view the imposition of so-called maori values where they haven’t existed before as a form of forced recruitment to create a controlled social group. The leaders and supporters of these groups then create a power bloc of their own and enforce it with threat and emtotian stand-over tactics. The rewards in terms of financial and power returns are far greater than would be normally acheived by the self appointed leadership. (6 Nov 2005)

Your examples of political correctness.

  • The requirement at local council level that resource consents will not be processed without iwi sign-off. (6 Nov 2005)
  • The hidden agenda of the women dominated Labour Party to undermine the values of the true nuclear family unit. (6 Nov 2005)
  • Changing names of places/landmarks and rivers all because some minority group thinks it would be a good idea. Mt Egmont will always be that! (6 Nov 2005)
  • The banning of ‘piggy banks’ in England (by some institutions) for fear of upsetting Muslims.  (6 Nov 2005)
  • It may not be the worst, but the form of political correctness that makes me angriest is denying English words of Maori origin the usual English grammatical construction. That is, forcing words like eg ‘Maori,’ ‘tui,’ ‘marae’ etc to do duty as both singular & plural. Always done with an insufferable air of fake-liberal superiority of course. Even though this is neither correct nor traditional useage of these words in English. (6 Nov 2005)
  • The requirement to build disabled access to every new commercial building. Has a cost benefit analysis been done? Would a publicly funded system based on need be preferable and more economic?  (6 Nov 2005)
  • Here in NZ I have notices a kow-towing to Maoridom and the application of nonsense words like “cultural sensitivity” to issues around the “Maori culture” which is itself probably more insensitive than most to human dignity. We have allowed these people to become bullies by indulging their worst whims and by financing mischievious people into positions of power.  (6 Nov 2005)
  • Being told by a non Maori that I should not sit on MY desk in MY classroom, in case it offended someone.  (6 Nov 2005)
  • Then unknown principles of The Treaty of Waitangi.  (6 Nov 2005)
  • The drive to put our children in cotton wool and for it not be acceptable to have winners and losers. (6 Nov 2005)
  • NZ Netball not wanting to keep score during games!  (6 Nov 2005)
  • My mother (7 Nov 2005)
  • Ministry of Womens Affairs. Therefore there should a Ministry of Mens Affairs and other PC affairs (7 Nov 2005)
  • The silencing of discussion about women’s domestic violence, including PAS and violence-by-proxy (using the system by making a false allegation for example). (7 Nov 2005)
  • The way Christians are attacked when they speak out about gay issues and or other issues that other minority groups are sensitive about. Hate speeches are what they are called. No one says anything thing when they (Christians) are demonised and ridiculed by these groups. Christian groups and organisations still do a lot of good in our present society for very little positve recognition. (7 Nov 2005)
  • Childrens books, for example Enid Blytons books, which encourage children to read, being frowned upon because one of them used the term ‘gollywog’.
    eg.’ Your hair looks like a gollywogs hair.’ (7 Nov 2005)
  • Being dragged before a forum of Maori elders because as a polytechnic tutor teaching Adult Teaching Principals I asked, in setting the ground rules, if the group wanted to begin each session with a karakia. There were some Jehovah Witness people in the class but it was being held in a Maori owned building. The complaint was that karakia should have been automatic not a discussion for the group to decide. This was the beginning of my decision to exit tertiary teaching. (7 Nov 2005)
  • Formerly public places (eg Blue lake on Mt Tongariro) becoming out of bounds because of Tapu. (7 Nov 2005)
  • I believe that the ability of a man to be a man in this day and age is the worst example. One cannot do anything without it being construed as not right! (9 Nov 2005)
  • Recent decision by Manukau City Council to establish Maori Standing Committees (as a sort of compromise to a system of full duplicate Maori Wards).  Voting was split 6 FOR and 6 AGAINST with Mayor Barry Curtis casting his deciding vote for the standing committees.  What will these standing committees actually do?  Probably stand around doing nothing and charging the poor old ratepayers a thousand bucks an hour!! (9 Nov 2005)
  • Some years ago, the Brisbane, Australia suburb of Manly was proposed to be renamed “Itly”. Howled down, fortunately! The use of the ugly word “Chairperson” in State legislation …. all this goes on and on! (9 Nov 2005)
  • I was at a friend’s wedding (held in a garden). The celebrant pronounced the couple married and then addressed the new bride as Mrs (new surname). Some frightful feminist, standing in front of me, yelled out “Mizz” (ie not “Mrs”). I couldn’t imagine a less appropriate time or place to make such a comment.(9 Nov 2005)