A brief rant on P.C. and its oft traveling companion, our culture of apology, and on situational ethics.
Political correctness is a particularly insidious and ravenous cancer of the intellect. It has done more harm to all aspects of our society and our lives than any despot could have.
Think horizontally and vertically of the devastating effects of P.C. on every aspect of our lives. From ordinary freedom of expression to the absurd: science and technology’s inability to express ordinary findings. A couple scientists I read – empiricists and social scientists – have to prescribe to the “how dare you state those facts in public” paradigm. Me, your humble scribe, however limited my presence may be, often writes under a nom de plume. Trust that is not an affectation.
Think of P.C. as the ubiquitous thought-police, whose charter is to impede society.
This is what it has come to: everything said will piss somebody off. Think about the absurd. You cannot hold forth on your like and certainly not the efficacy of analog watches. You will really piss off digital-watch wearers and suffer the consequences. Imagine about anything else that is actually relevant.
Joe Rogan can protest all he wants. In his own words, he “talks shit about everything”. My best on that massive dust-up: if you are getting medical advice from Rogan or from any interview he does with whoever, you need a doctor!
Yet, irrelevant to so many who elect to go head-hunting for him rather than change the bloody dial!
Amazingly, so many care—actually assert to read— what “doodlybogofantafasfee24” dumped on Twitter. Not only do I not care, I loathe that, my steadfast support of free speech notwithstanding. I cannot get behind at best sophomoric garbage, if not – forgive the impudence of my words – typed vomit.
That from “me”, a First Amendment type.
I “saw” Twitter when creep-in-chief Dorsey launched it! And refused to understand it when explained to me, for hours and hours. Kinda understand it now. Loathe it for two reasons: first, the obvious. Next, well, ordinary jealousy that I did not invent it and ignored it when there was just a roomful of people talking about it.
Keep thinking! But, for God’s sake, keep it to yourself! Otherwise, you might just get summarily canceled: intellectually, socially, economically, even physically. Think of yourself as an ice cream shop: you make 54 excellent flavors but you can sell only one.
Best be aware of demographic and psychographic components in offering that one flavor.
Selecting THAT one flavor, in today’s incomprehensibly hyper-heated, racially and socially polarized world, is a monumental chore. And an economically poor one. Given the limitation to just one flavor of ice cream to sell, it would be have to be … strawberry! First, it has to be a universally liked flavor. By default, I opine the only one of three of Ben & Jerry’s 54 flavors that qualify.]
The two most desired flavors of all time and still at this writing are vanilla and chocolate. These days, picking the one flavor to sell, that appeals to the biggest audience is very difficult. Remember the themes of this essay. Lest you want your ice cream empire cancelled, and you and yours in witness protection, best not pick vanilla or chocolate.
Thus, you get to go down in intellectually dishonest and economic flames in great style.
Then there is P.C.’s traveling companion: the culture of apology.
That is one of the anthropological absurdities we might have passed on adopting from the Japanese.
I see our culture of apology as simulated hara-kiri, light. Nobody dies. But our souls. The Japanese are masters at falling on their swords, just figuratively nowadays. Suicides are limited to tortured souls, not the non-compliant. It is the rigueur for a business executive to publicly and hyper-emotionally apologize to the entire world when his or her company misses Wall Street estimates by a mere point or two. Thankfully, in the U.S. they just buy up their own stock at distressed pricing.
Back to our version of seppuku.
Going to dredge up a frequently occuring thing here, just for illustration purposes. Two-hundred-eighty-seven pound NFL lineman, beats up on his wife the fifth time, putting her and her one-hundred-twenty-three pounds in intensive care. The how and when and what are irrelevant. The victim is just as injured. Alas, we care. But not that much.
The entire focus is on the bastard who did it. But: it is focused on what he does next! Our focus: did he apologize, was his apology sufficient, do we think it was sincere.
Of course he apologized publicly. To everybody he ever knew and heard of and who might have heard of him. Consequently and rightfully, must give the misogynist, testosterone overdosed bastard space, time and understanding, as he works through the matter. We must understand that honorable journey is between he and his god. Also his victim, kinda.
And let’s be clear on what is really relevant here. We must go back to selling soap, beer, cars and obscure prescription drugs.
Enough of this rant. It does nothing more that further establish that I am an acquired taste. I confess that sometimes, my level of P.C. is directly proportional to the degree I think my physical self is in peril. To clarify that a tad, you want a piece of me? If you get close enough, one of us ends up in intensive care, while the other gets handcuffed. That much for me and P.C.
This admittedly limited discourse on this raging, inexorably destructive intellectual virus, cannot be made without making a case for it having contributed greatly to the evisceration of fundamental moral principles: ethics. And having given birth and nurtured the pathology of situational ethics.
The most ordinary of definitions would be that moral principles govern people’s behaviors. Another definition, one that is now unfashionably time-worn, is that ethics are essentially moral philosophy that defines what is [morally] good, bad, right, wrong.
Not parenthetic to this opus, witness the torturous definition of ethics. As are definitions of so many estimable concepts and edicts of virtuous living.
The more elegant the word or concepts expressed in words, the more likely definitions will be at best somewhat circular. The more profound the word or concepts expressed in words, the less relevant an ordinary definition.
I write and speak about being situationally ethical. Before defining that with my own terms, consider two definitions. One ancient and with waning relevance, the Oxford version: “The doctrine of flexibility in the application of moral laws according to circumstances.” Whoever wrote that, likely shortly after man began walking upright (do not throw a chair at what you are reading this on, I am not deliberately being gender-disparaging or selective), had a way with words if not also wisdom, and or intellectual dishonesty.
“…flexibility in the application of moral laws…” A natural oxymoron, I contend.
Then there is the “modern” version, crafted by Wikipedians: the unnamed, with unspecified competencies, uber-modern, ether-based editors of knowledge: “Situational ethics or situation ethics takes into account the particular context of an act when evaluating it ethically, rather than judging it only according to absolute moral standards.”
So. Are ethics virtue or a social-pathology?
Ethics are, alas, should be virtue.
Is honesty little more than occasioned convenience?
I contend that situational ethics have evolved as a social-pathology.
In ordinary terms, situational ethics is adopting whatever ethics and morality one may have to circumstances: social, economic, political, and all manner of shallow environmental balderdash in the world we live in.
I do not mean the weather. Rather all that goes into the decision-making-stew. Empiricals—facts (times, dates, places, people et al) and those pesky esoterics—circumstances and relevancies.
If you don’t bend with all those “things” that assault you in your daily life, you will likely break. Thus, ethics, no, morality be damned.
I wrote that in our world, today, not being situationally ethical is very hard. Darned near impossible. Ad rem has now morphed entirely into ad hominem. That spells the death knell of civil and critically important discourse.
Ethics and or morality, speak of proverbial backbone, fed by an inflexible moral code. Never found in people who live a life without that. And, certainly not for the faint of heart.
Only found in the rarest of people who are willing to pay an extraordinary price to live by those in modern societies.
In my millions of miles traveled, “life” miles as well as like number in those amazing flying pressurized sardine cans, I believe I have met one person who was never—ever—situationally ethical. My father. And he indeed paid a price for that with literally his blood.
I hope you read a couple of pieces I wrote about him in my new book PIMPS WHORES AND PATRONS OF VIRTUE: The Big Man In The Khaki Shirt And Riding Boots With His Arm Up A Cow’s ‘Thing” and “Convicts, cherries and the classic contrarian: in your face virtue. The story of a virtuous man who lived and suffered plying at patronage.”
©2022. Steven J. Manning. All rights reserved worldwide. Any duplication in part or whole, in any medium whatsoever, is strictly prohibited.