Better Dead Than Rude

Political correctness began as a reasonable adjustment of manners, but as an ideology, it corrupts language and dulls thought.

by John Derbyshire

Cant, n. The expression or repetition of conventional, trite, or unconsidered ideas, opinions or sentiments; especially: the insincere use of pious phraseology

My household favors the brand of iced tea that has little believe-it-or-not factlets printed on the inside of the bottle caps. The other day, my son opened a bottle of this stuff, turned over the cap, and reading from it, asked the room: “What was the first human-made object to break the sound barrier?” Dad: “First what object?” Son (not very patient with this sort of thing): “The answer’s a whip.” Dad: “I know, but … ‘human-made’? What happened to ‘man-made’?”

We all know what happened to it, of course. Political correctness—hereafter “PC”—happened to it. To say “manmade” would be wrong. Some female maker of whips somewhere might suffer hurt feelings.This is the sensibility of our times. Since the late 1980s, when it first came to general attention and acquired a name, PC has been part of our lives. Those of us of a conservative temperament—those, I mean, who demand of any large social change that it be weighed in the scales of liberty, order, amenity, and reason, that it be justified—have been scoffing at, grumbling about, deploring, or excoriating PC for 20 years now, yet its sillier manifestations can still make us gasp.