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March 6, 2006 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

We’re all bastards, really.

Everyone is just a little bit mean.

Understated human imperfection is a delightful aspect of life. The fact that anyone of us, at anytime can make a mistake, can lash out, can break, should be embraced. We can be pushed, we can offend, we can puzzle and we can be puzzled. We’re awash with contradiction, a mess of contrasting values shaped by the collective human experience.

We’re so different. And that is why an evaluation of the supposed “Politically Correct” rot in society is needed, and fast. And when that evaluation can’t even return an honest answer as to what the term literally means, you have to wonder. The war over political correctness has been raging for a while, and however empty it is at heart, whatever true meaning political correctness really does have, it is indicative of a rising culture of inoffensiveness.

Are we trying to be too perfect? It seems that we’re keeping everything in check, reserving our true thoughts, afraid of lashing out, of breaking, of showing imperfection- all of which is so human. It’s not out of line for a Maori woman to feel anger that she doesn’t get the same opportunities as a white woman. It’s not out of line for a rich man to react negatively that his taxpayer dollar may go to a DPB mum with no intention of making it on her own.

Bill Clinton recently remarked that he saw the outcry over the Muslim cartoons as cultural road rage. It’s a comment that stayed with me for days afterwards. When we keep things in check, when we bottle our emotions, they come out– with often dangerous consequences. It’s scary sometimes that we never know how much anger truly exists before it is too late.

It’s an example that I think highlights a lot of New Zealand’s problems in race relations. Up until 2004, we were too quiet and too reserved. And then it all got vented, in one great big giant BANG. It left an unstable political situation where popularity bounced back and forth between the two races. I saw some angry and extremist thought creeping in on both sides. It was a situation that was exploited to perfection by the right. Instead of National clawing their way back into contention with good and clever policy, they found themselves riding back in..

This week our feature article covers the awkward ground of political correctness. For me to be ‘PC’ means to not call it like it is, to self-censor and to prevent offense. It is to sandpaper over the cracks for the good of the masses. But what is the good of the mass? Utopian thought comes awash with problems and as we at Salient learnt this week, even Kyle Chapman has limits of what he thinks people should be allowed to say. Hell, I spoke to two lectures this week about Salient’s editorial independence, about the fact we can print just about anything we want, but then I refused to print a ‘Top 5’ list with the title ‘Top 5 Songs That You Wouldn’t Want to Get Raped To.’ It was an offensive piece of work. But we all laughed at it before deciding to can it. It’s part of censorship, and it’s about not offending – two of the pillars of political correctness. It’s almost impossible to not contradict yourself sometimes.

I like offending. We here in the student press are not very PC at all, and I like it that way. It allows us to step outside the box and evaluate, it helps us to take stock. The Catholic Church didn’t for one second stop and think that the recent South Park debacle meant that they should reevaluate their place and try and increase their relevancy to a younger market. The Muslim community didn’t stop to evaluate the status of their religion and the way the world views them. They both lashed out, serving as nothing but another reminder of the fact that there is such gaping division in society. Political correctness in this regard is nothing but a poor attempt at playing happy families.

I remember ringing Alan Duff last year to ask him to submit a piece for our end of year review. My topic in hindsight was a little bit crap. A torrent of couched abuse was sent my way and 20 minutes later I hung up the phone, sweating profusely and with Alan Duff signed on to write a whole new topic. I could have been offended, hell I was, for a little bit. But then I realized that I was merely being told to just think shit out a bit more. It was a lesson I took on board, but it was just a lesson that wasn’t coming down the usual path.

So from one slightly politically apathetic, ugly, bearded, white male who maintains his liberalism, all the while wearing his conservative middle-class upbringing like a frayed singlet to a most likely drunk, idiotic and unintelligent student, FUCK YOU.

Pick your shit up and think. Don’t be such a brain-dead cliché and don’t let yourself get wrapped up in the cotton wool of society. You clog up the arteries of this university opinion-less and waiting, for what- I don’t know.

Stop being such mental eunuchs and wake up.


About the Author ()

James Robinson is a university dropout turned journalist who likes to pretend he has an honours degree. Turn ons include soup, scarfs, a hot bath and some FM-smooth Kenny G-esque instrumental jazz. Turn offs include student politicians, the homeless, and people who pronounce it supposebly.

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