September 18, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 12  

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More on PC

Things to consider...

Are these examples of appropriate incidents of political correctness or are they infractions on personal freedoms?

  • 1987 - The creation of the Department of Women's Studies and Feminist Research at Western leads to the question about why the need exists to create a separate department for women's studies instead of integrating the work of women into already existing curriculum.
  • 1989 - Western psychology professor Phillippe Rushton releases a study claiming that black people are less intelligent than whites and orientals. Controversy erupted instantly, with the university defending Rushton's right to publish his findings on account of academic freedom.
  • 1998, 2002 - In 1998, Western law student Hussein Hamdani is accused by the Jewish Students' Union of anti-semitic comments following a public speech on campus. In 2002, Hamdani returns to speak at Huron University College creating a controversy about whether or not he should be allowed to speak.
  • 2003 - Middle East expert Daniel Pipes speaks at Western amid controversy and criticism from both faculty and students. Considered as tacitly pro-Israel, some faculty and students discouraged Pipes' appearance on account of his views.


PC Perspectives

Political correctness allows for two basic types of complaint: that people who behave the same are treated differently and that people who behave differently are treated the same.


To know what you prefer, instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive.

-Robert Louis Stevenson,
Scottish novelist, poet and essayist

We live in oppressive times. We have, as a nation, become our own thought police; but instead of calling the process by which we limit our expression of dissent and wonder "censorship," we call it "concern for commercial viability."

-David Mamet,
American playwright and film director

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

-Samuel Longhorne Clemens (Mark Twain),
American author


The two sides of the PC coin

Political correctness can be viewed in a positive or a negative light depending on the origin of the definition.

According to Donald Abelson, a political science professor at Western, political correctness can be defined, in basic terms, as the attempt to prevent people from deliberately saying things that are offensive, including racist, mysogynist or anti-homosexual comments.

There is also another, more extreme view of political correctness that defines it as a series of militant restrictions on personal rights and freedoms, particularly freedom of speech. The term has taken on more and more negative connotations in the last decade, as increasing numbers of people feel that their personal freedoms are being deemed obsolete as political correctness runs rampant in today's society.

It is important to keep a critical perspective of political correctness and to discuss various events from several different standpoints.



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