1. TheSerpantofNar
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    TheSerpantofNar Active Member

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    Politically correctness

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by TheSerpantofNar, Mar 20, 2013.

    I really do not get why politically correctness is so rampant in fiction. To me it destroy's the ability to do good storytelling as you are always worrying about offending someone or a group of people. Worrying about offending someobe is not a good way to write at least to me
     
  2. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    Can you give some examples of this rampant political correctness? Granted, authors shouldn't be swayed, and no-one has a right not to be offended. But the world isn't black and white, and discretion plays a part. What do you hope to achieve in your writing?

    Ever thought of living under death threats like Salman Rushdie? Part of the price of expression. Not an easy call.
     
  3. TimHarris
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    TimHarris Senior Member

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    It can't be a lot of fun to live with constant fear that someone might show up at your door and put a bullet in your face, but then again, the notion of not writing something out of fear of what might be done to you is, in my opinion even worse. We are sending a signal that it is perfectly acceptable to resort to threats and bullying to end criticism rather than using good arguments. The fact that we are afraid to offend certain groups only mean those groups will never change their behaviour, and ultimately the situation will never be resolved.

    I would also like to quote Christopher Hitchens: "Those who are determined to be 'offended' will discover a provocation somewhere. We cannot possibly adjust enough to please the fanatics, and it is degrading to make the attempt."
     
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  4. Sanjuricus
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    Sanjuricus Active Member

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    Political Correctness for me, is like a red rag to a bull. The same with "Equality and Diversity" that is the current buzzword in my place of work.
    Unfortunately, in work I have to grit my teeth, smile and play nice. Outside of work: I've offended you have I? So fucking what?

    If the people who claim offence at something took a few moments to consider what being offended actually is, they would realise just how stupid they are acting.
    If I were to say, just by way of example, that Forumite X's mother was a whore. He might take offence at this (he might also just laugh and tell me to sally forth and multiply!). With a moments reflection however, he might ask himself "Well is she a whore?" if the answer is yes, my statement was accurate, no need for offence. If the answer is No, my statement is inaccurate and he should feel justified in challenging the accuracy of my statement. No where in that is there a need to take offence. Nowhere is there an actual tangible benefit to taking offence.

    Being offended is basically a childish tantrum, the expectation of special treatment because feet are being stamped and dummies are being spat out....something that many cultures around the world seem to excel at (yes I'm talking about you Islam....and you Arab Nations).

    For the record, I'm sure that Forumite X's mother is a lovely lady and is as proud of her son as he is of his mother. ;)

    TimHarris' quote from Hitchens is bang on the money for which I doff my hat. /doff hat
     
  5. evelon
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    evelon Active Member

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  6. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I tend to make a distinction between political correctness and being polite. Being polite is not saying things you know will cause hurt feelings, awkwardness in a social situation (where people are there to enjoy themselves), or that are deliberately provocative for no other reason than to get somebody's goat. All of those just make the speaker a douchebag (can I say that here?). Political correctness is when people basically have to know every little idiom that could/might/has in the past been seen as derogatory toward any possible sub-group of humans. It also seems to be moving toward including every 'under-represented' group under the sun in one's writing.

    In writing fiction, none of the above should be restricted. It's fiction. Characters can be douchebags and/or politically incorrect - if the story calls for the characters to be that way. It also means characters should be (IMO) whomever the story demands they be, not what some political/social group demands.
     
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  7. Sanjuricus
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    Sanjuricus Active Member

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    I quite agree. It was your inference that I think setting out to be deliberately offensive is OK which understandable, I cut my post short as I was in danger of a full blown rant!

    Those who set out to deliberately provoke a reaction are just as bad as those who claim offence at every little thing.

    My point of view in a nutshell is that there is no need for either extreme and political correctness is condescending and belittling to the minorities whose sensibilities it aims to protect.

    Granted, calling someone with brown skin a "nigger" is generally considered offensive and there is no need for it, similarly, there is no need to go to extreme lengths to avoid using the word black. Teachers in many classrooms in the UK have in the past been told not to use the term Blackboard but to use Chalkboard instead because of the racial connotations of the word black. I don't even...

    Granted, it's not at all appropriate to poke fun at someone in a wheelchair and "cripple" may be deemed offensive but there is no need to go as far as calling them "differently abled" when "disabled" is a perfectly adequate and descriptive term. I've been fortunate enough to know a good many disabled people and the one thing they want the most is to be treated just like any other person (limitations caused by their disability excepted).

    (final point for now!!!) There is being polite and there is being politically correct. Politeness is good, it costs little, has a significant effect and generally makes the world a better place. Political correctness is a cancer of descriptive language and it needs eradicating, it's demeaning, patronising and utterly pointless.

    EDIT: Totally agree with the above post. /hat well and truly doffed.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    what makes you think it is?
     
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  9. evelon
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    evelon Active Member

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    Likewise
     
  10. TheSerpantofNar
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    TheSerpantofNar Active Member

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    To me these day's it seems people are just looking for reason to be offended either your opinion on something isn't PC. Like today it's either getting called racist or homophobic because you don't agree on a issue it kind of makes the word lose all meaning when it's used over and over again. Christopher Hitchens and I may not agree on much but he is right there people will alway's find some reason to take offense. I guess the reason I think it's rampant is because people go out of their way to be "inclusive" in fiction it's pretty common today to see either a gay character or even a feminist one or any other type of PC supposedly "inclusive" character.
     
  11. TimHarris
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    TimHarris Senior Member

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    That reminds me of a newspaper article I read a few years ago. A class of schoolchildren revieced a lot of public criticism for their graduation show (these were 15 year olds), because none of the class's black kids were performing on stage for the show. Turns out none of the black kids actually wanted to be on stage, but preferred to work with the lighting and the sound systems of the performance instead. I will see if I can dig up the article somehow. That is taking it too far if you ask me.
     
  12. mg357
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    mg357 Active Member

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    I do not like politically correctness it is a shameful and horrible phrase and it makes me want to vomit.
     
  13. AVCortez
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    AVCortez Active Member

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    No sir, they are far worse... They are... -hushed voice - comedians from the 90's.

    I have never once found myself reading a book, beating my head against the wall, screaming; 'why won't they just try to offend me?!' - I've also written a lot of words and never once have I considered whether or not it would offend, nor has (to my knowledge) my writing offended anyone.

    EDIT: When I think about it. The content of my work would offend a hell of a lot of people, actually.
     
  14. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    Personally I don't strive to be politically correct. Fiction is just that, FICTION. There are words I would never in a million years use in public that I will use in writing because the setting requires it. Much as people try to ignore it, the real world is full of racism, sexism, homophobia, religious discrimination, class discrimination, etc.. why should the fictional world conveniently sweep it under the rug?
     
  15. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    I bent over laughing for like 5 minutes straight. Although i loved Bill Hicks.

    I agree with Sanjuricus. You don't like what i said? Then why are you reading it? Did i offend you? Please, feel free to cry.
    Since you can't please them all, the best thing one can do is not try to please them at all. Whatever you write there will be someone that declares himself offended. I have heard people complaining because a novel character drinks milk every day; and since milk is white the novel promotes the white supremacists agenda. And who can forget the turmoil the religious nuts caused all over when The Da Vinci Code came out. My ex-girlfriend's grandmother almost burned us alive when she lit incense and left it right in front of my gf's bedroom door, because we were listening to music and she decided that this music was the workings of the devil on her granddaughter.

    My point being, do whatever you want and let the others do whatever they want. If i don't come to you demanding you change your ways because i find them politically incorrect, i expect you to extend me the same courtesy. I don't mean insulting specific people deliberately. I mean calling a black person black, because he is black. Or how people in my country want us to call people "specially abled" instead of "disabled". As Sanjuricus said, use the correct term. Not politically correct.
     
  16. Pink-Angel-1992
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    Pink-Angel-1992 Active Member

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    I have to agree - the world is full of racists, sexists, homophobics (etc), so why stuff such things into a hole and forget about it when we're writing? Sure, be aware of what you're actually writing, but, unless it's an element of your story, don't make the world a perfect utopia... although is it even possible to write about a perfect world? Someone is bound to find something to take offense to.

    No-one should be concerned about it when they're writing. You're story could be set several years ago, in the time of slavary and before women's equal rights; if that's the case, political correctness has no place,unless you want to throw the historic truth into the trash. If your story is about some other race, or set on some alternate Earth, that hang the homosexuals and religion rules with an iron fist, then that is a part of your story, the world your characters' live in. I personally have never care, and some things that will be considered 'politically incorrect' could improve your plot and make it more interestings. Writers aren't going to stop writing murder stories because it may/will upset some people, so why should anyone stop writing what they want to because of politcial correctness?

    This is just my personaly opinion, but still, it's fiction. No matter how hard you try, you can't please everyone and, as already said, people will find offence anywhere if they really want to.
     
  17. Thornesque
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    Thornesque Contributing Member

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    Ah, but even if you're writing about several DECADES ago, people take issue. The Huckleberry Finn novels have been re-printed so that the N-word is removed and replaced with the term "slave" for classroom use. Other books have been completely removed from school libraries and are banned from use in classrooms (this is on an individual school basis, not nationally, of course) because parents have taken offense to some of the language or issues covered in them. It's like our children's sensibilities are too delicate to face the fact that we were once and still are an ignorant and closed-minded people.
     
  18. AVCortez
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    AVCortez Active Member

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    While I don't agree with changing a story in such a way, in this context I'm indifferent. I mean, who cares? The N word, at the time, pretty much meant slave, didn't it?... I do find it ironic that it was probably white folk who registered the complaint.

    Yeah, Hicks was all right. Very smart guy, in my opinion.
     
  19. Pink-Angel-1992
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    Pink-Angel-1992 Active Member

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    I didn't know that, but it seems really stupid to me. It's a part of history that cannot be changed. Schools and governments do things that don't make sense and give people a reason to complain!
     
  20. Thornesque
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    Thornesque Contributing Member

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    Oh, no, trust me, guys. I agree. I'm not saying that it's right. I'm simply emphasizing the point: it happens. People are just as overly sensitive to the ignorance that we portrayed in the past as they are to the ignorance that we portray now.

    The difference is that, in those days, while people did sometimes say things like, "Hey, slave, get over here!" The said "N*gg*r! Get over here!" It's a reflection of the time that we're trying to ignore. We don't want to hear about it anymore; it's inappropriate for our children to read about that sort of thing.
     
  21. AVCortez
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    AVCortez Active Member

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    Yep, a valid point. I suppose it depends on the age. If they can comprehend that fact, then it should not be changed.
     
  22. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    (Thornesque - your comment here just got me thinking, this isn't a response to you specifically).

    And that is the scariest issue of them all. When we stop reading about those things, stop being forced to identify with it as part of our past, then it becomes even easier to negate both what happened, and it's impact, which then opens us up to repeating it again, only with a different group of people.

    It's one place I think fiction actually can and should help - or should I say, historical fiction. Reading some good books that are set back in that time and use certain elements of that society can really help educate people today.

    Of course, there's the literary issues as well. Just as you don't want to litter your writing with swearing because those words then lose their effect on the reader, so you don't really want to litter your writing with these types of words or phrases for the same reason. Reading the "N-word" ten times in the first three pages doesn't do much for the book. Waiting until your a hundred and fifty pages in and then tossing it in when a man gets mad at his slave may have almost a physical impact on the reader. At least, that's how I see it. YMMV.
     
  23. Thornesque
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    Thornesque Contributing Member

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    But I think what needs to be taken into consideration with books like Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer is that it was the culture at the time. We're talking about the general populace - the relatively low-income, not-so-educated individuals in the deep South who did use the word that often when addressing or referring to black persons. It was tacky. It was insulting and rude. And it shows how ignorant we were, as well as how big of a step we have made (not to imply that there isn't still room to grow, of course).

    In the right setting, with the right professor, books like Huckleberry Finn can be used to teach lessons. Children can learn how inappropriate and wrong the treatment of certain racial groups were back then. We can teach them about the ignorance of our ancestors so that they don't make the same mistakes that we did.

    I remember reading To Kill a Mockingbird when I was in Junior High. I remember the impact that that book had on me - the ignorance that the white community had toward the black. I remember that there were boys that laughed at the end of the book and made jokes about it, and I remember my English teacher setting those boys right, and explaining to them that it isn't just a story. That things like this actually happened. She explained the sort of abuse that happened back then. And I remember watching those boys' faces go from jolly to somber.

    English and History classes are the best places for young adults to explore our pasts and learn from what we did. To think about the social issues we faced back then, the social issues we face today, and to form opinions on them. Informed opinions. Intelligent opinions, that we can back. Not blind prejudice or blind acceptance. But when schools are forced to censor books - when they aren't allowed to be taught because children today shouldn't even know about a word that would have been part of their every day vocabulary a few generations ago - we take away the tools that they have to be educated about the past and about the way things were. We don't let them learn from our old mistakes, because they don't understand what those mistakes were.
     
  24. Shmendrick
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    Shmendrick Member

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    In the old days we had etiquette, these days we have political correctness. I disagree with rewriting books to make them fit in with the standards of the present day but if we ignore the past we won't learn from our mistakes then we just repeat them. Surely the point of a book is to make you think and literature is a "safe" way of exploring issues because it allows you to think about these things in a way that isn't personal to you so you can make that decision about whether or not you agree with something that's been said in that book.
     
  25. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Political correctness is another way of NOT thinking about the issues. Hide the issues by cocooning them in a nice, inoffensive wrapping, and pretend they don't exist.
     
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