1993-07-08 - Re: We are becoming politically correct sheep

Header Data

From: murphy@s1.elec.uq.oz.au (Peter Murphy)
To: cypherpunks-request@toad.com (Timothy C. May)
Message Hash: 01950280db14ddcdee1113bf472a13a8753de6a72cc7b5f75ffb3987e61ccfbf
Message ID: <9307080418.AA00492@s2.elec.uq.oz.au>
Reply To: <9307070425.AA15301@netcom3.netcom.com>
UTC Datetime: 1993-07-08 04:59:56 UTC
Raw Date: Wed, 7 Jul 93 21:59:56 PDT

Raw message

From: murphy@s1.elec.uq.oz.au (Peter Murphy)
Date: Wed, 7 Jul 93 21:59:56 PDT
To: cypherpunks-request@toad.com (Timothy C. May)
Subject: Re: We are becoming politically correct sheep
In-Reply-To: <9307070425.AA15301@netcom3.netcom.com>
Message-ID: <9307080418.AA00492@s2.elec.uq.oz.au>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

Summarizing the important bits from Timothy's Post ...

> But the interesting thing is how paranoid people are about free speech
> being exercised (the free speech being posting of non-provably illegal
> material, not the posting of provably illegal material). I won't
> repeat my point about a nation of politically correct sheep.
> >   However - tickling a few neurons may very well have been worth the
> > risks noted above.
> Yes, perhaps thinking about some issues in advance is a good "drill."

.... and ....

> Steve then makes some really excellent points:
> >   In arguing the fine points of Dworkinism, pornography, 
> > capitalization of proper nouns, etc., I think Eric misses Tim's point,
> > which is (I think) that the current movement of society is from
> >  
> > Forbidding actions that cause harm to others
> >  
> >              to
> >  
> > Forbidding actions and speech that might offend others, or make them
> > uncomfortable, or hurt their feelings.
> Yes, exactly! This is a profound shift from the principles on which
> this country (apologies to Brits, etc.) was founded. 

.... plus more ...

> The real threat is the government, whatever its initial intent. They
> have the guns, they have the courts, they have the power. 
> We've sunk into a strange situation in which various special interest
> groups jockey for special privilege, special powers granted to them
> by the State.
> "Live and let live" doesn't mean one has to _like_ all the various
> individuals or groups that are out there, it just means you let them
> do their thing as long as they don't interfere with your own life.
> You can't pass laws to force others to like you, or your group, or to
> make their thougths conform to yours. About all you can really do is make
> sure they can't rob and kill, and even that's iffy.
> --Tim May
> -- 
> ..........................................................................
> Timothy C. May         | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,  
> tcmay@netcom.com       | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
> 408-688-5409           | knowledge, reputations, information markets, 
> W.A.S.T.E.: Aptos, CA  | black markets, collapse of governments.
> Higher Power: 2^756839 | Public Key: PGP and MailSafe available.
> Note: I put time and money into writing this posting. I hope you enjoy it.

Okay. I agree with most of the post above. I also thought that Tim's "child-
porn" exercise was both useful and amusing. These two stories below are
some more examples of political correctness gone wrong.

The first concerns David Irving, well-known right-wing revisionist "historian". 
Mr. Irving wanted to do a lecture tour in my country of residence, Australia. The
government banned his entry, on grounds of racial hatred and the like. This
decision has immediately criticized my a sizeable majority of the newspapers,
with the prevalent view being "He's got appaling viewpoint, but he should be
permitted to be heard." I am not certain whether the decision has been reversed
or not. I'll have to get back on the subject. Personally, I agreed with the
newspapers on that subject (but of course not on others....)

The second story is more amusing. I don't know how many people on the list have
seen the movie "Romper Stomper", or even if it has been released in America (from
which most of the list resides). For those who don't know, Romper Stomper
concerns a gang of Nazi skinheads who live in Melbourne. Most of them are unedu-
cated scum, although their leader, Hando, although twisted, is quite intellegent
and charismatic. The film concerns the decline of the group, both through the
action of some Vietnamese immigrants (who fight back for a change), and the
police. The film, like the skinheads, are quite violent.

The film (from what I could gather) portrayed the skinheads in an unflattering light.
None of the cast or crew advocated Nazi ideology, and especially not Russell
Crowe, who played Hando. This didn't stop the British Anti-Nazi League from
picketing the film when it was shown in England. They seemed to have gathered
that it was a very naughty film indeed, although how they got their selective
myopia I don't understand. Fortunately, the picket was a failure. Most of
the Australian expatriates told their friends to see it, and they told their 
friends, und so weiter.

Okay, political correctness is a dangerous thing. Note that I didn't say bad,
just dangerous. I do agree that racism, sexism and homophobia are bad things,
so I do sympathize with most p.c. objectives. But mostly I have not found any strong
evidence for legislative strategies to enforce these objectives (with one
exception ... see below). 

Fortunately their are ways to defuse this dilemma without legal wrangling. 
Firstly, a lot of terms (although not all) which started out as a symbol of
demonizing have turned out to be words of pride. Examples are Nigga (as Niggas
with Attitute) and Dyke (as in Dykes on Bikes, which are always prominent in the
Sydney Gay Pride Festival, among other places, and whoops, I forgot to mention
"Gay"). This is of course imperfect ... I don't think the word "Faggot" is used
very positively, and as for such words like "Slag" (slang for women), the less
said the better. Of course, as a white male heterosexual (or Breeder, whatever
you prefer), I don't encounter much discrimination, so I am not as knowledgeble (sic)
as some people. Still, when people can use _some_ of these words in a humerous
fashion (as opposed to offensive), things look brighter.

The second point is immediately related to the last point - humour. If you are
not going to ban the bastards from speaking you can at least make fun of them.
After all, it is part of YOUR right to speak. As an example, in Australia some
judges have been under fire for making stupid comments at rape trial. Some people
have called for their dismissal (which is a bit extreme). However, a lot of
comics have been satirizing their judgements, and the jokes have even occured
on two comedy shows: "The Late Show" and "Full Frontal". (After all, can you
say the phrase "No means Yes" with a straight face anymore ..?)

For the third point, I admit that it does fall into the category of legal wrangling. 
It is this - remove all legislation that limits the powers of a minority. Fortunately,
most of this work has already been done in most Western countries. Still,
examples do exist. Queensland (my state) decriminalized homosexual behavior
among consenting adults only three years ago, and legislation still exists
in Tasmania (although it is "not enforced"). Also, until recently, several cantons
in Switzerland didn't give women the right to vote in local elections. I leave
you to think of local example. (Note - maternity leave for women is NOT an example
of limiting the power of a minority.) 

(Aside, I think the talk of the change of focus
to "forbidding speech that hurts others" is exaggerated, or at least in
Australia. (Obviously most of you know more about America than I do). My impression
was that some of the local focus is on "giving more freedom to consenting
adult, as doing otherwise encourages police corruption. Our state is currently
going though a review of it's Marijuana legislation, and the stuff is already
decriminalized in South Australia. Also, we've got more liberal censorship
laws than America.) 

The final point. Obviously removing stupid discriminatary action (calling
people by rude names, etc.,) is a laudible aim. This can (of course) occur in
different ways. For example, some poor soul might fall foul of the p.c. brigade,
not though nastiness, but through naivete (like using the term "chairman"). I
was once called a hypocrite because I believed both in capitalism and small-l
liberalism (by a socialist, no less). What's the big weapon for change? Well, it's 
powerful, but sometimes quite undependable. It's called time. Believe me, you need 
a lot of it to affect social change; revolutionary change leads almost always to
tyranny. Still, a lot has happened in the last 30 years. It was only in 1966
that Australian Aborigines were given full citizenship, and currently we are
in the middle of the aftereffects from the Mabo land claim decision. In a lot
of ways, the world has got worst as well as better. Still, when the conservative
elders die, you can only hope that their children have kept the good things,
and rejected the bad things, of their parents. 

I'll have to end it there. I want to have lunch. Whoops, this is going to a 
list primarily concerning encryption! What will I say? Got it ... "Stop the
Clipper chip!" I hope it will keep em' happy ... Cheers for now.


Peter Murphy - Department of Electrical Engineering,|Phone: 61 - 7 - 300 3452.
University of Queensland: murphy@s2.elec.uq.oz.au  .|------------------------
"Contrary to popular belief, the wings of demons are|Please do not put any 
the same as the wings of angels, although they're   |Heinlein quotes in your 
often better groomed." - Terry Pratchett.           |.sig - they're old.