surinenglish

Incorrect

Some say, and quite rightly so, that the false debate over political correctness and incorrectness is an argument between two sides that refuse to think for themselves.

In the case of political correctness, everything appears to have been preconceived: what to say and how to say it. It might have been born as an expression of consensus reached over certain democratic values that were considered to be well established, but by favouring form over content and abandoning the battle of ideas it has become a useless shell.

That's possibly why recently there has been a surge in commentators who act as if being politically incorrect were a form of transgression, of autonomous thought, of rebellion in the face of a thought dictatorship. And so, to be original, transgressive, and intellectually independent all you need is to define yourself as politically incorrect.

If there is consensus over the reality of abused and murdered women, all you have to do is deny the existence of violence against women. If there is a general rejection of machismo, you only have to point a finger at the feminists. If a majority has established that all citizens have the same rights irrespective of their sexual orientation, you just go back to the most repressive traditional values. If there is concern at the growth of inequality, you simply maintain that inequality is not a problem and neither does it create poverty. If society has become aware that we are facing an environmental emergency, you just have to deny that evidence of climate change exists.

These opinions that aim to be transgressive in their political incorrectness have proliferated as if they were an expression of independent thought, when really they are only doing what they themselves criticise. It is political correctness but the other way round. The same intellectual laziness, but taking the side of the most powerful in each game.

With this false patina of transgression and rebellion, opinions that have been hidden away for some time have come out of the closet of shame.

Therefore it should come as no surprise that a teacher who showed his students a video about violence against women recently has been interrogated by a judge on suspicion of committing a criminal offence; that a girl campaigning against climate change receives more abuse than the governments that do nothing to fight it; that the public prosecutor's office considers that criticising Nazism could be a hate crime; or that we witness a wave of solidarity with three men convicted of raping a 15-year-old girl.

It's a serious mistake to ignore the fact that some battles are never won completely, and that they have to be fought over and over again.