This morning I read an article by a Joseph Epstein which suggested that Joe Biden’s wife, Jill, should drop the title of “Doctor”, because well, you’re not a real doctor unless you’re an M.D. and delivered a baby; for her to be using the title for a mere Ph.D in Education was “fraudulent and a touch comic”. After calling her, “Madame First Lady”, he then ran through a list of possibilities, before calling her “kiddo”, which some found disrespectful even though I’m sure he was using it with the intention of making her feel like he was Humphrey Bogart to her Ingrid Bergman…
Of course, this is such nonsense that no thinking person would need to respond to it. However, many thinking people felt the need to point out the sexism and racism which was both explicit and implicit in the article. And one person on Twitter decided to pedantically point out that the writer had not actually said that you shouldn’t refer to anyone as “doctor” until they’ve actually delivered a baby; he’d merely said that a “wise man” once said it, leaving me to point out that the tweeter had been referred to as a “pedantic twat” by someone else but the mere fact of me repeating it did not necessarily mean that I endorsed it. Strangely the aforementioned tweeter responded in much the same way as those objecting to the article and said that I was responding with anger and hate when I was feeling neither but merely repeating the words verbatim that someone else had uttered… It’s easy to see how misunderstandings arise on social media.
The Jill Biden article is not the main point I’m writing about. What struck me was the way in which the writer had carefully composed a number of points designed to push all the right buttons to get people talking about what he’d written. Yes, exactly the way Andrew Bolt does. Once you use the phrase, “political correctness” I tend to think that you’re just trolling in the hope that someone will bite.
I mean, what is political correctness? Do these numpties not understand that the non-politically correct have been ruling in this country for most of this century? At what stage is politically incorrect to be the opposite of what used to be politically correct given that nobody seems to mind when the front bench of the Coalition offend the marginalised on a regular basis both in word and deed? And, whatever phrases one uses to describe Trump, PC is definitely not in the first ten thousand.
Yes, I can put forward as many brilliant arguments as I like about as many vital topics but I’ll probably get more responses when I say that it’s only political correctness that stops me describing that Christmas photo of the Scotty and #Jen&thegirls in accurate terms before ignoring the restrictions on what I’m supposedly not allowed to say and describing the staged photo op with venom and accuracy. If people respond, I can get further publicity when I argue that it’s a violation of my free speech and that the left should shut up because old, white males have the right to say whatsoever they please and nobody has a right to comment on their comments. Why look at cancel culture and how wrong it is when they do it, but how absolutely right it is when I call for a show to be banned, David Littleproud urges us to boycott Target or Pauline Hanson demands we stop buying goods from China
Yes, I only have to worry about balance if I work for the ABC where someone from the free market IPA needs to be balanced by the socialists in the National Party who argue that we should support farmers with subsidies. With the ABC someone warning us of the dangers of climate change needs to be balanced by someone who uses such spurious logic as carbon dioxide is natural so it can’t be harmful (water’s natural so drowning is therefore impossible) or there’s only a very tiny amount of CO2 in the atmosphere so what difference will it make (I’ll bet you want to know how much cyanide is in the glass of water I just offered you).
Of course, balance is only necessary sometimes. We don’t see the need to balance stories critical of Jeffrey Epstein with people telling us that he threw great parties. We don’t balance Macca’s “Australia All Over” with “Australia Not All Over Yet, There’s Still Hope In Spite of the People Ringing In To Say That Macca Is The Highlight of Their Week.” We don’t insist that any Christians appearing need to be balanced by Satanists. Although Christian Porter might provide balance all on his own with that one.
There’s something wrong when it’s the most outrageous that we respond to. How do we get to the point that the focus is on people having sensible disagreements or talking about the consensus of people who’ve studied the topic at length instead of jumping at the outliers like Bolt and the troll who called Dr Biden, “kiddo”? How do we refrain from doing what I did and responding to a person who clearly only wants a response and frames their stuff in such a way as to invite vitriol rather than a legitimate attempt to explore ideas?
Whatever, it won’t be by following the reporting of politics. While far too much media is now clickbait, political journalists – with rare exceptions – have become a parasitic class, dependent on their hosts for their insider scoops/press releases. No parasite can afford to kill their host. While Morrison talks about the Canberra bubble, I think we need a more accurate name for it, because a bubble is gone with one prick.
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