Sunday, February 22, 2009

Thought of the Day

Get rid of the slash in NAMBLA and it is suddenly a fan club, rather than the real life version of the Super Adventure Club.

P.S. Not this real version...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

My genetic code made me do it.

Here is an interesting video (that Ray Comfort linked to in order to get a pot shot at atheists).

It is summarized as "A brilliant serial killer videotapes his debates with college faculty victims. The topic: His moral right to kill them. " Sounds worthy of interest, right? Few things wrong with the description, though.
1. There is only one victim that we know of.
2. The person involved is hardly brilliant, even if they try to come off as such. 3. There is no real "debate", since the college professor is expected to be the one to make the case against the "moral right" in question, with the serial killer assuming that he has that right by default if the professor fails to make that case. 4. It fails to mention that it is the masturbatory fantasy of someone with hangups about biological determinism.


It's too bad that the first minute isn't the entire video, because then it would be pretty damn good quality, and not so filled with questionable (though still pretty good) acting ability and similarly questionable pretenses.

The exchange goes as follows (sort of paraphrased):
Killer: "LOLWUT? Biology determines behavior? Well then why can't I just kill you?"
Professor: [snivel] "It's illegal"
Killer: "I won't get caught"
Professor: "It's wrong"
Killer: [dramatic stare] "But that's morality. DNA determines behavior. DNA doesn't have morality. Therefore, there is no such thing as morality and I can kill you. QED."
Professor: "Your DNA is abnormal"
Killer: "But that's statistics. That doesn't tell us right from wrong"
Professor: "Society says it's wrong"
Killer: "Society is just another word for statistical average"
Professor: "Our species won't survive if we allow killing"
Killer: "No, you won't survive. I will. Me and my DNA"
Professor: "You're a sick man"
Killer: [taser] "I'm a genetically determined man with a biological predisposition towards aggression. Killing is in my genes...If all that I am is genetically determined, why should I not kill you?"
[whine, whine, whine, blah, blah, blah, whine, blah, whine, blah, end, music plays].

Okay, key issues here.
First off, the first, second, and fourth argument given by the professor are, as far as I can tell, deeply rooted in the fifth argument (that our species would die out if we allowed killing...of the in group). It is an argument for why we, collectively, have prohibitions against killing. Yet, the "brilliant serial killer" just ducks under this altogether by worrying only about the individual level. He does that first by dismissing the illegality of murder with the assumption that he will not get caught. Even if he could be reasonably certain of that, he still has to make certain sacrifices (whether it is resources to dispose of the body, effort to conceal it and make sure that his death isn't associated with you, risk of guilt that most people would feel, and the fact that relationships with other people on your own part could fuck you up incredibly), to the extent that being a murderer hardly seems worth the time.

His second rebuttal is terrible. And not just because our behavior is not solely determined by DNA. We are affected by a wide variety of environmental factors as well as pure genetics, whether it is in the form of chemical intake, specific non-chemical stimuli, or subjective psychological experiences (emotions, stress, usually associated with another environmental factor), which all shape our development, our minds, and consequently our behavior. But, that aside, the idea that just because genes do not have "morality" does not mean that we cannot. Morality exists on the human level of interactions. You might as well be saying that humans are not conscious because cells don't have consciousness. That a brick house doesn't have electricity because bricks aren't electric. That the sun can't be hot because individual hydrogen atoms don't have termperatures. Saying that something doesn't exist at a micro level, and therefore there is no such at a macro level, is just a sloppy assumption.

I guess I agree that statistics don't necessarily tell you right from wrong. I don't agree that "society is just another word for statistical average" though. It is an interesting statement, and I guess it just means to state, in light of the previous statement, that "society" is just another word for "normality". That's true to an extent. But it is also slightly more than that, in that society is a "statistical average" that can be changed, but only within certain confines, and needs to remain in some form in order for humans who currently belong to said society to function optimally (i.e. survive). So, there are "abnormal" behaviors not condoned by an individual society because it falls beyond the scope of the "normal" range of behaviors contained by said society. And then there are behaviors that are actively harmful to the continued existence of a society, and its members, and is considered "abnormal" behavior in nearly every context and every society. In this sense, the statistics are hinting at the difference between right and wrong. The societies that go under and the behaviors contributing to it that subsequently stop existing in other societies in order to allow them to remain functional: probably a good indicator that the behavior in question is "wrong".

As for his last rant, about being genetically predisposed towards aggression: your predispositions towards certain behaviors do not make them acceptable behaviors. Sure, we can still pity you for having that aggression to begin with and having to deal with it, but having aggression is an entirely different animal than actually acting upon it. All that you are is not genetically determined (even if a good chunk of it is), but even if you were solely destined towards certain behavior by factors beyond your control, you would not know it. We can know the influences, but not how people will actually act due to those influences, and as such, even if you effectively lack free will, you are seemingly able to decide your course of actions as if you do. Of course, this is an argument for why one shouldn't kill, as much as dealing with the fact that lack of free will on a large scale (being predestined by biology) doesn't matter if you don't necessarily know what that destiny is on the scale that we actually live in. Sociopathy and aggression can drive people to kill, but, as far as we can tell, it doesn't force them to, especially in a manner in which they have to accept it as an inevitability.

An Eye for an eye makes the whole world happy.

Very interesting. Apparently, there was an Islamic woman whose face was splashed with acid out of spite by a man whose advances she rejected. She lost her eyesight as a result. A true tragedy, and incredibly horrific (which is obvious if you see the pictures...). Apparently, though, she wants the same punishment inflicted upon her attacker.

Here's the thing: considering that such a thing seems pretty standard, I don't think of the woman less for wanting this form of justice. But, I do think less of the commentors who sympathize a little too much with the literal "eye for an eye" mentality.

"I agree with Hammurabi, once you violate another human being's "human rights" it's as thought you are forfeiting your own. Eye for an eye, I vote yes.
Human Right's Activists should be condemning Movahedi" [The attacker].

Here's the deal: it is possible to criticize both the original perpetrator of the deed, in no unclear manner, as well as being exasperated that someone so victimized would call for vengeance. It does seem like justice, her motives for it (preventing him from doing it again) are decent, and she has very few better options in the legal system she is dealing with. But the fact of it remains: "eye for an eye" leaves too much blood on the hands of the government that assures that it is carried out. Considering that we so often have wrongful convictions ourselves, imagine what would happen if we had punishments more harsh than a jail sentence? We could have new Salem Witch Trials on our hands! But, I'll get back to "eye for eye" in a bit (since every quote brings it up).

"What about her human rights! Her attacker should forever experience what he did to this woman. Good for her for not accepting blood money." [monetary compensation is an alternative for the punishment].

Unfortunately, making the attacker suffer the same fate as the victim will not bring her eyes back. It makes intuitive sense that if he did suffer it, "justice" would be served, karma and all that. But, sadly, her human rights do not become unviolated by violating another's.

"I like the entry that said she should be able to throw it all over him...just like he did to her. None of this drop in each eye. That's far too thoughtful for this lunatic. I think part of the punishment is supposed to unclude suffering!!! Ameneh...start getting that arm in shape for a fastball"

This is exactly what is wrong with the "eye for an eye" mentality: it is heavily motivated by a thirst for retribution. Most punishment is most assuredly not supposed to include "suffering", at least when you are not performing it entirely to satiate your own desire for blood to be shed to right a wrong. Punishment is, ideally, a way to discourage behavior, and change it for the better. In our country, the punishment offered by the justice system also serves the benefit of quarantine: keeping those who have not learned how to behave appropriately in society in isolation, so that they will cause minimal damage for the period of time. We still emphasize the quarantine effect, with behavior alteration only being a possible side effect or even something that is frowned upon if actively pursued. The concern over punishment not being sufficiently negative is somewhat warranted though, since it does make sense that people at large would not be fazed by overly gentle punishments for incredible wrongdoing, and any sense of fairness in society would gradually fade. But, then again, humans sometimes behave counter-intuitively, so it is hard to guarantee that anarchy would ensue with lax punishments for violent crime without actively exploring the matter.

"If only that was true for the U.S. An eye for an eye should be world wide. If you shoot someone you should be shot. If you stab someone you should be stabbed. The human rights people aren't thinking of the victims. When you are in jail you should lose all rights. I hope they do more then a drop in each eye. Should be as much as the victim"

The human rights people can think of the victims and the implications of sloppy treatments of the victimizer simultaneously, ya know. It is a shame, though, that you think that people in jail should lose all of their rights. They lose some, but not everyone in jail is a malicious sociopath who has wantonly destroyed someone's life. Some are wrongfully convicted for such crimes, some have destroyed lives out of desperation (think: survival and recklessness), some out of negligence, some out of what we call "insanity". And some in jail are just petty thieves or drug users. Besides, do you really want the government being able to say that someone is allowed to chop your arm off because your chainsaw went haywire? We have provisions against "cruel and unusual punishments" for a reason.

"If those human rights activists are so opposed to Bahrami's attacker suffering her same fate then they should be willing to take his place and suffer the punishment for him."

And lookee here: this is what happens when you elevate punishment up to the point where it is something metaphysical. It doesn't make any sense for someone to take someone else's punishment. It serves no purpose. It's not as if we are trying to appease a hungry god, angered by the deed that we feel the need to punish. Or......nah....couldn't be....

"Maybe if we had an eye for an eye in this country we would have less crime against women and children. Movahedi is getting what he deserves. What a terrible crime, what a terrible man. He should also be locked up for the rest of his life as a blind man."

Maybe if we were better at enforcing and giving decent sentences to those who commit crimes against women and children we would have less crime against them. But, sadly, our legal system is a little inefficient at doing so, for whatever reason. Yes, it is a terrible crime. But, to be frank, it isn't a hell of a lot worse than everything else that happens to women in that part of the world.

"I think that if criminals were faced with suffering the same fate as their victims, more people would think twice about committing heinous crimes. Of course blinding someone with acid is cruel and unusual. Bahrami knows first hand how true this is. Why should Movahedi be protected from feeling the same pain he inflicted on her?"

And that's the crux of all of this: the belief that "eye for an eye" not only appeases our natural desire to attain justice but that it deters crime as well. On its face, it makes sense. I personally wouldn't want to do something violent if I could suffer the same fate myself. But, crimes of passion seldom give time to worry about consequences. And sociopaths could give a damn, really. So, like I said before: humans sometimes behave counter-intuitively.

I can understand why they would support the blinded woman's position, in light of outrage from human's rights activists. Considering her options, and considering how fair it seems, it is understandable, and even begrudgingly commendable. But, longing to have the same vicious policy for our own? It leaves me a little disturbed....

Monday, February 16, 2009

All Gods Are One

Over at teh Pharyngula, there was an interesting idea brought up by one of the site's designated punching bags, Silver Fox. It is, as follows:
"Every other God?
What you're talking about is other NAMES. There is only one God. No matter if you're talking about the Toltec god who THEY THOUGHT demanded human sacrifice or Yehweh who THEY THOUGHT demanded rams and goats. There is only one God and that's a logical imperative. You need to get away from names and focus on the essential concept."

This is more or less the perspective of the Bah'ai faith, where all other faiths worship merely an aspect, or manifestation, of the true, slightly deistic creation deity that really exists. The qualities that others attribute to it do not matter (presumably). Of course, Silver Fox is instead using this concept (that every deity ever worshiped is merely a representation of the real god) to justify the Christian conception of God, which doesn't work nearly as well as he would like, I am sure.

The gods of history, which he is suggesting are just "other names" for the actual god, have contradictory characteristics, or only function in a network of larger deities. If they are just manifestations of a single god, that god may or may not have the characteristics of the vast array of deities that we have come to believe in. And that's exactly the problem: even if we grant that every god ever described is just a description of a single deity, we consequently have no idea what the characteristics of this real deity happen to be, due to all the disparities of details. We could dismiss the relevance of qualities all together, but that leaves us with a undefined deity, without any form of known traits to be extrapolated from all of the creatures that have been imagined based on its unknown nature. It is God for a vanishing definition of "God". And, otherwise, it is kind of hard to believe that Loki, Aphrodite, and Amaterasu are just different labels for the same deity, and even harder to find a way to actually find out the true qualities of a deity that could misinterpreted as all three of them.

But, perhaps I shouldn't bring that up, because polytheism isn't logical. Yes, that was sarcasm, and this is a segue.
"There can be no other gods. Why? Because God is perfection; anything possessed by another god would diminish the first god and that god would be less than perfect. So there can be only one God. Two gods would be a logical contradiction since it would imply that something can be perfect and imperfect at the same time. Now, you can call God by many names and attribute many different powers and characteristics to Him."

First off, you have to presume that "god" means "perfection" from the outset (namely, grant one of the many descriptions applied to the Christian God, but not necessarily of others, as true) in order for this argument to even get off the ground. Second off, perfect has an awfully slippery definition. Two gods would not be a logical contradiction if they were "perfect" by definitions all definitions, save maybe definition 2 (and definitions 9, 10, and 11 since they don't make much sense in this context). They could be "perfect", in the sense of completion, and yet be essentially different creatures: different kinds of "perfect". If you consider something only to be perfect if it has all qualities, and is complete to exclusion of all other things, then you may have described the universe, rather than a deity, but I digress. It is only when you are speaking of perfect by definition of "being without fault or blemish" that problems arise, primarily due to the qualities that are deemed to be "faults". For instance, the ontological argument is famous for the assumption that non-existence is a form of fault (therefore, something perfect must exist, because if it doesn't exist, it wouldn't be perfect). Indeed, in order to have two gods that weren't essentially clones of each other, they would need to relative "faults" by some measure. That's how polytheistic narratives worked: by having gods being essentially super-powered humanoid creatures who often had petty squabbles or conflicts with each other. But, I don't see how having two or more equally perfect clone gods would trigger any problems, or how simply having two or gods who are different kinds of perfect (i.e. there are no perfect personality traits, and the divine essence, in of itself, constitutes perfection) would be a problem either.

Oh, and one last issue!

"The atheist lives the negative proposition; "I do NOT believe in God". So, he is in a position where he has to prove there is no God. Only if he can do that is there a basis for affirming the negative proposition. This is problematic for him because he cannot prove a negative proposition."

Oooooo. I dealt with this one with Esteemed Lord Master Slick of the Intertubes. But, I guess it bears repeating: it is exactly BECAUSE one cannot prove a negative proposition that the burden of proof is on the one asserting the affirmative "God exists". Because, ostensibly, this can actually be proven. Atheism is a skeptical position, and it is consistent with the default position assumed by any logical human being about any similar positive proposition presented to them. It really is that simple .

Well...sort of.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Im in ur skool, after ur childruns.

Personally, whenever I hear "the homosexual agenda" I think "Profit!". But, I guess that's just a privilege one has when you are not an editor at Conservapedia. So, let's just take a short stroll into crazytown, shall we? (Side note: feel free to read these three articles, and decide which one is the most hilarious. I actually find the wikipedia article the funniest, because it has that "funny because it is true" quality to it).
A primary goal of the homosexual agenda is to promote the lifestyle in public schools. This occurred quickly and intensely after gay marriage was imposed in Massachusetts, where homosexual relationships are taught to children as young as kindergarteners, as recounted by the decision of Parker v. Hurley.
That is the primary goal? That is more like a tertiary goal: trying to foster understanding of the existence of homosexual relationships in kids, at least superficially, so that they aren't caught off guard when they meet such a couple in real life. It's not meant so much as an indoctrination program as a method to acclimate the poor, defenseless children to the reality of other kinds of families, as shown in your quotation pertinent to the cited case:

"In January 2005, when Jacob Parker ("Jacob") was in kindergarten, he brought home a 'Diversity Book Bag.' This included a picture book, Who's in a Family?, which depicted different families, including single-parent families, an extended family, interracial families, animal families, a family without children, and -- to the concern of the Parkers -- a family with two dads and a family with two moms. The book concludes by answering the question, 'Who's in a family?': 'The people who love you the most!' The book says nothing about marriage."

Being inclusive....sinister.

Focus on the Family quotes below from a leading book in the homosexual movement which outlines the points of the homosexual agenda:

  1. "Talk about gays and gayness as loudly and as often as possible."
Apparently the major supporters of that portion of the gay agenda are the ones who oppose homosexuality in all of its forms. Because they are the ones talking about it "loudly and as often as possible" from what I have seen. Whatever talk you see from the other side seems to be a reaction against the screaming on your own. But, I really don't know which one is the response. Everybody likes to claim "he started it!", after all.
"Portray gays as victims, not as aggressive challengers."
Isn't it possible to be both? I mean, you could say that civil rights protestors "aggressively challenged" their mistreatment in society, while still not detracting from the fact that they were actually mistreated.
"Give homosexual protectors a just cause."
Don't worry. The homosexual detractors are the one who make it so clear what the "just cause" should be. (Actually...I have no idea what they are talking about here. It's just an insinuation that any support of homosexuals needs to be deliberately propagandized in order to seem "just". To which I must respond: "project much?").
"Make gays look good."
"Make the victimizers look bad."
Because they so obviously aren't. Right? (One begins to wonder who the one with the real agenda is here...).
"Get funds from corporate America."
Hey, whaddayaknow, the Uncyclopedia article is in agreement with them on this one...
Vic Eliason of Crosstalk America rightly points out that if all Americans turned homosexual it would only take a few generations for the United States to lose most of the population of the country through lack of procreation. This would make the US more vulnerable to attack by our enemies.
When you can use the same argument to speak out against the evils of impotence, celibacy, prepubescence, and agoraphobia, you know that you have a bad case of the failure. In addition, if everyone in America was a man, there would be no procreation. And if everyone in America was a janitor, our economy would collapse. Clearly, all of these are terrible things that must be thoroughly condemned. (Succinctly: what would happen if everyone has a certain trait or role is hardly relevant when discussing the rights of the select few "someones" that already do).

The goals of the homosexual movement include: censoring biblical condemnations of homosexuality and evidence that the "gay gene" is a hoax

Yep. Poor persecuted people, unable to persecute. Oh, and the citations for this claim are hilarious. One is a link to an article about how a T-shirt saying "Homosexuals are Shameful" was banned....from school. I literally facepalmed. Schools really aren't free speech zones. Sad, but true. They regularly ban anything that could possibly offend, alienate, or just plain distract other students. Which this T-Shirt would do, undoubtedly. It is effectively designed to do so. And the second article is talking about protestors. Yeah. That sure is a conspiracy to censor you.
promote homosexuality in schools[11] in places like Massachusetts and California — where the gay lobby is the strongest — it starts as early as pre-school. They tell seven- or eight-year-old boys — "If you only like boys, there's a chance you may be homosexual."....Well, at that age, all members of the opposite sex "have cooties."
Somehow, I seriously doubt that they go about teaching that homosexuality exists by telling them how they can personally tell if they, individually, are gay. I'm pretty sure that the promotion of homosexuality in schools consists entirely of telling them what homosexuality means, that gay people exist, and that they aren't Satan himself. I know that this must horrify you still, but most sane people aren't bothered by it (even if they might be perturbed by your distortion of what they are probably teaching them).
promote science that legitimizes homosexuality, such as claims of a never-identified gay gene
I quote:

"Since sexual orientation is such a complex trait, we're never going to find any one gene that determines whether someone is gay or not," says Mustanski. "It's going to be a combination of various genes acting together as well as possibly interacting with environmental influences."

Previous studies in male twins have suggested that between 40%-60% of the variability in sexual orientation is due to genes. The rest is thought to be due to environment and possibly other biologic but nongenetic causes.

Sure, they never identified a "gay gene". But that's really of little consequence, considering that there are many biological factors that strongly correlate with homosexuality and suggest that it definitely is something that occurs out of thin air. You can be biologically predisposed towards it, and we can determine that even without being able to say "yep, this gene turns you gay". (Also, their citation article doesn't exist).
getting more rights in prison
Gay and Lesbian Prisoners in California Allowed Conjugal Visits
Yep. Being allowed conjugal visits under the same circumstances as straight inmates. How dare they try to get "more rights", up to the extent that they are treated equally?
Legalization of recreational or "party" drugs
Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

Due to what homophobia has been made to denote, that of being a repressed homosexual, or possessing an irrational fear of being approached by such, or of being a bigot persecuting actual victims, the widespread use of the term "homophobic" attaches a powerful stigma to anyone who may even conscientiously oppose the practice of homosexuality, thus silencing many who might otherwise object to it.
they promoted “jamming,” in which Christians, traditionalists, or anyone else who opposes the “gay” agenda are publicly smeared. “In any campaign to win over the public, gays must be portrayed as victims in need of protection so that straights will be inclined by reflex to adopt the role of protector ... The purpose of victim imagery is to make straights feel very uncomfortable,”
Please note the irony of whining about how unfair the label "homophobe" is while simultaneously calling out the "gay agenda" for using "victim imagery". Playing the victim due to inability to victimize people who you are pissed at, since they are playing the victim. It's especially delicious when bringing "Christians" into the matter; a religion that is so incredibly characterized by the victimization of their savior, and early church leaders, that many still like to pretend that they are victimized due to their religious beliefs to this day. A strange blend. I really want to know whether or not the people responsible for this article really think that portraying gays as victims is really as much of a stretch as they are implying it to be. I'm sure the answer would be fascinating.

Okay, up next is the quoted phrase " 'homo-hatred'", (which itself is quoted from another source). The real knee-slapper is the parenthetical note that quoted quoter uses to describe it: "(i.e., disagreement with homosexual behaviors)". It is not uncommon for people to try to deny the claim of "homophobia". Almost half of this particular article serves that purpose in fact. But, look at what they've just said. What is there about "homosexual behaviors" to "disagree" with, anyway? It is activity that, in of itself, doesn't harm anyone to any discernible degree. If you have a "disagreement" with it, it should be solely a matter of personal taste, and not one in which you are obliged to adamantly oppose them. Do you "disagree" with certain private, consensual expressions of sexuality to the same degree that you "disagree" with homosexuality, and similarly seek to have legal limitation set according to those disagreements? Call it what you like, and put as friendly of a face as you can on it, but it still looks like "hatred" to me.
What is seen by some as Kirk and Madsen’s most revealing admission is their statement, “[O]ur effect is achieved without reference to facts, logic, or proof.”
So says Conservapedia....
Marshall Kirk died in 2005 at the age of 48. The cause of death has not been publicly revealed.
But we all know what you are presuming it to be (otherwise you wouldn't bother bringing it up).
It may be speculated that if the liberal use of the term homophobia is not primarily a psychological tactic, then it indicates a psychological condition on the part of those who use it, in which they actually imagine that those who oppose them are fearful of them, or are secretly attracted to them.
The content too good for that goddamn wikipedia. They would just dismiss a sentence that begins "it may be speculated", followed by armchair psychology and no citation, out of hand. Damn liberals. (Homophobia is a term describing hatred. Fear can manifest as hatred, so fear may be a part of it, but it is mostly a description of generalized contempt and resulting aversion. And, from what I've seen, it is a fairly good description...)

That's pretty much the end, sadly. But, at least they also had enough wingnuttery in them to link to an article named "homosexual belief system". Apparently it only has characteristics, instead, of you know, systemized beliefs. Oh, and "further reading": TEH GHEYS R IN UR mCdONALD'SSSS!1!!" Really, brings back memories of hearing the inane cries of outrage and calls for protest due to a relatively small level of support for LGBT programs given by McDonald's. Conservapedia is good for that kind of nostalgia. They have some kind of affinity for hysteria it seems...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Racism: Playing the "No U!" Card.

Remember that post about racism ending with Obama's election? Well, based on some of the comments there, I am not alone in thinking that it is too hasty to the conclusion that racism is completely over. But, wait...oh...they're only saying that because they are accusing black people of being racist against whites.


The biggest argument for this is that Obama received 95% of the African American vote in the election. Of course, this is a group that is almost stereotypically Democrat, and this percentage is only a little bit higher than, oh, Kerry, and Clinton those two times (can't find anything but an editorial saying that Gore won 9/10ths of the black vote, which is approximately as much as Kerry and Clinton won). So, already, that doesn't hold much water, unless you think it is racist of them to simply vote Democrat. However, it is hardly racist for people to vote for a member of their minority group, especially when the person voted for will be the first one of your group to ever be allowed to reach that level of power in the country. I can hardly imagine that anyone else in a similar position wouldn't be inclined to vote the same way (unless, of course, the candidate didn't have the best interests of the other groups they happen to be a part of in mind...).

Oh, but here is the kicker: even if these people were "racist" against white doesn't matter! Do you know why? Not only would that racism be a mere reaction against legitimate wrongdoing (albeit, holding a bit too much of a grudge, but still understandable), but white people, being a majority with legislative and social power on their side, do not suffer at all as a result of it. At least not in a way comparable to what would be suffered by traditional racism against groups which could actually be persecuted. "Racism" against people in a position of power and large number is essentially impotent, a far cry from real racism.

If I only had a nickel everytime a hear some white guy on the internet, whining about how unfair it is that people who we only began to treat as equals 30 years ago are allowed to be bitter. I might be able to afford a goddamn can of soda. Possibly. I don't know how much the prices have gone up since this morning...

Political Correctness: Oppressor, Protector, or Good Friend who just had a few too many?

Okay, this has bothered me for a while: the term "political correctness" and the popular disdain for everything it embodies. I just want to delve into a few iterations of the many things labeled "political correctness" now, and express my concerns.
First, there is the political correctness of not using ethnic slurs. Now, I am all for freedom of speech. But, I personally think that political correctness in this respect is probably in the best interest of the speaker in order to seem halfway civil, in addition to it being considerate to others. It is a difficult balance between freedom to express yourself and the necessity to try not to alienate other people and earn enemies from the group that you alienate and people who are sensitive to such mistreatment, but it is one that people should at least make an attempt to make. But, if you don't, that's your decision. Freedom to be an asshole.
Next, there is the political correctness of attempting to use more inclusive, and more culturally sensitive words when describing things. This includes things like saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas", changing the suffix "-man" to "-person", and using terms like "African American" in order to avoid a potentially charged term that may not quite qualify as a slur, but is borderline. Now, I find this to be more of personal choice, and enjoy it when institutions, political or otherwise, tend on the more politically correct, inclusive side. That isn't to say that people need to always use these terms in casual conversation, but it is notable to say that such a courtesy shouldn't be responded to with disgust that is normally levelled upon people who have been people accused of "political correctness". People should not be expected to use the more inclusive and sensitive terms at large, but it is just pathetic to flip your lid when people do actually decide to use them.
Our third subset of political correctness seems to be a general disdain towards stereotypes and towards seemingly hostile criticism of historically oppressed minorities. This is incredibly touchy. It is something that we seem to misunderstand and bungle too often. It is in place when fear of being called racist makes people too unwilling to mention or deal with legitimate problems, and when mere mention of the problem is too close with traditional stereotypes and racist rationalizations for it to be accepted without emotions being aroused. A good example is people being called antisemitic for being opposed to whatever the hell Israel happens to be doing at the moment. Legitimate criticism becomes drowned out by the memories of similar, more politically motivated (and malicious, disingenuous) criticisms. Again, free speech trumps all, but our gradual transition out of some of our darkest, least rational, and most hateful periods (you know...everything prior to this year) leaves us with shell shock in regards to similar rhetoric. The kind of political correctness that squelches anything remotely seeming like a stereotype is a kind that deserves to be stood up against. Then again, if your stand against it is actually hostile, politically motivated stereotypes, distortions, and propaganda...perhaps you deserved to be squelched. At very least, you'll deserve the criticism and disdain that you yourself provoke by not only breaking our newfound taboo of insulting the chronically insulted, but also being deceitful about doing it.
And, finally, there is the "political correctness" of leaving groups and ideas completely immune to scrutiny of any kind. This is the kind of political correctness that is most popular with religious groups, but also exists in cultural groups. Not only do they seek protection from criticism that is counterfactual and based on prejudice and contempt for their fundamental identity, as afforded above, but they also seek protection from any criticism, including critique of their institutions and belief system. Now, in fairness, even if criticizing ideas and organizations is different than criticizing people, if that individual's identity is defined by those ideas or that organization, and only a minority of people can claim the same, then it is rather personal to them to make this criticism, especially if it is done in an uncouth manner. And yet, if done in a manner that is made clear to not be directed towards those people, and in manner that is factually correct (despite technically being politically incorrect) it is nowhere near the same level of transgression as the above taboos (referring to traditional unevidenced stereotypes, using ethnic slurs, using language that specifically degrades or excludes them), and can probably be forgiven.

So, feel free to denounce female genital mutiliation, honor killings, cultural misogyny, or whatever the hell you want. As long as you are not routinely dismissing the people, and are doing the criticism in a manner that isn't overly imperialistic, accusatory, and crude, you should be free to criticize things that deserve criticism. Just so happens that skin color, nationality, and religious affiliation don't qualify (but nations, political ideologies, and religions do).