Thursday, June 11, 2015

Adam Johnson on Jerry Seinfeld's Complaints About Political Correctness: "Perspectives of Those Annoyed by 'Political Correctness' Are Overwhelmingly White, Male, and Heteronormative"

Things are slowly, slowly changing as the democratization of public discourse permitted by online social networking tools opens the door for voices long excluded from the conversation to have a hearing. This change is radically threatening to those who have long enjoyed without question their divine right to control the conversation, to permit only voices like their own into the conversation.

Here's Adam Johnson capturing the shift in an essay yesterday entitled, "Jerry Seinfeld — White Hetero Male Worth $820 Million — Thinks World Is too 'PC'" and explaining why complaints about rampant political correctness increasingly have little purchase any longer, as a new culture in the making passes by the kind of straight white men uttering these wheezes:

Because the perspectives of those annoyed by "political correctness" are overwhelmingly white, male, and heteronormative, they are, by definition, given extra purchase in the media and are echo-chambered as such. Three white men sitting around on a major network uncritically complaining about "PC culture" very well may be right, but it bears mentioning that three minorities sitting around a major network complaining about white privilege would be a mathematical impossibility. This is the nature of privilege: its most pernicious features - insularity, lack of self-awareness - become its most amplifying agents. . . .  
Even granting his fears were justified, Seinfeld still has all of his work ahead of him. He and [New Yorker editor David] Remnick's other gripe: that social media has somehow turned us into a hypersensitive outrage culture isn’t really a gripe against "PC culture", it's a gripe against the democratization of media through social media, namely Twitter, and its ability to level the playing field. As I noted during [Jonathan] Chait's PC pushback last January, to men of previously unchecked privilege and status, cocooned by traditional media models, the idea that a bunch of nobodies online could radically alter the conversation must be explained away as some broader moral failing - everyone’s so sensitive these days!- rather than the amplification of voices that have been, until now, left out.

Slowly, surely, the remaking of public conversations is shining a new spotlight on some members of the human community who have depicted themselves for aeons as those on whom everything hinges for all the rest of us — the pinnacle, the model, the apogee, the norm by which everything and everyone else is to be judged. Those members of the human community, who are, in their own eyes, exceptionally important, are now being exposed as not the shining Controllers of Significant Conversations they've long imagined themselves to be.

They're now being exposed, by the kind of conversations possible in the world being made today, as dinosaurs, as obstacles to the building of a more inclusive and just human community. And they don't like such exposure one bit. 

This almost makes one want to feel sorry for them, doesn't it? In the way one looks at the dinosaur skeletons in the museum and . . . .

The Triceratops prorsus skeleton photo is from the Los Angeles Natural History Museum, and is available for sharing at Wikimedia Commons.

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