Freedom of Speech: PC On Campus

By Gulmaram


--Response to "Taking Offense", from Newsweek, Vol 116 (Dec 24, 1990): p 48-55



The article "Taking Offense" is quite offensive. The author's opinion is against Political Correctness, and compares it to Marxism and Communism. Although Political Correctness is most definitely a violation of First Amendment rights of free speech, the article's treatment of it is unreasonable. The author uses very extreme examples of Political Correctness on campuses and in curriculum. Throughout the article is a subtle metaphoric theme comparing Political Correctness to Communism. Referring to PC as "Orwellian" and calling it the "dictatorship of the proletariat" is blatant anti-Communist rhetoric. While on the surface this article seems to be taking a stand against PC, clearly it is really aimed at a perceived threat of communism. PC, in the eyes of the author, is part of communist subversion and encroachment.

This exhibits the deep McCarthyism embedded in the writers of America. It is a great slight to Communism to compare it to PC. PC is a form of tyranny, a violation of the First Amendment and an infringement of liberty. Communism stands for liberty and freedom, and equality. It is inherently diametrically opposed to PC. While the dictators in so-called "Communist states" have imposed drastic measures curbing the freedom of expression, such actions have been completely non-Communist in nature. The author obviously has no understanding of what Communism really is, and gives it a very paranoid unjust treatment.


This article is also clearly biased in support of white and Western culture. PC is decried here, mainly not because it limits free speech, but because it pushes Western white culture out of the centre stage. The author cites a member of the anti-PC "National Association of Scholars" knocking over all the books with "Marx" in the title in the political science section of a university book store. First of all, the author's choice to use this example again illustrates the inappropriate comparison of PC to Communism. But more importantly, the cited NAS member knocked over a grand total of one out of seven books. What does this show? Nothing conclusively. The author has no given any explanation of why this is significant. There could have been only seven books there. Or fourteen. One or two books in the whole store section is hardly an alarming or unbalanced excess. A book with "Marx" in the title could be about a broad range of things, including the fall of so-called Communist regimes such as the Soviet Union, which is a vital part of the study of political science, and crucial when attempting to understand the current balance of power, even among Western nations. The author's failure to be more specific and illuminate or explain these claims, exhibits the intent to use the example in an emotionally biased way for the purpose of giving a false impression. Basically, the author is trying to tell a lie in an attempted PC way.

There is only one sentence in the whole article that duly supports a stand against PC, in a rational and reasonable way. "What is distressing is that at the university of all places, tolerance has to be imposed rather than taught and that 'progress' so often is just the replacement of one repressive orthodoxy by another." To support this, there are a wealth of examples and a depth of compelling philosophic arguments. What is particularly distressing is that instead of formulating valid arguments to support this statement, the author only brings forth another repressive orthodoxy.







Copyright, © Gulmaram 2000