Apr 042016
  April 4, 2016

Kurt, being a dolt and mistaking the meaning of the word “can’t”

Yes, I think the meme is poorly thought out. But this is a branch off a discussion, so figured I’d keep the ill-considered meme that started it.

The topic of “political correctness” popped up, as it does a few hundred thousands times every day on the Internet, this time over on L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright’s page. It had much of the regular points—me saying it is simply a meaningless prejoritive used by people without manners, that and my implications of the cowardice connected to people who just can’t bear to say something for fear of people on the Internet being mean to them (and yeah, I feel the same about anyone on the left who can’t deal with the horrors of disagreement). Other people claimed it is a deep problem that “silences” and hides truth. That’s the normal stuff. It is impossible not to see that every day if you read forums or FB byond close friends.

But the host supported her side with something somewhat less common (meaning only seen thousands of times a day online). That is, that people may lose their jobs due to the stifling control of political correctness. In my Internet rounds, I see this position most often over on Sarah Hoyt’s blog, where this problem is connected to Marxists and Cultural Marxism. But Hoyt and Hoyt’s follower’s views are easier to dismiss for that connection (the cry of “Cultural Marxism” has been an anti-Semitic tactic since early in the last century when it was used in an attempt to keep German Jews fleeing Hitler out of the U.S.). So let’s disconnect it from that, even if that is how I most frequently see it, and instead look at it in a more pure state.

Political Correctness threatens people’s jobs.

OK. How? The example from that other thread is that researchers who disagree with climate change are afraid to speak up due to fear of losing their job. Unfortunately, this isn’t a good example for it brings up an obvious alternative—that is that researches who do not do a good job fear losing their job. Which they should. If 99 researchers do an experiment and get X, and 1 guy does it and gets Y, then the most likely reason is because 1 guy did it poorly. And that’s what we have in climate change research. But lets get past that and make this more general, to take out the notion that the employee is bad at his job while keeping in mind the nearly meaningless nature of the term “PC.”

So, how can someone lose their job due to political correctness?

  1. He could say something that is offensive to other employees or the boss thus damaging productivity.
  2. He could say things that are offensive to the general public
  3. He could say something that indicates his disagreement with the boss.

Number 1 is no doubt what most supporters of “the evils of the PC police” see. “Oh no, I cannot say my perfectly reasonable beliefs about my faith or my guns or my support of Trump without getting fired.”

Two huge problems with the self-victimhood of this. First, a majority of the time, when someone says something that is offensive to other employees, it is because it is an insult. He is being rude and insulting. Calling an Asian coworker “slant eyes” is not speaking truth, it is being an ass. And while the First Amendment does protect your right to be an ass, your employer is under no obligation to keep you around. You can say “slant eyes” but you also must deal with the non-governmental consequences of doing so.

“Ah,” says the Fan of Accusing People of Being PC, who I shall call George from now on, “but what if I am not insulting anyone but simply discussing how I really like my guns.” OK, so in those few cases where it isn’t a personal or racial or sexual insult, does George have a point. No, he does not. Lets flip it, politically. I’m a vegetarian. Try and find a group less liked than vegetarians. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Search for memes on Facebook. Apparently, we are just the worst. Far worse than gun enthusiasts. Hell, even The Daily Show makes fun of us. Not only am I a vegetarian, I’m an animal rights advocate. So, yeah, not popular.

But, don’t I have a right to talk about vegetarianism and my animal welfare positions at work? Yes, and my boss has a right to fire me over them. If my beliefs disrupt the work environment, then I can get booted for them. Choosing to be a vegetarian, or a gun nut, are not civil rights. So, I don’t talk about animal rights at a job, unless it happens to be for an animal shelter. This goes back to Larry’s famous “I’m starting the Sad Puppies because people were mean to me at a party about my love of guns and that’s unfair!” rant. Here’s the rule: Don’t talk about your beliefs in situations that will make others uncomfortable unless that’s the point. If the point is to do your job, then shut up about guns and vegetarianism.

“Hey, but my religion is a civil right!” Correct George. Which means the boss cannot and should not consider it one way or the other with regard to your hiring and firing, and if someone at work is upset about your religion and complains, it is he who is in trouble. It does not, however, mean you get to start talking about your beliefs. You can, but your boss can fire you for it if you are disrupting the work place by promoting your views. I can be a Catholic (and I’ve got some kick ass rosaries), but that doesn’t mean I can start preaching at work.

Point 2 is pretty much the same as 1. You are allowed to love Hitler. You are allowed to say so. You are allowed to be a vegetarian, and say so. You are allowed to love guns, think women should stay at home barefoot, that Black (or Whites, or Asians) are inferior, that foreigners are smelly, that harming a cat is morally equivalent to harming a human, that looking at a woman is raping her or that having sex with an unconscious women is not raping her, that Marx was right all along, that all men are sexist, that men are the ones truly oppressed, and that it is time for the revolution, and you can sing it to the skies.

And your boss is, and should be, allowed to fire you for it. If you take positions publicly that damage the company, then the company has a right to dump you. It doesn’t matter if your position is right or wrong. As any good protester knows, there are costs for fighting for what you believe in. Now, again, most of the time, you are probably just a jerk. But your boss doesn’t need to worry about that. He has to worry about if you are harming the company. Want to proclaim how swell Hitler is? Or cats? Start your own company. Or starve. Actions, particularly right actions, have costs. And this isn’t some new “PC” thing. This is the way it has always been, and how it always needs to be.

Which leaves us with you disagreeing with the boss. Hoyt and crew were terrified by this. “Ah, say a politically incorrect things and you can be fired!”

Grow up.

This isn’t “political correctness.” This is life. Deal with it professional victims. Guess what? People don’t like other people to disagree with them. And if they are the boss, they can fire you for it. So? Here’s a clue. Don’t disagree with the boss. If my boss loved guns, I would not go in and tell him that guns should banned. If my boss loved barbecue (and my boss did), I would not go in and tell him he was being an immoral slime bag. If my boss supported Trump, I’d keep my support of Sanders to myself and if he supported Sanders I’d suggest Trump supporters do the same. Your personal views are yours, and personal. You do not need to talk about them. Talk about something else. I believe “Game of Thrones” is quite popular.

“Ah,” says George, “But what if, like in the other thread example, my views are not about personal things, but are job related?” Well then, you can bring them up if it is your place to do so in the company, or just shut the hell up. You can take a chance, and see where it takes you, but getting fired is an option. Your boss gets to decide. I worked at an insurance company for many years. I think insurance companies are dishonest leeches on society. Guess what I didn’t say at any meetings?

“But how can the company improve without my brilliant idea?” Maybe it can’t because the boss is stubborn. Or maybe it does because your idea sucks. Either way, it isn’t your call. You can go for it, and maybe win the boss over. Or maybe get fired.

No, this isn’t “political correctness.” It is how people work and how business works. It seems it is always right wing and libertarian folks who want to claim this is a big problem. But tell me, keeping with those right wing or libertarian philosophies, do you really want laws that force an employer to put up with whatever wild things every employee wants to say and do? Forget laws–do you even want that to be the socially normal and acceptable way to act? Do you want to tie the hands of business owners? Remember, if you have some kind of job protection that lets you announce that guns are great and we need them in the schools or that climate change is a hoax, then the guy in the next cube can spout Marx and the workers control of the means of production or say how Jesus is a lie, and the weird guy in the end office can give his Nazi salute and suggest how brilliant it would be to stomp all babies to death.

I taught philosophy at a university. At the end of the semester I gave my students a questionnaire on what they thought my beliefs were. And they had no idea. Why? Because I kept them to myself.

So, what about those climate change deniers from the other thread who fear for their jobs? Well, if their jobs aren’t about doing climate research, then they need to learn to shut up. No one wants to hear about vegetarianism either. If their boss really doesn’t like their views, then don’t talk about them with the boss. And if they are climate change researchers? Well, discounting that they are just really bad at their jobs, which is my guess, then it depends just how much it is their job. If their job is not making grand claims about the entire field, then they do their job and keep their grander beliefs to themselves. If their job is actually to make a large, general statement, then they make it, and let the dominos fall. This also isn’t “political correctness.” Only a bizarre wing of the far right has made any of this political. It is scientific disagreement. And sorry, you can get fired for that. Always have, unless you have tenure. Which begs the question: Who are these people making grand statements about a scientific arena who lack academic tenure? Because that sure makes them sound like people who lack the credentials to make grand statements and should just keep their mouths shut. But I suppose that is besides the point, except for the keeping their mouths shut part.

Or they can just say whatever they want, and accept the consequences. Because that’s not political correctness. That’s life. I believe the phrase is, freedom isn’t free. Yelling “political correctness” doesn’t get you out of life. It doesn’t excuse you from consequences, and if you think it does, you are an idiot whose views of society would create the totalitarian state you claim to abhor—if you were consistent anyway.

Which all comes down to, no one is losing their job due to political correctness nor should they fear doing so. They are losing their jobs because they are rude and insulting, or because they are inconsiderate by disrupting the company, or because they are causing the company to lose sales, or because they are personally upsetting their boss, or because they won’t follow their boss’s lead, or because they are bad at their jobs. That’s how jobs work. Don’t want to lose your job? Don’t do those things. Political correctness has nothing to do with it.