Inspection-Of Political Correctness and the Word War

by Ken Carman

 The year? Well, probably about 1996 because I was arguing with a former client about Bill Clinton. He had just “outed” me as politically incorrect: not a member of what eventually became the Tea Bag movement. It wasn’t hard to avoid up with him until towards the end of our business relationship. Look: arguing with clients about politics, in my opinion, is bad form. Besides, all I had to do, and still do with many of these folks, is sit through the rants and, hopefully, find something I could safely comment on with not much more than a word or two: usually a very broad point like government isn’t all that efficient.
 When was the last time you were asked, “Well, what do you think?” during these diatribes, rants, raves and lectures? Seems almost irrational to also add “and then discuss with mutual respect.”
 Oh, how I miss Bill Buckley’s Firing Line-type discussions I used to have with folks I disagreed with when I was a lot younger.
 You know if he had asked me once, “Hey what do you think, Ken?” about something specific I probably wouldn’t have sat through those yearly rant, rave, diatribe and lecture sessions. Why? Well, because as he finally said, “I don’t know if I can do business with you if you don’t agree on…” well, many topics. In my opinion it usually has to do with the fact these folks, these kinds of conversations usually, tie religion in with politics. Then these same kind of folks deem those who dare to disagree as automatically without ethics or morals, or perhaps must be agents, or dupes, of Satan.
 I don’t know. Last time I drove by Lucifer’s Century 21 office I think he was out to lunch. Really out to lunch. Besides I failed the test to become a real estate agent in Hell. They won’t take my collect calls anymore. Guess I’ll be stuck doing limbo for an eternity.
 Collect calls? Ei, showing my age in a time of cell phones I suppose.
 Humor aside, the irony here is if anyone should have been lecturing anyone, it wasn’t him. Divorced, living with a “good Christian woman” off and on whose divorce wasn’t settled yet, and… cringe… last time we talked he raged about how her ex was mad because their young boy was sleeping in the same bed with the two of them.
 OK, knowing him as well as I did I would think, as he said, it was because the boy had trouble sleeping during storms and such. However, he was in a business where no one should be doing anything that might indicate he’s messing around with young kids. So all I wanted to scream was, “What the hell are you thinking? If I were the ex I might be over the top angry too!”
 But, unlike him, lecturing others, to me, is rude: at best.
 That was the last time I saw him. I never bothered contacting him, and I doubted he would have booked due to his opinions.
 What is wrong with folks who live lives as fundamentalist Christians and accuse everyone else of being immoral, then do things any smart person would at least hesitate at doing? What is wrong with folks who insist everyone else live lives they feel they don’t have to, or they simply dismiss with, “We’re all sinners,” and follow that up with more diatribes, rants, raves and lectures?
  How does one have a rational, respectful, conversation with them?
 Not easily.
  I can’t remember exactly what this gentleman and I were was talking about at that specific time during one of our last conversations, except I made the point I felt the Right was as much into political correctness as the Left: if not more.
  “You can’t use that phrase. Only we can.”
  Therefore proving my point.
  Anyone else notice the Right’s use of that phrase has diminished? Perhaps because they know that they themselves are now demanding it?
  But I must admit the silliness of what can, and can’t, be said does get to me sometimes.
 Here’s an example of “political correctness:” when Barack Obama said Trayvon Martin could have been his son. “Injecting the race card,” was the cry, essentially claiming that a black president should never, ever use words that reference race because that was politically incorrect. Of course the fact that, visually, he sure looked like he could have been was lost. But demonizing a dead boy, a president and canonizing George Zimmerman was more important. Barack Obama wasn’t sticking to the correct scripting demanded by them.
  Yes, I totally admit the Left does have its problems with political correctness, though more a “problem” because they don’t want to go after the Right like the Right goes after the Left. Sometimes I swear they’d rather not give offense even if it meant a lifetime appointment as dictator for Dick Cheney.
  This dynamic pops into talk radio. Listening to Sirius/XM talk show host Ari Rabin-Havt in the morning: this specific conversation was gay marriage, you’ll hear callers from the Right who have a talking points like, “Sell me on sodomy.”
  To paraphrase Ari, “WTF?”
 You can tell the right wingers because they yell that kind of nonsensical talking point question over and over. They let the host say two or three words then blather as loud as they can in the background, and if there’s any break allowed it’s to accuse the host of talking over them: doing what they’re doing.
 I long for at least one host to respond, “Hey, whose show is it a-hole?”
 I remember once Ari asked the caller a question and, instead of answering, they demanded he answer a question. Ari gave in. (Sigh) Big surprise; Ari’s question was never answered.
  We are in a word war. Not words in context, not even framing. No: a word war where at this point words are meaningless. They are merely bullets and the caller, the person you are attempting to have a civilized discussion with, thinks bringing a very loud, random word shooting, submachine gun called “their mouth” to a conversation and shooting it off constantly means they win.
  So many tactics in the word war: other tactics include accusing the “enemy” of yelling: when they are doing the “yelling” and the person they have interrupted simply wants to be heard too. Doing anything to make sure no one hears, or understands, anything; hoping the audience will tune to some other show: hopefully some right wing crank. There are so many.
  Yes, a “word war.” Not a rhetorical war. Not a debate. Not a discussion. A word war: who gets to speak and what gets to be heard and their goals: no one and nothing… unless it’s just them.
  On talk shows: I don’t get it. Instead of playing the part of the playground kid beaten up by the bully again and again, never guess what? You have the mic. You have the pot that controls the level. Depending on the board you may even have the mute button. Stop trying to be the nice guy. Put them on mute and bring them back up when you think they may be ready. Pot them back down if not. Hell, if you have a board op they can listen and even talk to the caller and tell them such behavior will not be tolerated. And, of course, hanging up, is always the option. Then tell everyone why and frame them, “This is what these right wingers do so often.” Have something you can play over them, or while they’re fuming while potted down. Plan in advance to make sure your audience knows these folks for the manipulative jerks they are.
  But when it comes to one on one debate you know damn well they don’t care about political correctness as defined by you. Stop caring about political correctness as defined by them. The only way to win the “word wars” is to make them know you can talk over them too: use their own tactics against them: pointing out to them that’s exactly what you’re doing. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll eventually have something remotely approaching a respectful conversation.
  If not?
  They probably weren’t worth talking with to begin with.
 Of course, in some cases, you might save yourself the trouble and admit that truth to begin with. Don’t even bother. Which is what I decided about my former client many years ago.

                                               -30-

Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
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Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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