Stephen Jacob (mavjop) wrote,
Stephen Jacob

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Thoughts on political correctness

The following is a paragraph from an article, "Don't be an annoying white person at work":
    1. Don’t praise someone as articulate, as if you’re surprised. There has been a lot of dicusssion about Joe Biden calling Barak Obama articulate. My friend says he has experienced this problem many times in his life, but would never come out an say anything because he’d be labeled “too sensitive.” He quotes Michael Dyson, professor at the University of Pennsylvania: “Historically, articulate was meant to signal the exceptional Negro. The implication is that most black people do not have the capacity to engage in articulate speech, when white people are automatically assumed to be articulate.”
I find this interesting. I mean, I can certainly see how saying "wow, you're articulate!" with an incredulous tone might be bad, regardless of the colour of the skin of the person you're talking to ... but I find the idea that it is not ok to compliment somebody because the colour of their skin may change whether that compliment is seen at face value or as an insult is really unfortunate. :(

Specifically, the Barak Obama thing seems odd. I suppose perhaps there was something about how Joe Biden (whoever he is) said it, but ...

I have, myself, specifically mentioned that I think he's really articulate. Not "articulate for someone with that skin tone"!!! Articulate for anybody. He's a bloody bright guy, who knows how to clearly state what he intends, and doesn't muddle it deliberately or unintentionally with BS or noise. He's articulate for a politician. He is a breath of fresh air. This is by no means an insult to him or anybody in any way congruent with him. Heck, it's not even an insult to politicians in general (though I could insult them if I tried).

I think it's unfortunate that there is an implied "compared to <group being insulted>" that isn't there being heard.

Of course, I'm not really dissing the article. The article is about avoiding being seen as racist, not about whether one is actually being racist. I guess maybe it's good advice. :/
Tags: argh, pointless, politics
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