Friday, May 10, 2013

More Absurdity from the Political Correctness Front

Some people believe the political correctness garbage floating around in our nation is about sensitivity.  We must be sensitive to the feelings of a particular group or person, therefore we shouldn't say or do anything that offends them.

I call B.S. for two reasons.  One experiential.  The other, practical.

First, the experiential.  Political correctness presents quite the conundrum for a family like mine.  Yeah, this is for all of those out there who want to rain on my parade with that whole "you're speaking from the position of white privilege" line of unreasoning.  (I purposely use that word because there is nothing reasonable about that comment.)

My family is a mixed family.  My wife and I adopted two bi-racial girls.  Technically, one is tri-racial, but who's counting?  (Can you say absurdity when it comes to defining people by race?  There is only one race, the human one.)  Both of my daughter's would be classified as black by their skin color--but we all know we're not supposed to judge anyone by the color of their skin!!!

As you can see by the dripping sarcasm of that last paragraph, I don't deal well with such distinctions, but political correctness adds a whole other dimension of stupidity.

You see, what does a family like mine do with the "N-word"?  Of course, that word arose as a derogatory, dehumanizing word long ago when people of color were considered to be less than a full human by some.  As such, at least in my opinion, the word should be scrapped from our vocabularies and relegated to the history books so that we do not forget and repeat this shameful terminology.

There is only one problem with that: within the black community, it is perfectly legitimate for people to refer to each other as the "N-word."  Now, no person of any other culture is allowed to use that term, because THEN it is seen as derogatory.  But it is not derogatory when used within the culture itself.


What convoluted logic.  So, if I get this straight, it would be perfectly allowable for my daughters to call each other the "N-word", but if I utter it, then I have crossed the line?  So, what if I truly believe this word is derogatory and carries the historical connotation of dehumanizing--as I am told by pundits.  I try to convey that meaning to my daughters, but then they hear someone say, "Oh, it's O.K. for black people to call each other that."  They come home and say, "Daddy, we can call each other nigggers, but you can't!"  What kind of lesson does that convey?

Not a good one, I can assure you.  This inherent contradiction is a poor methodology for dealing with the sensitivities around race and culture. 

What my wife and I intend to do in such areas--not only with the "N-word" but with other such sensitivities, is help our children grow thick skins.  Instead of making them sensitive to what others' may say about them, we will equip them to understand the importance of not allowing such actions and speech to push their buttons.  This is the practical application.

This grows out of my own experience growing up and out of my study of Bowen Family Systems Theory. 

You see, growing up with the last name of Haug presented its own form of hell as a child.  At least for a little while. 

I dreaded the first day of school for years.  For whenever the teacher called out my name, she invariably pronounced my name Hog.  There wasn't any malice.  None.  It was an honest mistake.  What was particularly painful--at least at first--was the reaction of my classmates:

Unmitigated laughter.

And, of course, if I reacted, that opened the door to further teasing.  "Hog!"  "Hog!"  "Hog!"  "Kevin Hog!"

The angrier I became, the worse the teasing.

My parents did their best to reassure me.  "Don't listen to them.  They are jealous.  They are the ones with the problem, not you."

Small comfort to begin with, but at this stage in my life, I realize the wisdom behind those words.  "Don't let them push your buttons.  Once they find a button, they will repeatedly push it just to tick you off."

So, one can either try to make people stop pushing the buttons (They won't.  It goes against human nature.), or one can work to insure there is no response when the button is pushed.

These days, I don't react when someone mispronounces my name--purposely or otherwise.  Neither do I react when personally attacked.  I've learned to subdue the knee-jerk response and think things through.  It's brought about mental toughness--a quality I find more and more lacking in our society these days.

If anyone decides to make fun of my children, I have the options of trying to make everyone stop (an exercise in futility) or giving my children the tools to overcome such things.  I can make my children into wimps who think that it is someone else's job to make everyone stop picking on them, or I can teach my children to be tough and realize the immaturity of those who wish to get under their skin by calling names.

Political correctness does the former.  I choose the latter. 

(For further understanding, I encourage you to read a little parable by Ed Friedman entitled, "A Nervous Condition."  It's highly enlightening.)

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