We know the pattern: celebrity says something edgy to keep his or her brand relevant; five days later, they issue a formal apology. In the meantime, scribblers and chatterers in the media make the most of it by writing a series moralizing platitudes about the situation.
But what if there’s a reason behind it?
In Revolutionary France, certain words could become a jail sentence. Support for the monarchy muttered under your breath could be introduced to your trial, often in the form of a signed statement taken elsewhere, and then you went off to the guillotine while the witness against you — more often than not — took over your business, wife or position.
Over a century later in the Soviet Union they did the same thing: those who spoke out against the glorious system of Marxism-Leninism found themselves busting rocks in a frozen gulag. Hence people were hesistant to criticize, since if anyone heard them, he or she could make a quick statement at the local police office and take over whatever the offending person owned.
Having learned from those failures, we have a new way of ensuring that no one speaks against the Republic: government decides on ideological ideals, writes laws and dumps money on them, and thus if any citizen speaks against them, he is publicly shamed and as a result gets fired from his job, his wife leaves him, no one will play with the kids, and no one takes his calls. We don’t just play along with the gulag and guillotine routine, but do it one better: we erase your presence in society above anonymous minimum wage jobs.
This is why Gary Oldman is apologizing for these (and other) comments he made in an interview whose theme could have been stated as Why I hate Political Correctness (PC):
Mel Gibson is in a town that’s run by Jews and he said the wrong thing because he’s actually bitten the hand that I guess has fed him — and doesn’t need to feed him anymore because he’s got enough dough,” Oldman said in the interview. “But some Jewish guy in his office somewhere hasn’t turned and said, ‘That f***ing kraut’ or ‘F*** those Germans,’ whatever it is? We all hide and try to be so politically correct. That’s what gets me. It’s just the sheer hypocrisy of everyone.
For this he issued a deliberately robotic apology:
“I am deeply remorseful that comments I recently made in the Playboy Interview were offensive to many Jewish people,” Oldman said. “Upon reading my comments in print — I see how insensitive they may be, and how they may indeed contribute to the furtherance of a false stereotype. Anything that contributes to this stereotype is unacceptable, including my own words on the matter.”
Conservatives stand alone as the one side of the political spectrum that does not offer speech codes. We treat speech like products: put anything you want on the shelf, but if it doesn’t sell to someone, it will go away. For this reason, conservatives never invented political correctness or anything like it. Our version of PC is politeness: we expect that people will say whatever they want, but in a logical and not emotionally deranged manner, so that what we see are discussions of a reasonable nature, not the fiery hate-baiting of the maniacs.
That’s probably to our disadvantage. Controlling speech controls minds. If you can get people to censor their actual thoughts before they say them, they will listen to what they hear themselves saying and eventually believe that represents the original thoughts. Consider the “scientific basis” of PC, linguistic relativism:
Many thinkers have urged that large differences in language lead to large differences in experience and thought. They hold that each language embodies a worldview, with quite different languages embodying quite different views, so that speakers of different languages think about the world in quite different ways. This view is sometimes called the Whorf-hypothesis or the Whorf-Sapir hypothesis, after the linguists who made it famous…The passages from Sapir and Whorf bristle with metaphors of coercion: our thought is “at the mercy” of our language, it is “constrained” by it; no one is free to describe the world in a neutral way; we are “compelled” to read certain features into the world.
Back in the 1980s when the left cooked up PC, they used this theory to suggest that language which marginalized certain groups caused us to think less of those groups. Thus, they reasoned, we should change our language to be un-biased in every way possible. This launched two decades of speech codes at American Universities which are now normalized through the preschool level.
The kicker is that Whorf-Sapir works both ways. If biased language can influence our minds, forced unbiased language can as well. It prevents us from criticizing anything or anyone protected under the mantle of equality, which is essentially every leftist program ever created. In other words, through a sleight-of-hand with language, the left has switched us from being able to criticize them to being seen as bad guys for doing so.
They threaten us with ostracism and social disapproval. Ironically, these same reactions formed the mainstay of their objection to conservatives who wagged fingers at promiscuity, drug use and other symptoms of social breakdown. It’s time we recognize political correctness for what it is: totalitarian thought control.