The Lives of Others
It's been quite a week for Hate Speech. First Donald Sterling loses the Clippers and now the BBC's Jeremy Clarkson may lose his job.
In the unseen footage – which was later edited out of the show – the £1million a year TV host is seen swinging his finger between two cars, while reciting a racist version of a children’s counting rhyme.
Clarkson can be heard chanting: “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe...” He then mumbles: “Catch a n***** by his toe”.
The shocking footage comes not long after Clarkson was involved in another offensive outburst, when he was accused of using the term “slope” while filming in Thailand for the flagship BBC car show.
The horror. Oh the horror. Really?
The publicly available biographies of Donald Sterling strongly suggest he has been, shall we say an opinionated person, for most of his 81 years, the sort of person who might even refer to himself in derogatory terms. Clarkson, who is 54 years old, has also probably been exactly who he is for a long time. The idea that Sterling or Clarkson are suddenly become racists after being paragons of tolerance for these many decades is ludicrous.
Well they were paragons until outed by their private communications; Sterling's via a recording by his girlfriend and Clarkson from outtakes on the cutting room floor. The NAACP was happy to take Sterling's money and the BBC delighted to employ Clarkson for so long as appearances could be maintained. Nobody really cared who either really was and happily took their money or marketed their star power.
PC doesn't concern itself with the truth because it's all about outward show. Political correctness consists in the maintenance of appearances and the observation of forms. Who you really are, what you really do is unimportant, so long as it stays under wraps. You can be whatever you want, simply never let it known.
Thus the offense is to be caught. Jimmy Savile was alright as children's patron just as Cyril Smith was a left wing working class hero. Abundant evidence suggests that many who knew them at any level of depth must have realized they were pedophiles. Yet the outrage only emerged when the facts became public.
Who cares about reality? spin's the thing. It didn't use to be this way. In the old days the poet Edward Guest wrote about a lost virtue called sincerity:
To have no secret place wherein
I stoop unseen to shame or sin;
To be the same when I'm alone
As when my every deed is known;
To live undaunted, unafraid
Of any step that I have made;
To be without pretense or sham
Exactly what men think I am.
Guest was a silly man. Modern political correctness stands this creed exactly on its head. Political correctness is not interested in what you actually are. It is only interested in how you look. Sterling was sterling until the recording. There is not -- nor was there ever -- any intention for PC to purge the human heart of racial hatred or personal vileness, though that is its ostensible purpose. Codes governing hate speech are not meant to suppress hate. They are meant to suppress speech.
The minor purpose of political correctness is to provide a living for the purveyors of intellectual deodorant and perfume. How else would people whose profession is image management and legal review survive? They are the real sanitation engineers of the modern world. But that is small potatoes, it's actual purpose is ... well to understand we should digress by revisiting a recent review of Elizabeth Warren's book, A Fighting Chance by the New York Times.
In it Warren talks about 'insiders' and 'outsiders'.
“The game is rigged and the American people know that. They get it right down to their toes.” ...
A telling anecdote involves a dinner that Ms. Warren had with Lawrence H. Summers, then the director of the National Economic Council and a top economic adviser to President Obama. The dinner took place in the spring of 2009, after the oversight panel had produced its third report, concluding that American taxpayers were at far greater risk to losses in TARP than the Treasury had let on.
After dinner, “Larry leaned back in his chair and offered me some advice,” Ms. Warren writes. “I had a choice. I could be an insider or I could be an outsider. Outsiders can say whatever they want. But people on the inside don’t listen to them. Insiders, however, get lots of access and a chance to push their ideas. People — powerful people — listen to what they have to say. But insiders also understand one unbreakable rule: They don’t criticize other insiders.
“I had been warned,” Ms. Warren concluded.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Summers did not respond to a request for comment.
Summers should know how you go from being an 'insider' to an 'outsider'. He was president of Harvard until one day in a fit of absentmindedness Summers told a faculty gathering that a comparative study should be made of women's aptitudes in mathematics and engineering.
It was mere academic suggestion. A proposal into inquiry. But people in the audience fainted because merely to suggest such a thing was the equivalent of a racial epithet. Summers was drummed out of Harvard. If Elizabeth Warren was warned, it was because Summers knew whereof he spoke.
Which brings us to the major function of political correctness. Political correctness is about blackmail. It is used to control insiders and aspiring insiders by creating an inevitable tension between private behavior -- which soon enough becomes secret behavior -- and an unreachable and sanctimonious standard. PC creates an institutional hypocrisy through which the nomenklatura can be policed. The price of being an "insider" is consenting to have the Sword of Damocles dangle over your head.
Do you wonder why the elite stick together? They have to. I predict that the next few years will be golden moments for lip readers, wiretappers, private detectives, keyhole listeners and dumpster-divers. And oh, there's the NSA. PC may eventually create a moral order, but it will the moral order of the snake-pit.
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