Cancer of political correctness corrodes society’s very fabric

Cancer of political correctness corrodes society’s very fabric, by Peter Baldwin, a former minister in the Hawke and Keating governments, to a conference on Political Correctness and Free Speech in the Age of Social Media held at Deakin University.

I consider the mindset we have come to refer to as political correctness to be a cancer, an ideological malignancy afflicting the Western world that chills speech, wantonly and unjustly destroys the lives and reputations of decent people, and seriously compromises our ability to hold open and honest debates about some of the most important issues that face our societies.

Defenders of PC see it as essentially benign, except in maybe a few extreme cases. All it does, they say, is urge us to avoid racist, sexist and homophobic abuse, just institutionalized politeness really.

The great tragedy is that modern PC ideology is a ghastly mutation of earlier movements that embodied these very sentiments: the civil rights movement to end racial discrimination, earlier waves of feminism that demanded equality of opportunity for women, the campaigns to end legal discrimination against homosexuals.

The defining feature of these earlier campaigns was a vision of a common humanity, not a world where people are seen, first and foremost, as members of one or other identity group category. …

Nowadays the Left is obsessed about race and determined to perpetuate racial distinctions. To say “there is only one race, the human race” or to say “all lives matter” are now serious affronts. Statements of viewpoint have to be prefaced by phrases like “as a woman” or “as a trans person” or “as a Muslim”. …

[PC] deploys a growing array of curse words — racist, sexist, fascist, far-right, homophobe, transphobe, Islamophobe, genocide-apologist — to delegitimise speech and to peremptorily declare certain viewpoints beyond the pale, not to be even heard or debated. …

Political correctness [is] the compliance and enforcement arm of identity politics, policing the boundaries of what can be said and debated when questions of identity are involved.