Auntie Establishment
August 9, 2006 7:50 AM   Subscribe

The Contrarians is a CBC radio program about the things you can't say. Stream it live Tuesday mornings at 9:30 or Wednesday nights. Past topics include feminism, peace keeping, hip-hop and (caution: irony) copyright reform .
posted by Capn (17 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Huh. The Paul Graham essay lost me completely when he used the phrase "political correctness" as if it actually meant something.
posted by jokeefe at 7:59 AM on August 9, 2006


Eh. This doesn't appear to have a webcast, so it's pretty much useless to me.
posted by Tuffy at 8:02 AM on August 9, 2006


Eh. This doesn't appear to have a webcast, so it's pretty much useless to me.
posted by Tuffy at 8:02 AM PST


OR an MP3 even.....
posted by rough ashlar at 8:16 AM on August 9, 2006


Ah, the good old CBC ..... always reliable for the kind of rational, level-headed, calm-and-quiet (not to say boring) shows that would make almost every network or station programmer in the United States scratch his or her head in exasperated bewilderment. "Where's the conflict? Where's the screaming? Where's the rage? Where's Michael Savage?"

But streaming live instead of offering a podcast: huge miscalculation.
posted by blucevalo at 8:26 AM on August 9, 2006


I found the article to be outstanding, if a bit wordy.

I think he demonstrated why political correctness, in all it's non-meaning glory, was still an effective phrase. It gave people a label to use when attacking a broad concept, something that was hard to do before the label existed.

He pointed out that such labels are effective because it allows you to disagree with a subject while not getting drug down into the details.

Which is one of the tactics he mentions that I'm not sure I agree with but seems intriguing. Add a layer of abstraction to those things you agree with. Keep the details of why you disagree in your mind only. Don't get called out on the simple details.

The problem I see with this is that then you aren't spreading the knowledge that might otherwise help sway the masses. But, if you're arguing with someone who's mind won't change anyway, it won't make a difference.
posted by killThisKid at 8:36 AM on August 9, 2006


But streaming live instead of offering a podcast: huge miscalculation.

It is a contrarian show, you know.
posted by jimmythefish at 9:00 AM on August 9, 2006


I found the article to be outstanding, if a bit wordy.

I found the opposite. Political correctness is a label that allows the dominant group to play the role of victim and feel persecuted for using "politically incorrect" language. No one ever unironically admonishes you for not being politically correct, but rather they toss it up as a defense - "I know this is isn't politically correct, but..." etc.

What is often perceived as politically correct is little more than civility and politeness to a group or an idea that runs counter to one's political or religious beliefs. But of course people don't want to be polite. They'd rather shout "God Hates Fags" or "Go back to Africa" or whatever while simultaneously priding themselves on their courage to speak out.

And the idea of a show about things you can't say has been done to death in the United States. It's called morning drive-time FM radio.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:07 AM on August 9, 2006


It's political incorrectness gone mad.
posted by Flashman at 9:47 AM on August 9, 2006 [1 favorite]


Political correctness is a label that allows the dominant group to play the role of victim and feel persecuted for using "politically incorrect" language. No one ever unironically admonishes you for not being politically correct,

I dunno about that. It's more when it's taken to ridiculous extremes out of some grave fear of not being sensitive enough. Also, it reduces serious issues to linguistic gaffes and chums up the waters with minutia.
posted by jonmc at 10:12 AM on August 9, 2006


But of course people don't want to be polite. They'd rather shout "God Hates Fags" or "Go back to Africa"

nice conflation, by the way. Not everybody who has issues with linguistic policing is a racist or a homophobe.
posted by jonmc at 10:13 AM on August 9, 2006


Not everybody who has issues with linguistic policing

I don't think it's linguistic policing. There are two forces at work. One is the desire to be sensitive, and leads to people being overly sensitive "differently-abled" vs "handicapped" for example. This is the desire to be politically correct. But this gives rise to the second force, which is the fear that someone else's newly sensitive language renders your language insensitive - in other words, if you feel like your referring of someone as handicapped makes you insensitive because someone else is using the more sensitive "differently abled", this is the fear of being politically incorrect.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:55 AM on August 9, 2006


that's one way of looking at it, and in some cases maybe it's true, but other times, it's merely exasperation at people who relentlessly correct, like someone admonishing you for using the wrong fork. And that tends to produce a reaction, cumulatively.
posted by jonmc at 11:41 AM on August 9, 2006


The term 'politically correct' was used in a manner against political correctness. He's not advocating it, he's using it as an example where the proper label empowered people to be against the big picture while not being bogged down in a case by case basis argument, the example being a policy where you can't compliment someone's shirt.

This is something that the political right has done very well with, being able to lump large disparated concepts under one umbrella term and then just be against that. That's effective.

It also very anti-discussion, and is a major attribute of our current political situation.

'The war on terrorism' seems to be a good example. If you're against the war on terror, people can attack you from many, many angles, but the logical reality of the situation is that you can't defeat an concept. The right label empowers those who wield it.
posted by killThisKid at 12:54 PM on August 9, 2006 [1 favorite]


killThiskid,
Well put. Pastabagel and others seem to be missing the point of the example. It doesn't matter whether a label is "real" or not. If the label can be used to hinder discussion, by any person or group for any reason, it's real enough.

Also:
"And the idea of a show about things you can't say has been done to death in the United States. It's called morning drive-time FM radio."


Did you read the article? Graham directly addresses this point:
"It's tantalizing to think we believe things that people in the future will find ridiculous. What would someone coming back to visit us in a time machine have to be careful not to say? That's what I want to study here. But I want to do more than just shock everyone with the heresy du jour."
He's not trying to be the next Howard Stern. He's just asking us to examine the ideas and taboos we have now, and think about their value and the reasons for them, which seems like a worthwhile undertaking.
posted by Sangermaine at 1:15 PM on August 9, 2006


And the idea of a show about things you can't say has been done to death in the United States. It's called morning drive-time FM radio.

This is nothing like shock-jock radio. They have zero in common.
posted by raedyn at 1:30 PM on August 9, 2006


Now that I think about it, the very reaction in this thread by jokeefe is an example of the idea. jokeefe dismissed the whole thing just upon the mention of a specific phrase, not even realizing that it wasn't a matter of advocating or refuting, but that it was being used as an example.

The phrase itself is so loaded as to short-circuit thought.

No offense, jokeefe.

'Politically correct' is something that Graham can't say because it short circuits thought.

I took a test once that determined one's stance on morals, i.e., relative or absolute. One of the questions was, if a brother and sister, in their 30s, went on vacation to a different country, no one knew they were siblings, they had perfect birth control (he was snipped or something). They had sex, they both enjoyed it, and it was fond memory of them for the rest of their lives. What’s your moral stance?

Taboo? Yep, but why? That's the point being made here. We, as a society or as institutions, have reactions to things, concepts, events, one of those reactions being to suppress said things. Why? And what will the future think of us for said reactions?

I would hazard that the general case is that over time, less things are taboo. Modern culture seems to represent that.
posted by killThisKid at 1:38 PM on August 9, 2006


There was a lengthy discussion of political correctness previously on Metafilter, which fairly quickly broke down to a discussion of affirmative action, which pretty quickly broke down to a ladder match.

Which I think helps to illustrate the problem with the term - as soon as it leaves the gate, the sound of a thousand angry bees rises up and makes it very hard to hear what the other person is saying. Of course, in certain circumstances that need not be a bad thing.
posted by tannhauser at 4:35 AM on August 10, 2006


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