Political correctness is rampant in the English-speaking world. Certain words, phrases or sentences may not be uttered without fear of being pilloried. The 21st century ‘stocks’ are social media, where verbal excrement, and even death threats, are levelled at the ‘social outcast’.
The Economist records 426 ‘culprits’ who have lost their positions or been investigated or demoted at prestigious universities; others have suffered in government departments, schools, law firms or commercial enterprises. That the ‘crime’ might have been committed many years ago, in another time and in other circumstances, carries no exculpation. The past is no longer ‘another country’.
What is it about individual PC thought-policemen which makes them so angry?
I diagnose the culprits as having an underlying personal insecurity. These people seem to need praise and approval. Their lives depend on the ‘likes’ and ‘thumbs up’ emojis they earn through social media comments.
The approval of the often anonymous ‘likers’ seems to have become their psychological oxygen. It is as if they derive their sense of self-worth through the judgement of these social media commentators. Is that not pathetic?
Are they lacking in deriving a sense of self-worth from the people whom (before the pandemic) they know in person, whom they meet and with whom they converse in their homes, at work, in their friendship or sporting groups?
Along with this ‘group-think’ goes the denial of facts which conflict with PC orthodoxy. In 1951, astute observer of human behaviour, Eric Hoffer, wrote: “It is the true believer’s ability to ‘shut his eyes and stop his ears’ to facts that do not deserve to be either seen or heard which is the source of his unequalled fortitude and constancy.” (My emphasis)
Is there a cure? If there is, I fear that it must be pitched at an emotional, not a rational, level. But how do we find the key to dealing with each individuals’ insecurity?