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The Vacuity of Political Correctness

The following was posted in January, 2008, and alas (!), political correctness still runs amuck and in ever widening circles.  It’s sort of like the vampire that won’t die.  We really need more people to shine the light of rationality and common sense more frequently in order to truly put the stake into the heart of this abomination.  Too much damage has been, and is being done by this false philosophy.


One of my favorite words in classical Hebrew is that translated “vanity,” particularly in Ecclesiastes 1:2, “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” It is the word hebel, pronounced heh’-val (for those who really want to know, the middle letter is beth without a dagesh, thus it is pronounced as a “v” rather than the hard “b” which requires a dagesh…and if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you aren’t missing anything germane to the main point of this post…this factoid is just an exercise in my pedantic desire to provide more information that you really wanted to know; but then, it is my blog…). The word literally means “a breath or vapor, a puff of air,” and thus came to designate anything insubstantial and lacking in reality or substance – in other words, our word “vanity.” But “vacuity” would work just as well.

The heart of political correctness (PC) is the demonization of anyone who says or does anything to offend any of various and sundry sensibilities of those holding to this ideology, often taking up offenses, or creating offenses, when none truly exist.

Point Number One: To offend is defined in the Oxford University Press dictionary supplied with WordPerfect as “1. to cause to feel hurt or resentful, 2. to be displeasing to, or 3. to commit an act that is illegal or that goes against an accepted principle.” This is admittedly a concise dictionary, but it seems correctly modern in that it does capture fairly well the nuances of the PC position. The first two deal specifically with feelings, and the third can easily be fit into such a subjective framework if the principle is itself subjective in nature, for example, “Thou shalt not make anyone feel bad or uncomfortable with anything they are saying or doing.”

Compare this definition, which I would consider all too subjective and thus insubstantial, to that of Noah Webster from 1828 (and as an aside, note the nature of the examples):

OFFEND’, v.t. [L. offendo; of and fendo, obs. to strike, hit, meet, or thrust against. We use the simple verb in fend, to fend off, to fence.]

1. To attack; to assail. [Not used.]

2. To displease; to make angry; to affront. It expresses rather less than make angry, and without any modifying word, it is nearly synonymous with displease. We are offended by rudeness, incivility and harsh language. Children offend their parents by disobedience, and parents offend their children by unreasonable austerity or restraint.

The emperor was grievously offended with them who had kept such negligent watch.

A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city. Prov 18.

3. To shock; to wound; as, to offend the conscience.

4. To pain; to annoy; to injure; as, a strong light offends weak eyes.

5. To transgress; to violate; as, to offend the laws. But we generally use the intransitive verb in this sense, with against; to offend against the law.

6. To disturb, annoy, or cause to fall or stumble.

Great peace have they that love thy law, and nothing shall offend them. Psa 119.

7. To draw to evil, or hinder in obedience; to cause to sin or neglect duty.

If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out – if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off. Mat 5.

OFFEND’, v.i.

1. To transgress the moral or divine law; to sin; to commit a crime.

Whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, is guilty of all. James 2.

In many things we offend all. James 3.

2. To cause dislike or anger.

I shall offend, either to detain or to give it.

But this phrase is really elliptical, some person being understood.

3. To be scandalized; to be stumbled.

If meat make my brother to offend – 1 Cor 8.

4. To offend against, to act injuriously or unjustly.

Nor yet against Caesar have I offended any thing at all. Acts 25.

5. To transgress; to violate; as, to offend against the laws of society, the laws of God, or the rules of civility or propriety.

We have offended against the Lord already. 2 Chr 28.

Note that, while the subjective aspect is present (and I do not deny that there is a subjective element), there is a significant increase in objectivity in this entry: the emphasis is more on the violation of principles and laws external to the one offended rather than simply their hurt feelings because someone disagrees with them.

Thus, my first point as illustrated by these definitions is simply that political correctness is vacuously empty because its primary basis is the most fickle and insubstantial of human responses, the emotions. While consistent with liberal multiculturalism with its denial of objective truth, this aspect of man is so easily manipulated and distorted that to base one’s responses on it is just plain stupid.

Point Number Two: The vacuity does not stop there, but continues in the double standard that renders the entire concept of political correctness illogical and irrational. As applied by the PC, the only offenses that are offensive are those committed by conservatives who hold to objective truth, particularly truth originating in the Judeo-Christian value system on which our country was founded. The problem is, even amongst liberals there are mutually exclusive ideologies, so you can’t avoid giving offense to someone if you stand for anything. There are as many opinions on most topics as there are people in the universe. So to attempt to hold a position that “offends” noone in this ambivalent wishy-washy way is logically impossible; what of those who are offended by wishy-washiness?!?

Someone has rightly observed that if you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything. Vacuity offers no resistance, but has no substance. Oddly enough, Paul’s description in Ephesians 4:14 comes to mind as an apt summary of what these people are truly like: “children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”

Political correctness: an idea whose death is long overdue. May it find its grave in 2008. [Well, how about 2015?!?!]

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