“Did you tell professor ‘iggins that I arrived by taxi cab?”
“Nonsense,” replied the housekeeper. “What does a gentleman like professor Higgins care how you arrived!”
Ah, the philistine and their superficial understanding of substance. Fortunately, poor Eliza Doolittle was only a single phenomenon. In great quantity philistines can be dangerous. A large covey can enforce their unlearned background’s concept of success and they can begin to create their own standards and cross references. Usually this amounts to bringing down the true standard to their level of accomplishment, which isn’t that grand, and then they declared “See, what we’ve attained?”
The Industrial Revolution saw many new and strange standards of propriety come into being, all originating with the influx into greater wealth by a new manufacturing class. There was the proper way to set a table. Their was proper form. For the second generation the school they had attended became a big deal, since these wretches were hairy about the heels and didn’t have any breeding. There was a certain way to wear your, yes, monocle in your eye and then a proper way to drop it in shock at hearing some tidbit of etiquette lost.
Etiquette was the word. It was the equivalent for Victorians as “politically correct” is today for a similar bunch of clodhoppers. It is a French word, you know. Quite the rage back then. Nouveau riche was another French term, one the new rich didn’t care for. It meant a pretentious philistine, which is different than just a philistine. The latter indicates an ignorant knave putting on airs.
In any case, the ghastly bunch were moralizers. The best of the lot built great edifices, using their wealth to prove they weren’t philistines. But they were. Yet they left behind some wonderful and practical buildings.
It seems the politically correct– the knavish and trivial who think they have etiquette– always come after a period of great prosperity. Their entire goal may be to look “better than the Jones,” but they are and remain little more informed than poor Eliza Doolittle. The grandchildren of Victorian philistines became a better lot. They were raised with money. They have their own interests. They really didn’t care to try and harp on the middle class on how to live. The flappers of the Roaring 20s were far from trivial or politically correct, and they were the Victorians’ grandchildren.
Mercifully, we had a great lull in this diabolical trait of shallow piety. But, alas, it is with us again, and has been with us ever since the news needed something to fill in the time after perestroika. It’s been 25 years of nitpicking oppression. An entire generation views it as “establishment,” and they are sick of the hawking on every word they speak. There is now a great move to classify and finally wipe out “political correctism.”
It is clear that the politically correct are not very intelligent. Even a dog can tell intent by inflection and tone. But the politically correct react viscerally to just a word regardless of context. It seems a learned reaction, the way you teach a cow to walk down a ramp by putting the bull shockers on its rump. Their desire to appear pious disposes them to their haughty responses. It’s a desire they must incessantly feed, and this makes them incapable of contextualizing 3 sentences and 20 seconds of time. But obviously there are so many of these hairy heels out there putting on unlearned airs, so it seems they have essentially created some twisted upside down protocol of proper behavior that they call “politically correct.”
Their establishment is bizarre, just like the twisted morality of Roman freeman during the most decadent era of Rome. Of the rise and fall of these louts, Juvenal wrote: “Yesterday they were bullies, today they control our lives, tomorrow they are keepers of the public toilettes.”
In order to send back the current crop to their deserved station, it must be acknowledged that modern philistines originate with the Yuppies, not with liberalism. The Yuppies were the “30 somethings” of Reaganomics. If ever there were philistines, it was them. They had been the hippies and the yippies of the late 1960s and now in the 1980s they swang with the pendulum to the opposite extreme– hyper establishment mentality, big city centricity, judging people by the cars they drove, the label in their clothes, the restaurants at which they ate and, curiously, the school they had attended, just like those Victorian imitators of haute snootery. I don’t know what journalist coined the word, but they hit the nail on the head. The yippies were now the “up and coming” generation, so they were “Yuppies.”
I’m afraid they didn’t have any noble philosophy like their fellow Baby Boomers in the late 1960s. In fact, they had no philosophy. It was all veneer. “Greed is good.” Perhaps this was the ill effect of having thrown their teachers out of school. They never seemed to have learned or, seeing that they could beat a rattle in the 1960s and get what they wanted, they just needed to swing with any whim and it was OK, one extreme or the other. “Perception is reality” — the mantra of cynics. In truth, reality is reality and perception is what we make of it.
Political correctism started in the late 1980s with a haughty desire to look sophisticated and it was made possible by a really limited vocabulary. You will note that the politically correct do not use adjectives and adverbs. They may know “very” and “offensive,” but on the whole they never qualify a statement. They use only nouns and verbs; and using only nouns and verbs they speak in the manner of maxims. Maxims are created by nouns and verbs. But all the standards or life, all of its nuances, all the qualifications, are reflected in adjectives and adverbs. They may know what adjectives and adverbs are, but they don’t seem to have the complexity of mind to reach for them in order to qualify a statement.
This may be television’s fault. It has become cliché to blame TV, but TV news does not use adjectives and adverbs. Newscasters use only nouns and verbs and often that little inflection to indicate you are a looser if you do not agree.
For example, during the recent Republican primary heat, a newscaster presented the difficulties Jeb(!) Bush and Hillary Clinton were having with popularity– these political old hats. The newscaster then asked: “Is it a disadvantage to be from a dynasty?” Of course, had an adjective like “bad” or “good” been added, the question becomes pointless and the news anchor is sitting there with their face hanging out looking like a marsh hen. How about “Is it a disadvantage to be a good member of a bad dynasty?” Well, you can get into a little bit of discussion with that, but news is not the place.
News is a place of anodyne presentation– the gravitas of zombies.
Politically correct, if you’ve noticed, doesn’t use adjectives and adverbs. There is some inflection in their sentences of nouns and verbs that you are a horrid sinner for whatever reason, but they never qualify the statement.
The upshot is that “politically correct” cannot qualify even the most basic concepts and morals. Racism, for instances. A nasty thing. I’ve seen people carved up because of their race. You don’t want to see it. But without minds that can qualify, the politically correct misuse the words “discrimination” and “classify.” Discrimination implies an action. Classify does not. They think “racism” means the ability to distinguish anything.
The mind follows the steps of the 10 process skills of scientific inquiry. It is impossible for the mind to break the process. Observe, Classify, Infer, Interpret, Measure, Predict, Questions, Hypothesis, Experiment, Model Building (i.e. reproducing an effect.) The thinking mind, the inquiring mind, will and must follow this sequence. This is why Einstein said that “Science is merely the refinement of everyday thinking.” The product is judged by the criterion of Logic– your conclusions must be supported by the reasons you give.
There is a wonderful old movie entitled Desk Set in which Spencer Tracy’s character of Richard Sumner asks Kate Hepburn’s character of Bunny Watson an actual intelligence quotient question. “When first seeing a person, what is the first thing you notice about them?” Many people hum and ah, but Bunny Watson answers correctly, of course– “Whether they are male of female.”
Observe- Classify. She answered correctly. Naturally, everybody notices the same, but the brain acts so quickly that most people are unaware of the steps it takes. They do indeed notice whether someone is male or female, not their hair color first, not their nose, not even the color of their skin.
The brain cannot be trained to break this chain. Normal people can only be intimidated to express what they see and classify by those who frankly are quite unaware of basic mental processes. Upon basic observe and classify the politically correct add an inference of sin. You dare to recognize something different about people! There is nothing wrong with it. Observe–Classify. But the politically correct philistines don’t understand the difference and they are hamstrung by their silverback urge to dominate the herd. Thus they cannot learn.
The self righteous, for so the politically correct are, have a limited vocabulary and a penchant to find sin, for that very reason. Their conflict of interest is to sound pious. They bury the very process– the healthy process– of inquiry and learning, masking everything behind numerous negative inferences.
It is not legalese to strictly follow the rules of circumstantial evidence. It is the process of inquiry of scientific method. In court, as indeed in any pursuit trying to uncover truth, only one inference may be made upon a set of circumstances that can be determined as facts. This is the Rule of Circumstantial Evidence.
Law students will be given the following example: You are sitting at an intersection in your car. The light is red in front of you. A car zooms past you and speeds through the intersection. That is direct evidence that that person ran a red light. You are stopped at the intersecting street. Your light is green. A car rips across the intersection in front of you. That is circumstantial evidence that the driver ran a red light. You must infer from the circumstances that he ran the red light because you did not see his light was red, but the circumstances tell you the light had to be red.
One inference alone upon a set of circumstances established as fact. You cannot infer upon inference and infer the driver’s motive for running the red light. You are assuming a state of mind you cannot possibly know.
This is true of all circumstances. Now, if he rips through and flips you off, you have another fact upon which to fit in the circumstances and draw an inference– he doesn’t give a damn about you.
The reason why there is such a massive movement now to crush the pious and judgmental of “political correctism” is that it is unnatural. It adds inference upon inference, and always the most negative inference, upon basic observations and classifications. It tries to stifle the natural process of the brain by implying there is some terrible sin in noticing a difference between people. The politically correct, in their stifling philistine ignorance, prefer their inferences and inferences upon inferences. It feeds their bitter pompousness.
If Star Trek was to be reborn as a series I was tempted to write a spec script in which the Enterprise discovers a planet in which all the inhabitants wear blindfolds. Their purpose is unity. To see anything, to distinguish anything is to discriminate. Their minds were poisoned with a past, uncouth generation that had nothing but simple language of verbs and nouns. The result was to blind themselves so that they might be pure. Captain Kirty, the erstwhile hero of that series, had to teach them that uniformity and unity are not the same thing. Everybody can be different and unique and it is OK. They take their blindfolds off to rejoice in the many splendors of creation. The generation that caused them to find sin in everything had long passed. Now seeing more than the constriction of darkness, they beheld everything with joy.
Such a world we head for, a world where nouns and verbs predominate . . . unless the pious and their simple minded vocabulary and penchant to find sin in everything but uniformity is finally thwarted.
In our next installment of “Monocles in Your Mashed Potatoes” we will look at another incarnation of the philistine– The pedigree extender. As a gun is a phallus extender for some of the kinkier lowlife of our society, so these uncouth ruffians think their university gives them some connection to reflected glory.