Thursday, October 27, 2005

Another New Series: PC-Watch!

One of the most absurd claims made by the liberal Left is that political correctness is a non-existent idea, developed by the Right as an easy, general smear, rather a coherent thought process. The Intellectual Left, in that pompous way that only they can manage, define what the Right call PC as merely good policy.

I don’t subscribe to Wayne Mapp’s reported description of political correctness as just the means of a minority to enforce its will on the majority. That is certainly the effect, as the majority do not subscribe to the politically correct agenda. But it’s not the key point. It is really the process by which a group of people aim to shut down discussion and debate by labeling certain viewpoints as taboo. It is no less harmful just because the majority happen to oppose the liberal PC agenda.

It is therefore not PC for a man to claim that he believes a woman’s place is in the kitchen. It might be his perspective. But in many parts of society—particularly the Wellington liberal set—any man who expresses that view will be shouted down and silenced. The smacking debate, in which the liberals would like to make criminals of parents who use even moderate physical force in disciplining their children by lumping them alongside violent offenders—is a classic example. A person who questions the entitlement of a perfectly able person to live a lifetime on a benefit without any compulsion to work, is considered by many liberals to be a fascist. A woman who declares that her belief is that homosexuality is wrong and sinful is threatened with a human rights complaint, merely for expressing that belief. Questioning the level of arts funding in the Capital is likely to trigger a storm of protest from the chardonnay-swilling, “freethinking” Labour voters, with cries of philistinism.

The PC agenda is a liberal agenda. It attempts to control how people think, and their right to express their thoughts, by both restricting the language of debate, and what is acceptable to debate. It makes clearly liberal assumptions about what is acceptable, and does not brook argument of those assumptions.

There is an easy test for the existence of political correctness in any dialogue: if in a group discussion, a single person contests the assumptions of the debate, and that person is shouted down, then political correctness has won. When there is no opportunity to argue the language of debate, there can be only one answer, and debate itself is futile. PC “values” do not protect the dissenting voice: they make value judgements about which voice should be heard, and aim to silence all other dissenting voices.

Defenders of politically correct strategies deny that it exists in the public sector. That is a nonsense. Taking up the challenge to cite specific examples, as Wayne Mapp is planning to do, I will assist him by highlighting each week one of the many public sector PC excesses.

The great irony, of course, is that the result of the PC agenda is publicly quite visible. It is just seldom documented. So Helen Clark is feted at the New Zealand music awards, and lauded by both audience and presenters, while Don Brash’s arrival is jeered and booed by all. And that is seen as acceptable behaviour. Business is bad, Government is good. Rich people are evil, poor people—but not so poor as to not be able to afford the glad rags on display at the Music awards—good. Economic success is wrong, whereas a life of welfare is ideal. Why? Because Helen is a curry-chomping, socialist, gay-friendly icon, whereas Don Brash is a middle-aged male who wants to question the key assumptions that the Liberal Left hold about New Zealand society.

The PC agenda is most pervasive in the delivery of social services. PC behaviour is not necessarily found in the press releases, the ministerial speeches, or even departmental brochures or briefing papers, where it can be readily exposed and ridiculed. Rather, it is deep in the culture of the organization that key liberal assumptions are made about debatable issues, for no other reason than to further advance the liberal grip in the public sector.

But on with this week’s example. Because as much as the PC brigade attempt to conceal their motives, if you dig deep enough, you’ll find evidence of how they think, and more alarmingly, how they want everybody else to think. Take this example:

“It is essential that a Ministry of Health person has an understanding of Mäori issues. This includes an awareness of traditional and contemporary Mäori and Iwi structures, key Mäori concepts, an awareness of legislation, Treaty of Waitangi issues and policy affecting the key areas of work.”

This statement appears in a job description for a certain position at the Ministry of Health. Let’s break it down.

An understanding of Mäori issues. Right. What does that mean? What constitutes that understanding? Who defines it? Who judges how valid that understanding is? Who determines whether that understanding is right or wrong?

An awareness of traditional and contemporary Mäori and Iwi structures. Why? If there exists a programme whereby services are delivered through contemporary Maori structures, why is it necessary to be aware of traditional structures that existed in 1840, but are now non-existent? How does that assist in the delivery of health services?

Key Mäori concepts.” Okay. But what are they? Who decides what those key Mäori concepts are? Is there a set list, set down somewhere, that establishes those Mäori concepts in stone? Are those key concepts not open to debate? Are they unchanging, and concrete? And if so, how can the Treaty of Waitangi be a living document, as so many liberal academics and bureaucrats describe it, if key Mäori concepts are so definite?

And the job description in question is for a financial analyst. It is no less than a key requirement for the employee to fulfill. Yes, folks, at the Ministry of Health, a cost accountant, preparing budget forecasts and financial data models, is required by the Ministry of Health to be indoctrinated in its inalienable version of what constitutes “Maori issues”. It doesn't matter how good a financial analyst a person is; if they do not subscribe to the Ministry's liberal view of Maori issues, they do not make the grade.

24 comments:

waymad said...

I can almost see the day coming when a database or Web administrator's job description includes something like:

'must be fluent in SQL, Perl, .Net, C# and Maori'

The whole techo area has been mercifully free of this shite, so far...

Insolent Prick said...

Ah, waymad. Wait until next week when I reveal which Government department requires test analysts to understand the "principles of Te Tiriti O Waitangi".

waymad said...

Yee-Ha! I'll be in the Auld Country at that point but will keep watch for your revelations over this InterWeb thingo.

Pip said...

"There is an easy test for the existence of political correctness in any dialogue: if in a group discussion, a single person contests the assumptions of the debate, and that person is shouted down, then political correctness has won."

Um, that's a test for a politically aligned blog, not Political Correctness.

Josh said...

"One of the most absurd claims made by the liberal Left is that political correctness is a non-existent idea, developed by the Right as an easy, general smear, rather a coherent thought process."

I don't know that anyone claims "the the Right" developed PC -- personally, I think it's a formerly-meaningful phrase which has, over a decade or two of misuse and abuse by pretty much everyone, lost all meaning, and I'm yet to be convinced otherwise. Sure, plenty of people can describe PC, point to what they consider to be examples of it, or even give their definition of it, but I'm yet to see a definition that everyone agrees on, and that is not so vague and generic as to be, well, meaningless.

Cathy Odgers said...

contemporary Mäori and Iwi structures...

Yes. It's probably important I guess that the accountant understands the newly treatised at law "Awatere Huata" accounting priciple in dealing with funds held in trust for others.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Contemporary Maori and Iwi accounting principles include the internationally approved UN principle of "You pay, we spend."

spam said...

Good thing you used the "a"'s with the little dots above them.

Insolent Prick said...

It was a cut-and-paste quote. Wouldn't have used it otherwise.

Andy Soprano said...

Excellent post, IP - a great read.

Cheers, Andy.

Anonymous said...

"if in a group discussion, a single person contests the assumptions of the debate, and that person is shouted down, then political correctness has won."

I would point out that you're a fairly good shouter yourself...

It is therefore not PC for a man to claim that he believes a woman’s place is in the kitchen.

Of course not. Nor has it been for a number of successive Labour or National governments. If a wayward Nat MP were to state the above views, do you really believe he would not be promptly told to shut up by senior members? A large part of the population (liberal or otherwise) would find this view to be offensive anyway, so what's the issue here?

It might be his perspective.

Irrelevant...

But in many parts of society—particularly the Wellington liberal set—any man who expresses that view will be shouted down and silenced.

So... if many parts of society don't agree with a view, or find it offensive, that shouldn't matter? One is more than welcome to express their views, but to expect government agencies to adopt them just because it would be 'too-PC' otherwise is farcical. Remember, we are not talking about individuals and freedom of speech - we are talking about public policy and public discourse. Plus, you have to admit that at least some perspectives are too outlandish to be taken seriously in the first place.

"The smacking debate, in which the liberals would like to make criminals of parents who use even moderate physical force in disciplining their children by lumping them alongside violent offenders—is a classic example."

An example of public discussion over what is best for our children? I too think the idea is a terrible one, and impossible to enforce.. but this is NOT pc. What you are saying is that we shouldn't have this discussion at all because it be too politically correct to do so. How is restricting discussion from the outset a good thing?

"A person who questions the entitlement of a perfectly able person to live a lifetime on a benefit without any compulsion to work, is considered by many liberals to be a fascist."

Not sure why you think anyone would think like this. Not worth commenting.

"A woman who declares that her belief is that homosexuality is wrong and sinful is threatened with a human rights complaint, merely for expressing that belief."

Back in the day, when homophobia was normal and homosexuality criminalised, it was 'PC' to suppress homosexuality. Those thinking otherwise would be branded radical trouble makers. Now the situation is reversed - you blame politcal correctness... I would blame changing attitudes.

"Questioning the level of arts funding in the Capital is likely to trigger a storm of protest from the chardonnay-swilling, “freethinking” Labour voters, with cries of philistinism."

This one is really off the map. So what? Isn't that their right? What you seem to be saying is that what Lavour voters think is PC, and what you think is not. How is that an reasoned argument? You havn't said why what you think is any 'better' than what anyone else thinks. Your best attempt is that "[Political correctness] attempts to control how people think, and their right to express their thoughts, by both restricting the language of debate, and what is acceptable to debate." No more than it has ever been. Political correctness is, in my understanding, similar to 'legalese'.. language that is designed to be broad, exhaustive and inclusive. To blow it off as a tool to control thought ignores the fact that most people don't think about it as much as you do. It just happens because people find it useful and use it. Free market speech as it were.

Anyway, will stop there.. it's too late and I'm rambling (badly), but it seems to me that you've only strengthened the notion that "political correctness is a non-existent idea, developed by the Right as an easy, general smear, rather a coherent thought process."

-Funzo

Oswald Bastable said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Oswald Bastable said...

Here is another way to look at the confusion between PC and Manners.

Good Manners- Refraining from comment or action that may cause offence, which YOU do , believing this to be the morally right action to follow.

PC- Being forced to do so by policy or law.

Insolent Prick said...

Oswald,

I think the whole "PC is just good manners" argument is bullshit.

Requiring financial analysts to comply with a government department's treaty dogma has nothing to do with good manners, by any stretch. It is making assumptions about a person's belief system, pure and simple. It is trying to normalise the liberal agenda.

Nor is it "good manners" to require public servants to say karakia before a meeting, while banning Christian prayer. Liberals aren't consistent on this: they attempt to elevate non-Christian faith at the expense of Christians.

Oswald Bastable said...

Absolutly- I was attacking but one pathetic excuse for the whole PC cancer!

The inconsistancy of liberals tends to be the only consistant thing them!

Zenskar said...

Jeez, I leave NZ for a few years and lots of the blokes become a bunch of wusses moaning and bitching about Maori culture, political correctness etc. Last job I went for over here they asked me to demonstrate a certain level of cultural awareness. I'm doing mainly technical stuff but I can't say it sent me into floods of tears or rage at the great PC injustice being done to me. If you want the job, you learn a few of the requirements and sell yourself to the interviewer.

Insolent Prick said...

Interesting viewpoint, Zenskar. Except it's wrong.

It's wrong because the public sector competes with the private sector for many people in non-policy roles. Employees have choices. As much as unions might like to think that employees are naturally in a subservient position to employers--the reality is that an employee can piss off and work somewhere else when they don't like it.

The reason that good employees choose not to work in the public sector is because of the liberal socialist mindset--the PC culture--that says that individuals must conform to the organisational dogma. And because the Ministry of Health, among others, restricts entry to people of differing political viewpoints, the taxpayer bears the cost of that decreased quality.

Thomas said...

That is bollix - as zenskar pointed out you aren't barred from the job if you don't agree with it, you can just ignore it as an aspect of the job that doesn't really effect you. I'm sure pretty much every organisation has something about it that its employee's dislike, but they just get over it and do the job. MoH's main problem with attracting quality staff (although they do have a very high quality of staff over all) is salary restrictions, because generally people will either agree with or ignore the whole treaty/cultural awreness thing and it won't effect their decision to work there.

The whole 'pc gone mad' thing is just something some people try to use to blame the fact that they are less successful than they thought they would be. There is no conspiracy to keep the mainstream white male down, or to push any minority agenda. There is no point in railing at 'pc' - as you right wingers are so fond of pointing out, there is no one but yourself to blame (or congratulate) for where you have got to in life.

(and I know you will abuse me for this post)

Anonymous said...

"It is no less than a key requirement for the employee to fulfill".

IP, this is simply not true. The key selection criteria are quite clearly laid out in the job description concerned (I assume you refer to this one): neither the 'essential qualities for senior analyst role', 'comptency in' or even 'desirable qualities' feature any mention of anything Maori at all.

The passage to which you refer appears under 'Ministry Competencies' - Maori awareness is not even a 'core competency', of which there are six.

To say that a lack of Maori awareness would seriously disadvantage a candidate for a financial analyst position grossly misrepresents the Ministry's selection process. Perhaps a link to the actual job description would've helped readers to put your comments in context?

Zenskar said...

IP, the private sector usually pays better, and that is why many people choose to work there, unless they have some noble aspiration to support the work of government. Assuming a given public sector position paid in excess of a similar position in the private sector, do you really think that someone would turn down that higher paying job if they had a few cultural sensitivity hoops to jump through?

Insolent Prick said...

Zenskar,

Good point, but not actually correct. The public sector is actually pretty competitive with the private sector in senior management. Take, for example, an SOE like Transpower. They have a higher proportion of employees earning over $100k, as other private sector organisations of similar size.

Middle management roles are very much on a par with the private sector. Policy roles don't have an equivalent in the private sector, but they tend to be pretty well remunerated as well.

And junior public service officers are without exception as well paid--if not better--than their private sector counterparts. They certainly do not have the same commercial drivers or pressures on them internally.

There are some chief executives who are worth more in the private sector than the public sector. There are also some professional senior managers in the large functional departments, such as CFOs and CIOs in MSD and Inland Revenue who are well underpaid for their work. But those are unique exceptions.

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of policy analysts could make more in the private sector. They don't have the same commercial drivers, but they have the same requirement to provide services to a customer (eg the Minister etc) and they have the same (probably tighter) budget constraints. Since the late 80s the public sector probably expects as much if not more productivity and efficiency from its staff. So not commercial drivers, but the drivers are equivalent if not greater.

Xavier said...

What the fuck is wrong with being gay-friendly?

Zenskar said...

IP: So, you get a nice government job, same pay as the private sector and don't have the same pressures, just a bit of cultural blurb. Result! I reckon lots of well-qualified people would go for it in that case.