Five stars for Bill Maher apparently sucking some of John Cleese's intelligence out of him.
I don't know, I thought Cleese was about as intelligent there as anyone on Maher's show could ever hope to be. And there is some wisdom in his point that treating some minorities as too fragile to be included in the 'can make jokes about' can be insulting.
But the important part is, when he starts talking about political incorrectness, he makes the important note that there IS a good reason for it, which comes down to 'don't punch down unnessecarily', really. It just becomes mockable once you take it too far and too dumb. Which the vast, vast, vast (hell, let's say virtually all of) majority of people that complain about "political incorrectness" are too cruel, stupid, and just un-clever to grasp, because they're just mad that they can't make stupid jokes whose only punchline is 'god I hate X group so much'.
And I say that as a minority that is the butt of many of those sorts of jokes, and whom 'political correctness', at least as it is intended to work, is meant to protect, which I appreciate, when it does.
The Great Hippo
It isn't wrong to say that 'political correctness' is stupid; what's wrong is to think that it's relevant. Conservatives came up with the term to lampoon behavior they didn't like. It's so bizarre to me that it's become part of the discourse. It's like 'feminazi': If you begin the discussion by criticizing 'feminazis', then, *clearly*, you're not interested in discussing *feminists*. Because feminists != feminazis.
And so, what they're actually talking about here -- it isn't political correctness; it's just contextual awareness. Like, Cleese is shocked that people in America are more reserved about Mexican jokes than French jokes -- really? Do you understand that America has a history of demeaning Mexicans in a way that *isn't* all in good fun? That isn't political correctness; that's being aware, being sensitive, and being *cautious*.
I mean, let's tell some funny Mexican jokes -- sure! Let's tell some funny black jokes, or white jokes, or Muslim jokes. But let's also acknowledge that there are still parts of this country where these things aren't considered jokes at all -- but matters of fact -- and those parts of the country can, and *do*, vote.
When Louis C.K. says 'nigger', very few people freak the fuck out -- because Louis C.K. has put a lot of effort into making sure you understand that *he* understands under what conditions 'nigger' is not acceptable. When Bill Maher tells a Muslim joke, people *do* freak the fuck out -- because Bill Maher has put absolutely *ZERO* effort into making sure that you understand that he understands under what conditions Muslim jokes are not acceptable.
Same goes for Cleese -- and, in fact, for *all* comedians with racially/ethnically/religiously charged 'humor'. If you want to make these jokes, then for God's sake, take enough time to understand the context these jokes exist in.
There's political incorrectness and there's racism...racists just often like to say they're being politically incorrect to deflect criticism.
It's nebulous in a broad view, but on an individual level it's very easy to tell the difference between a racist and someone politically incorrect.
Political correctness exists in nature in basically one place, and that's on college campuses. The term "political correctness" was even introduced on those same campuses as some academics recognized certain tendencies towards liberal orthodoxy and the risks that come with orthodoxy.
Then conservatives got ahold of the term, and "political correctness" turned into any time anyone calls them on being bigoted assholes.
In this video, Maher seems to feel that a celebrity calling his fans assholes is being "politically incorrect", and I'm disappointed in Cleese not calling him on that. Maher desperately wants to lump all his detractors -- all ANYONE'S detractors -- into a justifiably ignorable group, which in my mind makes Maher a right shithead.
Hey Maher: about you and Muslims. If you were willing to say that, Muslims (or indeed anyone else) need to be called on it whenever they're intolerant or misogynistic, you'd find little disagreement from the Left. The problem is that you really, really want to say that ALL Muslims are intolerant or misogynistic, or that Islam itself requires intolerance / misogyny, and either way there is no such thing as a good Muslim. That makes you a bigoted fuckwit.
"Islam itself requires intolerance / misogyny"
That's exactly what following the morals laws in the text of the Koran, or the Bible for that matter, requires.
Individuals advocates of these religions, however, should be judged based on how strongly they advocate for slavery, misogyny, genocide, homophobia, apostasy, etc, when defending their chosen deity.
There are really only two groups of people who take every last word of scripture literally: fundamentalists and (some) atheists. The overwhelming majority of practitioners pick and choose to what makes sense to them, in the culture they live in.
Picking up sticks on the Sabbath remains a capital offense, per the Old Testament. That means that Christianity is still bound by it, if you go for literal readings. How many Christians, even the fundamentalists, treat that old law like it has any relevance whatsoever? How many of them even honor the day of the Sabbath, which is Saturday?
Things do get interesting when you point out these things in the relevant religious text and ask if the deity described within is immoral though.
My rule of thumb is not to discuss such matters unless someone, a person I work with or family member usually, invites comparative discussion by casually mentioning that all Muslims (see: person of middle eastern ethnic background) are bloodthirsty savages that should be deported and then bombed into extinction. Which is to say I discuss it quite a lot.
|John Holmes Motherfucker |
Only three years and four months until I get my license to be cranky!
If you watch "Modern Family", which is one my favorites, one thing you notice is that "politically correct" humor doesn't mean always mean avoiding stereotypes. Sometimes, it means adding a little compassion to the mix.
It's good to not say racist things. It's fine to criticize someone for saying racist things. To demand someone forfeit their career for inadvertently saying something racist is purely fucking horrible, and I think it obstructs progress, because it prevents people from honestly examining and discussing their own prejudices.
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