Bernardi hits a PC nerve

We can’t have a brainstorming session ... without offending some group of delicate little flowers

LIBERAL Senator Cory Bernardi was spot on last week. But with just two points.

He stated on ABC News Breakfast: “It’s absolutely critical that politicians are prepared to discuss ideas that are controversial, otherwise we are stuck with a tyranny of political correctness which is a stifling doctrine. It’s something we need to rebel against in this country”.

Bernardi, whose political career resembles the brittle, cheesy and seriously malformed appearance of a Twistie, seems to have borrowed some words from Charlton Heston who said" "Political correctness is tyranny with manners”.

(Heston's taste for conservative right wing politics and religion were very similar to those espoused by Bernardi, but I can’t speak for the latter's taste in films.)

The Senator also said: "The political pressure from the left has ushered us into a morbid new world. It is not enough to stop the trend. What is needed is a reversal back to sanity and reason."

Whilst I believe his idea of “sanity and reason” is void of, well, sanity and reason, his point stands true for the recent federal Labor term. Another ineffectual crusade for equality, their six years were hobbled by kowtowing to political correctness.

In rural and regional Australia, we’re known to be refreshingly blunt with an uninfected vocabulary and an earthy, 'no frills' style of speech. We don’t just “call a spade a spade”, it’s a bloody shovel mate.

Two of our agricultural flag bearers in Canberra, Barnaby Joyce and Bill Heffernan, have consistently and actively borne a healthy disrespect for political correctness. This wins the hearts of constituents and seems to be an angle favoured by those on the conservative side of the political spectrum.

But their influence, and that of many others, is tempered by the harsh reality of Bernardi's point: that we can’t have a productive brainstorming session in government these days without offending some group of delicate little flowers.

This societal fence-sitting drains the power from passionate leaders wanting to roll up their sleeves and make some gutsy calls for the greater good. Instead of getting stuck in, they seem more occupied with attacks from minority groups and trying to keep everyone happy. It’s creating a defensive culture in our political leaders.

Australian ag's social culture is something I’ve spent much time living in and looking at. My blogs are testament to the questioning, praise and poking I’ve given it. I think we’re in a safe place with our not-so-sugar-coated language that is often “politically incorrect”.

What we have to remain vigilant of though, is the notion that managing our vocabulary can be linked to the way we manage thought, and therefore behaviour.

George Orwell nailed it in 1949 with his famous novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. The fictitious government in the book created a language called “Newspeak” to be spoken by the public. With the same grammatical rules as English, it’s made up of specific words and rules that ultimately make it a tool to limit freedom of thought.

The "tyranny of political correctness" Bernardi railed against should be a topic of informed and spirited debate.

We knew political correctness had gone mad when a school in Seattle started calling Easter eggs “spring spheres” so not to offend non-Christians. But globally, it seems the accusation of being politically correct is a weapon used by right-wingers to insulate themselves against criticisms of their own biases. It can be a way of diverting the issue of bias to issues of freedom of speech without acknowledging that the right to question their authority is also a free speech matter.

Could it be that political correctness and tradition are simultaneously obstacles to progress? And does that also hold for social progress? What are your thoughts?

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READER COMMENTS

spottedquoll
14/01/2014 8:44:09 AM

"But globally, it seems the accusation of being politically correct is a weapon used by right-wingers to insulate themselves against criticisms of their own biases. It can be a way of diverting the issue of bias to issues of freedom of speech without acknowledging that the right to question their authority is also a free speech matter." Bingo! And we can't talk about the boats, and we've gotten rid of that pesky science ministry.
Simon
14/01/2014 8:57:31 AM

It's like electric shock treatment. We've been conditioned to avoid causing a loud squeal by the noisy minorities. I'm hopeful we are beginning to see some politicians who are turning that around and seeing success in a loud squeal instead of failure!
tiki19
14/01/2014 10:45:33 AM

Love this. PC does get used badly sometimes. I actually like political-correctness when it's about acknowledging and fixing biases in the system (like thinking of women as a "minority special interest" for gods' sake, we hold up half of the sky, let's value that). I do think the language we use matters when we use it as a fence to keep others away from us, to be exclusive rather than inclusive. Asking to be included is different from being an easily offended delicate little flower.
daw
14/01/2014 10:48:59 AM

Having a shot in both directions so you won't be seen as being totally wrong eh Sam? Cory's version of 'reason & sanity' doesn't match your version does it? I'm on his side for being frank & truthful. He's talking about aussies behaving like aussies, Including speaking with our accent - the great australian aussie drawl. Why is it said that we are multicultural? We are multiracial but need to be of Aussie Culture. If you want to live another culture eg say japanese then go to Japan.Let every country of the world have it's own culture. If you want to live that culture migrate there.
bg
14/01/2014 12:45:04 PM

Bernardi is a bull in our china shop. When owners of the china (voters) object to the china being broken, he then lashes out at them for being PC. Left and right both accuse the other side of being PC without realising that they are trying to stifle debate. Bernardi rails against abortion, but his stance encourages abortion. How so? A young woman gets pregnant, doesn't want to be a demonised 'single mother' so chooses abortion. As tiki19 suggests, we need to be inclusive, not divisive. Sometimes we have to be negative, mostly we should be positive.
Rob Moore
14/01/2014 2:14:37 PM

Sam - I have met him and he is a fine upstanding fellow- ex olympic rower and I would say - a perfect role model for Aussie men.I am not religeous and feel he is out of his depth on abortion but am not going to rub him off the face of the earth for speaking his mind. I agree with him on gay marriage and the muslim invasion. There should be many more like him in the big house along with his female equivalents. He should have got a portfoilio along with Dennis Jensen imo.
daw
14/01/2014 3:54:11 PM

Good on you tiki19 a true blue aussie.
confused
14/01/2014 4:45:55 PM

A whole article about PC in Australia without one example of PC in Australia. Too hard to find actual examples???
PC
16/01/2014 11:42:17 AM

2011 census: Total popl 21,507,717- male 10,634,013; female 10,873,704. 69.8% were born in Aust. Most common countries of birth: England 4.2%, NZ 2.2%, China (excludes SARs and Taiwan) 1.5%, India 1.4% and Italy 0.9%. Most common ancestries English 25.9%, Aust 25.4%, Irish 7.5%, Scottish 6.4% Italian 3.3%. Most common religion Catholic 25.3%, No Religion 22.3%, Anglican 17.1%, Uniting Church 5.0% Presbyterian & Reformed 2.8%. Islam came in at 2.2% after Buddhism 2.5% & before Hinduism 1.3%. One parent families 15.9%. Same-sex couples account for only 0.7% of all couple families.
Holy Moly
16/01/2014 12:21:50 PM

Who cares what Cory Bernardi thinks or says.
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