Current Affairs Politics

Political Correctness Debate, Featuring Stephen Fry, Jordan Peterson And Others

An interesting debate on the issue of “political correctness”, however one defines it, in popular culture, featuring among others the British actor and writer Stephen Fry and the Canadian academic and YouTube lecturer Jordan Peterson. The latter, of course, has become something of an internet star among the ideological alt-right or those who travel in its wake. He’s probably the nearest the movement has to an articulate intellectual, in contrast to no end of smug diatribists, consequently garnering considerable animosity outside the permeable borders of its bubble. Though, admittedly, a few of the more extreme characterisations of the professor’s opinions by his critics seem somewhat unfair. However, if you lie down with dogs don’t be surprised if others presume you are covered in fleas.

Stephen Fry is a rather more surprising figure on the “anti-PC” side in the televised debate, though he does represent the fuddy-duddy, slightly conservative version of British – or specifically, English – liberalism. He has come a long way since his early comedic career, much of which was devoted to satirising Establishment Britain, albeit out of intimate knowledge and familiarity with its stately homes and hallowed cloisters. More a case of him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in, to borrow an expression from Lyndon B. Johnson.

That said, I do have some sympathy for those who reject such ersatz notions as “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces”, though I can see the merits of female-only rooms or gatherings in the short to medium-term given the poor behaviour of far too many men in contemporary Western society. In Ireland we have witnessed the latest examples of that in the headline-making news of the last few days, which are absolutely heart-breaking.

Have a watch and let me know what you think. And ignore the presenter’s somewhat OTT backslapping tone at the start, albeit partly in tribute to a late sponsor.

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13 comments on “Political Correctness Debate, Featuring Stephen Fry, Jordan Peterson And Others

  1. “In Ireland we have witnessed the latest examples of that in the headline-making news of the last few days, which are absolutely heart-breaking.”
    For the benefit of us poor foreigners … please?

    • Seamus seems to be saying that because there are rare incidences of male psychopaths abducting and murdering young girls, there should be all female, no males allowed, gatherings, until such time that Western men buck up their ideas and emmm… oh never mind Marconatrix, not for the first time Seamus is talking a load of old bollocks.

      • The statistics tell us that the vast majority of psychopaths are male. But putting that to one side. I’m not adverse to the idea of female-only spaces, if there is a judged need for it. It’s not as if men are effected by this in the majority of cases. A women-only day at a local swimming pool is hardly going to lead to the end of Western civilization.

        A little bit of mental flexibility, of putting oneself in the shoes – or high-heels – of others can go a long way.

        • I’m sure that socio-cultural factors are playing – or have played – their part in lowering or restraining sociopathic behaviour among women, but for violent behaviour there is much more going on than social conditioning. Unwarranted or random violent behaviour very much remains a male phenomenon. I’d suggest that biology is a major determinant here, even if we are still talking about a minority of men. However I have an open mind on the issue. Finding the truth or truths behind this is the most important thing.

          • Thanks for that. Some interesting thoughts, for sure. As I said, I’m open-minded on the subject and though I’ve read a good bit of the literature I’m always happy to read more.

    • There have been two dreadful murders in recent days of women, possibly sexually motivated, which you can read about here and here.

      Both were particularly shocking and still relatively unusual for Ireland (though that is changing). Thankfully the widespread and deep felt revulsion expressed across the country means that we have not become immune to such things.

      Both were just awful. Heartbreaking, in fact.

      • ar an sliabh

        Dreadful, indeed. Ever since I started coming back to Ireland years ago, there were instances of intense animal cruelty by youngsters who were effectively growing up without parents. Frequent early drug abuse, sexual abuse of children by children in the same socio-economic construct, and bands of feral creatures akin to the movie “Legends” causing huge amounts of damage in physical vandalism and arson (Just had another event like this at an ALDI in recent times). When caught, the usual non-punishment, and a surprisingly astute, very sociopathic, non-emotional suspect of very young age. This was followed by instances of crime by adults that involved unusual amounts of torturous elements and gratuitous violence along with Meirican-style desecration of the dead, that to my knowledge was hereunto-fore not known in Ireland at that level of frequency. That this would eventually spill into the crimes against women recently observed, was, unfortunately, to be reckoned with. There were multiple instances of extreme physical violence for no other than violence’s sake against women, particular around the LUAS system preceding these events. Interesting times ahead.

  2. Well if you think a govt enforcing people to drop pronouns from their vocabulary because it might offend a bearded man who claims to be a woman, is progressive then I despair.

    • I’m pretty much live-and-let-live or easy-going on all these things. To be honest, I have no problem with regarding someone who has undergone gender-realignment – or intends to – as a woman or a man, including the use of suitable pronouns and so on. Does that mean I think that such a person is a “real” man or woman in biological terms, if they have changed gender? No, of course not. Culturally and socially? Sure, why not. The latter are at least partly human-made concepts, not entirely nature-made ones, so why not adopt a bit of flexibility if it makes some people lives easier? It doesn’t mean that one has to adopt the more OTT attitudes demanded by a fringe number of trans-people. But like I said, live-and-let-live.

  3. ar an sliabh

    I actually think it has never been better in “Western” society. Sexual harassment, racial, religious, sexual orientation disparages are greatly discouraged within business and government by most so-called “Western” states, and many more are held accountable now than just 20 years ago, or ever for such behaviour. I would venture to say that most people in the “Western” world find purposeful behaviour of that sort repulsive at a personal level as well. Not that it is perfect, but greatly improved, and it is continuing to improve. Especially when considering that outside of the “Western” world construct in many countries it has moved to the opposite, it’s not all bad. Many “Western” countries now provide safe spaces, colouring books, and moral support to those emotionally weak or with insufficient coping skills when faced with life not going their way, feared language, and people of other opinions – there they contemplate whether to burn alive or throw from buildings people of undesireable demographic. Having discussions about being more inclusive, even in language, is not necessarily a bad thing. I don’t think most folks have a problem addressing someone in the manner they wish to be addressed, be it by a name or some title/pronoun. Being forced by the state to speak a certain way or to alter language for any political purpose, however, is wholly unacceptable (1984 really comes to mind when thinking about that).

    • Broadly agree with all that. Very fair points.

      I certainly don’t agree with forcing people to adopt certain terms or expressions without understanding or explanation or coaching of society more generally. I’m probably a free speech absolutist. There are very few areas where people should be prevented from expressing their true feelings.

  4. Surprised that you joined the ” demonise Dr.Peterson by associating him with the Alt-Right club .The Alt-Right detests him as his criticisms have undermined their arguments and done more damage to them than the left ever will . Here is a well
    considered left wing view of his work .
    http://quillette.com/2018/03/22/jordan-b-peterson-appeals-left/
    and here is another .
    http://quillette.com/2018/05/22/jordan-peterson-failure-left/

  5. “I do have some sympathy for those who reject such ersatz notions as “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces”, though I can see the merits of female-only rooms or gatherings in the short to medium-term given the poor behaviour of far too many men in contemporary Western society.”

    Broadly agree to that sentence in its entirety. there’s a terrible danger in the adoption of sometimes (not always but sometimes) frivolous stuff like trigger warnings – or at least when those are used to shut down discussion and debate (can’t say I mind cuing up stuff ahead of time – like age ratings on DVDs, but I also think adults should mostly be able to engage constructively even with ideas that are problematic or difficult).

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