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Monday 08 November 2010

"Political Correctness" or Populist Cant?

Posted in: Comment
By Craig Young - 28th July 2010

Whenever the Christian Right, other social conservatives or fellow travellers get upset with social change, out comes the hackneyed catchphrase "politically correct."

To be blunt, this is yet another example of related Christian Right or social conservative 'class warfare.' It is the product of their inability to develop skilled scientific or medical professionals who could make any difference in any social or bioethical policy debate that us significant to them, with the erstwhile exceptions of voluntary euthanasia and drug policy. As a consequence, they perceive themselves as vulnerable or in crisis whenever the balance of evidence-based medical or scientific influences tips in our direction whenever it comes to public policy.

As a result, out comes the cliché, precisely because of tactical reasons. Subjective and prescientific religious dogma has lost its place in public policy to secular scientific and medical evidence-based research. Consequently, the Christian Right and friends resort to the term "political correctness," implying that past habit, routine, prejudice and subjective religious dogma are somehow "legitimate" because they're 'traditional.' Once upon a time, slavery and anti-Semitism were 'traditional' institutions as well. Longevity does not imply legitimacy.

In short, whenever the Christian Right and allies use the term 'political correctness' to describe social policy innovation, what they're really saying is that they're unable to deal with the transition of social and moral authority from religious and subjective to scientific and evidence-based public policy because they're scientifically illiterate and are forced to rely on unsubstantiated habit, routine and prejudice. However, populist anti-intellectualism and hatred of mainstream evidence-based scientific and medical research is no sound basis for stable public policy.

Look at the evaporated Christian Right campaign against Section 59 Repeal now, for instance. And consider the apocalyptic proclamations of impending anarchy that have met each successive stage of LGBT legislative reform. Haven't happened, have they? Thus it will be when battle is finally joined when it comes to adoption law reform.

Craig Young - 28th July 2010

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