The Tired, Tired Complaints Against “Political Correctness”

[Warning: offensive material ahead, but then that’s kind of the whole point of the post!]

Via Charles Pierce (linking to a ThinkProgress piece by Josh Israel), we learn that a member of the Kansas State Board of Education used the N-word in a public meeting in order to prove how brave he was:

Kansas Board of Education member Steve Roberts (R), an elected official representing one-tenth of the state, defended on Tuesday his use of a racial epithet at a previous board meeting to “push the frontiers of political correctness….”

According to Topeka Capital-Journal reports, when [Rev. Ben] Scott and other civil rights leaders expressed their concern about those comments at Tuesday’s board meeting, Roberts stood by his remarks.

“I did my best to say the ‘N-word’ clinically,” he noted, adding “I’m willing to be considered politically incorrect … I don’t think that’s a bad thing.” Roberts then accused those criticizing his comments as only wanting media attention.

As anyone who is a regular consumer of conservative gabbing probably knows, the term “political correctness” is widely used as a derisive incantation to dismiss any objections to racist, sexist, or homophobic utterances. It’s now gotten to the point, as the Roberts incident shows, that the only thing many of our little friends on the Right consider offensive is taking offense at offensive language. So it’s not only okay, but “brave,” for an elected official to go out of his way to sound like a Klansman (so long as he does it “clinically,” of course).

Please, folks, just shut up about “political correctness” and try to behave decently, and you probably won’t have any problems.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.