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home : opinions : columns August 19, 2014


8/15/2013 6:00:00 AM
Column: Political correctness hits critical mass
Richard F. (Buz) Williams
Courier Columnist

As a history buff, I subscribe to Bill Bennett's "American Patriot Almanac." Each day an email arrives in my inbox about what occurred on that particular day in American history. On Aug. 3, 2013, the entry was about a speech given in the 1850s by an authentic American hero. Frederick Douglass was a former slave who ran away from Maryland and became one of the premier abolitionist speakers and writers in his day.

In one of his most famous speeches, Douglass spoke these sagacious words: "If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.

"This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."

After reading these words, I could see why Douglass was such a well-respected orator and writer. The wisdom in those words was gained from his experiences as a slave and a champion of the abolitionist movement. These words show a complete understanding of human nature and the struggle that is always present between those that would oppress and those who crave freedom.

Douglass' forthright words, only a few years before the Civil War, show that he was a man who saw a grave problem that needed to be addressed. He did that in a passionate and straightforward way. I couldn't help but compare his speech with a story that hit the press the day before from that bastion of progressive thinking, Seattle, Washington.

Seattle city workers were advised not to use the term "citizen" or the words "brown bag" because they might be offensive to some people. Elliott Bronstein of the city's Office for Civil Rights wrote a memo to city workers explaining that many people who live in Seattle are legal residents, but are not "citizens." Those individuals might take offense to being called citizens. Mr. Bronstein suggested that an alternative word could be "resident."

He went on to say that the term "brown bag" was offensive to the African-American community. Bronstein suggested that the terms "sack lunch" and "lunch-and-learn" be used instead. (Really? Lunch-and-learn?) He said historically it was used to determine color of the skin for which African-Americans could attend certain social functions. That's news to me. Have any of you ever heard that?

No matter what a person may say, innocently, with no malice, someone else can take offense. It seems like in today's politically correct society, they will take offense. Maybe we should have contests to rename other words that could offend someone, some time in the next millennium. How about instead of "cracker," we use the phrase "unleavened, flat, crispy biscuit?" Remember Mexican jumping beans? There is so much that is offensive with that expression. Let's change that to "south of the border animated legumes" or "Hispanic dancing pods." The list could be endless.

The point is, Fredrick Douglass addressed a very real and serious evil in a direct, solemn and earnest manner. No one laughed when he discussed slavery. Elliott Bronstein sent out a memo to address an artificial problem, and I'll bet all the city workers who received it laughed and shook their heads at his pompous asininity. Is this really so serious a problem that it needs to be addressed by some official in the city's Civil Rights Office? Or was he just trying to do something to justify his position?

Now, for some reason, I have a craving for a hamburger. I think I'll drive down to Sheldon and Montezuma and get one of the best burgers around at Brown Bag Burger.



Buz Williams is a retired Long Beach, Calif., police officer who has lived in Prescott since 2004.



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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Article comment by: @ Pagan Lady

You wrote, "That way you will know who the truly dangerous folks around you are." You, a practitioner of non-Christian spiritual endeavor, are wise to follow your grandma's advice, as in the Quad-Burg Area you are surrounded by a population of rabble mentality who, if allowed, would gladly see if you float while bound or (per Monty Python) would "build a bridge out of you" to make sure you're a witch.

I've resided in Prescott much of the time since the mid-1940s and will candidly admit it is a dangerous place unless you are a provincial white "Christian" hypocrite, a wanna-be Puritan, a gullible tunnel-visioned "patriot", a willing conformist content to waddle along in the middle of the herd.

Oh sure, we can pretend to be all nicey-nice when we collectively wring our hands and wail over the working deaths of "heroes" while offering up a few alms, but our foundational demeanor is, and always has been, far from being kind, giving, understanding or tolerant.

Now that PC has become PC we will, as a horde, pretend to embrace it. But you don't have to eavesdrop around this town for very long to hear references to "our [n-word] in the White House."


Posted: Monday, August 19, 2013
Article comment by: J K

Good job Lyle in complementing the wisdom of your own comment

Posted: Monday, August 19, 2013
Article comment by: Attentive Listener

@Dragon Master- There are no PC laws. Everyone does handle the conversation for themselves.

@Pagan Lady- Who fires these people?

By the way, hate speech is not just a label used to denigrate another person's speech. It is a legal term with a specific definition that has to do with threats or incitements to violence based based on things like race or religion. Look it up.


Posted: Sunday, August 18, 2013
Article comment by: Paula Gize Pagan Lady is dead on.

Right on Pagan Lady! While I am not a flag waver for the pagan arts & beliefs, your take on the matter is both brilliant and solid. Truly a prophetic soliloquy of truth and the future of America unless this bubble headed left wing nonsense is curtailed...soon.

You are absolutely correct in another matter as well. PC is nothing except censorship of thought and speech by the less tolerant in society. A tactic usually employed by the weak and useless to silence better and more adept people. It is nothing more than an in your face attempt by arrogant fools to turn black into white, right into wrong, and good into evil...usually for their own benefit or to make themselves "feel" better in sanctimony.

If you are an example of paganism, we could use more witches I am thinking.



Posted: Sunday, August 18, 2013
Article comment by: J K

@Pagen Lady. Kind of a stretch to compare your self-anointed status of witch to a person's race which one doesn't have to announce to be the victim of discrimination. I personally don't care if a person is a bigot or not. I care only that their bigotry not be allowed to be institutionalized.
And don't worry about poor Paula Deen's plight. You are correct she won't go to jail. She will lose some fans, but there will always be many people like you, who will celebrate her display of bigotry and the idea that people should be judged by what they are instead of who they are.


Posted: Sunday, August 18, 2013
Article comment by: Pagan Lady

As a member of the only minority about whom it is still okay to make disparaging remarks- I must say I think that all this PC stuff is dangerous.
@ Mutts United- may the whole pantheon of pagan deities protect us from any more "isms". It is very intolerant of you to label folks with such foul names just because you disagree with that person's oppinion.
The danger of politically correct speech is that it causes people in all walks of life from being able to air their opinions. "Hate-speech" is a label used by one person to denegrate the opinion of another. It is most dangerous to repress expression thru such labels. That is how true tyrants come to power.
@Attentive Listener- "no one goes to jail for saying the N-word"- well lets see, people are forced out of jobs for being "insensitive". Paula Dean could teach you something about that.
In general I must say, as a witch, I have actually been on the recieving end of face to face "hate -speech". And wow it pales by comparison to the sillyness of the "ism" crowd.
My Grandmother taught me to shut up and listen. That way you will know who the truly dangerous folks around you are. You will know who your enemies are. You will be dumbfounded by who turns out to be tolerant of diverse oppinions. So I would rather know if the person across the table from me at a business lunch is a closet biggot, or a tolerant soul. I do not fear the ignorance which births biggotry. I do not hate that ignorance. I do try to be a force for change. I try to educate by example.
PC is just de- facto censorship.
Our nation is fractured, and cannot survive much longer, if at all, like this. Open dialogue is desperately needed.



Posted: Sunday, August 18, 2013
Article comment by: Mutts R US

Now didn't that feel good. We are all racist at some level, kinda' wired that way from childhood. Of course any kid from any "race" who grew up in a different culture, would not be uncomfortable. It's his norm. He could experience cultural shock, upon meeting his kin and thrown into a cultural setting where he was unfamiliar with the customs. It's a real physiological response. We all react to the thing that is different. Education makes the difference in overcoming those fears. Maybe these fears had some rational purpose in our evolution, but they're irrational in our pluralist country of Mutts from everywhere. And, not unlike some of our other fears we learn to overcome by understanding. Next time you get those feeling about someone, say "hi !". Take the time and you might find they are like you, or more interesting. Rational thinking and human emotions are traits that cuts across all "race (regardless of DNA)", cultures and heritages.

As to President Obama, I think you have the wrong Obama. You are referring to the fake construct Obama that is sold on Fox, hate talk radio and the like. Buying into false propaganda is nothing to be proud of.


Posted: Saturday, August 17, 2013
Article comment by: J K

@ Mutts. Let me add two words to your proclamation that you are proud. And delusional.

Posted: Saturday, August 17, 2013
Article comment by: @ Mutts United Proud to be a 'racist'

There are worse things than being a racist. A coward and self-loathing lefty comes to mind. Besides, calling a person a racist is losing its impact...if it ever had any.

Thus, if Birtherism is racism...it's not, but OK. I'm good with it all. If it is racist to wish my formerly proud country to be rid of Barack Hussein-Otereo-Dunham and his merry band of political thieves and Chicago crackpots from the edges of society...so be it.

If it is racist to notice that your president continually topples friendly and workable middle eastern governments, while insulting and betraying our global democratic allies, in order to install artificial left wing dictators who support Hamas, Hezbollah, Jihad and al Qaeda, an organization devoted to the destruction of the USA, the UK and western Christian democracy...fine.

If it is racist to point out that under your president there are 9 million less jobs in America, that GM is busily building factories in China, that US jobs are headed overseas at an unprecedented rate, that millions of US citizens are on welfare and food stamps, while the US plunges into unconscionable debt...well call me racist.

If it is racist to notice that your president supports voter suppression, spying on Americans, unbridled immigration, and a country awash in homosexuals, well, I am a racist.

If it is racist to point out that your president is not even really and African with a slave history, but is instead 1/2 white radical Islamist with questionable origins, that he put out bogus documents and faked birth certificates after years of questions and court proceedings...well, by George, color me racist.

If it is racist to believe the obvious evidence showing Trayvon Martin was skulking around a neighborhood, assaulted a figure of authority (in Martin's mind), tried to kill that person by banging his head into the pavement, but was killed as a result of his own violent actions...then I am a racist.

If it is racist to think it unlikely an innocent person should run away from a minority thug attacking them, instead of Standing Their Ground, and defending themselves against hateful and violent felons of color...well, sir, ya' gots me...I am a racist.

And proud.



Posted: Saturday, August 17, 2013
Article comment by: Buz Williams

To 'Why give the Buzzard a plug?': I'm just a little bit curious as to how you became so arrogant and/or narcissistic as to call me 'shameful' for quoting Frederick Douglas. I plan to use this quote again since it is most insightful and well express description of the accumulation and maintenance of power I have ever read. What makes you think that the left, or you personally, have some proprietary right to the great man's expressions that excludes other from quoting them?

To 'Give'm Hell, Harry: You or some other responder, make the same 'cut and paste' claim, it seems, almost every week. I wonder, do you 'cut and paste' these same complaints?


Posted: Saturday, August 17, 2013
Article comment by: Ernie Pyle

To the birthers, no amount of proof will ever be enough . Birther beliefs are based on racism and no amount of their denials will be convincing.

Posted: Saturday, August 17, 2013
Article comment by: a bc

@Thomas Pained - I found the quoted portion of my post in a US News article. In that article they quoted a couple of historian/authors on the subject. I think if you Google around you'll find it and other references. It took me a few minutes to do so and I find it odd, but not surprising, that Buzz did not bother.

Posted: Saturday, August 17, 2013
Article comment by: Ellis Bell

So now you liars and obstructionists won't mind when I call you "Traitors." Thanks for your understanding.

Posted: Saturday, August 17, 2013
Article comment by: DragonMaster 6

Good morning, Attentive Listener who states
"And thus are grand conspiracies theories about PC born. So, is the "anti-PC" crowd's point that they should be able to say whatever they want, but no one else should be able to complain about it? Sounds like one-sided freedom of speech to me."
Dragonmaster6s response [paragraph :)]
It does appear that we need to go back to one of fubarics [un-capitalized intentionally] recent snappy comebacks to a reporter indicating the other part of the first amendment right to, "Free speech" is to listen to the honest viewpoints of others instead of correcting their speech [possibly through law?] to demand conformity and uniformity to the un-known speech patterns of the listener! It is the listeners responsibility to determine if they need to pass a law against others [to demand political correctness] for the way they and speakers learned how to communicate! Either side in this communication can and if the topic is intense enough to them to continue attempting to correct that injustice or capitulate and settle in until the next cause and begin again or finish the job of the first legislative task. I personally remember the first time I walked into a State Legislature, with no experience, background and training being very unsure but we as an organization built, killed 37 bills in 17 years, which would have taken away our unique individual rights to determine what is right, true and correct for ourselves instead of lawyers/politicians making decisions for all of us! Handle these discussions with others yourself rather than have the politicians decide for all of us with their self-anointed grandeur, infinite wisdom, fear/greed motivations while constantly seeking power over the powerless.
Coming out of Reservations and logging camps as a child we moved a lot because of a violent drunken and drugged environment in every new school I was either called Indian trash by the Caucasian kids and white trash by the American Indians of a wide variety of families. That does not define me as only I can do that [Paraphrasing from Oprah] not words spoken by someone without the background training and experience in my chosen lifestyle!


Posted: Saturday, August 17, 2013
Article comment by: Mutts United

@ guy good, "constructed example of a modern religion." Naw, religion demands belief.

I don't, the facts are the basis of my opinion. The evidence support the idea that birtherism is racism.

To resist the easiest and most reasonable explanation with consistency of the evidence would rule out the alternate conspiracy. Yet, very seemingly accomplished people continue to hold to this meme. And, I saw those Tea party slogans and posters. I was born before Eisenhower, so I got the wink and nudge part.

Its not me who will hold any president to mythical proportions, but the greater the resistance overcome, the greater his measurement. It is his opposition that will render him mythical and beyond the mythical Reagan.

I personally liked the man, thought Joe was the better qualified, and thought Hill to be a corporate sell out. I'm critical of much he as done or failed to do, and supported others, but he's not the Obama that has been painted by his opposition. And racism does explain the obstruction and emotion over his being, and not his Republican policies that Republican continue to reject. So, what do you like better, corporatism or racism? I think it's both.

On the other hand of criticizing, I would not want to throw pearls before swine. (nothing personal). Helps keep the swill pure and facts free that will be history's judgement of his opponents. And it's an opportunity for a Republican who could run a clean sweep, throw the Birchers and Birrthers out along with ALEC's corporatist and it's clones.

This registered Independent will continue to vote for the Democrats, just in case that mythical Republican was lying.


Posted: Friday, August 16, 2013
Article comment by: The Rev

Some preciseness please! If only from an quick Internet search of Frederick, your high-lights though:

"This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. In the light of these ideas, Negroes will be hunted at the North and held and flogged at the South so long as they submit to those devilish outrages and make no resistance, either moral or physical. Men may not get all they pay for in this world, but they must certainly pay for all they get. If we ever get free from the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and if needs be, by our lives and the lives of others."

Must everything be such a never ending struggle?


Posted: Friday, August 16, 2013
Article comment by: Thomas Paine

@abc - thank you for the reference although I would prefer original source. I was not aware of that usage of the term.

@Mutts... You're kidding right? "Birth ism equals racism"? No, no it doesn't and your saying so (or even a million people saying so) doesn't make it so. Please stop with automatic attribution of racism to those who, however futilely at this point, seek to determine the true place of Obama's birth and by extension his eligibility to be president.


Posted: Friday, August 16, 2013
Article comment by: guy good

"Birtherism is racism."

Nah, that really isn't the underlying cause. Mostly it's just an attempt to unseat a President via a tricky legal maneuver. I honestly think you've constructed an internal fable to explain how this large group, which you don't like, could possibly want to get rid of a man as accomplished and brilliant as Obama.

Truth is, regardless of Obama's place of birth, the uproar following any potentially successful method of legally firing the man would be so huge that it simply can't be allowed to exist. It's a waste of time to even consider the thing.

'Mutts United' has succeeded in one thing, a reasonably constructed example of a modern religion. The President has become a type of mythic figure who will accomplish great things via deeds of derring-do and self sacrifice. The apostates (Tea Party, Joe Arpaio, cranky old white guys) will tear him down for evil reasons. It's all basic emotions at the group level.

Hey, it worked for Jesus, Hercules, and Odin. Who's to say that Obama can't be in that pantheon?


Posted: Friday, August 16, 2013
Article comment by: Ghost Past

That brown bag tizzy was as silly as it gets. It certainly didn't deserve any more mention then it got. I will leave it at that.

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2013
Article comment by: Mutts United

@ M Soldier,
Birtherism is racism. It's the rightwinger's form of PC, since they can't use other descriptors that would clearly identify them a having a racist bent. The corporate money behind the Tea Party to oppose Obama-care did not mind fueling racism as a means to their corporatist ends. (Insurance industry money funneled through Freedom-works by republican operatives and their fake grass roots field operations and transport of paid disrupts and thugs)

Repeat, birtherism is racism at the core. Your investigator who milked the suckers money and has nothing but the righwinger's conspiracy to continue fueling with tantalizing bits, and in hopes that more of the sucker money will continue funding his fraud.

How about the other theory, the simplest explanation, President Obama was born in Hawaii. That President Obama has high intellect and a first rate education, and was elected by a majority of voters, which runs counter to the core belief and culturally ingrained ignorance that pretends to superiority and separatism of the races. The very notion of race is in scientific error as having any identifiable distinction of origins. The truth be told, we are all mutts.

If anything is inferior, it's those who continue to believe the false propaganda, due to their lack of education. Birtherism marks you as both ignorant and a racist, if you were not aware. Although, I doubt that most of the so called birthers actually believe the nonsense, which takes us back to birtherism as a proxy for racism.

But other than that, Everything is healing nicely.


Posted: Friday, August 16, 2013
Article comment by: Craig Arps

One thing is for sure. It really pays to be offended. If you get really good at it you can win arguments and even shape public policy. The worst part is it diminishes the credibility of people who truly are victims.

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2013
Article comment by: guy good

I can't see the point in getting too up in arms about 'politically correct' thoughts and speech. Here's the deal...

It's simply a new, modern religion. These memes are pretty strong in a lot of people and the need to form new groupthinks has been around a long time. The 'New Age' denomination is trending downwards and some new philosophy will always evolve from the mass of people.

You really don't need a Prime Mover to gin up a religion and I can't see a lot of difference between much of progressive thought, Islamic clothing standards for females, or Mormon underwear. In practically all cases, you simply find a need to proselytize and to corral others behaviors via peer pressure or government force. Twas ever thus.


Posted: Friday, August 16, 2013
Article comment by: M Soldier

I watched Mike Zullo, Detective investigating Obammas birth certificate for the last two years. It seems a Senator of a certain state has moved an investigation forward in the birth certificate fraud. The leading forensic document professional has concluded without a doubt the Document has nine layers and was designed in a PDF file. Its a fraud!!! Now the heat is on! Watch for a staged event to deflect the heat from Obama and his criminal pals. I bet you libs will feel stupid when your boy is handcuffed.

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2013
Article comment by: a bc

@Buzz - "... I couldn't help but compare his speech with a story that hit the press the day before from that bastion of progressive thinking, Seattle, Washington."

Yes, because comparing the most famous speech from one of our countries greatest orators to an internal memo sent out by a bureaucrat in Seattle Washington is bound to be enlightening.

"...That's news to me. Have any of you ever heard that?"
Just because it is news to you, doesn't mean it's not correct. I bet there's a whole world of things that would be news to you. As it turns out the PC guy is correct. "Scholarly research and touchstones of African-American popular culture show that Bronstein is right. ...reports throughout the 20th century of the use of paper bags was used to determine whether a potential member was light-skinned enough to be socially acceptable. Approval signified "that the gathering was limited to a handpicked, pre-identified, exclusive (and, more important, exclusionary) group, all of whom could be identified by their complexions, which were lighter than the color of a standard brown paper bag," Kerr writes in "The Paper Bag Principle: Class, Colorism and Rumor and the Case of Black Washington, D.C." (US News report)

"...Or was he just trying to do something to justify his position?"
Or maybe he sent the memo out to raise the hackles of conservatives like you. Or maybe he's just trying to make the world a better place.


Posted: Friday, August 16, 2013
Article comment by: Attentive Listener

There is no such thing as political correctness in America. No one goes to jail for saying the N word, and people do not disappear for criticizing the government. In the USA, you can say whatever you want.

There are such things as other people, and some of them might be offended by some of the things you say. This is one of their rights just as you have yours.

If you work for someone, you represent them. They may therefore ask that you say things in certain way, to avoid offending your fellow citizens/potential customers with phrases or attitudes that have been shown to offend them in the past.

And thus are grand conspiracies theories about PC born. So, is the "anti-PC" crowd's point that they should be able to say whatever they want, but no one else should be able to complain about it? Sounds like one-sided freedom of speech to me.



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