I received this heartfelt e-mail from Michael E. Fox over the weekend responding to my last post on Political correctness. He imagines himself to be a victim of the mythical politically correct brigade.
It’s long e-mail, but Michael’s story is simple enough. He joined a writing group and submitted a story his tutor and two classmates read as racist. Consequently, he was asked to leave the group. It’s difficult to get a consensual definition of political correctness, which seems to mean different things to different people at different times. And many who abhor racism love the politically incorrect Little Britain, so it’s not all bad.
Let’s call a spade a spade. The real issue that led to Michael’s exclusion was racism and definitions of racism. Michael doesn’t believe his piece was racist and asks us to consider his intent. He’s on shaky ground. It’s hard to find a literary theory that accepts author’s intent as any kind of defence. Some believe author’s intent irrelevant, some that a text may reveal the author’s subconscious and others that it reveals the dominant ideology of the day.
What isn’t in dispute is that Michael’s critics believed his piece to be racist and were offended enough to want him out. Michael’s response was to label them politically correct. In this context he was accusing them of belonging to a leftwing conspiracy to rob him of his right to free speech and possibly subscribing to a very silly ideology. That’s rather rude and insulting… no wonder they wanted nothing more to do with him.