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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Political Correctness

I read an article here today that reminded me of how much political correctness drives me crazy. I think it is a good idea to build features into money to help the blind, but do we really need to spend tax payer dollars for a judge to tell us that?

As a Geographer I love the different cultures and landscapes that can be found throughout the world. I would hate to see a completely homogenized world where everywhere was he same as everywhere else. I once read an article about Utah that said it wasn't diverse enough. Doesn't the fact that Utah is different from New York and they are both different from Florida make the united states diverse to begin with? If we force some sort of arbitrary diversity on a population then we will lose the diversity of the society as a whole.

Unfortunately there are people out there who still have some antiquated notions about race and gender, and I understand that the PC movement is just a backlash against previous problems with social injustice. I am truly grateful I was raised during a time when many of those problems have been done away with. I worry though that PC can be taken too far. We recently had a visiting librarian from South Africa here at Wash U, and during a presentation she gave she explained some of the hiring practices in South Africa. Since the end of apartheid you have to hire qualified people in this order (to the best of my recollection):
1. Black female
2. Black male
3. Indian female
4. Indian male
5. White female
6. White male
She said it is nearly impossible for a "pale male" (her words) to get a job. This to me is what happens when the PC pendulum swings to far to the other side. I really think it is a good idea to have work environments that accept people and encourage diversity but unfortunately some people take it too far. I recently attended a diversity in hiring training at work. I thought it was really well done, and the thing I liked best was that the trainer started out by saying that people are different, and it is OK to not be "color blind" it doesn't make sense to act like differences don't exist, but we should just make sure that we don't let those differences prevent us from hiring the best people for a job.

I know this topic can get some people fired up so I will leave you off with a tongue-in-cheek PC Primer.

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