Victor Pelevin, one of the very few best and brightest in modern Russian literature (if not the best and brightest) has the following to say about the malady that consumes the Western civilization nowadays:
I think political correctness is justified when it allows you to preserve human dignity. When it becomes a fetish and a national cult, it is a bit ridiculous. Nobody wants linguistic He-or-shema, as in America, but in any society where different ethnicities live one next to the other, a certain minimum of politically correct clichés will not hurt. Americans are very pragmatic people. They introduced political correctness because it instantly creates a formal bridge across the emotionally charged quagmire. Call a black person a Negro and you immediately acquire a share of responsibility for the slave trade. Call him/her an African-American, and it will be easy to fire him/her. Political correctness creates clear rules, relying on which you can avoid ambiguity, although by itself political correctness is a very ambiguous thing. The essence of political correctness - a social contract in the shortest form. This is convenient because it saves time and effort...Well, it saves also the necessity to think in many cases, but otherwise: spot on.
Update: this post and its headline updated due to the following news item :
MIT has removed the lectures of a retired faculty member from a popular online learning platform after determining that he had sexually harassed a woman on the Internet, the school’s News Office announced Monday.I don't doubt that MIT's investigation of the case was thorough:
During the investigation, MIT also looked at additional interactions between Lewin and other online learners. According to the News Office, Lewin, 78, ended his teaching on campus in 2008 and last taught an online MITx course in 2013.And the measure described below is totally justified, if the allegations checked out:
When the investigation of Lewin began, MIT said it instructed him not to contact any students or online learners, current or former.However, the additional decision could have been only a rotten fruit of our PC age:
By indefinitely removing his online lectures, MIT hopes to prevent any further inappropriate behavior, the News Office said. The lectures were taken down from MITx and the broader education platform edX.More in an excellent post by Scott Aaronson.