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Political Correctness 

Texas A & M has an annual contest for the best definition of a contemporary expression. This year it was "political correctness." And here's the winner

"Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end."

I hate Political correctness; it is a form of censorship. It makes people afraid to speak their mind, or to even mention certain subject matter.

Yesterday I wrote a piece which I intended to be a discussion around a podcast, “Are urban cyclists elitist snobs.”

In my view cyclists are a minority, and if a small element of our minority behaves badly, we all get smeared with the same shit stick.  

I was stupid enough to draw an analogy with other minority groups, namely people of color and gays. I should have known better, and I should not have even attempted to pick up that turd.

This morning there was a comment that suggested I was racist and anti-gay. My first reaction was to start composing a comment defending myself; then I thought fuck it, why should I have to defend myself against something that is entirely untrue?

I deleted the piece along with all comments. Maybe I acted a little hasty, but once I clicked “Delete” it was gone forever and there is no getting it back.

I may not have done the right thing, but I did the “Safe” thing. A suggestion like that can quickly grow legs and with the help social media I could lose my reputation overnight, and six years of writing here would be right down the toilet; all because of one little politically incorrect turd.



Reader Comments (25)

The most refreshing comments are honest ones. I would rather have honesty than political correctness any day. Think about this, when was anything associated with politics honest?

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJim

Whenever I see a post from your blog I know it is most likely going to be some subject that is going to make me think. I enjoy it. Keep it up.

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVelobabble

The new form of debates and my reaction too: "then I thought f*ck it, why should I have to defend myself against something that is entirely untrue?"...exactly.

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJack

right on Dave

I wonder if the politcally correct w&%kers were behind the posting problem I had?

Enjoy your blog. Keep it up Dave

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJW

"I hate Political correctness; it is a form of censorship."

This is a half-truth. The goal of political correctness is to replace terms that are derogatory or terms with negative implications with terms that are non-demeaning and based in reality. It ought to have been called "reality correctness" because that's the aim.

The fact that people call it "political correctness" is somewhat political itself; it seeks to frame the derogatory vs. reality alternative as a contentious issue, when really it's just basic politeness and decency to not give groups of people demeaning labels.

Having said that, I accept that this can be a form of censorship. But it definitely is the polite and decent thing to do.

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBen

@Ben, that is a great way to put it. There is a real laissez-faire attitude in American culture about exactness of speech. People often confuse painful honesty for what is really a careless choice of hyperbole and words. Sentiments are often carelessly chosen because they have a stronger emotional, if inaccurate, connotation than those that more closely express the speaker's thoughts. Our media's incessant search for concise expressions of complex ideas also fuels this, even subconsciously.

Dave, this is not to pick on you or anyone specifically, as I have been guilty of this many times myself. As I get older, I am trying to get better at it though (I'm not even completely sure that I got it right in this comment). Just wish I could have learned this sooner.

FWIW, I've been reading your blog for some time and can appreciate the the aim of your deleted post, if not your exact words. Don't be afraid of the turds; they all need to be thrown out. You just need to wear gloves.

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEverett

"Question authority" Ben Franklin.Sometimes that involves self.But sometimes ,Stir It Up!Nice blog for the morning coffee,keep it up !

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterofoab

I feel your pain...

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChromatonic

Dave. Its YOUR blog, write what the bloody hell what you want! NO one HAS to read it, they can hit the delete button any time they want. I get very tired of acting in a way that is not honest, BECAUSE its politcally correct, If gays and minorities offend, you have to right show this. That, as I have said before, is the Amercian way. If you dont like it, MOVE! Re, CYCLIST as least they are doing something that is good for them, Not watching the bloody TV or some such. Just a thought Dave, Maybe take a break for a few weeks, Go ride your bike. Its GOOD for you,

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGRUMPY Crump

Dave, I wish you would go back to writing about frame building and cycling history, things you know about. Not cycling politics, which you are rather small-minded and bigoted about.

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercb

Would you call me a small minded bigot to my face? How fucking rude.

December 9, 2011 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

The huge downside of instant and sensational media is the ability to bring enormous amounts of attention to comments that might otherwise be examined sanely, discussed and amended as appropriate. We're with you, however you choose to handle. Certainly not worth the shit storm it could have created.

Nothing like a crowd of howling, sefl-righteous zealots chasing some perceived slight, as related to them by the media. Brutal.

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBig Mikey

TO ALL THE OTHER READERS OF DAVES BLOG. Have some respect for Dave. At least he has the balls to say what he thinks, You dont have to read it! Stop acting like a bunch of spoilt brats.It aint AMERICAN!

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGRUMPY Crump

Hell Dave, I step in it all the time. There was a guy named Lenny Bruce who would step in it on purpose, squish it around, then hold it up for everyone to look at and laugh about. When I read the post you deleted I found myself thinking "why'd he leave out the Jews?" See what I mean?

I think "politically correct" means "stuff thou shalt not say if seeking public office."

Me, I'm a Florida Cracker living in a Trailer Park.

@cb: You're a dick with a little "d". Until you post under your own name, shut the fuck up.


December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTim Joe Comstock

Well, dang it. I'm sorry I missed that post, Dave. The Salon column that, apparently, prompted the podcast is here, fwiw [be prepared to be overwhelmed with ads if you go].

The discussion in the threads was decent enough but, as you'd imagine, every single argument in defense of "cyclists as elitist snobs" was a personal story about being treated poorly by some cyclist, or witnessing an incident when someone else was poorly treated by one. And, as a minority, - or I prefer to think of us: as a relatively rare motorist experience - the whole is judged by some of the parts. The point was made that so many more infractions are made by motorists visited on other motorists that it hardly seems remarkable. It's like wall paper, after awhile you don't even notice it. That's not the case for cyclists.

As a group easily visibly identified, our individual transgressions are transferred to the all of us. If one could sort makes of cars by color, all the Fords were red, the Chevys blue, the Mercedes green... we'd probably be able to paint all Ford motorists (for example only) as reckless, elitist snobs. In the normal scrum of traffic it's not so easy to identify a scapegoat category on which to blame all of the world's ills - except maybe those folks who drive Hummers. :-)

But, to your main point, Dave... I have no clue how one defends in the face of a thin skinned individual primed to offense at the mere mention of a category to which they affiliate or, doG forbid, by analogy to the same. I'm all for displaying an awareness or sensitivity to people, and I'm not opposed to using more words, rather than fewer, to create a context for discussion, but unless one has some amount of "history" to back the claim for offense, I'm inclined to confer the benefit of the doubt. Too bad and sad by half that your interlocutor was so unwilling.

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbystander

Dave, I'll still read your blog, but anyone who believes this is "political correctness" victimhood or "censorship" is way off. It's about double standards and being flat-out wrong.

For what it's worth, I had trouble commenting, but doubt any subterfuge is involved.

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChamps

First off I agree with your rant on political correctness! Secondly I would like to say that the cyclist/motorist"war" is never ending! I`m from Copenhagen where almost 40% bikes to work and we have (I believe) more bikelanes then anywhere in the world, and there is still hostility between bikes, cars and pedestrians. I don`t think it is a matter of motorists getting use to cyclists, I think it is more to do with how our brain works!
Sorry about my English, it is not my mothers tongue....

December 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

I here ya. I work in a place where PC rules the day..... I feel like I have a piece of duct tape over my mouth. I found your last post most refreshing....

December 10, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjimmyv


December 11, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter5339

(speaker of) 'bystander'
talks about being "visibly identified."
In the statement of (making) "cars by colors."

The worldwide society now being more into the carbon-fiber age.
In which there ~shall~ not be more than its natural color: in the context of not choosing from one side-to-another.
(remain in neutrality)

To What Dave Moulton say in the beginning:
"are uban cyclists elitist snobs" ----
that match the attitude of car-owners of their high-end luxury cars & suvs.
In theory ----- the great majory of "Cyclists" are NOTHING BUT Off-Duty-Motorists.
Sharing Their Car-Driving Attitudes, But Further Spread Into THe Bike-Lane.
Against the innocent bike riders.

December 11, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter5339

I suspect that with a blog like yours it's very difficult not to over step that invisible line sometimes.

I didn't see your earlier post so I can't be sure what you said but I'd guess deleting it might well have been the right thing to do.

A couple of the comments here seem to address what policitcal correctness actually is - as a positive. I like to think like that and try not to use words or expressions which stray near that line. My Mum used to say "If you can't say anything good, don't say anything at all". It's a bit like that. If you can't say what you want without using terms which cause hurt, real or imagined, to people based on some common trait, then it might be best to not say anything.

I've read your blog long enough to know that you are more than capable of expressing yourself, so why not make the extra effort to avoid the whole "Politically Correct" debate?

To me, thought processes change with language just as much as language changes with thoughts. Take 1970's comedy for instance - That level of racism and sexism sits very uncomfortably in 2011. If we exclude the racist and sexist jokes though, the remainder can still work if we strip out the language. I suspect that is all that might be needed as i don't see you as either racist or sexist.

December 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPBA

Here is your blog post, with comments. Nothing you publish on internet is easily deleted.


December 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTimo

Yes I realize the post can be retrieved. The reason I deleted it was because there was a hint that I was racist and anti-gay. Not true, and to even hint that hurt me deeply. When comments like that get posted the discussion can quickly go off subject and get personal. I made an error so I deleted it, end of story, I hope.

December 14, 2011 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

Freedom of expression doesn't mean freedom from criticism, it actually means the opposite. The term "political correctness" has been so abused since it was coined that it's become meaningless, and invoking the PC boogeyman instead of responding to criticism has actually become a form of political correctness (which is all about the in-group silencing opposition by bullying, and isn't restricted to any particular political view, so I won't even call it inverted).

Personally I hate it when people play the PC card to defend racism and bigotry at least as much as I hate true political correctness. Not saying that you fit in that class, but that's how it reads whenever I hear the term these days, and with the original post deleted I'll never know for sure.

Real political correctness as the term applies to the 1990s academic witch-hunt would be complaining to your webhost to try to shut down your account, or googlebombing you, not disagreeing with you in the comments.

December 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterspiny norman

I think the real elitist bike snobs are the bastards who ride in jeans at 5mph, GOING THE WRONG WAY and won't move for anybody, even fellow cyclists (following traffic).

Political Correctness is a game, and the rule is "white men can't win". That's it. That's all there is to it. So don't play. Fuck Political Correctness.

December 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMIchael

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