Has Being PC Taken Away Free Speech?

The week has been a little slow politically. The unemployment numbers for April came out and depending on your frame of reference were either great or not that bad. In my opinion, five hundred thousand jobs lost in one month is not good. But, I am in the minority on this according to polling in the last few days.

On other fronts, Pakistan has started a major offensive against the Taliban. There is still no real word on whether it has been successful. But, it appears that the Taliban has not made any progress towards Islamabad. This gives President Obama a little breathing room before he will have to make a decision on what course of action to take there.

And, the general consensus seems to be that Nancy Pelosi is playing fast and loose about what she knew and when she knew it about the enhanced interrogation techniques.

So, nothing much has changed. As a result, I’ve decided to write about something that I have taken a regular stand on and that is “Free Speech.” As those of you that read this regularly know, I believe very strongly on this issue and I take offence at any liberals that try to limit it in order to promote their own personal agenda. To those of you that argue the right has little tolerance of the other side, I disagree.

This Saturday I attended a performance of “The Fantastiks” on the UCLA campus. To me, this is a classic show that should be treated with the same respect and admiration as “South Pacific,” “The Music Man,” and many others.

About halfway through the first act, there is a song in which the leading character describes a plot to bring the two lovers together. He is selling the parents’ of the couple that fact that he and his gang will “rape” the leading lady thereby allow the hero to save her causing them to fall in love. This is not one of the classic songs from the show, but nonetheless it is very important and drives the remainder of the plot.

Imagine my surprise when the singer completely changed the lyrics. The word “rape” was changed to “abduction.” Research done for this column shows that the word “rape”, although used in its literary sense meaning “abduction,” had offended enough people to cause the authors to change the lyrics in recent years. The authors caved to pressure.

Are we heading this way in all forms of art? Has the PC movement changed things so much that we must change the way artists express themselves?

Apparently, this is more often true than not. As I pondered this, I began to think of other ways that the PC movement has taken away an artist’s right of free expression. Let’s talk about some of the classic television shows from the 70’s. Would “All in the Family,” “Sanford and Son,” “Good Times,” or “Maude” get on the air today or would some studio executive be too afraid of upsetting some minority group to risk it.

Just imagine “All in the Family” without Archie’s lovable bigoted comments or “Sanford and Son,” without Fred’s comments about Puerto Ricans or the homosexual community; or, for that matter the use of the “N” word on a few occasions on either show. In fact, TV Land, when broadcasting “Sanford and Son,” has edited out all uses of the “N” words thereby changing the humor and taking away whatever “droit moral” rights the creators had. In fact, in one sequence, TV Land cut the scene four lines short in order to avoid the “N” word. Does it bother anyone that the lines in question had the audience howling in fits of laughter so much that Redd Foxx actually had to wait for the audience to quiet down before delivering the next line?

Could you just imagine trying to do “The Merchant of Venice” these days on a college campus? I’m sure some liberal self righteous organization would be so upset at the clearly prejudicial stance against the Jewish Religion that Shylock’s famous soliloquy would be edited to shreds.

Would some PC group allow this to be said on a college stage or for that matter pretty much any theater:

 The cries and claims of anti-Semitism would be shouted from the highest rafters. The protesters would be outside the theater with signs saying that the college was propagating anti-Semitism. Of course, the fact that this is one of the most famous soliloquies of all time would mean nothing to these zealots.

Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs,
dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the
same weapons, subject to the same diseases, heal’d by the same means, warm’d and
cool’d by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we
not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?
And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we
will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility?
Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian
example? Why, revenge. The villainy you teach me, I will execute, and it shall
go hard but I will better the instruction.
—Act III, scene
I

The point I am trying to make here is that we have gone so far with trying to be politically correct that we are stifling creative people. “All in the Family” and its ilk from the 70’s were not based upon prejudice or bias per se. They forced us to look at our prejudices and laugh at them. Don Rickles’ routine is exactly the same. He is not making fun of racial or ethnic groups; he is making fun of the stereotypes of racial and ethnic groups. In my opinion, we must be able to look at these and laugh at them before we can become cured of them.

But what has happened now? We have become so afraid to speak in racial, ethnic or sexual overtones that, the prejudices are returning. The country is not a better place because of it. Now, you don’t here these ethnic slurs on TV or in the movies, but believe me, they are still out there. And, I’m sure the people that are saying them; mean them just as much now as they did 40 years ago. We have gone backwards creatively.

I sure am beginning to sound like a broken record on this. But, to me “Free Speech” means just that. Everyone should be able to voice their opinions and to say whatever they want without fear of reprisal from anyone else. I still respect Miss California for having the courage to state her opinion on gay marriage. And, I am proud to say that I agree with Donald Trump’s decision today that she should maintain her crown. As for Perez Hilton, you all know how I feel about him from last week’s column.

In closing, I would like to make a few comments about some of the feedback on my last column. Many readers pointed out to me that one of President Obama’s strong points is that he listens to the other side. In fact, it appears that the contrary is true. It seems from the events of the last few weeks, that he is not listening. It appears he is taking the approach that I spoke of; it’s either his way or the high way.

One example is the report that came out last week stating that the Obama Administration gave the Israeli government an ultimatum that either Israel plays ball on the Palestinian issue or the US would leave them hanging on Iran. Of course, the Obama administration denied this report, but when pressed there was no response.

Another example is the reconciliation rule that is going to be invoked on health care at the administration’s request if the Republicans even threaten a filibuster. Again, it does not seem that the great pragmatist is listening to anybody except his obvious caving to the left wing of his party as
evidence by his latest stand on the “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

As always, I hope all of you have a fruitful and blessed week. And, God Bless America. Someone try and stop me from saying that!

© 2009 Frank T. DeMartini – All rights reserved. Permission to be copied will be granted freely upon request

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5 Responses to "Has Being PC Taken Away Free Speech?"

  1. Frank she was flustered because the republicans are doing what they’e done so well in the past…that is distract from the real issue. The issue is that Bush and his admistration lied about weapons of mass destruction, lied about the use of torture and the list goes on. She criticized the CIA pre Leon Panetta…that is an important distinction you left out.

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  2. This is another great and important article. I agree with you. Working part- time as a fragrance model in the stores, I see it even more. A lot of stores have stopped putting up “Xmas” decorations because it could offend. People get very upset not seeing the holiday decorations. I feel like my rights are taken away because of PC. The other thing that upsets me is that not all backgrounds are included in the PC movement. Being of German descent, should I start screaming every time the word Nazi is used or there is a movie not flattering to Germany. It seems that it is okay to say whatever about certain people, Italian’s, Polish, German’s etc, but not others. I don’t get upset at a joke, so why should other people. I feel free speech is a way to understand and then accepting one another. It opens the door to communication. If everything is so hush-hush we will go backwards. Let’s all laugh about our similarities and differences! That’s what makes the human race beautiful!

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  3. Agree 100% with this article. I work in education and have seen our “holiday” elementary concert transform to political correctness. I don’t understand. In another case currently in the courts here, high school students are ready to perform a play (which they have spent months rehearsing for) that contains the N word, and because someone may be offended, they may be banned from performing this play altogether. I say, let the kids perform, all of them. We have taken political correctness in this country too far in my opinion.

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