Sunday, October 16, 2005

The limits of Political Correctness

This came from Cox and Forkum. It made me laugh because it reminded me of a story a friend told me, about ten years ago.

She had just got off the train and was walking back to her house when she noticed a young black man coming towards her. Instinctively, she began to draw her shoulder-bag across her chest but then she stopped herself. "Oh no," she thought, "that is so racist, assuming that he might try to steal my bag.

The poor guy must get that sort of reaction all the time, just because of the way we stereotype black people." Then, as she looked down at her bag, she realised that it was unzipped. She faced a dilemma. Should she pull her bag across her chest and zip it up, running the risk of offending the man, or leave it hanging behind her with the zip undone?

She chose to leave it and walked on, pretending not to notice the man approaching. As he walked past her, he reached into her bag, pulled out her purse and ran off down the street.

My friend had done the politically correct thing. She had avoided offending the man. Unfortunately, he had run off with her purse. If, instead, she had risked offending him, she would have kept her money and credit cards.

It is very laudable to be polite but if your desire to avoid giving offence means that you lay yourself open to losing your property, or worse, being hurt or killed, then it is time to draw the line. It's better to offend someone and live than to be polite and dead.

* pub_philosopher/2005/07/.


Post a Comment

<< Home