An Inclusive Litany

10/27/08

Entropy. That's the idea I had in mind when formulating the following introductory text that was long posted on the Flummery Digest's home page:
It has been said that politics is the art of the possible. It is also the art of the silly and the dangerous.

I started collecting offbeat news items early in the '90s for my own amusement and sanity, but it soon became my primary interest to document the multifarious phenomena known as "political correctness." I'm well aware of the tendency to define this term loosely to mean "any closely held view of which I don't approve," and I'm not sure I'm offering anything better here. Yet while I believe both Left and Right entertain all sorts of smelly orthodoxies (to use Orwell's term), self-styled progressives have always had particular trouble recognizing limits to the sort of progress they seek. As a result, traditional liberal expectations of government activity often slip the tethers of plausibility.

The most notable PC enthusiasms—race, gender, sexual "difference"—became popular at roughly the same time the Soviet Union imploded, when talk of class differences became relatively unpopular among leftists. There has been a corresponding de-emphasis of human beings in favor of wildlife and the "environment," neither of which can complain of unwelcome attention the way proletarians are liable to these days. And faced with socialism's manifest failure, many have even chosen to deny the importance of objective reality altogether, adopting faddish nihilistic attitudes to conceal their own strange form of gnosticism.

I aim to document a wide range of these often contradictory threads, both in their speculative stages and once hardened into legal statutes or informal, polite axioms. Astute readers may notice a similar tension between my libertarian and conservative instincts. Yet while PC tends to explore some of the fringe logical questions that are routinely posed within the framework of a free society, I adapt that approach by refocusing attention on the logical extremes of PC itself. I'm optimistic at least that laughing at it may help diminish it.

I must warn you that if you are overly sensitive or if you identify yourself closely with the fortunes of various grievance groups, reading this anthology will not be cause for great joy. Even if that's not the case and if you are as insensitive as I am, reading too much in one sitting may still give you a bad case of the shakes. Medical vaccinations involve a weak dose of a disabled form of a virus; a political vaccination requires quite the opposite.

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