My Presentation on Political Correctness

Below in SlideShare  format, you’ll find the first section of a multimedia Power Point that I’ve presented in various forms to different groups of people.  I’ve been trying to raise awareness about what exactly happens inside each of us when we succumb to political correctness.  How are we manipulated?  Why? By whom?  And what can we do about it?

As you go through the slides, you won’t have my running commentary.  But the basic idea is that political correctness is not just the hard sell of an agenda.  It’s a deceptive and highly manipulative method of coercive persuasion. It forces compliance by exploiting the universal human fear of being cast out of society.   But this compliance — usually through self-censorship — actually isolates us even more.  It’s important for us to recognize that we only dig ourselves in deeper when we cave in to it, because we cut ourselves off from like-minded people and only build an illusion that we are all alone in our beliefs. That, of course, is the main purpose of political correctness: to get us to paint ourselves into a corner and isolate ourselves from others. So the big question is how best to speak out and reach out.

Also, here’s the Steve Martin clip from Slide 9 (which doesn’t seem to run in the slideshare):


We often hear the words “group think” and “peer pressure”tossed about.  But it’s really important to go deeper into the meaning of those terms.  We begin by taking a hard, clinical look at what exactly happens to us as human beings when we are subjected to this method of coercive persuasion.  The term “emotional blackmail” sums it up well.

 

Disney’s New Maleficent Still Works to Separate Men and Women

If you don’t mind spoilers, read my review of the recently released movie Maleficent here in The Federalist, “Maleficent: Once Upon a Screed.”

The movie is supposed to be a reinvention of the 1959 Disney classic Sleeping Beauty — from the witch Maleficent’s point of view. But something essential to the original allegory is completely missing from this hash-up.  That would be the determination of Prince Phillip to unite with Princess Aurora despite the forces of evil — personified by the fearsome witch Maleficent — that tried so hard to separate them.  That struggle is what made the original story so enchanting and captivating.  The new spin portrays Maleficent as a sympathetic and good-hearted fairy gone bad and preaches the tagline:  “Evil is Complicated.” (See the trailer above.)  But, in the end, this “new” propagandized Maleficent  ultimately has the same old agenda: the separation of men and women.  Only this time, you’re not supposed to notice.

 

Was Enforced Silence the ACLU’s Agenda all along?

After reading Charlotte Allen’s blog on “The Left’s War on Free Speech,” it’s difficult to conclude that the so-called progressives at the American Civil Liberties Union were ever much dedicated to free speech.   More likely, they’ve been committed to squashing it.   And now it seems the time is ripe for them to do so.  Allen quotes several advocates for curbing the right to think out loud.  In part, she writes:

The watchword was that of one of the Supreme Court’s most liberal justices, Louis Brandeis (1856-1941), who wrote: “If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the process of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”

Now for many progressives, it seems, the remedy is…enforced silence.-  

Now for many progressives, it seems, the remedy is …enforced silence. Here is author William D. Cohan, writing in the Huffington Post to wonder “if there should be limits to saying or writing whatever you please in online forums that can sully someone’s reputation with impunity and impair his or her ability to make a living.”

This sort of thing should make us all shudder.  Allen continues:

Cohan’s Huffington Post piece is titled “How Much Free Speech Is Too Much?” His answer:

 “What’s clear is that we’re are at a crucial moment where the ability of technology to permit instant, unvetted and unfiltered commentary is running head-first into the justified concerns of those whose reputations can be torn asunder unfairly by it. It’s a conundrum for sure and one that needs some serious sorting out.”

He’s not the only liberal to complain that America’s 1st Amendment allows just plain too much free speech.

Cohan echoes the voice of tyranny  quoted in The Singing Revolution: “Whenever you give free speech to people, then things get out of hand.”

In fact, free speech is a use it or lose it proposition. Keep talking!

 

 

 

Follow up on Maya Angelou’s “Why I kept my Baby”

My last post on the recently deceased Maya Angelou produced some interesting feedback, and I’d like to address it.  Despite Angelou’s personal pro-life story, a lot of the eulogizing over her can seem unsettling because she lent her voice to fundraising for Planned Parenthood, the biggest abortion promoter out there.  Even though I was aware of Angelou’s political leanings, I was not tuned into her support for Planned Parenthood, and certainly not the extent of it.

But Angelou’s personal story of a crisis pregnancy and the nurturing of her child still captures my imagination.  And I think it ought to be better known publicly, especially in light of this irony.

I was also drawn to Angelou’s story because it connects two underlying themes of my blog:  Relationships and Influence.

Angelou’s joyful relationship with the son she may never have known had an enormous and positive impact on the trajectory of her life – and therefore also on the lives and relationships of all those around her.  It’s a shame that she didn’t preach more about what she practiced then – about her openness to the humanity of the unborn and our innate relationship with them. Given her influence, doing so could have spared the lives of many children and prevented the brokenness of many would-be mothers. As a supporter for Planned Parenthood, she, sadly encouraged the opposite.

Influence has many facets.  Whether we have influence ourselves, or whether we cede influence to someone, what we do with influence is a huge responsibility.  It’s a shame that Maya Angelou chose to lend her influence and her name to an organization that stood against all of her best instincts.  After all, she told Family Circle Magazine that she kept her baby because “I knew there was somebody inside me.”  Somebody.

The fact is that support for abortion was de rigueur in Angelou’s political sphere.  The tragedy is if there was room for different views there, she very well may have kept to her instincts and promoted life instead. 

So, one can only wonder:  Why?  Why did she go on to support an organization that certainly would not have recognized her unborn son as “somebody?”  And if she had been a pregnant teen under the circumstances today, would she have kept her baby?

I don’t know the answers, but I think it lies somewhere in the intersection of relationships and power.  Was she pressured?  Was she simply asked to headline PP fundraisers?   Would she have ever initiated such a thing on her own? Or, is it possible that in the end, she simply lent her influence in order to preserve her influence and to avoid alienating those around her?  I can’t help but suspect it’s the latter.  The effects of influence coupled with the innate human fear of isolation — being cast out — cause people to morph all the time.

I think paying close attention to these dynamics in ourselves and others is the key to helping turn things around for a more open and life-affirming society.

Everyone Should Take a “Propaganda 101″ Class to Understand How they are Manipulated

Lots of folks have been scratching their heads wondering how genderless marriage — which seemed just a fantasy on the fringes just  a decade or so ago — so quickly became a reality of American public policy today.  There are a lot of pieces to this puzzle. A few of them include activist judges, the monied LGBT lobby, and  President Obama’s disingenuous “evolution” on the subject after being elected.

But the bigger picture shows something very different, very calculated, and decades in the making.  It’s possibly been the biggest propaganda campaign in human history.

Do you believe the biggest manipulators who push same sex marriage really and truly care about the canard they label “marriage equality?”  I don’t.  In fact, it seems more likely the power elites among them have simply been engaged in a social experiment, testing the limits of propaganda and how easily people can be controlled and manipulated, even to the point of accepting an implausible idea. Of course, “marriage equality” is a great test case for them, because it could pave the way to ending family autonomy, giving them greater control over the relationships of others.

Are you familiar with the term “availability cascade?”  It’s related to Richard Dawkins theory (The Selfish Gene, 1976) about “memes:” that any idea injected into public discourse can potentially spread like a virus and change the culture in much the same way that genes replicate and evolve.  Of course, to make it work you need an unwitting citizenry.

I think the only way around this is a proliferation of education and information on the subtle techniques of coercive persuasion. If our society produced lots of non-partisan webinars and classes taught by citizen-activists on “Propaganda 101″ people could be exposed to the  uses and abuses of social psychology so that they’re not such easy targets.  More on that in a later post.

In 1999 the Stanford Law Review published “Availability Cascades and Risk Regulation,” an article co-authored by Cass Sunstein and Timur Kuran.  Sunstein served as Obama’s regulatory czar during 2009-2012.  Kuran is an economist and author of Private Truths, Public Lies:  The Social Consequences of Preference Falsification (1995) a fascinating look at how our individual willingness — or reticence — to express our real beliefs is what drives all of public opinion.

In fact, our willingness to say what we believe is what drives all public opinion.  All of it.  Yes, what you say or don’t say to your co-worker, classmate, or neighbor makes a difference in how they perceive the world.  At the epicenter of the ripple effect is our daily conversations in our daily lives.

The coddling of an idea like “marriage equality” through repetition — and the suppression of dissent — projects the illusion that “everybody’s believing it.” People shift their “beliefs” to conform to what they perceive everyone else believes.  Soon enough you’ve got a chain reaction.  It’s a bandwagon effect that’s helped along by political correctness  which, through the threat of smearing and isolating anyone who speaks “out of line,”enforces that illusion by creating a spiral of silence. In essence, this teases out a reverse bandwagon effect in dissenters.

 

Excuse me for speaking (Silly me, I thought I had a “right”)

Your right to think out loud is officially up for debate.   Last night the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia held a “panel discussion” on the topic “The Future of Free Speech.”  In it we were treated to the pros and cons of allowing human beings to speak their minds.  That’s what we’ve come to, and it’s appalling.

What next?  A panel discussion on the pros and cons of allowing human beings to breathe?

As with all such discussions, an elitist few take it upon themselves to tell the unwashed masses what they may and may not say — or by logical extension, what they may or may not think.  These self-appointed arbiters of speech and thought are nothing more than a clique or a mob that’s set itself up to control others.  It’s a power grab, and their thinly veiled guise is to claim to protect us all from “hate speech.”  In other words, it’s a protection racket.  There’s no way around this.

Everything about last night’s C-SPAN panel was disturbing:  the arrogance of the plaintiffs, the willingness of the defendants to play nice and even seem jovial about negotiating the rights of everyone else, and the venue itself, the Constitution Center, which seemed happy to give tyranny a day in court.  (No doubt there will be more to come.)   If you care to check it out, here’s the link:  http://www.c-span.org/video/?318476-1/free-speech-us

Political Correctness and the Cult Mindset

My essay in the Federalist today is about Americans’ woeful ignorance of the techniques of brainwashing.  Click here to read:  “Cults in Our Midst:  Patty Hearst and the Brainwashing of America.”  My take is that it’s been exactly 40 years since Patty Hearst stunned the nation by robbing a bank with her radical comrades from “The Symbionese Liberation Army,” two months after they kidnapped and brainwashed her.

They started the way any bully or cult leader pushes an agenda:  by isolating the individual and separating the person from all relationships the aggressor can’t control.   Political correctness depends on this sort of thing.  It’s a program of behavior modification through language control.  It seeks to impose language that vilifies people who don’t conform so that they are separated and isolated from others. (You know the drill:  “bigot,” etc.)

Interestingly, the term “brainwashing” has become politically incorrect.  We should ask ourselves: Why?  The term simply comes from the Chinese/Maoist expression “hse nao” which means to “wash the brain” so that other thoughts can be programmed into it. Is the word politically incorrect because it’s a false concept?  No.  It’s politically incorrect because it is  true.  It’s very real.

If Americans understood the processes and techniques of coercive persuasion, they’d become more immune to them.  Political correctness would lose its hold, just as a magician’s tricks lose their appeal when you see them exposed.

Here are some brief excerpts from my essay, which I hope you’ll read:

In a sense, political correctness, though more subtle, is analogous to the dark closet in which Patty Hearst was isolated, blindfolded, and incessantly propagandized. It serves to silence us and create the conditions in which the arbiters of correctness can tear down the old world view and rebuild it in their image. We’re told being one of them is to be morally superior, on the right side of history. Those who oppose it are labeled, repeatedly and loudly: bigot, racist, homophobe.

In Cults in our Midst, Singer warned that cult techniques “should be studied and revealed so that citizens can be taught countermeasures in order to avoid being exploited by such groups.” She also cautioned: “The psychotechnology of thought reform is not going to go away… Education, information and vigilance are constantly needed if we are to keep us, and our minds, free.”

 

 

Bait and Switch: How Same Sex Marriage Ends Family Autonomy

“Relationships, Power, and Freedom” is the central theme of this blog.  I really hope you’ll read my article published today in The Federalist because in it I attempt to get right into the intersection of each of these three qualities in our lives.  Click here for the link to my article, “Bait and Switch:  How Same Sex Marriage Ends Family Autonomy.”

Preserving civil marriage is key, because without it the family can no longer exist autonomously and serve as a wall of separation between the individual and the state. Abolishing it would have huge implications for the survival of freedom of association and all of our personal relationships.

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The Softer Side of Show Trials, brought to you by your Friends at Mozilla

When Hollywood folks think of show trials, they automatically relive the McCarthy hearings of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee back in the 1950s.  When a student of Russian history hears the term, she’s apt to think about Stalin’s Show Trials of the 1930’s.  But let’s not go there, right?  Those were nasty affairs that usually ended with executions after perfunctory trials that declared the defendants “enemies of the people.”

There’s a more “civilized and softer” side to the idea of show trials, which was brought to us this week by Mozilla.  It means that when someone carries a belief in his heart that doesn’t meet the approval of the preachers of political correctness, he’s merely forced to resign from his job.  In this case, the person supported the idea — shocking! — that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.  It doesn’t matter that he kept quiet about his beliefs, the thought reformers made a point of “outing” him for his thought crimes. That’s what happened to Brendan Eich, former CEO of Mozilla.  We know he contributed towards Proposition 8, the 2008 California ballot measure that defined marriage traditionally.  But we don’t technically know how Eich voted on it because we all still technically have the right to a secret ballot.  Or are you beginning to wonder?

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Crude Demonization and the Propaganda in “Cosmos”

Did you catch the Sunday night pilot of the new Cosmos series on FOX?  If so, you probably watched with interest an odd cartoon that was injected into it.  The program featured some revisionist history in order to produce a thinly-veiled hit piece on Christians.  You can watch it here.  Take special note at 1:24.  Right smack dab in the center of focus is the Cross of Christ, just below a set of demonically-lit eyes of a church figure.

This is propaganda of the crudest sort, reminiscent of how Stalin’s Soviet Union characterized non-communists, or how the Hutus of Rwanda characterized the Tutsis, or, most famously, how the Third Reich characterized Jews.

 I imagine we’ll see more of this sort of thing in the future, so let’s try to figure out one formula some outlets might use to implement such demonization.

1.)  Take a fascinating topic that captures the imagination of viewers across all age groups.  In this case, space exploration.  Get the US President’s seal of approval

2.)  Invent the story of an obscure martyr, in this case, a church figure who promoted a theological heresy hundreds of years ago and was executed for doing so — Giordano Bruno.

1.       3.)  Win the sympathy of the viewer through twisting facts.  In this case, claim — in error — that the Church as a whole persecuted Bruno for his views on science and his imagination — when the reality was that the personalities running the church at the time went after him for his theological views. 
You can read more about this here and here.

4.)  Then inject a caricature that demonizes anyone associated with the symbol f the cross.  In this case, it’s a cartoon that places the cross right in the center of focus, underneath a pair of demonic eyes so that the viewer will join the producers in demonizing the cross and those who wear it.

Whether or not you agree that this is a formula for demonizing people, it all leads to the same place:  the persecution of targeted groups of people.  Throughout history demonization through caricature has always gone hand-in-hand with oppression:  separating people through smear-by-association.  So whenever we see such things produced by a major network or outlet, we need to ask ourselves a question:  Is the caricature intended to single out a group of people with the direct effect of inspiring blanket fear and hatred of them?  Or is it a more generic “bad guy” that would would find in the context of a well-written drama or storyline?  This hit piece from Cosmos is doubtless of the first category.