Black Holes in Dallas

by Phil Aubart | 7/22/08 2:57am

Of course, I am not politically correct. This is not to say that I don't understand political correctness, or that I don't think it has some place in civilized society, but I am against the way it has been obnoxiously spread and applied to everything nowadays.

I completely agree that things such as racial slurs and epithets have no constructive use in society. Sure, they are sometimes used in private conversations, more often than not in an outrageous fashion designed to get laughs. But, while everyone in America has the right to speak as they like, especially in private conversation, it may not be "right" for them to do so.

In the public domain, people also maintain the right to use these terms -- and that's a right for which I am willing to die. But we as a society also have the right to ostracize people who use wrong and hurtful language. When former Senator George Allen, R-Va., made his "Macaca" remark, for instance, it was only appropriate for him to be shunned and voted out of his seat in the Senate.

There are, however, instances where the idea of being "PC" is taken too far -- an overextension that was evident at a City Hall meeting in Dallas, Texas recently reported on by several local news outlets. After a white council member said a particular office had "become a black hole" where paperwork was sent and never returned, a black council member objected and said that really, the office was a "white hole." Another black member subsequently demanded an apology from the white member for making what he felt was a racially insensitive remark.

Hopefully, whether or not you're in my Astro 3 class, you realize that a black hole is a scientific term used to describe an actual phenomenon in space where an object has so much mass in such a small area that neither light nor matter can escape from it. Therefore, when we look at it we see only black: the absence of light.

The point is that "black hole" is not an inherently offensive term. Perhaps we should begin terming the Black Forest the "Color-neutral" Forest. When I consider giving away free stuff at the games of the baseball team I will one day own, should I avoid the sale of Cracker Jacks altogether for fear of offending white people?

Now, in case you're becoming inclined to nit-pick at my opinion so as to discredit it, I should be clear: I am not trying to say certain races cry foul more than others. In truth, my argument on political correctness is not even bound by race. In a post by Zak Moore '09 on the student-run blog DartBlog, Moore reports that in Atlanta, all "Men at Work" road signs are being replaced with signage that reads "Workers Ahead." I agree with Zak in his point that, although it is understandable that some women workers may feel marginalized by the existing signage, there was little reason to grandfather the new signage in.

Oops, sorry. I meant "grandparent" it in.

Yes, the world we come from is less perfect, less sensitive and less accommodating than that which exists today. But are the indications of this -- things like an increased female workforce -- the result of updated road signage? Don't we have more important things to worry about?

The worst thing about this whole push to be politically correct is that it distracts us from issues that should be addressed. An estimated 1.5 million people are being sent out of Beijing during the Olympics because the Chinese Government has decided that they are "undesirable" and therefore shouldn't be seen by the international community.

Clearly, there are far more important issues which deserve our attention and resources.

Political correctness has its place, but we should not let ourselves be completely controlled by worrying about offending others. Chances are that you can manage to offend at least one person with something you say, wear, or do.

Certainly be mindful of others' feelings and try to respect those around you, but don't make yourself a slave to the constant demands of others' feelings.

Perhaps this article makes me an a-hole, but actually think about my point. I should be able to call The Hop a "black hole of nutrition" without anyone getting offended.