Archive for July 5th, 2011

Some Thoughts On Political Correctness

To me, it remains a question, whether we should go with political correctness all the times, and whether it is good to begin with.

During our time in high school, we were almost totally politically incorrect. Racial jokes about the Javanese and the Chinese, the two ethnic majorities in the school, were  brought up everyday. “Jowo babu!” “Cino pokil!” There are many variations of it. “Kowe siji-sijine Jowo pokil ning sekolah”, etc. Not only the students did that, but the teachers sometimes did too. Did anybody get hurt with those jokes? Hardly. In fact, we laughed, and it strengthened the friendship. Another example, one Javanese guy would shout at two Chinese who were fighting with each other with “Wis podho Cinane ra sah kerengan.” Now, wasn’t that a good use? And these jokes weren’t only about race. One Christian friend intentionally teased a Muslim friend by eating some bread in front of the latter during one Ramadhan month. I think it was in our third year. Jokingly, yes. They laughed together, and the Christian friend left afterwards. That was probably not the most hardcore. I heard that in the 70s or 80s there was a student who was disabled (he lost a leg or something), so he used a prosthetic leg. After that, as a teacher retold the story, and if I remember correctly, another friend said to him, “wah kowe kuwi kurang ajar, wis ngerti bumi ki atos kok ya isih dites nganggo sikil palsu, kualat kowe.” The rule in our school seems to be like this: you get offended, you lose. You win if you can exchange mockeries. Well I definitely joined these kinds of jokes. But indeed, during our graduation, the then-vice-headmaster mentioned it in a speech that we should be careful in making these jokes especially outside the school, simply because not many could accept them.

It actually keeps me wondering. For what reasons do people bother about political correctness? I have an opinion in which some people who have been abused using politically incorrect words in the past are reminded of that particularly bad experience. That case, however, is reminiscent of people traumatised by other factors. Fire, for example. There was a friend of mine in primary school who was afraid of fire after he got some droplets of melting straw fall onto his leg and burnt his skin. Is fire bad? Yes. And it is good too. At that time, it was probably wiser for him to stay away from fire temporarily. However, at the end of the day, I believe he should re-approach fire again, to confront his fear. Another factor is misunderstanding about the intention, especially if you don’t know the person closely (I will discuss more on this in the next paragraph). Well these are two factors, so if any commentator knows about other factors, I would like to be enlightened please.

To me, the intention is what matters. You can always use political correctness to offend people (well in fact I always try to keep my politeness when trolling hahaha), and, likewise, political incorrectness to entertain. And this is my point of why I usually keep a derision towards political correctness. Political incorrectness is sometimes beneficial. Now if the intention is indeed to humiliate, I would love to see someone punch the person on his nose.

Well, our humble beginning of exchanging teases with friends brings me deeper into the more general social issue. In fact, I defended a Chinese friend from our hometown as being, well, native Jogjakartan, after he was mocked by a Batak friend who came from Pematang Siantar. “Hei kamu Batak, biarpun dia orang Cina, dia orang asli sini. Kamu tuh yang pendatang,” I said. Definitely that was also a joke. In another occasion, I defended the right of the general Chinese community to speak Hokkien, after a friend who had just gone to Medan alleging them for being un-nationalistic for speaking that “foreign language” on a daily basis. Hokkien is also their regional language, just like how Javanese people speak Javanese language and so on and so forth, I said to him.

Why so serious?


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