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?

30 Responses to “Some Thoughts On Political Correctness”


  1. 1 lambrtz 05/07/2011 at 11:05 PM

    Translations:

    – Jowo babu = Jawa pembantu = Javanese servant

    – Cino pokil = Cina pelit = stingy Chinese

    – Kowe siji-sijine Jowo pokil ning sekolah =
    Kamu satu-satunya orang Jawa yang pelit di sekolah =
    You are the only stingy Javanese in this school

    – Wis podho Cinane ra sah kerengan. =
    sudah sudah sesama Cina jangan saling bertengkar =
    hey come on you Chinese people stop fighting already

    – wah kowe kuwi kurang ajar, wis ngerti bumi ki atos kok ya isih dites nganggo sikil palsu, kualat kowe =
    wah kamu kurang ajar, sudah tahu bumi ini keras kok ya masih dites pakai kaki palsu, nanti kamu kualat lho =
    hey you snotty, you already know that this soil is hard, why are you still testing it with your artificial leg, you will be damned.

    – Hei kamu Batak, biarpun dia orang Cina, dia orang asli sini. Kamu tuh yang pendatang = hey you Batak, he is Chinese, but he is a native; you are the newcomer

  2. 2 sora9n 06/07/2011 at 12:07 AM

    The rule in our school seems to be like this: you get offended, you lose. You win if you can exchange mockeries.

    I like this one! (woot)

    Well, with some level of moderation of course. After all there is such thing as ego depletion

  3. 3 lambrtz 06/07/2011 at 12:11 AM

    Well we definitely had to have moderation. Otherwise you could get punched on your face (our school was an all-boy school). In fact, our school’s unofficial motto is “bebas dan bertanggung jawab” (free and responsible). Anyway, you should have joined us.:mrgreen: *promosi*

  4. 4 sora9n 06/07/2011 at 12:24 AM

    Don’t think so. Back then in high school, you can expect to see me with peci and pocket Quran…

    (yes, serious. really far cry from now)

    (fun fact: some friend even called me Aa Kim…😆 )

  5. 5 lambrtz 06/07/2011 at 12:27 AM

    Oh yeah I forget about that. In that case, it might not be a place for you. The you now suits better.😆 Or you could have got enlightened much earlier

  6. 6 lambrtz 06/07/2011 at 12:29 AM

    Well, as for me, apart from my real name, I used to be called Mbe, Lambe, Ndomble, Ndower, Memble, Rumus, Tombro, … nothing fancy😆

  7. 7 Aprets 06/07/2011 at 1:52 AM

    People’s bounded rationality (amongst other to include behavior) is heavily affected by one’s value orientations. -this is what a sociologist may say😛.

    I think your experience in high school embodies close social networks (close-tie amongst the member of the networks). You did have frequent encounters with them -daily encounter to be more precise. You knew them in person, were familiar with their behavior and attitudes, and develop apologetic predisposition toward the member of your network. This, consequently, strengthened and shaped the “rule of the game” within your network, which is “kalo ngejek dibales marah artinya kalah”, et cetera.

    However, in some points in your life, your social networks changed, and so did the rule of the games. They are different from the predecessors, hence are way too arduous to be made equal comparison. One example is the web-based social network in Facebook or Blogsphere, whereby you don’t know personally the person with whom you have encounters. You aren’t familiar with the way they brought up, you have no slight ideas about their value orientations; this is when problem persists. This is when political correctness plays crucial part in your inter-personal interaction. You never know what other parties may respond to you, hence it’s better to maintain sensibility and poise. Similarly, in the loose-ties of social network, you don’t want to be misunderstood either, hence, people ideally must be sensible when talking to you.

    I mean, it’s hard to maintain but it’s not impossible. In my case, I don’t want to be socially malfunctioning in any kind of network, hence I must adhere with the particular “rule of the game”. I must admit that it’s very painful and sometime the damage overrides the gain😛, but this is my choice. Some people however, don’t feel the need to maintain poise and sensibility in many networks, hence can opt to be “politically incorrect” at all times. That is their choice😀

  8. 8 lambrtz 06/07/2011 at 11:48 AM

    Whoa I see a series (5 or so) of Tokyo in the Live Traffic Feed with the interval of 1 or 2 hours. Did you not sleep?😯
    Thank you for the detailed comment, mbak Aprets.😀

    I think I can agree to your opinion about the value orientation. In fact, I have realised it for a long time. And it’s not that I always say things politically incorrect either.😆 I just launch those jokes when I am with my close friends, and I have not done that lately. Anyway, my question was, why. Why is it so. Or what. What causes the difference. Simply because of the way our parents raise us, and the way their friendship works? I don’t know with others, but to me, constant political correctness enforcement resembles constant moral enforcement commonly done by those moralists in FPI and that-particular-party-of-which-you-like-to-make-fun, albeit in different political wing.😛

    Doh I feel to be very insensitive, persistent and stubborn. #-o

    Oh yeah, I forgot to mention. Actually if you click the Youtube video above (it’s a politically incorrect comedy show, in that it makes fun of other ethnics) and read the comments, you can see that people from the “offended” ethnics can enjoy the show and laugh, even though they might have never heard of the name of Spike Milligan before. And it’s been decades since the show was broadcast. I wondered why. Now I suppose they are these people with similar value, aren’t they. Then I suppose too that these jokes are simply not for the more sensitive people?😕

  9. 9 itikkecil 07/07/2011 at 12:26 AM

    I always thought, when you can mock your friend without being afraid that she/he will feel offended, it means that your friendship is strong. I always politically correct with somebody I don’t really know well. but with my best friends, they can insult me and I don’t mind with that. And vice versa.

  10. 10 lambrtz 07/07/2011 at 1:16 AM

    Definitely. That’s why I rarely direct politically incorrect jokes to a person outside the circle of my high school friends. Well, my high school was quite a creep.😆

  11. 11 Gentole 07/07/2011 at 9:58 AM

    The thing with offending people is that you don’t know when or why people get offended. I mean, as i recall, I never deliberately offend somebody. I usually did it unwittingly and, for that reason, I fear I may do it again. That’s why the first thing almost every one accused of insulting others do is apologize: “Don’t get me wrong” or “I didn’t mean it.” Calling a friend “Cina” can be both correct and incorrect, politically. If he’s the kind of guy who thinks there’s nothing wrong with the word “Cina” or is even proud of being called “Cina”, then I think it’s fine to swear “Dasar Cina!” to him. In fact, he could even be offended if you tried to euphemise it with the word “Tionghoa” for he would probably think you’re patronizing him. Indeed, the case is different to those who think the word “Cina” is derogatory.

    Anyway. What’s political correctness? Politics should not be taken too seriously. Just be considerate. It’s not about being politically correct to others. This is about being sincere and kind to the people we know closely or hardly know. People get offended all the time, because of many things. And most of the times politics, I think, has nothing to do with it.

  12. 12 Gentole 07/07/2011 at 10:22 AM

    Ah now i know what’s wrong with your rant. Racial remarks have nothing to do with politics if you aren’t a politician. If you’re running for president and tell your constituents that our trade minister is favoring China because she’s a Chinese-descent then you just have made a politically incorrect statement. If you’re not a politician, then you’re just being a racist.🙂

  13. 13 lambrtz 07/07/2011 at 12:58 PM

    I will remove one comment of yours for being mainly a duplicate.😛

    If you’re not a politician, then you’re just being a racist.

    You mean, if I choose, let’s say, Javanese friends due to me being Javanese?😕 Then yes it’s racist.😆 But I think that’s not the main topic of my…rant, as you wrote it.😛 OK just in case I didn’t make it clear, my point was that 1) not all politically incorrect statements are bad, and 2) being entirely politically correct sucks.😀

    I think I forget to mention this too. I am afraid of height. Companies build tall buildings around my apartment, and in fact my apartment is also tall. I eventually have to work in one those buildings too. Should I be offended? Am I justified to sue them? These companies don’t intend to offend people like me, do they.😕

  14. 14 Gentole 07/07/2011 at 11:54 PM

    you fail to define what you mean with “political correctness”. is this about racism or being “politically correct”?

  15. 15 lambrtz 08/07/2011 at 12:02 AM

    Without looking at Wikipedia, I suppose politically correct terms are meant to prevent many listeners from being offended? CMIIW😕

  16. 16 apratz 08/07/2011 at 6:56 AM

    Anyway setelah menimbang, membaca, dan menganalisa ulang, daku tak menyangka kalo Lambrtz-san orang yang thoughtful dan sensitive. Hihihi

    #JanganDiapus

    #TakeItAsCompliment😛

  17. 17 lambrtz 08/07/2011 at 10:07 AM

    😯 You were feeling well when writing that comment, weren’t you? Saya aja jelas-jelas made it clearly bahwa

    I feel to be very insensitive, persistent and stubborn

    dengan mempertahankan argumen political incorrectness ini😆

    Tapi makasih complimentnya, Mbak apratz😉

  18. 18 Gentole 08/07/2011 at 6:53 PM

    well ya ndak taulah. aku juga jadi bingung sendiri.😛

  19. 19 apratz 09/07/2011 at 1:12 AM

    Kalo Lambrtz-san benar2 tidak sensitif, mungkin tidak akan peduli tentang isu Political Correctness ini😛. Justru karena anda sensitif, makanya sampai dibahas hingga satu posting sendiri😀

    #Latihan pakai Bahasa Indonesia, bentar lagi jadi guru Bahasa Indo😛

  20. 20 lambrtz 09/07/2011 at 2:04 AM

    @Gentole
    Lah kepriwe sih😆 *plak*

    @apratz
    …well, terserah dirimu sajalah :-” dalamhatitersipumalu
    Guru Bahasa Indo? Arubaito?😕

  21. 21 Gentole 11/07/2011 at 10:41 AM

    @ya aku emang ga pernah baca seharah political correctness selain di wikipedia. tapi ini emang istilah yang problematik.

  22. 22 lambrtz 11/07/2011 at 10:55 AM

    Apalagi di aku yang tumbuh besar di lingkungan yang politically incorrect😛

  23. 24 joesatch yang legendaris 25/11/2011 at 12:34 PM

    lho, saya baru baca yang ini:mrgreen:

    di kantin kampus saya, djo, tiap jam kuliah Pengantar Lawak Dasar I, ada teori yang menyebutkan: “kalo diejek dan tidak mampu membalas, atau tidak punya bahan untuk membalas, jangan dibalas. alihkan ejekan itu pada yang lebih jelek.”

    dengan begitu masalah selesai 8)

  24. 25 wholesale e-cigarettes 27/11/2011 at 6:07 PM

    Terribly well executed article!!


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