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Debate: Political Correctness Is a Menace and a Bore by Cornel West

Debate: Political Correctness Is a Menace and a Bore

by Cornel West


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"Anyone who has followed the political-correctness debate knows," as Michael Kinsley puts it, "that, by reputation at least, we are at the heart of the beast. It was here at the University of Pennsylvania last year that a white freshman was charged with racial harassment for calling a group of black women 'water buffalo.' " It was also here, Mr. Buckley reminds us, that a group of students stole and destroyed copies of a student newspaper that carried an op-ed piece they disagreed with. But these cases make Penn far from atypical in the modern academic world, and Senator Carol Moseley-Braun had recently declared that "a fundamental right is the freedom from insult." Mr. Green starts by welcoming "any debate which forces conservative Republicans to become ACLUers in defense of the First Amendment." Today's debaters are occasionally a bit foggy over hypotheticals, but there are some fine exchanges. Professor Greene: "I think what we need to do is not to focus on calling each other racist or sexist, but instead to try to understand how historical racism has affected our lives and consciousness ..." Judge Bork: "Is it your understanding, Professor Greene, that you are actually defending political correctness with that statement?"

Episode FLS117, Recorded on December 3, 1993

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