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Friday, March 26, 2010

POLITICALLY INCORRECT

I think the reason we really don't like political correctness (PC) is because we feel it is being jammed down our throats, that it is unnatural and requires us to change. Basically, it is suggesting we're insensitive and disrespect others, that we have some kind of character flaw. If you say or do something politically incorrect, you are quickly admonished to mend your ways, or else. Frankly, I think of political correctness as Miss Manners on steroids.

Back in 1970, George C. Scott portrayed General George S. Patton of World War II fame. The opening speech in "Patton" was memorable and set the tone for the General's character in the movie. At the time, the speech was considered rough and crude. So much so, it wasn't unusual for some viewers to walk out of the theater after only the opening sequence. It was most definitely not politically correct for the times. Actually, the speech was a compilation of several speeches Patton had delivered, not just one. Nonetheless, he said and meant every word. His "Blood and Guts" no-nonsense style captivated most viewers which was rather unusual during the age of the hippie revolution and the Viet Nam War.

More recently, Clint Eastwood portrayed a retired Detroit autoworker in the movie "Gran Torino." His character, Walt Kowalski, was also a no-nonsense type who was politically incorrect. Yet, despite his language, the audience understood his intent, which was to cleanup crime in his neighborhood.

Between Patton and Eastwood's character, we see two individuals who may lack social graces but devised unorthodox tactics to achieve their goals, and didn't give a damn what other people thought. Political correctness is a nicety which adds a level of complexity that, in some circumstances, can interfere with getting the job done, particularly in high pressure life/death situations where action and tough decisions must be made as opposed to considering the feelings of others. From this perspective, I tend to regard PC as a luxury.

Over the years I have written numerous articles on a wide variety of subjects, everything from management and technology, to religion and politics. On more than one occasion I have been cautioned by people not to write about this or that as it might offend certain people and hurt my reputation. Due to the unique nature of my consulting practice I have always tried to tell the truth and give an honest appraisal of the situation at hand. You may not always agree with me, but at least you know where I stand on an issue. In a way, I often feel like the child in the Hans Christian Andersen tale who exclaims, "The Emperor has no clothes!" Although he naively spoke the truth, his observation made people nervous and squirm, particularly those in power. One of the things I learned early on is that the obvious is not always obvious, or politically correct, but we would make little progress if we didn't look at ourselves in the mirror once and awhile, warts and all. So, I will continue to write in accordance with my conscious, not others.

Being politically incorrect doesn't necessarily mean you are rough around the edges. Rather, it means you are probably more focused on your mission at hand and God help the person who gets in your way, definitely a Type "A" personality. The politically incorrect person simply doesn't accept the status quo and wants to smash it in order to achieve his goals. Political correctness is only for when we have time to accommodate such etiquette.

Politically incorrect people are typically described as "colorful" characters and, in my opinion, are more interesting than their PC counterparts. They are not "deranged" as some people might portray them, and they certainly cannot be accused of being "bland." (See my other article on PC: "Let us be Bland") To a lot of people, being politically incorrect is a trait to be envied, not spurned.

As Patton concluded in his speech, "All right now, you sons-of-a-bitches, you know how I feel. Oh, I will be proud to lead you wonderful guys into battle anytime, anywhere. That's all."

Keep the Faith!

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Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

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