A journalist friend of mine recently attended his four-year-old daughter’s year-end dance recital here in Toronto. “Every dance was in some way about Canada,” he told me. “My daughter’s dance was Canada Geese. Another was Aurora Borealis. One dance was Our Aboriginal Peoples. And I’m like, ‘Oh, God, no.’”
“It’s one of the youngest classes — very basic. No real theme, just introductory dance moves. The costumes are evocative of animal skins. The hair buns have little feathers. The theme was ‘Honouring the first people of North America.’ And I was freaked out. It was objectively innocent, benign, cute and even touching — and it was absolutely well-intended. But I’ve spent so much time in Stupid Twitter-Land that I expected the parents to stand up and start booing and hissing and calling for the studio owner’s head.”
“No one did that, of course,” my friend added. “Normal people don’t do those things.”My only criticism is that as the essay goes on he spends too much time talking about the precarious positions of the obscure Twitter users who police the norms of political correctness and not enough time dissecting why the respectable managerial classes care about those scoldings in the first place. I get the interest in why someone administers those scoldings, but surely one reason why they keep doing it is that it works. And the question is why does it work? Why do editors of major publications and managers at high levels care so much about being scolded over such trivial things?
There's at least some acknowledgment that political correctness is a thing because people in the right positions care about these scoldings over things that ordinary people neither know about nor care about. That's progress. But I'd like to really unpack why the Right-Thinking educated and managerial classes care so much about avoiding these scoldings.