As he jogs, and kickboxes, and roller-blades across the hinterland – always with a helpful photographer in tow! – Canadian Alliance leadership candidate Stockwell Day blathers on, cheerfully, about all sorts of things.
Just stick a microphone before him, and he will pipe up about what he is against (gun control, the Playboy Channel, multiculturalism and subsidies to what he refers to, ominously, as special interest groups). He will also prattle on about what he is for (sex offender registries, flat taxes, choice in health care and prosecuting naughty 14-year-olds as adults).
Lately, between kickboxing matches, Mr. Day has taken to muttering darkly about the conspiracies being promulgated by unseen, and unnamed, forces of political correctness. At one of the interminable, coma-inducing Alliance leadership debates in Toronto this week, Mr. Day scolded fellow CA aspirants Tom Long and Keith Martin for suggesting that a stridently anti-abortion platform is a one-way ticket to electoral oblivion.
Said Mr. Day, wagging a telegenic finger at his adversaries: This discussion will not tear a political party apart. Your comments are well-intended, but [you are] not understanding that we are actually moving out of the era of fear of political correctness. That era is on its last legs. My campaign has proven that. Note that important phrase: the era of fear of political correctness. What Mr. Day is saying, it seems, is that Messrs. Long and Martin are censorious, statist, CBC-loving, One World Government lackeys, bent on curtailing discussion about the sure-fire vote-winner that is abortion. Something like that.
As in any sophists war, definitions are important. Political correctness, the Oxford Concise Dictionary of Politics informs us, was an influential movement on U.S. campuses beginning in the late 1980s[which] sought changes in undergraduate curricula to emphasize the roles of women, non-white people, and homosexuals in history and culture, and attacked the domination of Western culture by dead white European males. The Oxford people go on to note that political correctness was in full retreat by the early 1990s. But that has not deterred the Alliances apparent champion of dead white European males, Stockwell Day, from tilting away at the P.C. windmill.
Having spent more than a decade chronicling the activities of Canadas far right – and, occasionally, the nearer right – I have noted that, of all of the many and varied enemies regularly excoriated by right-wingers, political correctness tops the hit parade. Whenever a rightist is critiqued for something they have said or written, for example, the outraged respondent inevitably charges that he or she is being victimized by P.C. Inquisitors. In recent postings to the Freedom Site, Canadas favoured Internet address for Holocaust deniers and white supremacists, political correctness is vilified no less than 75 times. At the far-right Western Canada Concept (WCC) web site, meanwhile – where Mr. Days father, Stockwell Day, Sr., can be coincidentally found referring to homosexuals as sodomites – political correctness is vilified, ad nauseum, in the partys official organ. (The WCCs leader, whom the elder Mr. Day refers to as his captain, is of course Douglas H. Christie, lawyer to Jim Keegstra, Ernst Zundel and assorted anti-Semitic lunatics.)
In my experience, braying and screeching about political correctness is most often done for a couple of reasons. Sometimes, it is done by intolerant people hoping to give a patina of respectability to their intolerance – to wit, This may not be politically correct, but I think all refugees should be thrown in detention when they arrive here. (Interestingly, that is precisely Tom Longs stated position!) And, sometimes, it is done by politicians to chill legitimate criticism of their views on issues like abortion, or sexual orientation, or something else.
What criticism would Mr. Day be attempting to forestall, or prevent, with his vituperations of political correctness? Perhaps it is his statement, in a February 1992 issue of Alberta Report, that homosexuality is a mental disorder. Or perhaps it is his June 1995 declaration at an Alberta Progressive Conservative Party convention: Women who become pregnant through rape or incest should not qualify for government-funded abortions. Or perhaps it his April 1995 conclusion, found in a recent Edmonton Journal profile, that abortions are not medically required. Or perhaps it is even the revelation, made by award-winning journalist Gordon Laird in an April issue of NOW magazine, that Mr. Day – as a pastor – included the aforementioned Mr. Keegstra in a men-only prayer group in Alberta in the 1980s.
We cannot know for certain, of course. All we can know, with certainty, is that criticizing these sorts of views, made by someone seeking the highest office in the land, is not political correctness.
It is merely the right thing to do.