Once upon a time, when I was living in a little house on the edge of the desert, a scorpion came out from underneath the refrigerator. It was pure white, I believe, though my imagination sometimes gives a red tinge to the end of the sting, which, upon seeing me, it raised up
I knew it was deadly, but I could not take my eyes from it. It was exquisite: highly articulated and other worldly, with all of its parts perfectly configured to do what they were supposed to do, which was, at that moment, to sting me.
What would I do about it? In those days I rode a motorcycle and wore heavy-souled engineer boots. I knew that I could step on it without any danger, but I didn’t want to kill something so beautiful. I could get a broom and brush it out the door, but I had no idea how fast scorpions moved. What if it hid someplace while I was looking for the broom? I certainly did not want that creature loose in the house.
Anyway, the dog solved the problem. He came around and started to investigate. The scorpion turned his sting in the dog’s direction and resolved my uncertainty. I stepped on him and that was that.
I feel about political correctness the way I felt about that scorpion. In its way, it is also beautiful: changing all the time, but staying the same. So elaborate and articulated, but nothing is wasted. Some of the best minds of my generation, to paraphrase Alan Ginsburgh, have been destroyed by political correctness, but they have given their full measure, mobilizing the enormous power of their often impressive imaginations, in its creation. Think of it as a work of art; it is exquisite.
But there should be no doubt about its deadliness. The creativity that has gone into the development of political correctness increasingly stifles all other creativity. Through this collective brilliant act of social creation, we have made ourselves stupid. No one made us do it; we did it freely, and made ourselves slavish. Who could not be fascinated?
Would I kill this scorpion if I could? Realistically speaking, that is not an issue. For one thing, I don’t have the boots. But at a deeper level, I would have to raise a question about the wisdom of suppressing political correctness by force majeure. It is often said that you cannot kill an idea, but killing political correctness would be more than that. PC is not just an idea, but a fount of ideas. It represents a deep structural tendency that is central to human being: the maternal principle. Where it has brought us to grief is in the fact that it has crippled the opposing tendency, with which it has always been in productive tension: the paternal principle. In that way, it has warped us.
The task, then, is not to kill it. That would simply warp and cripple us even more. The idea is to understand how it has gotten us where we are. For that purpose, my own fascination stands me in good stead.
But ultimately this understanding must help us to bring the paternal principle back to life, and in that way recreate the relationship between the two.
For that purpose, we must all rediscover, and many of us must choose, the voice of our fathers.