Special Report By Monica Sullivan
The most politically correct man I ever knew supported the struggle of the Farmworkers, sponsored a family of Dutch Indonesian refugees to come to the United States and was so admired on the Pacific battlefront that his best friend could not bear to speak of him without tears in his eyes. In his public life, this man worked for the poor and the dispossessed, expressed deep concern about the plight of abused children and adults who suffered from alcoholism and spent most of his life raising funds for non-profit organizations that tried to address society's severest problems. In his private life, this man learned that rage was wrong and tried to control it. Occasionally he failed. He knocked out a woman's teeth, bashed a child's face and broke an adolescent's arm. Since he knew rage was wrong, he forgot about the times he failed to control it. No one ever busted him on his rage, so he changed cities and jobs and families, preserving the illusion of political correctness to this day. He will probably enter the new millennium along with the rest of us, attracting attention and respect from acquaintances who don't know him very well. There was no Internet when he knocked out a woman's teeth. There were no video games when he bashed a child's face. It has been a quarter of a century since he broke an adolescent's arm, a boy, who, like him, learned that rage is wrong and tried to control it with food that eventually doubled his weight.
I don't know the end of the story of either man, but I do know that political correctness is like a bandaid slapped on a festering abscess. Covering up the aches and pains that pervade our society doesn't make them hurt any less and it certainly doesn't heal them. Politically incorrect movies, television shows and videos aren't meant to soothe us with the status quo any more than they're designed to encourage psychos to build arsenals. Quite the contrary. How many creative artists would be outlaws if they didn't have a legitimate expression for their rage? As a society, we have never shown more politically correct outrage than we have in the last year of the twentieth century. We take it with us when we discover what happened in Columbine and Yosemite and Stockbridge and Atlanta. Since we don't know why it happened, we look at the loudest suspects, the artists who are minding their own business and sharing it with us. It must be the creative artists who fuel our rage with disturbing sights and sounds and ever increasing access to both. Maybe if everyone s consciousness weren't so chained to movies, television, videos and the Internet, we'd all live in Utopia.
A casual skim of ancient history reveals otherwise, but we still try to remote control the intruders that lurk at our doors and on our screens instead of the demons over which we have any sort of control at all, the ones within our very own troubled souls. As I think about the sad lives of the politically correct man and his son, both of whom I once knew very well, there is no life long political struggle that seems more worthwhile than this one. We must learn to wrestle with our very real rage on our own, without harming others, especially since we can never legislate away the sights and sounds of the so-called global village in which we all have to live.
© 1999 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 8/11/99
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