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Apparently the 60th anniversary edition of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, which I don't own but clearly need to possess, includes a new coda by the author. It is a masterpiece of literate laceration, in which he excoriates the obsession with political correctness which, taken to its extreme, leads to everything sounding just like everything else.

For it is a mad world and it will get madder if we allow the minorities, be they dwarf or giant, orangutan or dolphin, nuclear-head or water-conservationist, pro-computerologist or Neo-Luddite, simpleton or sage, to interfere with aesthetics. The real world is the playing ground for each and every group, to make or unmake laws. But the tip of the nose of my book or stories or poems is where their rights end and my territorial imperatives begin, run and rule. If Mormons like not my plays, let them write their own. If the Irish hate my Dublin stories, let them rent typewriters. If teachers and grammar school editors find my jawbreaker sentences shatter their mushmilk teeth, let them eat stale cake dunked in weak tea of their own ungodly manufacture. If the Chicano intellectuals wish to re-cut my "Wonderful Ice Cream Suit" so it shapes "Zoot," may the belt unravel and the pants fall...

Read the full text here, and tell me what you think.


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Jun. 5th, 2015 11:11 am (UTC)
I, for one, am anti-PC. I like to call a long-handled device for earth removal a spade. These days, while our everyday language seems to be dumbing down, words referring to groups of people have been expanded syllabically yet are less descriptive than ever. Dwarves and midgets are now "little people". Makes them sound like leprechauns or fairies to me. Black people are now "African-American". The retarded are now "differently abled", and retarded is considered pejorative. No -- it simply means that they are less advanced physically, mentally, or emotionally than is usual for their age. It is simply descriptive. But PCness seems to be more about obfuscating things that we'd rather not deal with than describing them. A person isn't "dead"... they "passed away", or worse yet, "went home to be with the Lord". A person isn't "old", they are a "senior citizen". I refuse to beat around the bush in this fashion.
Jun. 5th, 2015 04:57 pm (UTC)
I agree with his general point that people who tell authors to change things and/or try to edit their previously published work for them are presumptuous idiots who have no right to do that, and he's 100% right to tell them to write their own stuff.

That said, he essentially presents diversity/political correctness and aesthetics as opposites, which is a false dichotomy. It's one thing to say, "I'm a white male, so of course my stories are from a white male perspective, and I can't please everybody." But even if you give him the benefit of the doubt that he's talking about his personal aesthetics and not aesthetics in general, he lists some specious examples that seem more interested in scoring points against perceived critics than providing context.

F'rinstance, he blames "ERA ladies...with ballbats" for his all-male play not being performed at a university when it's far more likely that they opted not to perform it because drama departments need to provide performance opportunities both male and female students with limited production budgets (did Bradbury REALLY suggest separate-but-equal?). Not to mention the fact that he's demonstrably wrong about that attitude discounting Shakespeare. There are no all-male Shakespeare plays!

There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying that you'd like to see more diversity in the media you consume. There is also nothing wrong with criticizing the media you consume for failing to include women/characters of color, especially in speculative fiction, which is all about trying to envision a future different from the present.

There is, however, something wrong with trying to bully a creator into presenting your perspective and/or trying to change an author's completed work, especially without deference to the cultural context in which it was produced. I'm with Bradbury 100% on that. Don't like what I write? Write you own damn story. And maybe I'll satirize you in a future piece of work :D
Jun. 7th, 2015 02:49 am (UTC)
I love the text. I feel that there is something wrong with the stiff way in which political correction is assumed by some people. I'm not against the values that express but the way it is done.
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