The Envelope, PleaseCommentary by Pete du Pont
May 08, 1996
Tired of the seemingly endless stream of award shows? Have the Emmys, the Grammys, and the People's Choice - not to mention the Country Music and MTV video awards - turned into one long blur of banal platitudes? Perhaps we need a new and different kind of award. So, move over Oscar and Tony, here comes the Louis.
Named for Louis Brandeis, Supreme Court Justice from 1916 to 1939, the Louis derives from Justice Brandeis'comment that "the greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment of men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding." It is henceforth to be awarded for outrageous acts of political correctness.
Back in Brandeis' time, they would not have used the term "political correctness" to describe today's emphasis on multiculturalism and limits on free speech. They probably would have just called it "nonsense." So, with all due respect to Justice Brandeis, here are this year's Louis Awards for Political Correctness.
The Louis for "Most Egregious Advocacy of Quotas in the Criminal Justice System" goes to the ACLU for its attempt to undermine law enforcement efforts against crack cocaine by challenging the proportion of defendants charged in federal court who are African-American. The opposite view is expressed by U. S. Attorney Nora Manella, who states "our job isn't to set quotas," but rather "to pursue criminal activity and then let the chips fall where they may."
The Louis for "Most Flagrant Misuse of Others People's Money For Driving a Politically Correct Agenda" goes to the National Education Association. The NEA earned its Louis by spending its members' dues on such important collective bargaining activities as protesting Rush Limbaugh (the bogey person of the politically correct), fighting school choice initiatives, and attending conferences on "student diversity" and "women in folklore."
The "Most Blatant Attempt at Reporting 'Diversity' News at the Expense of Real News" Louis goes to the Gannett-owned Free Press of Burlington, Vermont. The Free Press wins with its policy that one in six faces in its "Vermont Voice" section had to be a person of color (Burlington's people of color number but one in thirty-three) and that one in four news columns had to address a "diversity" issue. Gannett itself wins Honorable Mention for actually encouraging such "news quotas" at its publications.
Anyone who has spent time on a college campus in the last decade can imagine the difficulty in picking a winner among the many nominees for the Louis for "Diversity Awareness Overkill on a College Campus." The winner is Harvard College for touting the fact that it actually has at least twelve people who serve Harvard students as "Designated Tutors/Proctors for Sexual Orientation."
The Louis for "Worst Politically Correct Assault on Literature" goes to the Oxford University Press revision of the New Testament and Psalms, where "God the Father" becomes "God the Father-Mother," "Son of Man" becomes "the Human One," parents "guide" rather than "discipline" their children, and the words "Lord" and "King" are exiled.
The "Gender-Blurring" Louis goes to the UN Conference on Women for its difficulty in simply defining the word "gender" to mean "male" and "female," leading many to worry that the forces of the politically correct were instead looking for definitions that stressed not just biology, but also orientation.
The managers of a retirement community in Lady Lake, Florida win the Louis for "Worst Multicultural Insult to Patriotism." It seems management, not wanting to run the risk of offending anyone in this multinational community, discouraged residents from displaying the American flag. Apparently, these folks forgot that the American flag stands throughout the world as a symbol of the very freedom and opportunity enjoyed by the residents of Lady Lake.
The "Through a Glass Darkly" Louis goes to the New York Times for its April 14th "A Celebration of 100 Years" of its Sunday Magazine. Things uncomfortable for the politically correct are simply omitted: the Communist brutalization of Russia, Ronald Reagan's presidency, and most of World War II's heroic battles. On the other hand, the cup of political correctness runneth over: Ho Chi Minh, Woodstock, Bella Abzug, and Fidel Castro are celebrated. There is plenty of Jesse Jackson, Richard Nixon, and AIDS, and absolutely nothing of DNA, Eisenhower, or Norman Rockwell's America.
So there you have it- an awards show without the long speeches and without the buzz about what people are wearing. But, after all, comments on people's clothing are only the product of the classist, sexist, and racist oppression that results from our repressive, Eurocentric Western Civilization.
Louis Brandeis, where are you when we really need you?