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Political Correctness | Munk Debates

May 18, 2018

Political Correctness

Be it resolved, what you call political correctness, I call progress…

Pro
Michael Eric Dyson
Michelle Goldberg
Con
Stephen Fry
Jordan Peterson
Result
Con wins with a 6% vote gain

Be it resolved, what you call political correctness, I call progress…

Is political correctness an enemy of free speech, open debate and the free exchange of ideas? Or, by confronting head-on the dominant power relationships and social norms that exclude marginalised groups are we creating a more equitable and just society? For some the argument is clear. Political correctness is stifling the free and open debate that fuels our democracy. It is also needlessly dividing one group from another and promoting social conflict. Others insist that creating public spaces and norms that give voice to previously marginalised groups broadens the scope of free speech. The drive towards inclusion over exclusion is essential to creating healthy, diverse societies in an era of rapid social change.

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Vote Results

Pro
Con

Pre-debate

36%

64%

Pos-debate

30%

70%

Con wins with a 6% vote gain

The Debaters

Michael Eric Dyson

"You’re telling me I’m being sensitive, and students looking for safe spaces that they’re being hypersensitive. If you’re white, this country is one giant safe space."

Michael Eric Dyson

"You’re telling me I’m being sensitive, and students looking for safe spaces that they’re being hypersensitive. If you’re white, this country is one giant safe space."

Michael Eric Dyson is an author, professor, and broadcaster. He grew up on Detroit, becoming an ordained minister at 19 and working in factories to support his family. Dyson started college at 21 and went on to earn a Ph.D. in religious studies from Princeton University.
 
Currently, Dyson is a professor of sociology at Georgetown University, host of “The Michael Eric Dyson Show” on NPR, contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, contributing editor for the New Republic and ESPN’s website The Undefeated.
 
Dyson has written more than a dozen books, including New York Times bestsellers Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America and April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Death and how It Changed America. His forthcoming book, What Truth Sounds Like: Robert F. Kennedy, James Baldwin, and Our Unfinished Conversation about Race in America, is due to be published later this year.
 
American author and political advisor Naomi Wolf has called Dyson “the ideal public intellectual of our time” and author Nathan McCall has termed him “a street fighter in a suit and tie.”

Michelle Goldberg

"The focus must be on protecting the groups of people who are targets precisely because of their identities. To sideline their interests is to accede to a backlash that has just begun."

Michelle Goldberg

"The focus must be on protecting the groups of people who are targets precisely because of their identities. To sideline their interests is to accede to a backlash that has just begun."

Michelle Goldberg was born in Buffalo, N.Y., and holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from the University of California Berkeley. She is a columnist for The New York Times, a journalist and bestselling author who writes about identity, culture and politics.
 
Goldberg is a frequent political commentator on MSNBC and has had her writing featured in The New YorkerNewsweekThe Nation, the New Republic and The Guardian. As a foreign correspondent, she has reported from India, Iraq, Egypt, Uganda, Nicaragua, Argentina and more. She is the author of three books, the first of which, Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, was a finalist for the Helen Bernstein Award for excellence in journalism, and the second, The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power, and the Future of the World, won the Ernesta Drinker Ballard Book Prize and the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award.
 
She lives with her husband and two children in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Jordan Peterson

"Without free speech there is no true thought."

Jordan Peterson

"Without free speech there is no true thought."

Jordan Peterson grew up in Fairview, Alta., northwest of Edmonton, and received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from McGill University. He is a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, a clinical psychologist and author of 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.
 
Peterson has worked as a dishwasher, bartender, beekeeper, plywood mill labourer and railway line worker, among others. He has also consulted for the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Sustainable Development, advised senior partners of major law firms, lectured extensively and helped clinical clients manage conditions including depression, anxiety and schizophrenia. The Spectator has called him “one of the most important thinkers to emerge on the world stage for many years.”
 
Peterson’s online self-help program, The Self Authoring Suite, has been featured in O: The Oprah Magazine and on CBC radio, and his online lectures have been viewed more than 35 million times on YouTube. One of his newest projects is a series of live theatre lectures called “The psychological significance of the Biblical stories.”
 
Peterson lives in Toronto with his wife, and recently became a grandfather.

Stephen Fry

"The advances of the Enlightenment are being systematically and deliberately pushed back."

Stephen Fry

"The advances of the Enlightenment are being systematically and deliberately pushed back."

Stephen Fry is an English actor, screenwriter, author, playwright, journalist, poet and film director. He was born in London and studied English literature at the University of Cambridge. It was there that he became involved with the Footlights, a theatre club that has spawned many of Britain’s most prominent comic actors, and met his long-time collaborator and friend, Hugh Laurie.
 
Fry is best-known for playing Lord Melchett and other characters in the television comedy series “Blackadder,” the Irish writer Oscar Wilde in the 1997 film “Wilde” and the Master of Laketown in Peter Jackson’s “Hobbit” trilogy.
 
Fry has also written and presented several documentary series, including the Emmy Award-winning “Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive” and “Stephen Fry: Out There,” a two-part documentary about the lives of lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender people around the world.
 
Fry has been married to comedian Elliott Spencer since 2015 and has advocated for the rights of the LGBT community for 30 years.

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