'Is America edging closer toward Orwellian Newspeak?'

'Is America edging closer toward Orwellian 'Newspeak'?' That's the headline of a newspaper Op-Ed by a native of Singapore -- a graduate student in the University of Iowa's writing program. She sees parallels between Singapore's restrictions on free speech and the onerous inhibitions on speech, in Iowa City, imposed by political correctness.

Amanda Lee Koe suggests in the Iowa City Press-Citizen that the authoritarian city-state of Singapore is more livable in some ways than the city where she's studying.

Political correctness, she explains, was behind a name change at Iowa City's senior center. Once known as the "Iowa City/Johnson County Senior Center," it's now simply known as "The Center." How to explain this? "PC and all, y'know," a friend tells her.

Days later, she talks with a political science professor who recently returned from Singapore, where he'd taught for three months. She relates:

I asked him how he found it there and he said he found it "more natural." I've heard about how, on the one hand, "draconian" my country is and how, on the other, "effective" it is, but I've yet to hear of it as "more natural."
 
"Well," he said, "there's not so much political correctness there. Here, I can't even so much as tell my female colleague she looks nice today."

And toward the end of the week, she say she sat on a panel at the Iowa City Public Library which addressed a question: "When Opinion Turns To Censorship." She related:

As I prepared my comments, and as I listened to my fellow international panelists, I wondered if there is perhaps a certain pressure to actively portray one's home as backward and repressive.

I do not have illusions about the dynamics of censorship in Singapore. (We are 144th out of 167 countries on the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index.) Nor do I want to protect my country.
 
But it vexed me that perhaps our invitation as panelists, absolutely sincere as it was, was in some ways meant as stage-setting for the Great Narrative of American Freedom -- even when episodes of practiced, inculcated political-correctness that seemed to me to verge on the imposition of freedom on individual thought and interpersonal speech were occurring silently on a daily basis." 
It sounds like Amanda Lee Koe is just starting her first semester, and suffering a bit of culture shock. Presuming the University of Iowa is similar to other colleges, it will be interesting to learn what Lee Koe's impressions are when, say, a conservative pundit like Ann Coulter attempts to give a speech on campus --- and is booed off the stage. Or when university officials fail to hold Middle Eastern students to the same PC standards as other students -- as when those students engage in hate speech regarding Israel and Jews.

Some in the liberal bastion of Iowa City refer to their town as the "Athens of the Midwest." Athens, of course, is where Socrates was forced to drink hemlock because of his unpopular political views.

 

 
 
'Is America edging closer toward Orwellian 'Newspeak'?' That's the headline of a newspaper Op-Ed by a native of Singapore -- a graduate student in the University of Iowa's writing program. She sees parallels between Singapore's restrictions on free speech and the onerous inhibitions on speech, in Iowa City, imposed by political correctness.

Amanda Lee Koe suggests in the Iowa City Press-Citizen that the authoritarian city-state of Singapore is more livable in some ways than the city where she's studying.

Political correctness, she explains, was behind a name change at Iowa City's senior center. Once known as the "Iowa City/Johnson County Senior Center," it's now simply known as "The Center." How to explain this? "PC and all, y'know," a friend tells her.

Days later, she talks with a political science professor who recently returned from Singapore, where he'd taught for three months. She relates:

I asked him how he found it there and he said he found it "more natural." I've heard about how, on the one hand, "draconian" my country is and how, on the other, "effective" it is, but I've yet to hear of it as "more natural."
 
"Well," he said, "there's not so much political correctness there. Here, I can't even so much as tell my female colleague she looks nice today."

And toward the end of the week, she say she sat on a panel at the Iowa City Public Library which addressed a question: "When Opinion Turns To Censorship." She related:

As I prepared my comments, and as I listened to my fellow international panelists, I wondered if there is perhaps a certain pressure to actively portray one's home as backward and repressive.

I do not have illusions about the dynamics of censorship in Singapore. (We are 144th out of 167 countries on the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index.) Nor do I want to protect my country.
 
But it vexed me that perhaps our invitation as panelists, absolutely sincere as it was, was in some ways meant as stage-setting for the Great Narrative of American Freedom -- even when episodes of practiced, inculcated political-correctness that seemed to me to verge on the imposition of freedom on individual thought and interpersonal speech were occurring silently on a daily basis." 
It sounds like Amanda Lee Koe is just starting her first semester, and suffering a bit of culture shock. Presuming the University of Iowa is similar to other colleges, it will be interesting to learn what Lee Koe's impressions are when, say, a conservative pundit like Ann Coulter attempts to give a speech on campus --- and is booed off the stage. Or when university officials fail to hold Middle Eastern students to the same PC standards as other students -- as when those students engage in hate speech regarding Israel and Jews.

Some in the liberal bastion of Iowa City refer to their town as the "Athens of the Midwest." Athens, of course, is where Socrates was forced to drink hemlock because of his unpopular political views.

 

 
 

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