Every once in a while, I randomly type in names of old friends/acquaintances and see what google produces. Lisa Morin was a college friend and clever poet. Here are some poems: Trilobite and Identifying Marks. About the Trilobite on her desk, she says:
It is unaware
that someone nudged it from its stone bed
and restored its fine furrows to the light
with terrifying patience. I probably won’t notice it either
when it happens to me,
my pleasure in tea and orchids,
my awkwardness with strangers,
my weakness for beautiful paper,
my tendency to daydream,
my shame at my own ignorance,
my aches and insecurities,
my appetite for peanuts,
my appreciation of irony,
my fear of politicians,
my sense of humor,
my American sorrow, all gone,
long gone the way of my trilobite,
petal-sized patron saint
of present relics
and future fossils.
Suppose in the future there is a movement to ban the color yellow. Proposals to paint anything yellow are denounced as “yellowist”, as is anyone suspected of liking the color. People who like orange are tolerated but viewed with suspicion. Suppose you realize there is nothing wrong with yellow. If you go around saying this, you’ll be denounced as a yellowist too, and you’ll find yourself having a lot of arguments with anti-yellowists. If your aim in life is to rehabilitate the color yellow, that may be what you want. But if you’re mostly interested in other questions, being labelled as a yellowist will just be a distraction. Argue with idiots, and you become an idiot.
The most important thing is to be able to think what you want, not to say what you want. And if you feel you have to say everything you think, it may inhibit you from thinking improper thoughts. I think it’s better to follow the opposite policy. Draw a sharp line between your thoughts and your speech. Inside your head, anything is allowed.
…If the anti-yellowists seem to be getting out of hand and you want to fight back, there are ways to do it without getting yourself accused of being a yellowist. Like skirmishers in an ancient army, you want to avoid directly engaging the main body of the enemy’s troops. Better to harass them with arrows from a distance…. One way to do this is to ratchet the debate up one level of abstraction. If you argue against censorship in general, you can avoid being accused of whatever heresy is contained in the book or film that someone is trying to censor. You can attack labels with meta-labels: labels that refer to the use of labels to prevent discussion. The spread of the term “political correctness” meant the beginning of the end of political correctness, because it enabled one to attack the phenomenon as a whole without being accused of any of the specific heresies it sought to suppress.