At Rhymes with Right, Greg has written a moving post about the way in which he and his wife, both of whom deviate from politically correct norms, are often on the receiving end of rude and brutish behavior. He ends by asking:
And they have lead me to wonder — where are the manners? Where is the respect? Heck, forget social graces– where is the basic human decency? Why do people think that they can abuse or mistreat people based upon their weight or their disabilities? And why are such things apparently still socially acceptable in a way that such abuse towards minority groups are not?
My instinctive answer to his questions is a simple one: Political correctness has substituted for manners. The difference is that manners governed how the actor behaved, controlling the actor in all circumstances. Political correctness, however, focuses on the recipient, not on the actor. It therefore establishes a class of people who are accorded special deference, freeing the actor to reveal his baser self to anyone outside of the sacred politically correct classes.
Orwell, of course, got there first: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”