We all mispeak, of course, and mistype. Seinfeld, after all, in the quoted interview, does not quite connect the dots between college political correctness and his daughter’s misuse of language. But we get it: “the kids these days” is the subject and connecting tissue. As Seinfeld acutely observes, “they just want to use these words.”
When I was young, I objected to the rampant misuse of words in conservative and mainstream debate. That was where I detected the pattern of carelessness that I now see rampant on the self-identified left.
It is not primarily a problem of left or right, of course. It is a problem of the usual laziness of the moralistic mind. Nearly everybody is naturally a moralist. But few are moral philosophers by nature. That requires some cultivation.
There will always be a role for philosophy, for people in their normal condition just go with the herd, and the herd is almost never known for its collective intelligence. Followers follow blindly, to a regrettable extent. And most leaders are no better; many are worse.
Which is why Plato’s Philosopher King — or Daniel Dennett’s low-level shadow of that notion, the educational “supervisor” — cannot fix the problem. My only solution is for philosophers to transcend their cushy academic ghettos and once again push for public philosophy . . . but without the sanction or support of that most capturable castle, the State.
Why? “Political correctness.”