Politically correct musicology ‘perpetuates a culture of apartheid’

Pierpaolo Polzonetti, the professor who provoked a musicology war by writing about teaching in prisons, has contacted Slipped Disc to clarify his position.

He writes:

I am grateful for the support I received on slippedisc.com. I am also concerned that this debate, on this site, has turned into a critique of musicology. The accusations against my blog are in part related to how we write and how we read. It is a risky enterprise and it is easy to make rhetorical mistakes, as I did. What is disturbing, in a few cases of people who attacked me most vehemently, is that we see clear signs of a degeneration of PC language practices affecting every discipline in the humanities and social sciences. The risk of deploying PC language irresponsibly is to devise a new technology of power through the control of heavily policed language. It appears to combat institutionalized racism, but it perpetuates a culture of apartheid by forcing incommunicability. The people called me a racist silenced the voice of my African American student.

Read on here.


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  • ‘The people called me a racist silenced the voice of my African American student.’

    Precisely. PC is the new fascism, and musicology is the Sudetenland.

  • Best of luck to you, dude. You’ve done nothing wrong except to *gasp!* actually attempt to accomplish something — which is more than your detractors have ever done.

  • The professor confuses being attacked and being silenced. Nobody has taken away any of his means of responding or otherwise expressing himself fully and forcefully.

    If he and his African American student feel pressure to self-censor or remain silent, that is their own choice that probably reflect a lack of conviction and/or intellectual power, but no one has stopped them from making their case on any forum they wish.

    Making his case on this site is sad, actually, because this site is populated by trolls.

    • The older I get, the more I am coming to the conclusion that the left and the right of the political spectrum, when pushed to extremes, just curve around and come together. Thanks for proving it.

      • Actually no. When you push the right to the extreme you get libertarian-ism and eventually anarchy. The right is essentially about limited government, not more government. The left on the other hand is, in our time, is the main proponent of larger more ever-present and controlling government down to our very language. And that’s what this entire debate on these pages is about!!!

        • Not as far as I understand it. As far as I can see, the further you push either right or left, the more authoritarian and more statist things become. The further you push, the greater the desire to force others to conform, and thus the greater the state feels it needs to be.
          Partly, this demonstrates how useless “left” and “right” are as descriptors; “libertarian” and “authoritarian” (which in no way conform to left / right, but are more of a North / South axis instead) are significantly more pertinent, I suggest.

          • Going to any extreme, on either side, ultimately demands a “with us or agin us” mentality that can turn into a psychotic witch-hunt at the first stimulus — and sorry dude, but that does go for the left OR the right.

    • I don’t think that giving up on a debate because one feels bullied shows lack of conviction and / or intellectual power.
      But I do agree that this site hasn’t been helpful, as it has invited the trolls to take pot shots at musicology per se, and to dismiss the political issues raised by “Don Giovanni Gate”.

  • This is all a tempest in a teapot ..and in the scheme of world events mean nothing .
    It is all a matter of “whose ox is being gored ” and ego-trips .

  • Actually, I find it entirely accurate. There is a great deal of suppression going on in university life; one of the worst examples I ran into was sitting on committees with a young female musicologist who began virtually every sentence at the committee meeting with the sentence, “from the feminist perspective… ”
    It had the unnerving the fact of silencing any response to what were some of the most ill in formed and ignorant statements I had heard coming from an academic.

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