Carlin considers the softening of language and political correctness bullshit. He illustrates how language is softened by examining the progress of the concept of shell shock. During World War I, shell shock was the term used to describe the condition that occurs when a soldier’s nervous system reaches a breaking point. During the Second World War, the term “shell shock” expanded to four syllables and was called “battle fatigue” and, during the Korean War, the term expanded to eight syllables and was called “operational exhaustion.” Finally, during the Vietnam War the term became eight syllables with a hyphen and was called “posttraumatic stress disorder.” Given that, in America, realism is the same thing as pessimism and pessimism is less popular than optimism, Carlin argues that this kind of softening of language is effective because it makes reality “less vivid” and therefore bullshit.
Another thing that Carlin considers bullshit is political correctness. In particular, he argues that political correctness is “America’s newest form of intolerance and it’s especially pernicious because it comes disguised as tolerance.” Carlin sheds light on liberal tendencies to rename groups of victims with less offensive names, as if the new name somehow solves initial malfunction. For example, over the last few decades, the term “cripple” fell out of favor and has since been replaced by the term “physically challenged” or “differently abled.” Carlin mocks this transition by pointing out that liberals tend to focus on the external, changing offensive words, rather than the internal, the underlying bigotry and insensitivity.
I view many of Carlin’s observations as examples of hidden idealism. He doesn’t want language to soften with time because he wants the truth to hit people smack in the face. For example, he wants to call a person in a wheelchair who was hit by a drunk or texting driver a “cripple” rather than “differently abled.” He argues that rather than being offended by the word, society should be offended by what the word represents. I see this as the purest form of idealism. In other words, rather than calling a person in a wheelchair “differently abled” and going along our merry way, we as the society should call him a “cripple” and be outraged by this stupidity of the situation that caused him to be a cripple. Maybe then we will be outraged enough to change the situation so that the same thing doesn’t happen in the future.