on March 20th, 2013 at 02:36 pm
I think that the author should craft the characters for the story, and if he or she does this, "diversity" will take care of itself, assuming that the author is aware of human diversity. Operating with a checklist and going, "Ok, I have a character who's black, good; ah, there's one who's gay, good; wait -- nobody's disabled, have to have someone disabled, even though my world has instant full-body regeneration tech" is just silly. Doing so cheapens and degrades one's Art; let characters be what your own desires and knowledge of the world tell you that they are. I've noticed, personally, that your characters seem to fit into their stories; if you're diversity-checking, then you're doing so very subtly. Maybe you just naturally assume that people are of diverse racial, ethnic, religious etc. origins? I know that I do ...
And I'm well aware of what the opposite would look like, and why it would feel wrong. I read a heck of a lot of Interwar Era (1920's-1930's) science fiction, because that's what I mostly run in Fantastic Worlds, and it is weird to compare their depiction of the society of the day with what I know it was like (my father was running around the streets of New York in that period, and told me lots of stories). Every major good-guy (from America or Britain, anyway) is a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, with anyone even as "exotic" as Catholic Irish or German Jewish being played for laughs as total stereotype, with virtually no identity beyond stereotypical (or, very rarely, anti-stereotypical) attributes; as for blacks or Hispanics, they exist purely as servants and field workers. This strikes me as more than a little bit weird, especially when I know that the writers themselves were often non-WASP's.
I dislike the term "politically correct" because it is based on a totalitarian assumption: that the speaker just knows what is politically "right" or "wrong" and that any disagreement with the speaker is to be construed as evidence of the sin of the dissident. In my experience, that is exactly how the term has historically been used, often to the extent of the speaker simply labelling a particular dissent "incorrect" rather than actually-addressing why he or she considers it to be false (in the logical sense of the term).
Among other things, this allows political correctness to be used to support bigotry, provided that the target group has become unfashionable. A good example of this is the way in which anti-Semitism is once more on the rise in Europe, to the cheers of politically-correct intellectuals who have decided that Zionism is politically-incorrect, and that it is acceptable to attack Jews in general for this.
This was true of political correctness from its Stalinist and Maoist beginnings: it was used to attack dissidents in a manner which rendered illegitimate their dissent. And that's how it's used today.
I also notice that a lot of people calling for "diversity" do not give credit to the science fiction of the last half-century for its extreme diversity of character, especially when the writers in question fail to be politically-correct in other matters. For instance, Poul Anderson, David Drake and David Weber have notably written about protagonists (and major supporting characters) with a wide variety of backgrounds, but most politically-correct fans don't like to acknowledge this because Poul Anderson wrote libertarian and the Davids write military science fiction.
In any case, once we get beyond the near future, the prejudices of the present day are very unlikely to remain meaningful. New forms of bigotry will doubtless replace them -- that's human nature.