Political correctness

WE HAVE INTERNET ACCESS AT HOME!! Woo-Hoo!! Finally, after going around and around with the Internet company, we’ve gotten things straightened out. Sarah has got a lot of catching up to do! 🙂

My brother-in-law, John, asked me to do a write-up for him for one of his classes. His assignment was to ask three people to write what the term “political correctness” meant to them. I was one of the three and so I figured I might as well post my definition here too. Kill two birds with one stone. So without further ado, here it is. Any thoughts?

What is political correctness? As with most things, it consists of two extremes: a crutch used for dependency by some far-left wing liberals and a plague staunchly avoided by some far right-wing conservatives. The one attempts to lean heavily on political correctness by steering clear of using anything that may even have the appearance of offending any people or people groups. The other paints a somewhat false caricature of political correctness, unashamedly proclaiming the fact that they make no attempt of trying to tip-toe around anyone who might be offended by their words, all while “telling it like it is.” Both groups miss what true political correctness should represent.

In my opinion, political correctness involves making an effort both to raise awareness of diversity in all walks of life as well as attempting to be linguistically inclusive of these differences. This would include an awareness of the differences of race, gender, and religion, to list just a few. It is not an attempt to remove any possible hint of offensiveness in our communication as this is virtually impossible. Further, political correctness can be seen as a methodology in which we try to recognize and work past any stereotypes that we consciously or unconsciously have in our minds.

As such, should political correctness be something to avoid or to welcome? Again, in my opinion, it is something that should definitely be welcomed and worked towards in our communication. Recognizing the vast diversities in the people around us and seeking to include those differences in our minds and conversations will go a long way to creating a society more tolerant of one another.


One Response

  1. One way to get at this question would be to differentiate between the gain of a useful level of increased sensitivity, and the liability of OVER-sensitivity. Certainly sensitivity to the perspective and feelings of other people is a good thing; better to have the ability to “feel for others” than to lack that ability.

    The problem begins when sensitivity turns into an over-sensitivity, a tendency to READ (project) insult onto another’s words, when no insult was intended.

    This is to me what “poltical correctness” is really about – the tendency to listen to others with hypervigilance, projecting onto others’ words that they are ill-intended.

    (And if not ill-intended, then they are “insensitive.”)

    A great example was that one that took place maybe five years ago, when the political aid – I forget the details – used the expression “niggardly” and all the liberals freaked over it. Of course the origin of the word “niggardly” has NOTHING to do with the prohibited word; there was not one shred of ill intention in the guy’s use of the word. Still,the liberals’ went wild and as crazy as it sounds, the guy lost his job.

    Clearly, this is not about “racism” per se; rather it is about an over-sensitivity that manifests itself in a righteous and aggressive manner – facts be damned. If I FEEL offended, then your intention MUST have been offensive – that is the “logic” of political correct thinking.

    Hopefully, as we mature as a society we can let go of this narrow view of things; we will be able to discern the difference between true ill intentions and words which, though open to misinterpretation, are void of ill feeling….

    I just addressed this issue in satirical form; see http://www.wordpress.norikostale.com, the post published today. Jim

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