Why are people not allowed to insult each other as they used to in the past? Has it made the society any better? Is political correctness trying to police people’s thoughts by policing the words that they utter? Has the western world begun using political correctness, a shield for the minority, as a weapon to fight those that do not share their culture or belief systems? Has any good come out of PC? These are the questions that bother most people from foreign lands when they come face to face with the American culture of political correctness and censorship.
Political correctness refers to the language, actions, and policies that are aimed to avoid offense to certain groups of people in the society that are considered to be marginalized. The groups that have benefitted the most political correctness in the United States are the women, African Americans, Jews and other minorities (Joseph par 1). Political correctness is often expressed in the form of policing the language used by people in reference to the protected groups and also in the actions taken by the government and the media in highlighting and protecting the disadvantaged in the society. Even the children have become beneficiaries of political correctness, shielding them from the harsh realities of life that they come to face later on as they mature. This makes them soft and ill-prepared to survive in a competitive environment.
Political correctness seems to be rooted in emotions, as the major aim of its implementation is to avoid insulting or offending certain groups of people (Sharp par 2). For example, Americans are not allowed to say “Islamic Terrorism” even though a vast majority of terrorists ascribe to this faith. The ideals of most of the terrorists are also rooted in the Islamic faith. Another dichotomy seen in political correctness is that people are not allowed to insult women in any way, especially concerning their looks. At the same time, it is okay to insult men, and it even seems funny to do so. For instance, it is considered rude to tell a woman that she is overweight. At the same time, it is okay to make fun of a man if he is either broke, bald or short. When a man is attacked based on his looks, it is okay. When it is a woman, an outrage is sparked.
The idea of political correctness was noble in the beginning, and it helped restore dignity to groups in the society who used to be taken for granted or were discriminated. However, it is not appropriate to use political correctness as a measure of morality. In addition, PC has not helped in influencing the attitudes of the society towards the protected groups. Instead, it has resulted in creating a feeling of resentment in the people forced to regulate their speech and behavior towards the protected groups. Ardent opponents of political correctness claim that it contravenes their constitutional right to free speech and expression (Sharp par 2). Looking at it critically, it seems as if they have a valid point. The truth of the matter is, if one is offended by the sentiments of another, it does not make the perpetrator a criminal. If one is so offended, they are free to sue for slander.
Forbidding Americans from associating Muslims with terrorism has not changed their attitudes towards Islam and persons from the Middle East. Political correctness has just muffled the conversation that needs to take place between Muslims and non-Muslims in the United States. Most Americans tend to fear Muslims that are unfamiliar to them, even though they might have Muslim friends at home. There is a high likelihood that if people are allowed to speak freely about controversial issues, then the society can become more cohesive as each person gets to understand the other. Political correctness tends to pit various groups against each other, and it, unfortunately, fuels stereotypes (Eli Minor par 5). Demanding that certain groups be protected from hurtful words is admitting that such a group is composed of weak persons that need protection from the systems in place.
Instead of proposing that certain groups be protected from hurtful words and remarks, they should be empowered psychologically, mentally and economically. Once these groups are empowered, negative connotations are not going to affect them negatively. This is because the insults and negative depictions that political correctness tries to avoid will not matter or reflect the present state of such protected groups. Political correctness has eroded freedoms were assured in the past by democracy (Sharp par 1). It also makes it hard to have an intellectual discourse regarding how the vulnerable groups can be assisted by the government or other well-meaning bodies. Anyone raising issues about the vulnerable groups is shut down by the mainstream society and media without the context of the discussion getting considered.
The first step to solving the problem of political correctness is to understand and accept the fact that people will always have differing opinions and backgrounds. No group of people should be given priority in terms of expression (Nelson, 2015). The next step is to identify the vulnerable groups and empower them intellectually, financially and psychologically. This will grant them the stoicism needed to overcome ridicule or insults from the majority culture. Encouraging open debate on the controversial issues facing the country both online and offline can also help a lot in solving the censorship problem caused by PC . Removal of political correctness from verbal interactions will help a lot in promoting of truths in the society and allow people to develop thick skin enough to handle criticism from people that have a background that is different from theirs.
In conclusion, political correctness is harming the society by restricting honest expression of people’s opinions regarding various matters in the society. This is making the western society take the communist approach where freedom of speech is not allowed. It is important to have people’s opinion about other groups be known. It gives the government and the society the tools to influence such views and make them more accommodating. Censorship caused by political correctness also results in resentment from the majority in the society. This resentment, if not addressed in time, is bound to blow over soon or later.
Eli Minor -The, Daily R. “Opinion: Political Correctness Hurts those it Seeks to Help Opinion: Political Correctness Hurts those it Seeks to Help.” University Wire, Sep 20, 2015,https://search.proquest.com/docview/1713889320/2F547082A30942B4PQ/3?accountid=1611
Hanlon, Aaron. “How To Fix Our Toxic Debate About Political Correctness On Campus.” The New Republic. N.p., 2016. Web. 16 Apr. 2018. https://newrepublic.com/article/136600/fix-toxic-debate-political-correctness-campus
Joseph, Neil. “Political Correctness? no, Politeness Political Correctness.” University Wire, Mar 21, 2016, https://search.proquest.com/docview/1774657809/2F547082A30942B4PQ/2?accountid=1611
Nelson, Steve. “Attacks On Political Correctness: A Solution Looking For A Problem.” HuffPost. N.p., 2015. Web. 16 Apr. 2018. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-nelson/attacks-on-political-corr_b_8556380.html
Sharp, Heidi. “Political Correctness: Life Or Death?: Professors Debate on Validity of Political Correctness in our Society.” University Wire, May 06 2014, https://search.proquest.com/docview/1731143625/2F547082A30942B4PQ/6?accountid=1611
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