Before I start, an argument was made to me that Political Correctness is not the appropriate term for this issue. Having given it some thought, I think there is an argument both for and against this claim. I will discuss the matter in a different essay.
Now, to begin…
1) In my recent discussions about political correctness, I ran into a number of people voicing some version of the following argument:
“When I am triggered, I react with anger. I shout and scream at people who I perceive as having said rude and hateful things.”
Now, am I wrong, or is the main argument against politically incorrect speech: it is rude and hurtful?
So…is rudeness acceptable?
Or is it not?
If rudeness is not acceptable in other people, shouldn’t we also not behave rudely ourselves?
If rudeness is acceptable in us, the triggered person—if it is okay for us to behave in an angry and emotional way toward the person who said the thing we perceived as offensive—then, must it not also be okay for other people to say offensive things?
For surely, we cannot have the standard: it is okay for me to be obnoxious, but not for you to be obnoxious.
That is hypocrisy.
2) A second argument I saw was: “People who complain about being attacked by political correctness are just babies who should be more thick-skinned.”
This answer delights me.
I would love to see everyone be more thick-skinned.
But again, it has to be everyone or no one.
It is ridiculous to say: “Stop being a baby because you got attacked by five, or ten, or fifty, or two hundred people on the internet, who all screamed and shouted at you because they didn’t like something that you said that had not been considered offensive yesterday.
And yet say: “It is okay for a person to take offense at a comment that was not meant as a slur.”
It wouldn’t be so bad if there were two or three offensive terms and we could all agree to avoid them unless we meant to insult. But it is not like that anymore. Now there are more and more ideas and words that are labeled offensive or hateful. And there is no authority. Anyone, at any time, can declare something hateful, and they will find no lack of folks eager to jump on their bandwagon.
So even a decent person cannot avoid being savaged by ravaging swarms angry PCers..
(If this were not the case, there would not be so many cases of strong supporters of Liberal causes—people who are known for really speaking up for them—being attacked by the ravaging hoards. )
Yes, our society would be benefited if more of us were courageous and thick-skinned. Both those who have been attacked by large groups of angry PCers, and those who have perceived something another person just said as a personal slur.
3) One of the problems with a society that encourages people to become outraged is: I know people who get really angry if you don’t use the latest politically correct term, and I know people who get really angry if you do use the latest politically correct term.
That must be horrible for companies trying to placate their customers.
Here is the argument I hear from the second group—those who hate politically correct speech:
It makes it harder for people to understand works written in the past. Whenever a new word is chosen as the “right “ word for any group or cause, the old word becomes a swearword. (You can’t get anyone to change to the new one, unless you insist that the old one is bad.)
Words that were perfectly polite at the time the book was written become rude. So books are banned for things that were not ever meant to be offensive.
Worse, once the new words take hold, the new generation doesn’t even get taught what the old terms meant. So, they cannot even understand the older works if they try.
(As an example: people in older generations know that Man often meant Mankind. Nowadays, children are taught that Man means male. With the result that they completely misinterpret many old works to have been written about males when they were actually addressing humans. )
For those of us writing now, this means that—no matter how polite or careful we are—the forces of political correctness might at any time take offense at some idea we included in our books, making them objectionable to future generations.
Also, it corrupts worlds. Because, in no time, the new word gains the same connotation the old word had.
This is why words keep changing: Negro, Colored, Black, Afro-American, African American; Crippled, Handicapped, Disabled, Special Needs—just to name a few.
If we insist people use a new word because we don’t like the connotation of the current word, all we do is ruin another word.
What is needed is to reclaim the current word. We need to help people change their image of the group of which, they currently have a negative image .
If we do this, we do them some real good.
(End of section noting argument of political-correctness hating friends.)
Finally, in closing, the best thing I’ve seen to date on this topic was written by my Old School Liberal friend, Don, who said:
“Interesting semantic discussion — "political corrects" is what I would define as the silencing of people whose opinions might offend some one, yet the argument here seems to be that no one is fired for being politically incorrect, they're just fired for expressing opinions that offend someone.
And, for those who claimed no one ever lost a job due to political correctness: