November 13, 2015

AUDACIOUS | Censorship and Criticism

Print More


Ever since Donald Trump’s public endorsement of his candidacy in the 2016 Presidential elections, there hasn’t been a phrase that I have heard more often than “PC.”

PC, which stands for “politically correct” is the term used to describe language, rhetoric or actions that are not intended to offend specific groups of people, particularly disadvantaged groups. In recent years however, it has been used as a pejorative term to describe trigger-happy, thin-skinned, bleeding heart liberals who can’t take a joke. It has been the knee jerk reaction to many issues, namely, offensive Halloween costumes and accusations of racism. But recently, accused individuals who have committed acts of insensitivity have banded together to become a beleaguered class whose freedom of speech has been supposedly impinged upon. I, for one, am whole heartedly for the philosophy of Evelyn Beatrice Hall’s famous quote: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Everyone should have the right to say what they want, good, bad or egregious. But guess what? You are not perfect. Free speech does not exonerate you from criticism. If you want to be jerk, by all means do so, but if someone wants to write a blog piece denouncing your comments, that’s them exercising their freedom of speech. If you complain about political correctness, then proceed to tell individuals they are not allowed to react according to their deepest convictions, you are in fact partaking in the censorship that you are emphatically rallying against.

Don’t get me wrong, my favorite comedian is Louis CK, probably one of the most offensive, least politically correct comedians ever. I personally love his jokes, but maybe others don’t, and guess what? That’s okay. I will not attempt to convince people otherwise. Not everyone likes what everyone else has to say, but labeling criticism of speech as an attack on freedom of speech is a bit overzealous. You can’t tell people what they can and cannot say, but you also can’t mandate how they should respond. We all come from differing backgrounds, which means some buttons are a bit easier to push than others. You might think a rape joke is “funny,” but a sexual assault survivor will not. (I would sincerely hope anyone reading thing does not find rape jokes funny, but, I don’t know, different strokes).

In short: You have the right to be an asshole, but don’t claim censorship and oppression when someone actually calls you one.

Sutheshna Mani is a junior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She was born in the snowy city of Baltimore, Maryland, and then her parents moved all the way to sunny San Diego when she was four (thank goodness for that). She loves to sing, dance, write and act; you will always hear her singing a tune. She is also a socially consciousness sleep-a-holic so that’s why you never see her smile: because she is either tired or impassioned. In her spare time she likes to stress about inane things and eat a lot of cookies. Audacious appears on alternate Fridays this semester. Sutheshna can be reached at [email protected].