With an open mind and two sides of the story, you’re bound to learn something new.
Welcome to the zoo! This is a blog where both the Republican and Democratic viewpoints are represented. The blog is not meant to sway you either way necessarily, just present both sides of the story. You may not agree with the whole article, but hey, you’re likely to agree with half! The topic this week: the uprise of political correctness.
This year I was attacked for not calling a secret Santa gift exchange a “secret snowflake.” Since when did Santa hurt peoples’ feelings? Since when was I supposed to care if something so insignificant hurt peoples’ feelings? Hence, my negative sentiments towards political correctness blossomed. With an increasing emphasis on political correctness comes heightened sensitivity; more and more people cannot engage in intellectual conversations involving differing opinions because they are too easily offended.
We live in an amazing country with a constitution that gives everyone the right to the freedom of speech, press, petition, religion, and assembly. It is because of the Bill of Rights and the first amendment that we can say “f**k the police” and many other offensive things without fear of prosecution. Now, rather than accepting that everyone has the right to say whatever they want, society is calling for restrictions of speech in the form of political correctness.
Here is the thing: the Constitution entails our governing system – it was not written to protect your feelings. There is no amendment protecting your right to not be offended. The Constitution allows you to express yourself and have your voice heard- and these rights extend to every other American. It enables you to debate and disagree with people, to defend your opinions, to compromise and to learn. Instead of having a meltdown every time someone disagrees with you, take a breath and listen to why they hold that position. You can even explain why you disagree afterwards! As a country, we need to learn from each other and not be hampered by differing opinions.
In life, not everyone is going to coddle your feelings and always agree with you. In this beautiful country, we are free to disagree. It is okay to hear things that you do not like. Listening to criticism and standing up for your opinions helps you learn and grow (and I can personally vouch for this as a republican at a liberal institution). It is time to get ready for the real world, because it involves more than just you and me. Not everyone out there is going to agree with you or understand you, and that is okay.
Political correctness is not so much about sensitivity or freedom of speech restrictions than acceptance and respect for those who differ from you. It is about understanding that, although you may not find a term offensive, if someone else is harmed by your language, using a replacement is the right thing to do. It is not about being politically correct – it is about being morally correct. Individuals should have the right to label themselves as they please without conforming to public expectations. As Toni Morrison once said, “the political correctness debate is really about…the power to be able to define. The definers want the power to name. And the defined are now taking that power away from them.” Claiming that using politically correct terms violates freedom of speech is not a fair argument; curbing one’s use of derogatory language simply makes you a caring person. What is the purpose of hurting someone’s feelings by using inflammatory language? It does not teach anyone a lesson nor does it benefit either party. Furthermore, we use substitutions in our language every day for commonplace words, so why not increase our vocabularies further and use terms that are more acceptable?
Generally, we always should strive to create a more inclusive environment. By using hurtful terms, it is easy to marginalize large groups of people. For example, the n-word is no longer commonly used because it is demeaning to black communities. We all are aware that we should not use that word, so why do we fight so hard to avoid using other inflammatory words? Similarly, if a group of people deems a term offensive, we should respect that and use alternate words that are less harmful. It does not hurt to make such a simple change but it could affect someone if we do not.
Donald Trump, one of the most racist figures today, exclaimed that, “the big problem this country has is being politically correct.” He claims he has no “time for total political correctness.” He is extremely wrong. Political correctness does not require time — it requires awareness. Words are extremely powerful tools, and with that power comes a responsibility to think before we speak, to consider how our words could hurt others, and to respect our peers.
Respectfully and liberally yours,