To be honest, it’s time for Americans to understand why being politically correct is necessary.

Yes, political correctness- the concept that candidates such as Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are claiming is ruining our country. The term itself became well known after members of the Republican Party used it to label anything that could portray the wealthy, white, cisgender and heterosexual demographic in a negative light. Since there seems to be such a negative connotation around the phrase, feel free to call it as something else, such as common decency.

But for the sake of this argument, I am going to continue to refer to it as being politically correct.

I’m not saying every member of the GOP uses this term to undermine any effort of the unempowered. There are plenty of members of the Republican party who simply want a smaller federal government and believe in a strict interpretation of the Constitution.

However, there are quite a few prominent members who believe there aren’t ongoing issues with white privilege, male privilege, heterosexual privilege and cisgender privilege and will disregard or oppose any display of what doesn’t fit their mold.

Furthermore, if the press speaks out against any of their indecent remarks towards a certain demographic, they’ll immediately defend their First Amendment right, accuse individuals of being too sensitive and claim that “political correctness is ruining this nation.”

So, this brings us to the term “political correctness.” Why should we embrace this concept? Those opposed to it want you to believe it’s a phrase delicate and weak individuals use to promote censorship while enforcing a liberal agenda. But being politically correct, in its simplest meaning, is being non-discriminatory and understanding that every person you come in contact with has value. To better understand this concept, a few specific instances may be necessary.

Political correctness is addressing someone as their preferred pronoun because it exemplifies that you acknowledge and value their gender, even if it isn’t the one they were assigned at birth.

It’s understanding that using the phrase “to rape” in a casual manner can be very triggering and makes the connotation of the word less severe.

It’s refraining from the phrases “don’t be such a girl” or “that’s so gay” because they could perpetuate the idea that some demographics are weak and undesirable.

Political correctness is placing a critical lense on how privilege can appear in the choices we make every day, even if they’re unknown to us. Political correctness is recognizing that words are choices that can make or ruin someone’s day. Political correctness is having compassion and choosing to take others’ feelings into account when we speak. There’s no agenda, no motive and no over-sensitivity. It’s being polite and accountable for your speech.

Another argument against political correctness is that it silences the privileged demographic. If a wealthy, white, heterosexual man wants to tell the public why there should or shouldn’t be a Qdoba so close to Chipotle, by all means, let him speak.

However, when we are discussing the racial and economic imbalance in this country, the wealthy, white, heterosexual opinions are not going to have much value. They have never been displaced or disadvantaged because of these reasons and, therefore, are not going to be able to truly understand the challenges marginalized Americans face everyday. The truth of the matter is that the underprivileged are best poised to speak to the prevalence of privilege in our society, and if that fact makes you uncomfortable, then you’re probably part of the “privileged” to which so many people keep referring.

We wouldn’t lose much at all if everyone made an effort to be politically correct. If being politically correct means your favorite not-so-creative comedian can’t crack a joke at the expense of a racial minority for cheap laughs, then so be it.

If we as a nation desire to move toward a more collective and cohesive society, we need to stop insulting other people’s races, religions, sexual preferences and gender identity. If it’s unintentional and accidental, then be aware that your words can and will hurt other people and make an effort to correct that behavior.

No one is born calling something or someone “gay” or “ghetto,” so a person shouldn’t act like impolite behavior is something that can’t change. The things that a person can’t change are often what an individual undermines with insulting speech.

1 COMMENT

  1. While I understand where the author is coming from, I believe her perspective on what political correctness is should be considered inaccurate. She begins by claiming that conservative leaders only consider political correctness to be negative comments against cis, white, straight, upper class individuals. I think this is simply untrue. Those conservatives are few and far between, if they even exist at all. Political correctness, while meant to be a term which promotes decency and tolerance, has become the contrary.

    Political correctness in it’s simplest form is defined as being unoffensive. I’ve come across several definitions, and this was my finding. The idea that it’s anything more than this, or that being PC is about finding value in everyone, is artificial.

    Where political correctness becomes an issue is when we try to distinguish what is and isn’t offensive. Technically, any language could be considered offensive, even when it’s not meant as such. This is why the PC movement has attacked the phrase “Merry Christmas”. To the PC police, it’s an exclusionary and offensive term which discriminates against individuals who don’t participate in Christmas. To everyone else, it’s nothing but a friendly remark which the average citizen will use during the holiday season. Nobody is being harmed by phrases like this.

    Another victim of the PC movement has become the comedy industry. We once lived in a society where comedy was appreciated for what it is. Humor is often used as a positive medium for seemingly dark things. Is it a coping mechanism? Possibly. Is it a form of recognizing differences in humanity, and joking about them? Possibly. Is it simply a way to make people laugh? Definitely. Is it a tool used to be offensive for the sake of being offensive? Not at all, but because the PC police have considered it as such, comedians have now refused to perform on college campuses.

    The author then goes on to argue that individuals with ‘privilege’ have little value when discussing inequalities (which seemed pretty odd considering her definition of being politically correct included discovering value in everyone). What’s wrong with this view is that it not only pits humans against each other, but it undermines the idea that we live in the age of information. A straight, white, cis, upper class male could potentially know a lot about a lesbian, hispanic, lower class female. While the two individuals have had very different life experiences, with the right access to information and analyses of society, the two can know quite a lot about each other and what they’ve been through. This is without mentioning the fact that the author speaks in such a manner about the ‘privileged’ class that would normally enrage progressives if the same were to be said about minority groups. She states that it’s wrong to use language which could be harmful to people based on their race and gender, but then goes on to devalue the opinion of a certain group based on their race and gender. Why can’t we treat every group with dignity?

    If society fully embraced political correctness, the human race would lose a lot of what makes us so special. Diversity would be eroded by limiting how we can address each other. Entertainment would be limited because comedians would avoid using words which could potentially offend someone (which is a very blurry line). Political and social opinions would be limited because the belief could be seemingly hurtful, even if it is grounded in basic fact. A world of complete political correctness is a world we see in the authoritarian books we discuss in schools.

    Don’t get me wrong, the politically correct movement means well, it really does. Most of us want to be respectful, but being PC doesn’t entail such an attitude. I live by the motto of treating others the way you want to be treated, and it’s wonderful. The PC movement seems to live by the motto of treating others in any way, shape, or form that wouldn’t trigger them.

    I respect and value your opinion which I see as being very well intentioned, but I strongly disagree with your view on political correctness. I hope we can discuss this in more depth next year when I go to William Jewell.

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