Friday, October 8

Political Correctness

As promised, today I am going to write a big long essay on political correctness. Now I realize this may seem like a really combustible topic, but I will try to keep it as tame as possible.

On the surface, the idea of political correctness is great -- no more stereotypes, no more bigotry, and most of all,  no everyone is happy. But there is a problem with this theory: most of those above statements are incorrect. That is why I strongly dislike political correctness. Don't get me wrong, I don't support spewing slurs and insensitive thoughts. I am a firm believer in "think before you speak," and I believe that people should be thoughtful and mindful of what they say. Political correctness in its worst forms is in fact just the opposite. It is a way to say things and express ideas that are racy and controversial without offending everyone; it is a way to sugar coat everything. People who use politically correct euphemisms in order to dodge issues are simply trying to have it both ways. That is why it is called "political." Politicians don't want to offend anyone and potentially lose votes. I'm fine with censoring and changing names provided the reason behind it is noble. I don't know, perhaps I'm just overly jaded and cynical, but it seems like most of the "politically correct" terms used these days are just a way to dodge issues. George Orwell expressed it very clearly in his essay Politics and the English Language:
"In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of the political parties."
 Politically correct terms are really just euphemisms; they are used mainly to discuss the issues that the politicians decide are too explosive to talk about in plain English. In some cases, yes, I suppose it is good to label certain words as politically incorrect -- it prevents hurt feelings and it cuts down on discrimination to an extent. But things like changing "Columbus Day" to "Indigenous Peoples' Day" is just ridiculous. It goes back to my earlier point that people want it both ways. They want to be able to celebrate Columbus Day and not offend anyone at the same time. (One could also argue that people are just doing it to avoid feeling guilty; it's a selfish thing more than anything else.) My point is this: if you don't want to call October 12th "Columbus Day" because it offends Native Americans, then you shouldn't celebrate it at all. I mean, think about it. It's not a day to celebrate native peoples -- that was the day that represented the beginning of extreme hardship and pain for an entire race of people. Not exactly the happiest of days. But no one cares to think about this; instead they just pride themselves as being "forward thinking," and enjoy their day of festivities in the same way they always did, just this time under a new tag that sounds snappy and progressive.

Now before you all start screaming "Oh you're horrible and racist and bigoted," let me say this again: I believe completely in being aware of others and their feelings and changing your language to help that process, I just believe that the sentiment needs to be genuine and should not be meant to gain votes or cultivate a good image. That is all I'm trying to advocate.

1 comment:

  1. Sam, your comment on Political Correctness is Politically Correct beyond comprehension! You are apparently a avid supporter of Political Correctness. Political Correcness is to say things that are against one's own opinions and convictions and also against known facts! Political Correctness will destroy open discussion in society and force all with dissenting views to shut up! PC is the enemy of freedom of expression it has nothing to do with politeness, consideration and good manners