Sunday, January 15, 2012

What is Politically Correct?

For several decades now we have heard the words "politically correct" being used to describe an attitude that we are told we should have about others that are different from us. The rules of PC deal with the socially acceptable things we are permitted to say about people with physical, ethnic, or personal lifestyles that are different than our own. The supposed purpose for this PC attitude is to prevent us from saying things that might offend others that do not share our own physical makeup, lifestyle, standards, or values. The problem is that when you setup rules about what people can say, you start down the path of censorship and begin to diminish the promise of free speech our constitution guarantees for all citizens.

I personally feel offended by hate speech. In my opinion it is heinous and leads to violent actions by those who engage in it. However, I am sure that in just about any conversation being spoken today there are things being said that could possible offend someone who is listening. The main premise of free speech is that it allows us to voice our opinions, even when they are not popular, without fear of retribution from the government or those who disagree. This brings me to my question: "What is politically correct?". Who sets the standards for what is and isn't PC? If I say that I don't like the Indian spice curry, and that offends a person from India who is listening, should my taste in spices be considered not PC? I believe there is a fine line between what we embrace as a personal opinion and what PC proponents consider offensive.

In the past we have always had a type of PC in our society that guides what people say to others, and it was called politeness. Common sense plays a big part and gives us direction in that area. Being polite and having good manners can go a long way to helping us not offend others if we are really concerned about it. What it appears to me is that PC is an attempt by certain parties to make politeness a law and not an attitude. The truth is YOU CANNOT legislate morality! All you can do is take a stand yourself and use politeness to color you conversation with others. By setting an example yourself, you may be able to show others how to be polite, but you can NEVER change people by trying to force them to be polite.

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