Political Correctness is Useless

Political Correctness is crap. It’s done. It’s over.

No, really. It is. Read on.

I remember when the phrase first popped up, and I should have realized it then. It simply was never going to do what it claimed to do. The whole idea was to make politeness and courtesy formal again. [1] If you think about the actual words of “politically correct”, they’re not offensive.

But the term has become a slur. The words “politically correct” have become a tool for racists, sexists, and homophobes.

It’s a simple formula. Something offensive happens. Maybe it’s a tasteless joke, maybe a stereotypical picture or some kind of racist costume. You point it out, and then you hear the response:

“Oh, you’re just being politically correct.” [2]

You see the frame there, don’t you? That phrase is trying to change being considerate of others into a stupid bureaucratic (and don’t forget “overly sensitive” and “humorless”) killjoy of a rule. It tries to claim the white viewpoint is the only valid viewpoint [3], and tries to hide behind a screen of “free speech” and “speaking directly”. Hell, everyone understood that Bill Maher was trying to say he wasn’t pulling any punches when he called his show “Politically Incorrect”, and that was over 15 years ago.

When they say that we’re “just being politically correct”, they’re saying that nobody else matters.

I’ve seen it a lot over the last few months – especially during the runup to Halloween. So I think being “politically correct” is crap. I’m giving up on the phrase. It’s stopped being useful.

Let’s try something different. When you hear that phrase, respond with this one:

“No, I’m not being politically correct. I’m not being a bigot.”

Or if that’s too confrontational, try this:

“I’m being considerate of other people.”

And for those of you who suddenly find yourselves called on your intolerance… well, maybe you just need to be more sensitive and grow a thinner skin. [4]

[1] Yeah, I consider racism impolite.
[2] The most ironically mind-boggling usage of this was when I was once called “a political correctness Nazi.”
[3] I do take a small measure of dark delight when people of Irish and Italian descent try this, since they weren’t considered “white” either throughout part of the twentieth century.
[4] Yes, yes. I wanted to take the cheap shot here too.

Photo by Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

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