The term political correctness has become sort of a catch phrase for controversial politicians. They use it far too often, usually as some sort of smoke screen for problematic political positions such as opposition to homosexuality or transgenderism.
Pat McCrory,the mayor of North Carolina, a state that recently passed legislation targeting transgender individuals and prohibiting cities from passing non-discrimination ordinances, described the criticism of that controversial piece of legislation as “political correctness gone amuck.” But is it really?
Donald Trump’s controversial comments have become an almost ubiquitous aspect of television news broadcasts ever since he announced he was running for president. And he has frequently used the term political correctness as some sort of shield for the criticism he has received.
So is the term political correctness just an inappropriate attempt to deflect criticism from controversial political decisions, or is there something more to it?
George Carlin was one of the best comedians who ever lived. In his act, he often explored the English language. He took issue with political correctness in the form of euphemisms such as “differently abled” and “minimally exceptional.” He referred to this type of euphemistic language as “verbal slight of hand” and “language which takes the life out of life.” I agree with him.
Bill Maher is another comedian concerned with the increasing amount of political correctness in the country. He took such an issue with it that he named his old television show Politically Incorrect.
On his current television show, Real Time, he often criticizes the liberal obsession with being politically correct. He once said, “lazy liberalism allows scolding to substitute for actually do something.”
Some of our country’s most celebrated comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock are now refusing to perform on college campuses because of the inevitable protests that will take place.
Jerry Seinfeld said, “They just want to use these words: ‘That’s racist’; ‘That’s sexist’; ‘That’s prejudice.’ They don’t know what they’re talking about.”
Has our country lost the ability to take a joke?
George Carlin said, “Political correctness is America’s newest form of intolerance, and it is especially pernicious because it comes disguised as tolerance. It presents itself as fairness, yet attempts to restrict and control people’s language with strict codes and rigid rules. I’m not sure that’s the way to fight discrimination. I’m not sure silencing people or forcing them to alter their speech is the best method for solving problems that go much deeper than speech.”
And it isn’t just comedians and politicians who are being effected by political correctness. We are becoming a culture that shames anyone who expresses an opinion, or even makes a joke, that people consider indecent.
Justin Sacco wasn’t a comedian. But when she was boarding a plane on a trip to Africa she made a joke on Twitter that would utterly change her life.
It was a joke which sarcastically used white privilege as a punch line. It wasn’t a good joke, but it was still just a joke. Unfortunately, it caused quite an uproar.
The New York Times wrote an article about what happened to Justine Sacco. It is rather disturbing how she was targeted by social justice warriors who got her fired from her job before her plane even landed and then harassed her online to the point that it caused her psychological damage.
I’m not defending her sense of humor but perhaps this is a case where it is actually appropriate to say that political correctness has gone amuck. Her punishment seemed disproportionate to her crime, if indeed she even committed a crime.
I don’t think she did. What do you think? Is political correctness a problem? If so, what should we do about it? And are politicians drawing attention to this societal issue or just making the problem worse by using the term political correctness to deflect criticism?