I’m a blonde who loves blonde jokes. I’m not threatened if you think I’m dumb; you’ll figure it out eventually if I keep you around long enough. I’m not offended by the jokes, rather, I find them absurdly accurate and it is that accuracy that makes me laugh my ass off! In my day, that’s exactly how blondes did act (frankly, too many still do)! So which came first: the stereotype? Or the label?
Today I wanna talk about how sick I am of being politically correct. It has become impossible to state what you really think and mean because it may be considered politically incorrect, let alone a sense I am not allowed to be proud of my heritage, my culture, my nation. I have an issue with this because it leads to the telling of half truths or the ultimate shut down of communication in general. Soon we may be too afraid to speak, lest we be slapped with a citation from the PC Police Force. I live in a country where soldiers actually DIED to preserve my freedom of speech! Dammit, I owe it to them to stand up for my right to speak as I choose!
I say no more bowing to the purveyors of PC etiquette who are creating a culture of overly-sensitive people.
First, let me start by saying I understand the intention of politically correct labels: eliminate discrimination. I understand and agree that it is important not to create obstacles to communication and cooperation by making faux pas about race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc.
We don’t want to offend someone (maybe you do, but I don’t), but at what point do we push the responsibility for interpretation back on the listener? We cannot be held responsible for how every person will receive what we say.
Hell, even among people in the ‘same group’ there is often no consensus on which term will be the acceptable politically correct term*. (For example: I’m a woman who doesn’t care if you call me a chick or a broad or a ….well, ok maybe I am a bitch; see the asterisk footnote for a more intellectual example!).
I’ve made ludicrously politically correct statements and still offended people! We cannot control how another person will receive the message we send no matter how we tailor it. I believe these uproars say more about the person doing the uproaring than the person that innocently used a word on the PC taboo list.
Back to the chicken or egg parallel up there: Do the negative ideas and thoughts come first and we create the words now deemed “unacceptable” to describe and mean them?
Do the words themselves and the decision to put them on the taboo list actually do the creating of negative thought patterns and behaviours, such as the term policeman (man, being a root word in human – where is the sexism here)?
I think it poses an interesting sociological question that may force us to consider sanitizing words rather than banning them. In many of the more inflammatory cases, I would hope this could take away their power.
The good thing about sociology is that it’s open to interpretation: no two groups will be exactly the same. The bad thing is that it’s open to interpretation: no two groups will be exactly the same! Irony!! Unfortunately, it also means my question will forever be a great philosophical debate no matter how hard I try to force a consensus.
The terms, or labels, we use to describe each other often relate to gender, sexual preference, skin colour or religion. It is in an effort to maintain sensitivity to our differences that we decide a word, a phrase or an idea is now unacceptable in “polite” company. But I don’t understand why seeing our differences is bad. Difference is good! Besides, it makes life interesting.
But no one is, (or should be, in my opinion), immune from being poked fun of. This alarming trend of filtering our every thought and word to avoid offending someone is both unrealistic and naïve. People are different! To pretend I don’t see the difference is insulting to a person of another culture! Every culture is unique and should be celebrated for it. But every culture also has a tradition of making fun of its own and others. Why are we so fervently trying to deny it and stamp it out?
I admit, my favourite comics are all very politically incorrect: Chris Rock, George Carlin, Seth MacFarlane, Russell Peters. One thing they all have in common is the crazy shit that comes out of their mouth is all politically incorrect. And I love it. They force us to examine our affinity for this mind control mentality where we all think alike, speak alike, dress alike….
I didn’t provide a link to a single one of them, I’m so confident you know who each one of them are. They are that popular. And they are known for politically incorrect……So, why do we think the people we are trying not to offend need to be treated with kid gloves? And, what does that do to our free will?
Speaking of taboo words, is there a conclusive and current list of these taboo words somewhere? Cause, it seems that every time I turn around, there’s a new one out, or an existing one has changed…again! How am I or you or anyone supposed to keep up?
I grew up in the 70’s when you called a person with dark skin: black; if I say that now, is it offensive? Does it say something about me? We called a law enforcement officer: Policeman. Likewise Fireman, Garbage Man, (Milk Man 😉 )- not always men performing the job, but the label had the word ‘man’.
Why do we confuse words with thoughts? So, because I didn’t get the latest memo on updates to politically correct terms, I’ve broken some moral code by which you judge and I should be ashamed?
Hmm. Interesting. I should apply the same slap-dash logic to those who are so quick to jump in and call “sexist” because I still say “policeman”. No, no, it couldn’t be that I grew up using that word so it’s eruption from my mouth is pure instinct.** That’s ludicrous. Of course I have a much more sinister purpose to selecting that word instead of something gender neutral. Of course I want you to think I am devaluing a woman’s ability and right to do that job.
Please don’t mistake this for anything other than a plea that we stop rushing to wrong conclusions if someone we speak with innocently uses a word on the PC list.
And WHOA! YES! There are still QUITE A FEW THAT ARE STILL SO TOTALLY BANNED that I feel NO ONE should use them…but that violates my whole argument, so ignore I said that if you can still focus on the intent of the argument I’m making. I mean innocent terms that have been valid for say, 10 years. So that really outlaws a lotta shit!
Some of the more absurd ones I can think of are having to convert from policeman to law enforcement officer. Seriously?
And da, da, da, da! The reason for the rant:
Merry Christmas to Happy Holidays!
I believe we focus too much on our differences, force-feeding our psyche with them in a negative connotation as we focus on ensuring we don’t use that word. Rather than focus on those things which bring together or make us all the same: like being human!
None of us expect a life where we will never be offended or sheltered from conflict or hurt feelings. However, many self-appointed saviors are trying to make this a reality, through aggressive speech codes, legal rulings and corporate policies. Political Correctness (PC) originally flowered in academia and spread like a virus through the government and corporate worlds. It has devolved into a tyranny of the most offended person in the room. PC complaints now range from the sublime to the ridiculous, and they are stifling the honest assessment, and debate, of issues in our lives….And, please don’t worry about offending me in the comments section.
* a wordy example: “Native American” was a term that was proposed by the US government in the latter half of the previous century to overcome objections to use of “Indian”. (aside: In Canada, I think the currently PC is First Nations, but here again: do we intend to wound when we use it? .)
** entirely fictional example, believe it or not, to illustrate my point.
So, am I alone thinking we’ve pushed “politically correct” past the point of absurdity? If you grew up saying Merry Christmas, do you still, or have you, switched? If you grew up not celebrating or saying Christmas, are you offended if someone says “Merry Christmas” to you?