Political Correctness is defined as ‘the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.’ This doctrine (at this point, it can be called one) has gone far beyond merely advocating politeness or sensitivity. It has become an ideology of its own, and one with far reaching applications and consequences.
The key issue encompassed by political correctness is that (as says the definition) subjective perception determines what is insulting to the said socially disadvantaged group. In fact, whether there even are any socially disadvantaged people in a given place or situation and who they are can also be debatable. Thus, there doesn’t prevail even a vaguely fixed standard for what counts as politically incorrect or insulting or bigoted. Consequently, someone can be demonized and labelled as a bigot simply based on one person taking offence to what he/she has said.
This leads to grave predicaments when things or statements that are not meant to be discriminatory in any way and even objectively true statistics are found to be offensive by some. An example of the former includes what the ‘progressive’ left has come to call “cultural appropriation”. We are told that cultural appropriation refers to an instance of the majority group emulating an aspect of a minority group. The most common example would be a white American wearing a dress or costume native to another country on occasions like Halloween. According to many modern day liberals (especially young college going students) cultural appropriation of this sort is nothing short of racist.
This accusation of racism is absurd owing to a number of reasons. The primary reason being that when people wear attire from another culture, it is often out of respect for that culture and with the intention of celebrating the culture. Secondly, if someone really is racist or prejudiced against a certain group of people, wouldn’t emulating their culture or dressing up like them be the last thing they would want to do?
Also, the people who deem cultural appropriation ‘racist’ are the very same people who call for increased and mass immigration on the grounds that the United States is a ‘melting pot of cultures’. However, when it comes to cultural appropriation, they completely switch their position and say that people of certain backgrounds and races cannot adopt other cultures, which is the antithesis of a ‘melting pot’. The debate surrounding cultural appropriation was re-ignited when an American High School student wore a Chinese dress to prom. She was relentlessly attacked and targeted after posting a picture of her wearing the dress on twitter. Political Correctness has sucked the fun out of events like Halloween.
Objective facts are also deemed politically incorrect if they happen to involve women or a racial or religious minority. An example would be the debate surrounding police brutality in the United States. Groups like ‘Black Lives Matter’, the media and many liberal leaning people blame the greater likelihood of African Americans being shot by the police solely on racism. However, African Americans commit more than half of violent crime, even though they form only 13% of the US population (according to statistics from the FBI and Justice Department). Socio-economic factors also play a role as many African Americans live in high-crime and low income neighborhoods (which are recipients of greater police presence) and are thus more likely to have violent confrontations with the police. Yet, inspite of the higher crime rate among African Americans and the socio -economic factors, TWICE the number of whites were killed by the police between 1999 and 2011, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. A study of thousands of incidents at 10 large police departments in California, Florida and Texas (done by African American Harvard professor Roland G Fryer) found that there is no racial disparity in police shootings. In fact, as the New York Times reports, in shootings in these 10 cities involving officers, officers were more likely to fire their weapons without having first been attacked when the suspects were white.
The point is that it is disingenuous to have a conversation about racism and police brutality without having a dialogue that also includes the above facts. Yet, saying these things is considered politically incorrect, racist and offensive. The first step towards solving a problem is acknowledging that there is a problem. And that is prevented by political correctness, because problems that are deemed offensive (even if they are objectively true) are not allowed to be discussed. There are far too many examples of issues about which honest discourses have not been allowed to take place owing to political correctness. These include mass immigration.
Also, it is noteworthy to mention that we live in a day and age where the feelings of especially young people are a tad bit too delicate. Consequently, things like air conditioning have been deemed sexist (by an article in ‘The Telegraph’) and milk has been deemed a ‘symbol of white supremacy’ by PETA. According to some black lives matter leaders, saying ‘all lives matter’ is racist!. It is fair to say that political correctness has gone too far when things that have nothing to do with race, gender, etc (like milk) and statements that are anti -racist (‘all lives matter’) are deemed bigoted.
Political correctness is also used as a tool to silence people with challenging viewpoints and to subjugate free speech. There are countless examples of speakers being banned from speaking at college campuses because their views were deemed ‘offensive’. James Damore was fired from Google simply for saying that men and women are biologically different and have different skill sets as a consequence of which they are suited to different tasks. This is something agreed upon by mainstream scientists and does not prove that Damore was a misogynist or perpetuated a hostile working environment for women. Again, it all boils down to this- He had to be removed because people’s feelings were hurt. Whether or not he made a valid argument was paid no heed to, for feelings trumped everything. Many liberals, when shown flaws with their reasoning and arguments, use political correctness as a partisan tool to deem the opposing viewpoint bigoted, though that is hardly ever the case.
All in all, political correctness has now become an ideology that advocates the silencing of opposing viewpoints, censorship, and the detrimental prioritization of facts over feelings. It hampers the open discussion of ideas and thus, the formation of solutions to problems. It is used to label anything and everything ‘offensive’, which has led to the degradation of pop culture and comedy.
It is about time that youngsters and especially college students realize they will soon stop being pampered and will no longer be provided with ‘safe spaces’.As they enter the workplace, their feelings will stop being paid heed to and they will have to learn how not to get offended and face harsh truths.
Because facts don’t care about your feelings.