In recent months, political correctness (PC) has become a trendy term that spread like an epidemic among millennials, especially across college campuses where its prevalence occupies the minds of many students. According to Merriam Webster, political correctness is defined as “conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities (as in matters of sex or race) should be eliminated.”
This definition offers a broad array of interpretations to define the parameters of appropriate language. Regardless, the term PC is incredibly misconstrued in the eyes of society; it has come to be defined as so much more than just the definition it has been given.
Political correctness is a cliché term used among many millennials, political figures and media outlets to conceal certain truths because they may “offend” minority groups such as black people, people of Latin American descent, and the LGBTQ community. It has limited political discourse and became an acquired asset by many as a way to limit freedom of speech by arguing “political correctness.”
Take Joe Kennedy for example, a high school assistant football coach who was fired for practicing his right to free speech when he took a knee to pray at the 50-yard line. Compare this to Colin Kaepernick, the NFL player who was praised for publicly taking a knee during the national anthem to proclaim America racist because he couldn’t get a job. At an interview with Fox News, Kennedy concluded that “the Constitution should apply to all.” These similarities make it evident that institutions in our society have higher tendencies to lean toward accommodating left-wing expressions regarding freedom of speech.
Conservative individuals are not exempt from this either, as they are constantly caught red-handed utilizing political correctness to justify censorship against ideas that might be anti-Christian or anti-American. For instance, President George W. Bush’s implementation on free speech zones following the September 11 attacks was a major infraction of the first amendment. Consequently, limiting free speech and closing the door to a healthy political discussion greatly deepens the divide between the right and left wing parties.
Hate speech is not the same as free speech, but more often than not, hate speech is used as an excuse to shut down people who have differing opinions or values. This is especially evident on the far-left, where certain groups attempt to drown out the voices of “controversial” conservative speakers. Radical groups like Antifa have protested conservative speakers throughout college campuses in America, causing chaos and costing universities thousands of dollars on security, such as what happened with Milo Yiannopoulos at UC Berkeley. Although not all those who protest conservative speakers are part of Antifa, ironically those students who side with radical groups such as Antifa are the ones promoting hate speech and at the same time delegitimizing their own arguments.
Today’s commonly used -isms such as “classism,” “sexism,” “materialism,” “cisgenderism,” and even “racism” blind us from acquiring meaning and knowledge. “They are not productive terms,” says Adam MacLeod, professor at Jones School of Law at Faulkner University. “At least as you have been taught to use them. Most of the time, they do not promote understanding.” He argues that simply throwing out these terms to justify things you do not understand or feel comfortable with, avoids the proper way to critically judge and evaluate claims. The students in his class were quick to dismiss the works of ancient wisdom texts written by philosophers like Plato and Hammurabi by classifying their ideas as “classist” and “racist,” before even engaging in discussion on the merits of the texts.
At what point should political correctness really come into play and lead to the implementation of action towards offensive behavior? The term has become so skewed that those lines have been blurred. Political correctness has become a cop-out term and it is evident that these biases have become integrated into media outlets and perceived by Americans as liberal biases more often than conservative biases.
Political correctness is a culture that has gone too far. The epidemic stifles necessary truths and healthy political discussions. Perhaps it is the reason why Americans felt the need to vote for Trump in the first place. Maybe his supporters like that he isn’t afraid of political correctness.