Politically Correct: Part Two

The notion of there being some idyllic past before there was such a thing as politically correct speech, where anything went and you were allowed to say whatever, is patently false.  Okay, so you were allowed to make fun of “sissies” in the 1950’s, and racial slurs were accepted.

But you want to talk about conformity?  The length of your hair, what you wore in public, who you could date, when you got married…  Socially, we didn’t enjoy greater freedom in a pre-PC era, we enjoyed fewer freedoms.  All you would get in a time-travel back to 1950 is greater leeway to be an asshole to minorities and the marginalized, but the price would be personal expression in every other way.  You still would get ostracized for your offensive tee-shirt, not just because it was offensive, but because you were daring to wear a tee-shirt out in public.

Which brings me to the PC backlash.  Trump supporters appreciate that he “says what he thinks,” that he isn’t politically correct.  But in this usage, politically correct is just a stand-in for civility.  And since when did manners become such a bad thing?  Not everything you think needs to fall out of your mouth.  It just doesn’t.  I think horrible things sometimes, I have an arrogant streak and a low tolerance for stupid, but the ability to filter those horrible things and keep them to myself is (or should be) standard adult behavior.

Kindness is never wasted.  If a small shift like a trigger warning on a procedural cop drama on TV makes someone else’s life less uncomfortable, what does it have to do with me?  I’m not living with the aftermath of domestic violence, what do I know of it?  Anyway, we tell parents when violence or nudity is coming so they can choose what to expose their children to…  how is this any different?

Furthermore, punching someone isn’t politically incorrect, it is assault.  No one is telling anyone that they have to be politically correct, but free speech works both ways.  Your right to be an ass is protected by the first amendment, as is my right to point out that you’re an ass. Social norms are evolving to make room for people who once weren’t considered as worthy of notice or respect.  It is your constitutional right to refuse to evolve.  And you’re right.  Nowhere in the Constitution am I granted the right to never be offended at anything someone else says.  Freedom of speech means that just about anything goes, within the limits decided by the Supreme Court.

But our social norms are not constitutionally mandated.  You don’t have to keep up with them.  Still, my question remains: what’s the problem with being civil?  What does it cost you to be kind?

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Politically Correct: Part Two

6 thoughts on “Politically Correct: Part Two

  1. We’ve come a long way since they burned witches and heretics at the stake. Freedom and responsibility go hand in hand. If you want to be rude, you have the responsibility of accepting rudeness when it boomerangs back. If I can dish it out, I can take it, is one of my mottoes.

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  2. “Katharine – have you ever noticed how the people who are the most likely to dish it can’t take it when given the same in return?”

    Yes because they lack empathy. Lacking empathy is an inability to put oneself in another person’s shoes. They don’t see themselves in the petty foibles of another person and they cannot understand how their own oddities can not be understood. Their sociopathy is debilitating and I view it as a mental illness, an important and dangerous (at worst) deviation from what can be considered acceptable behavior in public.

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  3. I always thought it was simply a failure to think carefully, logically, and honesty about the subject at hand, themselves, and the other guy… So is that still empathy, or is it a question of intelligence? Secretly, or not so secretly now, I tend to think of those folks as (at the kindest) lacking the discipline for holistic and methodical thought.

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  4. “So is that still empathy, or is it a question of intelligence?”

    I think it is intelligent to be empathetic. “Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle.”

    I do hear you. Yet, there is balance to be found between cynicism and gullibility. This seems to be a lifelong problem. I try to do the best that I can. I make mistakes in both directions.

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