What does it mean to propose a ‘PC,’ or politically correct, culture?
Is it a way to silence people, to rid them of their opinions or to infantilize a population for wanting protection from the big, bad world? Is it an idealistic, rose-colored, cotton candy-flavored smoke screen from behind which hipsters, musicians and liberal college students hide?
Or is it just a formal way of asking society to please grow up, and, for the sake of the thousands of dollars we’re sure you spent on your education, to learn some respect?
Is it genuinely hard to amend your rhetoric to exclude words that propagate hate, disrespect, ignorance and discrimination? It could be argued our society is not yet equipped to deal with every single ‘trigger word,’ ‘buzzword’ or sensitive point out there, and that it would be an inconvenience to speak in circles, avoiding what we are trying to say. It could be argued that politicizing everything, from the language used in children’s books to the diversity training seminars in workplaces, is trivial in that it holds less significance to the presence of the book or the position of the labor. It could even be argued that holding everyone accountable to a standard of being ‘PC’ is unattainable, as a particular word to one person may mean nothing, and yet to another pose as a source of negativity.
But to not honor and respect someone’s identity or life by choosing to intentionally employ specifically targeted language speaks more to one’s lack of morality than to their intelligence. This is because being politically correct isn’t, and never was, about censorship. Political correctness is about common, human decency. It is about using the language that we are so patriotically proud of, the ostensibly universal common tongue, to be able to connect to humanity. Society — and the individual humans within it — tends to speak how they think, and the verbal language that they use is often a pretty reliable reflection of their morals, ideals and understandings. So if we find issues in the way that people speak to one another, the solution would be to try and encourage people to change the way they think.
I promise, we really aren’t trying to promote some sort of authoritative mind control, but rather urge the necessity to break habit — a long-standing, conservative habit of blissful ignorance and disrespect. We’re simply asking that you heed “think before you speak,” and give yourself the chance to adapt, grow and thrive in a quickly developing culture. It’s important to note that within our society, we teach children to be polite, to be politically correct, rather than to learn an antiquated, racially divided and cisgendered language. So what is left for adults is to unlearn all of the prejudice and racism socialized through the course of our lives and to realize that it has no place in a world of acceptance, tolerance and intersectionality.
Ignorance and arrogance, delightfully, have no place within human decency.
Hannah Gulko is a junior majoring in human development.