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Essay: Political correctness

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  • Subject area(s): Sociology essays
  • Reading time: 4 minutes
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  • Published: 15 November 2019*
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  • Words: 926 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 4 (approx)

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We live in a world today where our everyday lives are dictated by political correctness. People on the job, at school, on the streets, and sometimes even in their own home, have to be concerned with every word they say, it could be misinterpreted by someone as being offensive or discriminatory. When typing an email at work, it is necessary to thoroughly review it for its content. If this isn’t done, one risks the chance of corrective action by their employers, termination or possibly a lawsuit for discrimination. Political correctness has gone way too far in the minds of some people. Almost any phrase or word can be taken the wrong way by people nowadays. Political correctness is almost going against the first amendment of freedom of speech. Why would someone look to someone else and ask if it’s okay to say what you want to say? We are a free people. Nobody decides what is proper to say. The European socialist may control language but here we have a Constitution with the Bill of Rights that protects our freedom of speech, but we have no right not to be offended. One should not be afraid to offend someone with their speech because of what others will say (Brady, National World). What may offend one may compliment another.

Firstly, political correctness is founded upon the assumption that discrimination and prejudice exists within society. Of course the goal of being politically correct is so that it affects communication in a positive way. It’s to prevent arguments and people from getting offended. What we are not trying to achieve is some sort of polite utopia – it would be a dull and dreary place to live.

I believe people should use more concrete words when we are communicating with one another. That way, others will not misinterpret the message you are trying to get across. There has been so many times where I have seen on television, people getting upset because of someone else using abstract words. For example you will have a scene where a guy of a different race will walk into a room of African Americans and start to say a statement beginning with “You people”. Then the group will be taken aback thinking he was referring to their race and a huge conflict will arise and the guy will have a hard time defending what he meant by his usage of the phrase “You people”. It is a requirement of today’s society for one to be politically correct in  their words and actions. This has become a difficult task as the standards of political correctness have become more complex. Words which were

considered to be correct only a few years ago are now considered to be unacceptable. It was only eight years ago that Time magazine featured Ellen DeGeneres with the unforgettable line, “Yep, I’m Gay!” across the cover. Now the word gay relates strictly to men. Using it to describe a lesbian is considered improper. Since lesbians are their own distinct community, it is important to designate that, of course. Homosexual is another term that is

now politically incorrect. People feel it surrounds the idea of sex, rather than a relationship, and is thought of as a negative stereotype (Norvell). Retarded was once just a factual term to describe someone we recently would refer to as mentally handicapped. However, “mentally handicapped” and “the disabled” have recently been deemed distasteful and are now to be replaced with “learning disabilities” or “people with disabilities” (Norvell, 2). Why is it that the connotations of these words change so often? How is it that calling a woman gay is an insult when just a few years back a woman would proudly say she was gay?

The terminology in regards to race and ethnicity has always been a puzzling aspect in regards to being politically correct. Every February, America celebrates Black History Month, however it is considered politically incorrect to use the word black to describe someone? We now need to say, “African-American.” Most every school has a Black Student Union, but using the word black in school and you will quickly be corrected. If African-American is used, why wouldn’t a person of Chinese descent but born in America be referred to as Chinese-American? Or if someone’s parents were from England, could they not be an English-American? If one has “white” skin, regardless of what country their family was from, a person is simply “Caucasian” when filling out any type of paperwork. Is it politically correct to use the terms black, brown, and white or not? Apparently the answer depends on who is saying it, whom it is being said to, and of course, it depends on the situation.

I have determined it is nearly an impossible task to be completely politically correct. I imagine that with the rapid changes in acceptable terminology, before we know it schools will be required to hold classes on political correctness. People dislike social labels, but also want to be correctly labeled. People want to be distinct individuals and distinctly grouped with others. The boundaries of political correctness are hard to determine. It only takes one person’s perception of an action or statement for it to be perceived as offensive. I would hope that a person in this world could relax, have fun, don’t worry and be happy. But one can’t relax when having to be concerned with political correctness and its consequences every time they act, speak and with every word they write.

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