The social tool of “political correctness”

Photo courtesy briantools

Madeline Miller

In an increasingly divided world, words and terminologies have never been more important. Time moves quickly and language evolves in ways people sometimes struggle to keep up with. Some believe that being “politically correct” is just a fancy term for allowing a bunch of whiny babies to control their thoughts and actions, but it just means treating people with the basic human respect that they deserve. Conservative viewpoints, in particular, have begun to push back against what are seen as modern sensitivities.

They have claimed that being politically correct and avoiding offense is ruining America.

It is not. What is ruining America is the complete and utter lack of regard for the sanctity of other people that these anti-politically correct people have.

Being offended at words that have been sharpened by decades of oppression and dig out the self-esteem so carefully built up by potential victims is not a crime. It is how the world works. It is how children learn empathy and kindness. Being offended is fine. Some things are offensive and those things deserve a proper reaction. It is hypocritical to be so outrageously angry that someone is offended by words they clearly did not mean to be kind. The death of free speech does not come from someone asking people to respect their gender pronouns or not use a slur.

People think that treating someone well—being kind, respectful and polite—will take some massive amount of energy out of them that they could spend doing something better. However, it will not. This is because being kind to someone or correcting a hurtful word takes little to no energy and, in return, sends a positive emotion into the world.

Essentially, being kind is like being first in line and paying for the person who is second. If the next person pays for the person after that who pays for the person after them, there is a significantly greater chance that person will do the same. In other words: the world reflects exactly what each and every one of us puts into it. Do we really want that to be hate and vitriol?

If someone seeks respect and kindness, they must show respect and kindness to the world. It is a confusing, scary place that we all share. “Political correctness” is just a social tool to keep it inhabitable. It is not a disease meant to oppress anyone. Being “politically incorrect and proud” is just being proud to be a jerk. No one wants that, and no one wants to be around that. The novelty wears off very quickly. They can dress it up all they want, but they are proud of being hateful. In the words of the late true crime writer Michelle McNamara, “It’s chaos; be kind.” The world is so horrifying already that it does not need people to make it worse with hurtful and violent words.