Definitions and Overall Ideas
Before the 80s, PC was used ironically as a critique of self-righteousness within the left. The 80s/90s PC movement sought to restrict hate speech aimed at marginalized groups, and widen canon by including more diverse perspectives. However, the current movement is largely about emotional well-being and vindictive protectiveness.
Can the offensiveness of an idea be determined objectively, or only by recourse to the identity of the person taking offense? In 2013, the DoJ and DoE broadened verbal sexual harassment from needing to pass the ‘reasonable person’ test, to being unwelcome. Universities are over-generalizing that to race, religion, and veteran status.
The opposite of political correctness is not unvarnished truth-telling. It is political expression that is careless toward the beliefs and attitudes different than one’s own. Being PC is strategic, e.g. bin Laden noting difficulty recruiting because of the Obama administration not stoking anti-Muslim sentiment.
PC in American Politics
Many leftists think that conservatives demonize political correctness because they resent having to suppress their own prejudices. However, most anti-PC attitudes come from an entrenched suspicion towards carefully calibrated language. To say that someone is being PC discredits them twice: they are wrong, and more damningly, they know it.
For Political Correctness
Popular anti-PC works, e.g. Bloom’s “The Closing of the American Mind” (1987), Kimball’s “Tenured Radicals” (1990), D’Souza’s “Illiberal Education” (1998), misleadingly claim to be apolitical, despite being funded by right-wing elites.
Mixed-sex groups that had been exposed to the PC norm generated more and novel ideas about the use of an empty restaurant space on campus. The exposure reduced the uncertainty that cause men and women to over-correct in ways that inhibit creative idea expression.
Against Political Correctness
A central tenet of the p.c. movement is that people should be expected to treat even faintly unpleasant ideas/behaviors as full-scale offenses. This will predispose them to countless drawn-out conflicts in college and beyond. Furthermore, sometimes the outrage will be targeted toward well-meaning speakers trying to engage in genuine discussion.
Trigger warnings don’t help overcome trauma. Controlled exposure does. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) could be taught to students. CBT aims to minimize seeing the world more accurately as opposed to a version distorted by our hopes, fears and other attachments.
Political correctness is used to define opposing views/speakers as bigoted/illegitimate, which makes debate irrelevant. People accused of bias are not supposed to question the call-out. Equal political rights for both the oppressor and the oppressed is deemed naïve because that maintains society’s unequal power relations.
Not a Very P.C. Thing to Say. Jonathan Chait. nymag.com . Jan 27, 2015. Accessed Sep 3, 2021.
Political Correctness Is An Absolute Must. Mark Hannah. time.com . Jul 19, 2019. Accessed Sep 6, 2021.
Political Correctness: How the Right Invented a Phantom Enemy. Moira Weigel. www.theguardian.com . Nov 30, 2016. Accessed Sep 6, 2021.
The Coddling of the American Mind. Greg Lukianoff; Jonathan Haidt. www.theatlantic.com . Sep 1, 2015. Accessed Sep 6, 2021.