The Orion

Political correctness kills conversation

Photo credit: Jordan Rodrigues

Photo credit: Jordan Rodrigues

Jeff Guzman

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Over the past couple years there has been a surge in a new culture. This culture, known as the politically correct culture, has been given a strong voice in the public eye recently, especially on college campuses.

While most people would like to believe that this is good, that this sparks a conversation about bigotry and racism that normally wouldn’t be discussed, the truth is that it does a much better job at crippling conversation and silencing any open discussion.

Let me first explain as best I can what political correctness is. Political correctness could be defined as avoiding using derogatory terms or hate speech in a conversation. When Donald Trump says during his presidential announcement speech, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best… They’re bringing drugs. They’re rapists,” people would say that Trump is insulting all Mexicans and that his statement is politically incorrect.

So what’s my issue? What could I possibly have against an ideal that tries to be inclusive and not offend anybody?

Well firstly, there is no such thing as the right to not be offended. Secondly, while political correctness started as a way of stopping hate speech, it has evolved into something that doesn’t tolerate any sort of recognition of a given group.

Now if you say, “Mexicans make up most of the immigrants in the United States,” you will be profiled as a racist, insensitive person with no understanding of what it’s like to be Mexican and that your statement is profiling an entire group of people. No insult needed, just mention a marginalized group and you’re as bad as Trump.

On YouTube you can find a video from last fall of a Yale student screaming at one of their professors because the professor didn’t support censoring Halloween costumes. The professor confessed that he believed people should be allowed to wear what they desired without any backlash.

The same issue occurs here at Chico State. Posters are put up to remind us that some Halloween costumes are offensive to people. Can you see what’s wrong with this? Can you see that maybe the problem isn’t that the professor is insensitive, but that other people are overly sensitive?

Even if being politically incorrect is used as a joke, is it so cruel as to lose all humorous value? A couple weeks ago the comedian Bill Maher cracked a joke on his show about “white movies that should be black movies,” and made a spoof movie poster titled “The Helped” instead of 2011’s “The Help.” Audience members began hissing.

Last fall at the University of Missouri two administrators were forced to resign because people believed they failed to adequately deal with hate speech on campus. Local police also told students to call and report any incidents of hateful speech. Really? Authorities are expected to get involved with something as minor as saying something mildly offensive? Doesn’t this seem borderline fascist?

This is the tipping point. When there are words that trigger emotions for overly sensitive people and they begin to silence or dismiss whatever someone says because of these trigger words, we have reached a point of avoiding conversation. If I told you that most black murders happen from other black people, you can bet that a good amount of people would take this as a racist statement.

However it is not meant to be racist at all. I have absolutely nothing against blacks. This statement is simply a brute fact of reality, and instead of addressing the issue and conversing about it, the topic would get pushed under the rug from fear of some imagined implication.

So instead of creating discussion, political correctness has in fact blocked conversation. Instead of focusing on a big problem, we have distracted ourselves with a minor problem. For the sake of what? Protecting ourselves from words?

It is true, however, that the terms we use when talking about these issues could be better. We should strive to be inclusive and not offend anyone. Clearly there is nothing to gain from insulting a group of people. But with all the problems surrounding our culture does it really make sense to focus on the wording used when talking about the problems?

We shouldn’t avoid discussion or dull it down for fear of hurting someone’s feelings. We should encourage open discussion and embrace opinion. The solution to dealing with political incorrectness is simple: get over it. Toughen up and deal with it.

Jeff Guzman can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.

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Political correctness kills conversation