From the Left: PC Patrol
Published: Friday, September 28, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02
In this digital age, we, the news consuming public are bombarded with the opinions of the general public. We hear the pseudonymous and anonymous postings, tweets and general opining of the public. As a member of the media elite (sarcasm), should I not acknowledge them too?
An anonymous poster left a rather nasty response to my column. I’m not sensitive enough to make an entire column in rebuttal to one comment. However, one point they made is symptomatic of a larger issue that has long irked me.
I clearly irritated this individual. He or she bothered to take the time to think and to write. The commenter took my words very seriously, perhaps to the point of misinterpretation. I understand newspapers are typically something to be taken seriously. Perhaps I should be a little more serious; I’ll think about it.
The issue I referred to, the one to which I would like to respond, is political correctness. As a liberal, the commenter thought I should be very concerned with being PC and should not be calling anyone “crazy.”
I don’t like it when people act like PC freaks. Though to appease them, I will clarify that not all politically-correct folks are freaks (and that no one is a freak, because that’s offensive).
I do not believe this is a left or right issue. I have observed a perception by society that liberals tend to be more PC than conservatives. I disagree. I think that similar reactions among conservatives are simply labeled differently. The inclusion of God will often offend social liberals, while the absence of God will similarly offend some social conservatives. In the case of conservatives, it may be called moral outrage, but is PC to me.
Many social conservatives also support censorship of sex and language in television and other media. This is a subject worthy of debate in its own right, but is really quite similar to PC.
A lot of Republicans, Democrats, independents and the few fruitless folks in third parties are not PC at all. I am not PC, but I’ve had bad experiences with it. Professors have had me cut the slightly risqué soul out of my papers, because it could offend someone. I was told not to describe a child as “black” or even as “African-American” because I had not described every other person as “white.” I’ve been told I’m being “condescending,” by criticizing the eating habits of the overweight (I was once one) or by calling a small road race “little.”
Even my debut column, where I admittedly had not yet found proper vitriol levels, had to be edited. If it had not been edited it very likely would have offended more people than just the aforementioned poster. Maybe a world where we were that overly offensive would not be good. But a world where we can call things as they are more often wouldn’t be so bad, would it?
Euphemisms do become offensive over time, in something called the euphemism treadmill. The new R-word (retard) is a perfect example of this. I am not proposing a world where I can call that young boy the N-word in a college essay, but if a term like “black” isn’t even considered offensive by a significant number of people I should at least get to say that.
My advice, for what it’s worth, is to try not to be overly PC. Be offended by slurs, at least in certain situations, but not by general terms that the vast majority of people find acceptable. And don’t be afraid to post something really nasty about this article too.
Miles Brady is a junior English major. He is a running enthusiast, a sports fan and very liberal on most issues. He also likes to think that he is very rational.