Dawn Muenchrath/the Gauntlet

Paying lip service to political correctness

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The notion of someone being apolitical is impossible since everything is political and everyone has a political agenda. The term “political correctness” is therefore subjective and defined by its user.

This is where I take issue with the term. Poltical correctness is misleading because all it implies is social pressure to behave a certain way. When pundits are accused of punditry, they deflate the accusations as “PC” whining. Political correctness is a form of thought suppression to the partisan zealot, a Matrix-esque structure of mind control. Those against it portray themselves as straight-shooters or as people who “call it like they see it” and other euphemisms for ineloquence, which we are all admittedly guilty of from time to time. 

But prominent figures perceived as “politically incorrect” are quick to choke out opinions contrary to their own, an example being Ann Coulter’s or Bill O’Reilly’s remarks that the Dixie Chicks were guilty of treason for speaking out against the invasion of Iraq. One might suspect then that there is no definable issue with the way political correctness informs our behaviour. They are simply smear words to discredit something that the accuser deems inauthentic, using the same sneaky language modification that the term itself decries. So, although PC is derided by the right as intellectually repressive, right-wing pundits use the same technique themselves, which is hypocritical.

Academics have described PC as an attack against ostensibly left-leaning ideologies. It is true that the PC label has adhered to progressivism, but the source of anger is reflected in the topics it wrestles, not its methodology. Keep in mind that PC only references socially-appropriate behaviour, however, without context the term is a pollutant. 

We ask ourselves if we take political correctness too far but the question is pointless. PC spans a gamut of issues from women’s rights to stem cell research to gun control. Examination of the specific issue is necessary to judge whether it has become overly mired in society’s expectations. By themselves, the words “politically correct” are useless. Every usage of the expression is situational. Having to feint honesty in formal conversation can be frustrating but, let’s face it, we are getting better at bullshitting anyway.