Perspectives: Political Correctness
To be honest, political correctness is a bit out of control and it’s a threat to the liberal values of our democratic society. When universities — once the centers of free speech and intellectual debate — become the centers of a growing “right to not be offended” movement, then there’s a major problem that needs addressing. Threatening and intimidating speech is justifiably limited by the courts, but when we want to suppress speech that offends or discomforts us, then that’s not liberalism, it’s illiberalism.
I am disturbed that young progressives on campuses around the country, including UCI, are more willing to suppress free speech than protect it.
“Safe spaces” are no better than “free speech” or “First Amendment zones” created by university officials to limit student activism. Whenever someone calls themselves a liberal, but is willing to suppress the free speech of any individual — that includes racists, sexists, homophobes and bigots of all varieties — let’s be perfectly clear, they are not liberals. Promoting “social justice” isn’t accomplished by silencing our opponents, but with dialogue. Anything else is the stuff of which dictatorships are made.
I’m not saying that my “social justice” progressive peers are authoritarians, but they are illiberal when it concerns free speech. Free speech is a fundamental right of our republic; its suppression is a violation of the worst degree. I don’t ignore the inequities currently found in America, but let’s not claim to defend the voiceless, when we do so by silencing others.
Nathan J. Lainez is a third-year history major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Political correctness has gone too far. It has manifested itself today as the avoidance of topics that could elicit outcry from others in society. This is an infringement on the freedom of expression.
Today, we are so afraid to be labelled as a “racist” or a “sexist” that we tiptoe carefully around issues like diversity, religion and sexual orientation. If anything, these topics are considered taboo and are avoided in conversation.
By continuing to self-censor topics that have the potential to be offensive, it is impossible to overcome the barriers political correctness is meant to overcome. Political correctness hinders our progress in getting to know one another and to understand each other’s different perspectives, viewpoints, feelings and life experiences.
If we are unable to speak freely about our thoughts, we will always remain skeptical about those who are different from us. Censorship only leads to more ignorance by restricting an individual’s ability to be educated and well-versed in today’s social and political climates.
Political correctness was meant to foster sensitivity to other’s feelings around social issues. However, it has nothing but a stranglehold on society, silencing voices and ultimately backfiring on its original goal.
Apurva Jakhanwal is a first-year computer science major. She can be reached at email@example.com.
“Political correctness is defined as avoiding language or behavior that any particular group of people might feel is unkind or offensive — in other words, don’t be a dick,” claimed Mark Andersen in a Daily Kos article.
So, quite unsurprisingly, Donald Trump, master of dickheads, is against political correctness.
Therefore, I am for political correctness, although my argument holds a deeper reasoning.
The typical reasoning against political correctness is that it is an inhuman feat. There isn’t a reason to suspend our First Amendment rights to pretend to be nice to others.
What these individuals fail to understand is that political correctness is much more than that. A woman has yet to sit in the Oval Office, receive paid maternity leave, or even equal pay. Minority populations are still overwhelmingly prejudiced against by the police, by the Oscars, and by presidential nominees. Our society is clearly unequal, so it’s illogical to abolish political correctness — a tool meant to promote equality.
Being politically correct takes away the societal conditions of skewed labelings and empowered classes. If we continue to, at the very least, attempt to create a sense of equality in our society, then we force those who remain prejudiced to see the invalidity of their thinking.
We must continue the advancements of equality — a natural human right. As the world around us points its bigoted fingers at others, let’s be bigger than that and not participate in mislabeling. Rather, let’s give the marginalized an equal shot at being equally human.
Annie Nguyen is a first-year political science major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In my history studies, I have often run into this problem: should I say “black” or “African American”? To me, boiling down racial differences to colors seems offensive, so I normally opt for “African American.” However, there are some people who dislike this term. They do not like attaching one word or the other, preferring just “African” or just “American.” There have even been discrepancies about whether or not to include a dash between the two words (or one word?).
My point is that being “politically correct” is difficult. Someone is going to get offended. In taking a view on what we believe is “correct,” we automatically create a side that is “incorrect.” And the most irritating part? You can’t get everyone to have the same ideas on right and wrong.
Personally, I try not to mind too much when people use terms that I consider politically incorrect. If they use terms that I find blatantly derogatory (which, again, is my opinion on the matter), then I tell them. However, unless they used it with the intention of making a race, sex, or creed look bad, they were not in the wrong. They did not know my views, and all I have to do to fix the problem is tell them.
Demanding political correctness is asking people to agree on right and wrong, which we all know is impossible. Just be aware of other people’s temperaments and sensitivities, and realize that their ideas of “politically correct” may be different from yours.
Michelle Bui is first-year biological science major. She can be reached at email@example.com.
The concept of political correctness has become a heated topic of debate throughout several areas of society. The need to carefully monitor word choice before speaking has been a critical component of common etiquette for years. However, the consistent backlash received for minor misunderstandings of meanings has reached new levels of absurdity.
I acknowledge students’ desire to preserve the emotional well-being of their peers and of minority groups. Nevertheless, the term “politically correct” has lost its meaning, because anything a speaker states can be easily turned against them. The once-noble pursuit for equal justice for all groups has become a laughingstock in several media outlets and satires.
The significance of this newly-emerged PC culture is found by placing the turmoil within an academic setting. Several attempts to introduce differing viewpoints on campuses have been reprimanded for possibly offending certain groups or values. By limiting students’ exposure to ideas and confrontations, they remain confined to political biases rather than shaping their own stands on present issues.
Nowadays, opinions are based on limited information and are governed by current trends within their communities. Individuality, thus, becomes obsolete, and we, ourselves, become incapable of determining right or wrong without the majority’s guidance.
Lilith Matirosyan is a first-year business administration major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.