When Jennifer Anniston, almost accidentally used the forbidden “R” word (which is much too racy to disclose here) during her interview with Regis and Kathy, the backlash about her insensitivity carried on for weeks. It wasn’t as if she used a curse word or dropped the “F” bomb, or even obliterated appropriate English grammar the way a 5 minute clip of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo does. She used one word, to punctuate what she had hoped to be a humorous comment. And the world went nuts.
Today, being politically correct has become a way of life. Every social group, has become hyper sensitive and completely devoid of thick skin to protect them from the words and comments of total strangers. It seems that many people, both individuals and groups – are actually on the hunt for acts of political ‘incorrectedness,’ so they can wade in the puddles of self-pity that will have them perceived as an under-privileged, bullied and even a misunderstood social group that is not accepted by mainstream society.
Today, people have learned to become so careful when talking in public, in groups or even amongst friends – worried that something they might say will be contorted and twisted to be an offensive remark with full on intentions of producing harm. Moreover, this has caused so many of us as individuals – as corporations – as politicians – as professionals to become dishonest in our communication with others. Essentially, it has become considered unethical to share our most basic of human thoughts without the fear of backlash from our comments.
Living in a political correct world is mostly a problem with perception. People now associate some of our most common conversations or thoughts with an indication that they mean we harbor a deep contention for an entire group of individuals or people. For instance, if in a simple statement someone said, “There were a lot of black people at the concert,” it immediately becomes a silent notion that the person who said it is a racist – when that is not necessarily the truth.
Our society has become evidently inundated with people who tend to think the worst. We have lost our sense of humor. We take the things we hear on television, from our friends, from our bosses and internalize them to take on meanings based on our own personal perceptions. Sadly, living in a politically correct world, makes it impossible to share our views and thoughts without our words being twisted.
When Mitt Romney, the 2012 presidential candidate made a comment behind closed doors about the 47% of the United States population who are living off of government assistance – his comment was turned around to be seen as an attack on the poor. People accused him of ‘hating’ the poor and took the comment to be an offensive remark made towards a large group of people. The reality was, he was speaking the truth – in what he thought was a private conversation about an economic issue facing the United States. His words were truths – not whispered under the breath of malice or hurt – but rather an expression to share information.
The question of living in a politically correct world comes down to this. Just as each of us have the First Amendment right that entitles us to freedom of speech – an imaginary line of ethical and moral communication is being elicited which quickly severs our freedom to have our beliefs and speak them in public.
When Dan Cathy, president of Chic-Fi-Le maintained his firmly rooted Christian beliefs during an interview for a religious publication and confirmed that that he thought marriage was a union between a man and a woman, he learned the new lesson of political correctness. His comment, one that was made in regard to a discussion about Christianity – neither condemned nor criticized gay or lesbian couples. And despite the fact that his words were accurate with his personal beliefs, and were justified within the context of the conversation – he was suddenly attacked for being politically incorrect. Considering that he has never discriminated in hiring or in serving gays or lesbians – the incident just goes to shows how our freedom of speech has been muddied by the conformity to live in politically correct world.
Certainly, respect should be used. Most definitely, people should be sensitive to the issues of others and do their best to not harm others or hurt the feelings of other social groups or people. Yet at the same time, we have to realize that the belief of one person – the comments of one person – mean nothing unless we decide to internalize them. Just as we have the choice to listen to the views and opinions of other, to watch television shows, to listen to music – we also have the amazing option to not do so. Especially, if we find what they are saying as offensive or as a personal attack.
It is difficult to balance being political correct and being honest. People need to feel free to speak their minds – both in public and otherwise in a respectful way without being concerned that they will suffer consequences from their words. In addition, people need to remember that we won’t always agree with one another, and that this is a large world filled with a million different viewpoints and we have a choice to pay attention to the ones that resonate with us, rather than feel angered or miffed with the ones that don’t.