Political Correctness is Debilitating and Limits Free Speech
George Washington once said “If the freedom of speech is taken away then the dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to slaughter!” George Washington seemed to recognize just how important free speech was to have a democracy that was successful. He also seemed to know how important it was for the overall well-being of the people.
No Defined Limitations on Free Speech
Even though modern society hasn’t defined any limitations on our freedom of speech, there is what could be seen as an insidious undertow that is threatening to destroy our sacred principle of free speech and that would be known as “political correctness”.
Unfortunately, political correctness is shaping or mis-shaping our privilege of free speech, and it’s important that we understand some major aspects of this concept. One of the most basic premises of the “PC culture” is that so called intellectuals and pundits tend to be able to influence how some people think and even act. They also can influence what they believe is “socially acceptable” speech. They will often do this by imposing their own political views on any topic they want and then they create pressure for people to conform to their standards or face ridicule and shame.
The standards that these people choose to force on others are the type of standards that begin to put limits on our freedom of speech and our ability to express ourselves freely. This is not only bad for society as a whole but it is not good for the mental well-being of those being subjected to standards that try to shut them down as individuals. It can be easy to force political correctness on people because most people usually don’t want to be known as someone who is an objector of what is said to be the popular opinion, this then forces them to look at their own ideas as being the wrong ideology. Being forced to believe how you believe is wrong can have a detrimental effect on a person’s own self-esteem.
Definition of Political Correctness
The actual definition of political correctness is: “conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities as in matters of sex or race, should be eliminated.” Truth be known though, this term really has nothing to do with politics at all.
In reality, political correctness is all about encouraging groupthink and pursuing conformity. This groupthink and conformity is done through social intimidation and this means that the diverse body of expression and ideas will no longer flourish because of the decline of free speech. It’s important to note that the growing multi-culturalism in society just further contributes to the problems that political correctness is causing.
Those in Favor of Political Correctness
The people who push political correctness are those who do nothing but obsess over their own beliefs that language should never be injurious to anyone, any race, gender, religion, ethnicity, or social group. Their whole purpose is to try and eliminate what they believe to be anything offensive via words and/or actions and then replace them with what they feel are harmless substitutions. When they do this, the cost is the loss of free expression.
A simple example of political correctness at it’s worse is when a school in California sent five of their students home when they refused to take off their American flag shirts on Cinco de Mayo. They felt that the students’ shirts were offensive. What they did was make these students feel as if showing pride in their own country was something to be shamed for, when in reality the shirts did no one harm. But it did harm the students by being shamed and shunned because they simply wanted to express their love for their country. The behavior of the school was not only shutting down free speech but they were also putting limits on social exchanges by telling these students that certain kinds of views were out of place and not allowed. The school participated in a direct suppression of freedom of speech.
Political Correctness Used to Discredit People
Too often political correctness is used as a tool to discredit people who have different ideologies than they do and then they label them as “violators” of their code of conduct. When people are labeled and shut down from expressing their beliefs and concerns the entire conversation is shut down and it limits people from having intelligent and meaningful conversations with people. They waste most of their time trying to figure out what words to say so that they may not offend anyone and this simply shuts down the human need for conversation and we become isolated and less willing to be social.
When a group of people decides it’s their duty to declare some thoughts and words are “correct” and others aren’t is simply creating a noose that is ever-tightening around our freedom of speech and expression. It limits our ability to feel comfortable around others and it kills creativity. It’s more important to realize that no matter how uncomfortable something might be, words or point of view, it’s more important to realize that it’s really a very small price to have to pay in order to maintain any democratic system that tries to promote free speech as the basic pillar for a healthy society.
Inflammatory Language Not Promoted
This is not a promotion of inflammatory speech, instead, this is noting how important the channels of communication are. As a society, if we want to be healthy we need to not be burdened with the limitations that the political correctness culture is trying to impose on us.
In the end, limiting free speech mean more unhappiness, less expression, less creativity, more depression, and more anxiety. It’s unhealthy for individuals as well as society as a whole.