Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Take on Words and Political Correctness

The PC police have come to my school, it seems. My school is a very diverse place and very accepting for the most part, but sometimes, they mindlessly ascribe to this way too much. The PC police came during a club meeting when we discussed the use of the words "faggot" and "retarded" in everyday speech. And, of course, logically, everyone wanted it banned. I didn't say anything because I would have been the only one there with a dissenting opinion and I have the feeling that they wouldn't have actually listened to what I had to say (or misconstrue my comments and I would have had a much harder time defending them on the spot). So I bit my tongue. 

I have more than a few objections with this concept and the assumptions attached to it. One, it gives these words unnecessary power. At the end of the day, they're just words. By censoring them you're just adding more fuel to the fire rather than addressing the underlying problem. When I heard them say "the r word', the "f word" and the "n word", I flinched. By saying these words are too awful to say, they're giving them so, so much power. I don't want to give bigots fuel. Concepts are much bigger issues and they're what we should actually tackle. I would much rather hear, "Stop being such a faggot and pass the ball" in my presence rather than, "You know, you have to be careful around homosexuals because, you know..." Maybe the former is far gruffer, but who is the true homophobe there?

Also, the problem with being offended with everything is that it takes away the legitimacy of things you should actually be offended by. When people get this upset over a few silly words, it takes legitimacy away from people who are actually being bullied. At this point, whenever someone tells me they're "offended", I just roll my eyes like, "Should I actually care?" Nine times out of ten, it's over something totally dumb. It's not my job to make you happy, sorry. If I've said something generally hurtful, I'll apologize but if you're being a baby because I cursed or made a sexual comment, grow up. And seriously, this policing of us the teachers talked about has a slippery slope. Quite frankly, if it's not bullying, it's really none of their business what we say. If you're a friend and you don't like what I say, there's something very simple you can do: Walk away. It's not my job to make sure everything I say fits into your moral code. 

I'm a white (technically half Hispanic but for all purposes, white) girl who has grown up in a middle class household. Not to mention, I've grown up hearing various bigoted opinions from various people without even realizing they were bigoted. Am I going to slip up once in a while and say something stupid? Probably. Is someone going to slip up around me? Yes, and people already have. Despite the degree of the transgression, I believe that anyone saying them without ill intent should be gently corrected. Kind of like, "What you said wasn't cool so just make sure not to say it again, okay? We're still cool, though." And anyway, if someone doesn't voice an ignorant thought and have it corrected, then they're going to keep that ignorant thought. And that's far more damaging. If the person does truly have abhorrent views, I actually want them to keep voicing it too, because they're like alarm bells warning, "Keep away! Asshole alert!" 

This PC bubble we've constructed is beyond stupid.  Instead of living in a society where we can freely express ourselves, we are walking on eggshells and self-censor at every turn. That's ridiculous. I mean, is that really preferable to someone getting their feelings hurt every once in a while? Obviously, there are bounds of reason here. Deliberately hurting people is not okay. If someone is malicious, some hostile treatment should be called for. But if we want to loosen up every once in a while and poke fun at a stereotype or try to make light of something through humor or whatever, why can't we? Is it a sin not to want to view every little issue through a super solemn lens?  Instead of making the community a "safer place for everyone", it's doing the opposite as everyone has to be super vigilant of what they say. Anyway, if people can't get used to a little inappropriate language in my super liberal school of all places, they'll really have a hard time with the rest of the world. 

And honestly, as I touched on earlier, it's not their place to force their morality on other people. It's your right to leave a conversation that pisses you off and voice your discomfort. But to insert yourself into a conversation and correct the people around you is beyond rude. People act so self-righteous and condescending when they do this, too. One (white) teacher even had the audacity to say that she corrects the black students at my school for saying the word "nigger" to each other. Um, what? Talk about something that truly isn't any of her business! As a white person, I at least know that that's an issue I have no right to be a part of and who am I to stop someone from reclaiming a word? This behavior is not helping people; it's only alienating them. At this point, she's even getting in the middle of something that she truly doesn't have an understanding of. And who made all these crazed politically correct people the morality police? It's a free country and people have the right to say what they want. If there's anything that gets under my skin, it's people that act like they have all the right answers and the right way to act. 

This isn't the first time I've heard something like this and it probably won't be the last. It's just so annoying

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