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The Problem with Political Correctness

Over the last several years, a particular phrase has lost nearly all of its literal meaning and has taken on a new definition: “political correctness.” As of now, it bears the special status of being America’s antidote for uncomfortable conversations that are too poisonous to survive. Today’s people pleaser is: “offended.” 

Due to many social and political movements, our nation has grown increasingly tolerant and understanding to every individual’s differences. Some of these differences include, but are not limited to: lifestyle choices, economic standings, religious practices, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identification, etc. America has made immense progress in the right direction towards establishing a less hateful, judgmental environment; however, it has reached the point where political correctness is now normalizing oversensitivity and infringing upon citizens’ rights to speak freely due to fear that it may offend somebody.  

Whoever claimed that “sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you” was obviously naive. Words can have a heartbreaking impact on the victim they are hurled at. Whether it pertains to someone’s race or gender or even their physical qualities such as their weight or height, name-calling and labeling can be very ridiculing and humiliating. Comments about an individual’s age, their physical disabilities, the country they originate from, or their social class can hurt just as deeply. It is obvious that nobody wants to be on the receiving end of malicious and hateful name-calling. 

What people fail to realize, is that there is another category of name-calling that is just as unacceptable and destructive. In today’s society, labels such as “racist,” “sexist,” “homophobe,” “Islamophobe,” “anti-Semite,” “misogynist,” and “bigot” are being thrown around at the drop of a hat, without true understanding of the damage they may inflict. The mere accusations, regardless of their validity, have enough power to defile reputations, kill careers, destroy families, and so much worse. Do we truly understand the seriousness of these labels? Or, are we purely partaking in this lethal labeling based on political correctness? 

My point is that political correctness has way overstepped its bounds. While the original purpose of this movement may have had a wholesome motive, the effect of political correctness has caused individuals to avoid hot-button topics altogether, which in turn created a massive divide between all people. Instead of fixing the problem it was intended to, it created an even larger one. People are scared of offending another individual, which prevents people from being truly comfortable in their own living and working environments. 

Image Source: Unsplash 

So, who do we blame? Is the Right at fault for refusing to change or is the Left guilty of being oversensitive? To be honest, it is so irrelevant whether the radical political correctness police come from the Right or the Left because the result is identical. Everyone is so mortified of being labeled a “sexist” or a “racist” that they are forced to tiptoe sparingly around issues of diversity. How are we ever going to be able to comfortably live and work amongst one another if there is an entire herd of elephants standing in the room between us? 

If today’s society is conditioning us to no longer discuss our feelings, fears, ambitions, and apprehensions, how will we build trust between those that are different from us? Not to mention, the future generations to come will be forced to live within the same resolute confines. Ignorance about races, cultures, and opposite sexes will never be conquered if we do not discuss the differences that puzzle us or leave us curious. Every single citizen needs to come together as a community, as we all have the power within us to make a change.  

To any and all people who serve as today’s political correctness police, please stop. I understand that you mean well, but the gap between intent and impact is perpetually growing. The self-righteous indignation, finger-wagging, and name-calling is only worsening the issue at hand and further establishing the dooming barriers we are trying to overcome. Efforts to protect everyone’s feelings have resulted in a gag-order of American society, which has prohibited our progress in understanding others’ different political stances, life experiences, and feelings. 

Becoming a more tolerant and inclusive society is important, but this limitation of free speech is undeniably detrimental to society. It is impossible to live in little bubbles where everyone shares the same opinions and ideas. Despite all of the hate and judgment going on around me, I still love this country and I am proud to be an American. I beg you all to see reason and reshape this country into one we can all be proud of, one that is understanding of diversity without instilling fear or silencing the voices of Americans.  

The very fact that I almost felt the need to omit my name from this article and publish it anonymously, is indicative of the severity of this issue. 

Image Source: Unsplash

Angela is a third year UC Davis student majoring in psychology and minoring in music. Her love for children and passion for music have driven her to work as a piano instructor for the last several years and seek a career centered around youth.
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