What is political correctness any more?

When most people think of things being ‘PC’ they think of companies being forced to hire ethnic minorities or not being allowed to do certain things because it will offend women/racial groups/religous groups - a big story in the UK last year was a council supposedly took down their Christmas decoration because it offended people (it was over health and safety in reality).

In America I’ve heard of similar things cf. Happy holidays vs Merry Christmas.

But when I look at what politicians and the media are all really talking about political correctness has changed dramatically - now every speech has to contain something about ‘British Values’ (although we’re not quite sure what they are) and every policy has to benefit ‘Hard working families’.

I’d argue that in the US similar things are occurring - its not PC if you don’t wear a flag pin, or if you don’t say God Bless America at the end of every speech.

Politically correctness seems to mean doing stupid or meaningless stuff just because it would backfire politically if you didn’t.

Anyone agree with me? Or wants to say what they think the current political orthodoxy in their areas are?

I don’t think it means anything, if it ever did. Basically it’s used as shorthand for things like “not catering to my majority group” (acknowledging winter holidays other than Christmas, for example) or “not stating the truth as I see it” (refusing to describe all Muslims as terrorists, for example). The term tends to get thrown around in the context of speech more than things like hiring, in my experience. But really, the only time I hear anybody say something is un-PC is when some blowhard is beginning an oration with a remark like “Now, this may not be politically correct…”

What is meant there is ‘I hereby give myself license to be a jerk and assume everyone I am speaking to agrees with me, even though they would not admit it.’

The interesting thing about political correctness is that, whatever it the concept was supposed to be, it seems like nobody actually understood it. Thus, you get many people making complaints like the ones I mentioned above, and you get others who hesitate to ever make any mention of things like race because doing so is perceived as being insensitive.

Not to pick on you, Sri Theo, but the word you want in the thread title is “nowadays.” “Any more” doesn’t make sense there.

I always viewed being “PC” as a reverse of that. Where the listeners over-react to some perceived slight when the speaker intended none. For instance referring to a prostitute as a “prostitute” rather than a “disadvantaged female forced into sex slavery by the overwhelmingly misogynistic male power culture”.

I think that’s how people imagine it, picturing someone (usually “the left”) waiting to jump down their throats for using a term arbitrarily defined as un-PC. But I think it’s rare that that actually happens.

Must be your regional dialect. I am quite familiar with “any more” being used to indicate “currently.” :stuck_out_tongue:

[ /hijack ]

Heh, back in the day, there was this thing called, ‘etiquette’. That was thrown out the window for the crass and disgusting gotcha, me…me…me… ideology of political correctness, where it’s everyone else’s responsibility not to offend you for whatever esoteric pique you might have.

Or not being able to use the term, “Retarded”, because people began using it as an epithet, nevermind that the reason it’s offensive is because you are comparing non-retarded people to retarded people. Retarded was an acceptable term with a stable meaning for a long time. It was descriptive of their inability to progress intellectually at the same speed as the average person. So we act like it’s the term that’s offensive, when in reality what’s offensive is comparing people to those who have a genetic mental incapacity.

I’m not a rapist, I’m an organ donor!


Dopers who work with the mentally disabled, or have mentally disabled relatives, have posted many times that there is no stigma attached to the word retarded. Calling somebody a retard as an insult is different.

Meanwhile the English language is slowly being whittled away as more and more of these terms are deemed ‘unfit for common use’ only to be replaced with more and more tortured attempts at ‘acceptable’ descriptions. Why the hell should ‘special’ be an insult? (And for that matter, what’s the term of the day? I can’t keep track anymore)

Oh but it does happen. It has happened to me.

I innocently referred to someone as “oriental” once and was scolded for using that term. Another time I referred to someone as “Asian” (assuming that was better and correct) and was even scolded for that (scolded inappropriately I believe as no one seems to object to “European” for instance). I wrote the office newsletter for a women’s health service company and used to include pithy little quotes that had nothing to do with anything…just clever. After the third newsletter I included some quotes from women and got numerous replies it was about time I included quotes from a woman. Writing the newsletter I had to default to “he/she” or just “she” when using a generic pronoun…HAD to. I currently do not even know if referring to someone as “black” is ok or if I must default to African-American or African (assuming I know). I certainly will say “white” people instead of caucasian…but black, yellow, red, etc. apparently are derogatory.

And so it goes. I’ve got more but certainly I have encountered it.

Yeah, I’d be stupid to say this kind of thing never happens. The misunderstandings I’m talking about happen both ways, with speakers think they’ll be considered offensive for saying innocuous things, and with listeners interpreting offense where none is intended.

That one’s been considered outdated for some time, so I don’t find that too surprising.

That’s considerably weirder. Do you remember the situation?

That’s stupid, but considering the audience was women I guess it does make some business sense.

I do not recall the situation except to say I am sure it was an innocuous (if relevant) reference. I think the person was being overly weird about it and it is the only time that one presented itself to me. I recall the person saying I would not refer to a Mexican as American because they are on the North American continent and that Asians are a very varied group…it was wrong to lump them together like that. I replied about referring to “Europeans” as acceptable and they retorted to the effect that the same reasoning applies. Nevermind that it is nearly impossible to discern at a glance if someone is German or French or Korean or Japanese (at least to someone not used to living in those areas) and the shorthand is not meant as offense.

It was Planned Parenthood and the female employees, while really a wonderful bunch (really), were considerably more of the militant feminist bent than most. Indeed using “she” as a generic pronoun was just sensible in that environment but my boss had to point it out to me as I just defaulted to the male pronoun (I was 22 at the time so not so savvy in the business realm yet).

It’s a dialectical usage, fairly common in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

All I’m saying is, there’ll be trouble if it tries to come east. :wink:

It’s definitely still un-PC in the USA to say certain things which might offend various racial/ethnic/religious groups.

The term “politically incorrect” precedes “politically correct,” and rightfully so. It’s about what you can’t say. The entire concept has been highjacked, though. People think it’s just about not saying racist, sexist, and hurtful things. Those are not really “politically incorrect” so much as “socially incorrect.” Political incorrectness originally referred to comments about politics – generally something true, but so hurtfully true people would rather freak out than refute it.

A timely example would be the way people (even his opponents) call McCain a hero for being a POW. If someone were to say, casually, “Well, he’d just finished carpet bombing Hanoi when he was caught, and may of killed civilians when he did so, so the anger of the Viet Cong when they captured him is somewhat fathomable. Moreover, their justification for torturing him is exactly the same as ours for tortuing people – they wanted information that may have saved Vietnamese lives from well-armed and merciless invaders” the uproar and outrage would be tremendous. It’s true, and all, but along the lines of real political incorrectness. That’s the way I see it, anyway – hard looks at our own politics, truthful comments, and responses of complete outrage and horror but no attempt to refute the comments, since any attempt to do so would either be futile or compel people to look harder and longer at the ugly truth in the first place.

I have only heard the term used in a mocking way.

Basically if you want to “take a piss” on some minority group (racial/religious/sexual/etc…) you must first preemptively call out possibly detractors by cursing political correctness.

Meh, it seems to works for me.

Damn PC police and their anti-dwarf throwing ideas… Now about those dwarfs…

In other words, you can’t say boorish, insensitive things without consequences. It’s not political, though. It’s just that most people are well-mannered.

The whole term PC has been highjacked by boors to make themselves into the victims.

Last I heard it was “mental little people.”