What is politically correct?

[http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?s=&threadid=163398](this thread) this thread has griped a lot about political correctness. But a lot of the same people who hate PC also hate things that are very PC to hate. Examples include the religious right and George Bush.
So what is politically correct? Is is just not offending folks? Or is it anything you don’t agree with?

this thread, sorry

Being PC is to not offend anyone, anytime whether you like it or not.


If you can’t tell the difference between censorship and good manners then this issue isn’t worth pursuing.

The problem is not censorship. The problem is people who claim a fundamental right, along the line of a right to bear arms (with or without a subordinate clause) not to have their enhanced and refined and self important sensibilities offended in any way. Looking to be offended is a tough way to live in a world as contentious as this one, especially with the number of people whose only recreation appears to be tromping on sore toes.

Further, it is about going out of your way, even to the point of patronization, to avoid offending others. Of course, it is completely unattainable, as chances are there is likely someone to be offended by whatever you may do or say. It also requires frequent updating of vocabulary, so that you can call a particular group, characteristic, or association by its nom de plume du jour.

I am offended by PC, therefore PC’ers should knock it off (it is only politically correct to do so).

And let’s straighten out a few things.

I am not a bit short…I am “midget-enhanced”

I am not a smoker…I am a “special breather”

I do not wear glasses…I am “vision assisted”

I don’t have wide feet…I “broad-pedal”

I am not negative…I am “antipodally Panglossian”

and God damnit! I am not handsome. I am “aesthetically pleasing”.

PC is whatever censorship you don’t like.

I’ve heard it (or maybe thought it) described as a semantic pursuit of the avoidance of judgement or the application of situational ethics. So, at its extreme, a thief is not one who steals others property, but is one who is proprietarily challenged, as the poor boy, oops, person, is, by an accident of upbringing, unable, in his, er, their, reference frame to understand that the stereo in that BMW (that nobody is using right now) they’d like to sell is, in fact, not theirs to sell*.

*An archaic viewpoint foisted on our culture by Dead White Men whose primary perpetual cultural hindrance to progressive utopia is the pervasive thought that it’s all about property.

The OP got it right the first time. It’s just something you don’t agree with. Actually, it’s a modern idea that you don’t agree with. Basically, I think Godwin’s law should be amended to inclued the term “politically correct”; I already disregard anyone who uses it anyway.

To expand on that a bit. While I can certainly easily see that the term “gimp” lends itself to being percieved as insulting, what a lot of people find intrusively offensive is the movement to make a long-standing and useful term such as “handicapped” somehow denigrating, and you must now use “disabled” or “Xxxx-challenged.”

It was an effort that originated with the left, and definitely gained purchase in the lingo. And it was an effort to gain the upper hand by, and it’s a well recognized debate strategy, defining the debate in terms most favorable to the definers’ cause that, if possible, make it as difficult as possible for the other side to articulate their viewpoint.

And it brought out a plethora of victims, and became kind of silly.

PC should be Plain Courtesy.

Oddly enough, it’s more “politically correct” to be anti-PC. The effort people expend on mocking PCness – such as the implausible lines recited by Morkfromork – would be better spent understanding the need to avoid judgmental, discourteous language.

Unfortunately, the fringe element has made it impossible to speak without fear of reciting some statement which someone may view as discourteous.

North America is increasingly a multi-racial, multi-linguistic, multi-religion continent. As such, there are an abundance of people who could be offended by some particular group’s celebrations. It has gone so far that the tree erected in downtown Toronto was dubbed a “holiday tree” so that those who are not Christian would not be offended by the public display of a religious icon. The Royal Canadian Mint had a jingle to the tune of “12 Days of Christmas”, but felt the need to change the words from “On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me” to “On the first day of giving…”

It’s all just absurd.

I’m honestly not trying to make a plug here for myself, but here’s an excerpt from something I wrote for a webzine awhile back:

"I’d thought for a while that it was a just fussy fad that would pass. Lately, I have begun to realize PC is nothing but a pretense of uniformity, a bit of self-congratulatory propaganda we use to make ourselves feel enlightened. And it is insidious.

At first, it was all about words. For example, “disabled” has become “differently-abled” because we do not want to give the impression that there is something wrong with being disabled. But isn’t everyone differently-abled? Way back when before we were enlightened, “disabled” simply meant that someone had lost a common ability – vision, hearing, walking, speech. Now, it is an insult. We use long, detailed descriptions of people, with built-in disclaimers to congratulate ourselves on our awareness and our sensitivity.

Political correctness isn’t just about the words we use anymore, though. Now it has come to mean embracing all viewpoints as equally correct. We ascribe to each opinion we hear the exact same degree of importance, lest we be accused of holding archaic viewpoints and being closed-minded. Anyone who expresses a non-traditional belief is lauded for his bravery; anyone who expresses a more customary notion on the subject is disdained for subscribing to outdated convention.

In striving to ensure that all people and all views are equally regarded as correct and proper, we have lost some of what makes us interesting. The French say vive le difference! but Americans say there is no difference. We seem to have convinced ourselves that in order for all people to be treated equally, they must all be exactly equal.

The sad part is, political correctness doesn’t make us less aware of the differences between us. It makes us more aware, more self-conscious, and more separate. We used to just be people. We The People, a collective of persons united in common goals. PC divides us into smaller and smaller ideologies as we refine our definitions of ourselves to a fine point. The nation that cherished and nurtured individuality has become merely a nation of individuals, each in his or her own little community of one. "

That’s MHO.

Personally I’d rather people say what they’re really thinking, without being overtly rude, without sugar-coating. I see nothing wrong with “disabled” or “handicapped.” I see a LOT wrong with “differently-abled” or “handicapable” or “person with (blah) who can incidentally do EVERYTHING that you can if just in a different way, and don’t you forget it!”

Good God. Yeah, it’s rude to call somebody a cripple or a midget (this one bothers a lot of people, really, I’m not just being PC) but I HATE the cutesy names.

I also hate the lengthy racial names that are currently popular. Pray tell, what is wrong with describing somebody as black? I’m far from actually being white myself. I’ve heard Africans being referred to as African-American. Hello…they’re not! Now, if I’m wrong on this, feel free to call me on it.

PC takes what should be simple politeness and takes it to extreme lengths to where it’s actually rude again, at least when dealing with disability. Bugs the hell out of me.

This is a really excellent summary. All people of every political stripe always practice PC. Just try to run as a pro-choice Republican candidate and see how far you’ll go. I’m not talking about losing elections, I mean just to be allowed to express your opinion in the usual places like conventions.

Ergo, “PC” is just a slur term for what the other people are doing. No one ever applies it to themselves, no matter how much they practice it.

people don’t like “political correctness” because it makes them uncomfortable with themselves.
Like being reminded time after time what a graceless social clod you are.

In theory, political correctness is a nice idea. Kind of like communism. And much like communism, people screw it up in practice.

At its best, politically correct language seeks to enhance the humanity of humans, rather than their attributes.
our problem is that we always want to take shortcuts.

for instance, if you had schizophrenia, would you enjoy being called “a schizophrenic?” (and yes, you would understand and appreciate the difference in the language) cause that’s only one aspect of who you are; you may also be a blonde, an accountant, a raquetball player…
none of those define primarily the person to whom the attributes belong, but the word “person” does.
So be excellent to each other
and party on dudes!

Wrong on two counts. I’ve always seen PC applied to what people say, not what they do. What they do is usually described as “wrong”. Also, I recently read something written by a liberal that used it positively. No cite, sorry.

No, people don’t like PC because at present it’s perceived to be arbitrarily manufactured and used as a weapon solely to make people feel uncomfortable. Like the latest fashions.

No, I wouldn’t like that. It wouldn’t be true. That would actually be multiple personality. :smiley:

As I said, censorship.

Source: http://www.ourcivilisation.com/pc.htm

I agree with the definition. I will even consider that hate crime laws are the ultimate political correctness because they exist to punish thought as well as action.

The term “political correctness” has been used by conservatives to beat up on liberals for so long that its ironic origins have been forgotten. Being “politically correct” was initially derisively used by some liberal activists to describe those who nitpicked over every minor thing for fear that something “reactionary” might find its way into their midst.

The best definition of the term comes from a late 1980’s New Republic article about The Village Voice. Basically, “political correctness” means that you not only closely scrutinize things for anything that is racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-environmental, or hurtful to a disadvantaged group, you turn them upside down and shake them up to see if something potentially offensive falls out.

Of course, conservatives have their version of PC too. It’s called “patriotic correctness” (to borrow a term from Robert Hughes in his still relevant book The Culture of Complaint). Like “political correctness,” it involves the same anal retentive attention to detail except now it concerns scrutinizing things for anything that might be anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-family, anti-George W. Bush, anti-Republican, or anti-free enterprise. Typically, you can find these attitudes on just about any radio talk show (e.g., Rush, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, etc.) or in the commentary of Ann Coulter or Marvin Olansky (among others).

IIRC the begining of the PC idea was to change some terms that were mostly sexist. Like chaging ‘chairman’ to ‘chairperson’. The idea was that people would hear like chairman and the assumption was that only men could be the leader of somehting like that. Sometimes when there was a woman who held the position of chairman she might be addressed as ‘Madam Chairman’ (what does she run a brothel?) or ‘Chairperson’. But why call her chairperson and not a man chairperson?

This happend mainly in universities at liberal colleges in the NE. Who knows maybe some woman became the chairman of a department and some people realized that it was weird to call her a chairperson and a male chairman and tried to come up with a term that would fit everybody.

Then the idea spread over other terms. I really don’t think there was ever any sort of organized movement. No group of people sat down in a thinktank and got out a dictonary and started rewrighting it. But the idea that a commonly used term may be replaced with another one, that a commonly used term may be offensive or sexist, those concepts got people to thinking. And yes some people came up with some lame name changes, but many of those were really only a collection of jokes.

Then I personally believe that conservatives basically used the idea of ‘Politcal Correctness’ as a ‘straw man’. If someone wanted to try something in a new way it could be labled ‘PC’ and ridiculed. That is the only thing they would have to do to discredit something is to lable it as ‘PC Nonsense’ and that saves people the trouble of actually thinking about new ideas.