The act of avoiding of particular words or phrases that are offensive or potentially offensive to certain groups (usually due to particularly unjust or violent historical events). Language which uses stereotypes and broad generalizations is often not true, but remains convenient for everyday talk, useful for propaganda, discriminatory reasons and other political purposes. Political correctness can also be seen as attempting to be more literally accurate, avoiding the tendacy to limit or exclude certain attibutes. Politically correct language is not inflammatory and does not try to humiliate.
The root of “political correctness” is that politicians, in the United States, are generally not allowed, due to predominant public opinion, to express derogatory views with regard to race, nationality, sexual orientation, or gender. With the rise of special interest groups who can quickly gain attention, all polititians must often avoid offending anyone while championing their cause. “Politically correct” is also used as a derogatory term which belittles the awareness of people who act in a fashion out of awareness and respect. Polititians who are too politically correct are often accused of talking a lot while saying nothing at all.
Political Correctness used to be known as tactful diplomacy and is a far cry from the time of American President Andrew Jackson who, among other actions, threatened privately to hang his vice-president, John Calhoun.
Examples of Politically Incorrect Speech
- Derogatory and demeaning expressions such as “That’s so ghey.”
- Racial or sexual slurs (Spic, Dyke, Coon, etc.)
- Insensitive jokes and stereo-typical generalisations like “All Australian men drink beer.”, “Office workers just push paper.”
- Referring to an occupation with specific gender terms.
- Referring to in-aminate objects like tropical cyclones or abstract concepts such as a country with the pronoun “She”
- Sexist comments like “Women are bad drivers.”
Trent Lott, Republican majority leader in the US Senate, praised Senator Strom Thurmond at a dinner, and suggested the country would have been better off if Thurmond had won the presidency in 1948. Thurmond was running on a vehement segregationist platform. After much media attention and criticism from other politicians, Lott stepped down as majority leader.
The interesting thing about Lott’s case is that Lott was virtually never criticised for being a racist, rather for saying racist things. This is the epitome of political correctness: you can be as morally bankrupt as you please, so long as you never say anything in public about it.
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