So what exactly does it mean to be “politically correct”? Lately I’ve become confused at the convoluted meaning of these words. Originally, the definition , according to Wikipedia was: “ a term which denotes language, ideas, policies, and behavior seen as seeking to minimize social and institutional offense in occupational, gender, racial, cultural, sexual orientation, religious belief, disability, and age-related contexts, and doing so to an excessive extent.” (2/24/11 Wikipedia.org ) As I understand it, that means try not to say or do anything that might offend anyone.
Seems pretty sensible to me, but then people began to carry it to extremes. The topic became the subject of political cartoons, jokes and songs.
Books came out such as “The Official Politically Correct Dictionary and Handbook” and the internet was filled with sites telling what was and was not in each category. Suddenly shows like “Politically Incorrect” became popular and made it “in” to ridicule correctness. It changed our ways of communicating. For example:
According to several websites, these definitions were “ Politically Correct”.
Bald: follicularly challenged
Dead: metabolically challenged
Dirty Old Man: sexually focused, chronologically gifted individual
Homeless person: residentially flexible individual
Lost: locationally disadvantaged
Prisoner: client of the correctional system
Secretary: stationery engineer
Pervert: person engaged in nontraditional espionage
So imagine a news report on the six o’clock news, from both sides of the story:
Our top story tonight: (Politically incorrect version)
A secretary became lost in Orlando today. She was approached by a bald, homeless man who groped her and robbed her. He was later found to be a recently released inmate. ”He was just a dirty old man” the woman was quoted as saying.
(Politically correct version)
A female stationary engineer became temporarily locationally disadvantaged in Orlando today. She was approached by a follicularly challenged, residentially flexible individual who proceeded to manually investigate her areas of personal privacy and relieve her of her possessions. He was later found to be a recently released client of the correctional system. “He was just a sexually focused, chronologically gifted individual” the woman was quoted as saying.
See my confusion? Being politically correct, according to the definition, sounds ridiculous! So what’s the answer? What it’s ALWAYS been! Common sense, simple courtesy and the good old fashioned golden rule (treat others as you would be treated). Let’s stop being so picky and narrow in our thinking. If someone says Happy Hanukkah to me, I say Happy Hanukkah back. If I say Merry Christmas and if someone replies Happy Kwanzaa, wonderful! I say thank you, you too! Let’s stop being like little kids fighting over silly things like expressions and words when no insult is intended. Let’s pick our fights for the causes that need them – true prejudice, injustice, and lack of tolerance for all cultures. Let’s fight child abuse and cruelty to animals, disease and ignorance – not each other! So in closing I wish you a Happy Purim and Passover, Blessed Easter, Good Holi, and a Joyous Nowruz!