Friday, December 28, 2007

Political Correctness - Good or Bad?

Political Correctness - Good or Bad?
By Kevin D. Moore

As with anything good, too much of it can be bad. Unfortunately, this may have happened or is happening with Political Correctness (a.k.a. PC.)

I must admit that I have been very happy with the kindlier gentler world that has resulted from the internalization of PC by my fellow brothers and sisters of the human race in America. Of course, for me, being PC all the time has not been easy. I have had my share of missteps just like anyone else.

For example, I once stated that someone was deaf. I was immediately informed that I was not being PC and that the more appropriate term was hearing impaired. Upon realizing the error of my ways, I immediately changed my verbiage. The good thing was that being PC would help me not to offend anyone. However, I was later informed that stating that someone was hearing impaired was not PC and the proper term was in fact deaf. So here is the bad part; I am now confused! I do not know what to do or say. I was trying not to be offensive but was anyway (depending on whom you talked to.)

Fortunately, my resolve and desire for the greater good (being PC) were not derailed by my confusion. This is especially true given the goodness that has personally been bestowed upon me. As a Black American, this goodness was manifested in the way that people addressed or referred to me. Specifically, I am for the most part no longer openly referred to as being a Boy, Colored, Negro, or the "N" Word all terms that I find offensive to some degree given their past history. And, thanks to PC, these words have almost been eradicated. This is a good thing!

But as I mentioned earlier, too much of a good thing can be bad. For example, from a cultural perspective, many White Americans have said to me that they are afraid to say things reference Black Americans because it might not be PC. More importantly, they are highly concerned with the backlash that they may experience for not being PC or the pain that they may inadvertently cause.

Unfortunately, this concern or fear to say the wrong thing is creating an environment where people are more unlikely to openly discuss issues, differences, or observations with respect to people. Without this dialogue, there is a tendency for people to continue to misunderstand each other, not improve relations, and limit social problem solving.

In other words, we must communicate with each other if we ever hope to make this world a better place. In lies the problem. To improve communications, it is important to be PC so as not to offend. But it must be balanced. Too much PC can backfire and limit communications.

That's where courage comes in. You and I must be courageous enough not to allow PC to limit our dialogue with others.

Is there a greater possibility of offending someone through our courage? Absolutely!

Will it be worth it in the end? Absolutely!

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