Content, context and correctness

Have you noticed that the national political split we see in the presidential race seems to rip all the way down to each of us as individuals? Makes for some lively discussions. One big thing this time around is this odd pride in not being “politically correct,” or PC for short. The term originated in the Soviet Union as a compliment, meaning someone who was PC knew the party line. Now it basically means trying to say something without offending someone else.

Proudly stating that you or your candidate say things that are not PC seems like a false badge of self-perceived honor, because what’s politically correct depends on who you are and who’s talking about whom. In other words, context. You can always tell who doesn’t understand this, regardless of their politics, because they will criticize lots of people different from themselves, and then howl like mad dogs when the slightest criticism comes their way. It also seems some groups are confusing “politically correct” with other ideas like “consideration,” “respect,” “professional behavior,” and just being a person that can live with people different from themselves.

But nobody has a market on being PC. It’s based on who you are and where you’re standing.
It’s so bad now that even the word “science” immediately divides the room like Moses parting the Red Sea, with people ready to froth and gnash their teeth over religion/atheism, evolution, climate change, vaccines, birth control, reproductive rights and just basic medicine. Bringing up one religion or another has the same effect, as does criticizing religion. And you can see the same pattern with health care, opportunity, race, sex, sexual orientation, gun ownership and so on. We’re so busy being offended and counter-offended that if we don’t watch it, we’ll slide to a point where we stop communicating at all, which can only lead to conflict. Perhaps violent conflict.
This obsession with what is or is not PC–or who is or is not PC–hinders our abilities as a community, nation, and planet to talk about important things we need to talk about, and even to prioritize what we should be talking about at all. Maybe we’d do better to consider our motives. Are we genuinely trying to figure something out, or are we just trying to justify a prejudice?

We’d all do well to ground our views in observable fact. What is true, what can be measured and proven as true, and what is emotion, hate, prejudice, fear or wishful thinking. Seems like the further away we get from reality, the more deep-seeded we get in being offended by those who disagree with us, instead of engaging with them to better understand their point of view, and therefore our own.

Kevin Reed lives in Lakebay.

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