It seems like every day someone famous says or does something that is considered politically incorrect. And predictably, they lose their job. Or they’re vilipended throughout the land and savagely excoriated in the press. Even after they apologize.
It happens to us less famous citizens as well. One carelessly spoken word or sentence that treads upon someone’s sensitivities can end a career or ruin a relationship. Because what happens on the global stage tends to be emulated at the local level.
In this day of extreme political polarization we all have to learn how to be politically correct. For some this is easy. They just keep their mouths shut. But others seem to have no clue.
Sometimes I can be clueless myself, as evidenced by this post. But I’m just trying to help. I wrote this guide to political correctness because I’m trying to eliminate confusion as to what is politically correct, and keep everyone gainfully employed and in rewarding relationships.
I’ve found that one way to stay PC while opening one’s mouth is to keep abreast of current events. That way you know what is currently in vogue and considered correct actions and speech. I’ve been doing just that, avidly watching both FOX news and MSNBC news, so that I can learn from both sides of the political spectrum just what is considered politically correct.
The following are some lessons these TV news networks have taught me:
It’s politically correct to kneel while the National Anthem is played, to show that black lives matter and police can be brutal. But at the same time you should always stand with your hand over your heart, because to do otherwise is disrespectful to the flag.
It’s politically correct to stand up for your religious beliefs and refuse services to homosexuals, if homosexuality is against your religion. But it’s also politically correct to have no religious beliefs against homosexuality, and to offer services to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation. Because to do otherwise ignores genetic science and discriminates without good cause.
It’s politically correct to discourage all forms of gun ownership, as guns are a major cause of violent deaths in our country. But it’s also politically correct to own and carry the latest and most powerful assault rifles you can afford. Because otherwise crime will run rampant, and we also will have no way to rise up in armed revolution when Armageddon arrives and Satan takes over America.
It’s politically correct to protect the lives of unborn children, by requiring women to carry their pregancies to full-term. But it’s also politically correct to give women the right to choose what they do with their bodies. Because to do otherwise allows men to control women and helps maintain a patriarchal society.
You see? All you have to do is watch both FOX news and MSNBC news, and you’ll eliminate all confusion as to what is politically correct.
But here’s what I believe is the most important lesson in political correctness:
You may have noticed that some of the examples listed above tend to slightly contradict each other. Of course they contradict. Politics by its very nature is contradictory. Politics is about disagreement and debate. It’s about people thinking differently and expressing their differences. It’s a forum for hashing out issues, as humanity seeks answers.
And when you look at it that way, the contradictions above are not confusing, they’re enlightening.
Healthy debate enlightens and ultimately unites. It’s unhealthy debate that leaves us struggling endlessly for answers, over issues that could have been resolved long ago. And it’s unhealthy debate that divides and polarizes, and leaves us fearful and suspicious of each other.
Healthy debate makes every example I listed above, politically correct examples. But unhealthy debate renders them politically incorrect.
Healthy debate becomes unhealthy when someone says or does something we disagree with, and we take offense. Then we demonize that person. We act like victims and treat them as perpetrators. And we attack them personally and may even attempt to put their jobs and relationships in jeopardy.
This drives many who would debate, into silence. It slows the free exchange of ideas. And it makes everything that would otherwise be politically correct, politically incorrect.
But we, ordinary citizens, don’t do this alone. We get a lot of help from political pundits, who profit from unhealthy debate. They are the ones who publicly foster and encourage the demonization of those who hold views they disagree with. They are the ones who turn the politically correct into the politically incorrect. And they are the ones behind the schisms and polarization that currently paralyzes our politics.
Political pundits work in a big industry, for big money. And there’s so many of them, I can’t name them all. But here’s one or two that come to mind:
Many of these pundits have their own separate talk show, column, or other forum. They’re lone wolves scavenging off the political landscape. Wouldn’t it be better if they were all put together to debate in the same venue?
Then they’d either kill each other or learn how to debate in a healthy, diplomatic manner. And if the latter came true, we’d have an example to learn from and follow. An example that could improve the health of public debate, and turn that which is politically incorrect into political correctness.
[ Note: This post was inspired by a recent interaction I had with GP Cox. GP Cox has an excellent, well-researched blog about the Pacific Theater of World War II, which you might want to check out if you’re a history buff.]