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Americans have long prided themselves on the freedom to speak their minds. However, in this modern era, we have seen an alarming attempt at modifying that speech.
With the recent backlash to tweets and gaffes, we seem to have become a society that becomes offended at the slightest hint of insult. It seems like that we are seeing articles of people apologizing for something they said, then apologizing for what they said while apologizing. Then finally, someone coming out and clarifying what the person meant to say while apologizing for what the person was originally apologizing for.
I think I actually apologized to myself last night for an offensive thought I had about my diabetes.
It is no longer a left wing or a right wing problem any longer. It is an American problem.
Political Correctness is everywhere
Political Correctness began as a good intention. The idea that everyday language of the time was filled with racially, ethnically, sexually, and (insert whatever I forgot here) slurs was unsettling. That is understandable. In polite company, there are words that should never be spoken.
But like they said, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. After a while, it went into overdrive. Anything that held the slightest hint of impropriety became taboo.
Jokes that were not meant to be offensive soon were gone. Songs that might have included words that had one meaning in one generation, yet a totally different meaning in another were removed from the radio. A favorite song of mine, Money for Nothing by Dire Straights found itself banned from the air in Canada.
Then they started on books. And not just books that inflame, but literary classics. I grew up reading Mark Twain, but now Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer do not see their stories told to young adults anymore because of the language. Sam Clemmons never meant to be racist in the book, he merely talked in the language of the day.
Now the censors of political correctness are after To Kill a Mockingbird. No book, magazine, or literary work is safe anymore.
And then we have religious political correctness. The battleground with the yearly War on Christmas. Depending on who you talk to, there is either a conspiracy to remove religion from our minds or force it on us.
Both sides without realizing it, are reenacting the creation of IngSoc from the book 1984, by George Orwell. I have to admit, I am surprised that no one has tried to ban that one. Yet.
No Safe Spaces
There exists a growing trend in colleges and universities to create what is being called a “safe space.” It started off like political correctness, with good intentions. However, it has quickly morphed into a much darker and more intolerant aberration of itself.
In the beginning, the safe spaces were designed as a place were minority groups (such as LGBT) could meet and feel a sense of community or comradeship. A place to not feel overwhelmed and alone on a campus that is, in essence, a small city.
It went downhill from there. As these safe spaces became a refuge for those who felt overwhelmed, it was hijacked with those sporting a radical agenda. The argument became that students needed to have safe spaces everywhere. From the lecture hall to the study hall. Professors that said things in a lecture that even slightly offended a group or a student found themselves facing the new inquisition.
The Politically Correct Inquisition
Any idea that might go against or make someone upset was suspect. It was a return to McCarthyism.
Guest lecturers found protests waiting for them should they be invited and their viewpoints be opposed by any of the groups feeling threatened.
And today we have colleges and universities where free thought and the exchange of ideas, in the one place where competing ideas should be discussed, academics are afraid to speak for fear of being the victim of the modern day inquisition.
Respect and Political Correctness are two different things
The ongoing argument of safe spaces and political correctness is that it brings respect to differing ideas and peoples. That it requires the majority to respect the diversity of the world around them.
No offense, but that is the biggest load of hogwash I have ever heard. There are ideas out there that should never be respected. There are people out there that have done nothing to earn that respect.
Courtesy is given, respect is earned.
People should be given every courtesy as afforded a fellow human being. However, there is nothing, not a moral requirement anywhere that says that an idea should be automatically be afforded respect.
The is the problem with political correctness and safe spaces. It creates an illusion of entitlement in the person and the believer. It makes the person complacent in their thoughts.
I have always had one policy:
If my argument cannot withstand scrutiny, then maybe I need to rethink my thinking.
Democracy is No Holds Barred.
Democracy cannot thrive were free speech is held back. We cannot as a people overcome our demons of racism, bigotry, homophobia, or whatever else plagues our society by simply removing the words that vocalize them. By banishing the mentioning of them, we do not rid ourselves of the scourge of them.
We will never cure cancer with an aspirin.
Most all, we should never try,
In the aftermath of the 2016 election, many on the left amazed that there was a resurgence of white supremacy and racism. The problem was, it was always there, people just didn’t talk about it. In America, we thought that by not talking about it, by trying to make racism into a nonentity, that somehow, someway, it disappeared.
On college campuses, the idea of safe spaces is a recipe for disaster. I think Barrack Obama sums it up better than I can:
Look, the purpose of college is not just, as I said before, to transmit skills. It’s also to widen your horizons; to make you a better citizen; to help you to evaluate information; to help you make your way through the world; to help you be more creative. The way to do that is to create a space where a lot of ideas are presented and collide, and people are having arguments, and people are testing each other’s theories, and over time, people learn from each other, because they’re getting out of their own narrow point of view and having a broader point of view. …
[W]hen I went to college, suddenly there were some folks who didn’t think at all like me. And if I had an opinion about something, they’d look at me and say, well, that’s stupid. And then they’d describe how they saw the world. And they might have had a different sense of politics, or they might have a different view about poverty, or they might have a different perspective on race, and sometimes their views would be infuriating to me. But it was because there was this space where you could interact with people who didn’t agree with you and had different backgrounds that I then started testing my own assumptions. And sometimes I changed my mind. Sometimes I realized, you know what, maybe I’ve been too narrow-minded. Maybe I didn’t take this into account. Maybe I should see this person’s perspective.
Free speech should never be polite. It should never be safe. It should push you to the edge. It should make you look over the cliff and see the world for what it is. In all of its glory and all of its horror. You will learn probably more about yourself and the world from speech and thought that you abhor than what you love.