What we mean when we say “PC”
Conversations will sometimes offend
“We’re all so PC today.”
When I hear this I wonder what the speaker means:
- Does she mean we work so hard to not offend each other that what we say is meaningless?
- Or does he mean he wants to get back to days of privilege (white, male, boss, pastor/priest, authority—name your privilege), back to when a part of our daily lexicon meant disparaging others deemed “less” because they did not line up with us?
If political correctness impinges on our ability to speak freely, that is not good. We must find ways to speak our thoughts—even if it means threading our words through verbal and perceived obstructions and pitfalls. Even if it means offending. But that’s the same with any relationship. Our conversations aim toward pulling others in more than pushing others away (Otherwise why talk at all? Just walk away.), so we take care speak to where our conversation partner is coming from. The end game of speaking our thoughts to each other is greater freedom, better articulation, and deepening friendships. Comedy sometimes makes that leap quickly by abruptly articulating a hidden thought. Those hidden thoughts, when exposed to air, can carry great meaning.
If there is one positive to come from the mouth of the patent-medicine salesman Trump, it is recognition that privilege exists in our nation and now we simply have to talk about it as a nation.
But if political correctness makes us long for a return to days of privilege where we verbally bully anyone perceived as different, then we must work against that. Others are to be understood, not hated. If political correctness helps us begin to see the inherent blindness of our particular place of privilege—let’s embrace that and learn.
We are at our best when connecting with each other.
We are at our worst when building walls.
Image credit: Kirk Livingston