Are people that “go to war on political correctness” just looking for an excuse to be an arsehole?

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what it means to be ‘politically correct’ or ‘politically incorrect’ lately. Mostly, because we’ve all heard Donald Trump banging on about how “the biggest problem in America is its political correctness.” Uh, righto.

So I decided to do some research before I firmly place myself in the ‘politically correct’ or the ‘politically incorrect’ camp.

Definition of ‘politically correct’ according to collinsdictionary.com:
“demonstrating progressive ideals, esp by avoiding vocabulary that is considered offensive, discriminatory, or judgemental, esp considering race or gender.”

Now, do correct me if I’m wrong, but that just seems rather nice, doesn’t it? I wouldn’t want to offend or upset anybody, certainly not on the grounds of their race or gender. It seems fair enough?

So I did some more thinking.

When I was a kid in school, I remember that at one point we were told we weren’t allowed to sing “Baah Baah Black Sheep”, the much-loved children’s nursery rhyme because it could potentially cause racial offense. Instead, we were to sing “baah baah rainbow sheep.” Even as a child I remember thinking that was absolutely ridiculous. My childish logic? There’s no such thing as rainbow sheep.

Another example, also from my school days. We were no longer allowed to use the phrase “Brain Storm” and instead had to say “Mind Map” on the grounds that this could cause offense to the mentally disabled. Again, I thought this was ludicrous.

Two more examples I heard only this year; supposedly at one point Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” was banned on racial grounds (fortunately the ban was lifted, the song is about snow, for Gods sake). And of course the palaver surrounding the Starbucks red cup and its lack of religious reference. The irony here being, if the thought of trying not to offend had even crossed the minds of those at Starbucks head office, they were most likely keeping the cup secular to avoid discrimination against any single group in society. Christ (no pun intended) that backfired.

So clearly political correctness can go too far, and occasionally reaches the realms of downright absurd. But is that an excuse to go to war on political correctness as a whole?

I would argue no, no it isn’t. Here’s why:

Bullies like Donald Trump thrive on being able to shout the loudest. His only defence against the (rightful) torrent of “he’s a racist”, “he’s a sexist” is to point the finger at those accusing him, demanding that they are “too politically correct”, mocking them for considering the feelings of all those that are rightly offended by Trump’s outrageous comments. It’s a playground-bullying tactic; Trump’s attempt to rally together his supporters, united under the banner of anti political correctness. The crowd who are ‘big’ and ‘ballsy’ and say whatever the hell they like about whoever the hell they like, regardless of the consequences.

Youtube ‘comedian’ Nicole Arbour, who was pretty much a nobody became headline news overnight for her “Dear Fat People” video. The video went viral online because it caused so much controversy. As the title suggests, Arbour rips into anybody remotely overweight. I think it was meant to be funny? Youtube actually removed the video because it was causing such offence, so she then uploaded another video entitled “Most Offensive Video Ever” again, making ‘jokes’ of all of those who were so offended by her previous video. I really did try to sit through the whole thing, but after three minutes of her non-stop gabbling of what I assume are supposed to be funny jokes, I had to turn it off. I did see her get so far however, as to start mouthing off about how much she hates political correctness. Nicole Arbour, much like Trump, uses anti-political correctness rhetoric as a vessel to be a total arsehole to whomever she feels like.

Surely it’s ok to not want to be an arsehole?

Now, I’m not arguing for one second here that we all have to be incredibly serious, watch every word that comes from our mouths, and refrain from ever making a joke. Some TV shows do politically incorrect very well; Archer, The Simpsons, Family Guy and South Park are all examples of cleverly written comedy that is definitely sitting in the realms of politically incorrect, yet does a brilliant job at not actually offending anybody because we are all laughing together. Lets be honest, is comedy at the expense of just one person really that funny? It is when you’re in school, yes. But as soon as you reach adulthood, you quickly realise you’d rather be laughing with someone that laughing at them.

ray

Edit: Apparently White Christmas was never banned. Apologies.

 

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