There are quite a lot of people at UAA that are unsure what political correctness is, or who don’t have an exact opinion on the idea. It is currently a hot topic in our country, with many arguing that things need to be more PC, and others stating that PC is a form of thought control and is infringing our First Amendment rights of free speech. However, a good majority of citizens are somewhere in the middle ground or left not knowing what to think. Josie McElroy, a justice major, is one such person.
“I don’t exactly know what political correctness is, but I know it’s talked about a lot.” McElroy said.
PC is formally defined as the avoidance, often considered as taken to extremes, of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against. Which in more basic terms, means to use or not use certain terms that could offend groups of people. Examples of this can be seen in one of the most common forms of media: television.
There are a plethora of words that one cannot say on television, and these word bans were put in place so as to not offend the general public. Most racial slurs and many swears are on this list; there are still some ‘dirty’ words that can be voiced on television at certain times of the day or on certain channels. Some people argue that if you’re going to have some words over others, then you should either include or exclude them all.
Gina Hays, a journalism and public communications major at UAA, argues that the use of ‘bitch,’ which is often a derogatory word when attributed to women, is allowed on television. Whereas, the use of ‘shit’ is not allowed on most networks.
“Why are we allowed to use ‘bitch’ on TV? Why aren’t we allowed to say ‘shit’ on TV? Shit just means poop. As a feminist, that really bothers me a lot,” Hays said.
Hays sees a use for PC to mean being factually accurate, rather than being overly sensitive to certain groups. To Hays, and many other people, PC is less about controlling what people should say, and more about getting the facts straight either as a politician, a teacher or just as a person.
“I think [PC] is a bunch of bullshit; it goes too far. I think in ways, we all want to be politically correct. We all want to be right. I feel like, everybody wants the research, the evidence and the proof. That is ‘politically correct’ in a way, to me, it’s more about being factual with evidence. People often go too far with it,” Hays said.
Still, others feel that there is a need for PC in our country. With the recent election results, and reaction on social media, Deanna Flynn, computer science major, feels that we may need PC now more than ever.
“I feel like it definitely should be a part of all of society when I feel like it isn’t. Given what exactly is going on at the moment, just everyone being hateful to everyone out there. Hating people for voting for [Donald] Trump, hating Muslims, hating any other race, it’s kind of sad. We’re all human beings, so there should be no reason why we are mocking another race or another person,” Flynn said.
Whatever the stance taken on PC, it is certainly going to be a hot topic in our country for quite a while. Only time will tell whether Americans decide it is beneficial to our free speech or detrimental.