Before I lecture you on what’s wrong with the world we live in today, I feel it would be unfair if you didn’t know some basic information about me. I am a white, upper-class, Catholic male from Boca Raton, Florida. When I turned sixteen I got the keys to a brand-new Mercedes Benz. Currently I am a freshman at the University of Michigan, one of the most expensive public universities in America. It’s probably safe to say that I am privileged. I could be the poster child for our next President-elect, and with my blonde hair and blue eyes I could be the poster child for the Aryan race as well. On top of all this, I have been raised a strict conservative and am a registered Republican. So it might come as a surprise to you when you learn that I am an advocate for the use of political correctness, which shall be defined as individuals avoiding the use of language that singles out or insults a particular group of people.
I have not always held this view, however. In fact, my father raised me to, “speak first and think second” in order to for me to express my so called “true feelings.” But, like I was told over and over, my views would change as soon as I entered the college world. And my views did drastically change one day when I learned that a pledge brother I had become especially close with, Austin, was gay. This world was entirely new to me. I had never had a gay friend before and was not aware of how incredibly difficult it would be for him—especially in the traditional Greek life world. I experienced, first hand, what he had gone through countless times before.
One night, some guys we had met the week before began to make fun of him for his sexual orientation, using demeaning names like “homo” and “faggot.” A rage came over me that I had never felt before; I was prepared to do anything to make these people stop, but I didn’t—and neither did Austin. While walking back to the dorms, I talked to Austin, shocked as to why he didn’t speak up and he told me that this was a common occurrence and that he has learned to forgive and forget.
At this moment, my very conservative views on political correctness were flipped on their head. I had once thought just as my dad taught me, to speak first and then think upon what you said after, because that way you express your “true” feelings. But no more, because that’s how people—like Austin— are hurt. Political correctness must be used by all of society in order to put an end to situations that have become normal to Austin.
Many traditional conservatives would argue that by them speaking how they want – regardless if it is politically correct or not – is “freedom of speech” and that limiting this right would lead the suppression of knowledge. President-elect Donald Trump – perhaps the biggest advocate of doing away with political correctness— states that, “I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct. I’ve been challenged by so many people and I don’t, frankly, have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesn’t have time, either.”
However, just because Donald Trump doesn’t “have time” for something doesn’t mean that you do away with it regardless if he is our president or not. Additionally, the use of political correctness would not suppress the advancement knowledge in society, but rather lead to more knowledge. For example, if people use politically correct terms they then understand how it positively affects those around them.
Even though the so called “non-politically correct” dialogue might be allowed under the Constitution and is technically not illegal, doesn’t mean that it does not have a serious impact on certain people and can truly affect their everyday lives. So the next time you are tempted speak, and then think, I beg of you: think, and then use political correctness.
- “On Liberty”—John Stuart Mill