What’s Wrong With a Bit of Social and Political Correctness?
In a society that prides itself on its individualism–the freedom to do as we please with little or no concern about the consequences of our behavior–there is no doubt, I think, that social and political correctness seems a cultural imposition that would inhibit one’s personality or even be socially and politically repressive.
But, let’s think about the alternatives. Do we usually like to be at the end of someone else’s insensitivities? Do we enjoy being offended or stepped on or portrayed as an outcast or as something unworthy of respect? Further, if we don’t acknowledge some limitations on our behavior, we should expect retaliation; greater social dysfunction, even violence, as a result of our actions. Is this type of freedom worth increased social acrimony?
Individuals who oppose social and political correctness–quite often to justify their behavior–tend to advance the argument that people need to lighten up and be less sensitive. Doesn’t that mean having to be less sensitive about being offended, ridiculed, laughed at, or put down? While there might be some out there who enjoy this type of cultural masochism, I don’t think the numbers are great. On the other hand, I must admit that being socially and politically incorrect can be a lot of fun, particularly when we are not on the receiving end. In this chapter, we consider the issue.