OPINION: Stop being offended by political correctness

I have heard friends and family complain about not being able to say anything without offending anyone and having to avoid comments that could be deemed “politically incorrect.” To this I say — get over it. 

“Politically correct” has been defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities (as in matters of sex or race) should be eliminated.” NPR said the phrase has changed meaning over time, and that the term, “has been used to describe what is politically wise, and it has been employed as ironic self-mockery.”

The latter definition has been used to mock the idea that people are offended by others sharing their beliefs on topics such as gender, race, sexual orientation or religion. 

However, some topics have politically correct sides and politically incorrect sides for a reason — the politically incorrect sides usually marginalize and spread hate about already oppressed groups. We should stop worrying about what’s correct or incorrect and instead focus on what language and beliefs stand in the name of basic human respect.

The racial and homophobic bias incidents that have occurred here have shown that not everyone on campus respects each other’s differences, and as long as SIUE administration fails to implement any real solutions to prevent incidents like these from happening, the campus atmosphere will only get worse. 

The next time your white friend complains about not being able to say racial  slurs because they have to be politically correct, you might choose to remind them about the centuries of oppression African-Americans faced, and still face, in this country and the weight that word carries with it. 

Hopefully, these conversations will serve as a reminder that we should be politically correct not just because it’s socially expected of us, but because it shows that we respect one another as fellow human beings. So instead of just avoiding racist, homophobic and intolerant words, we should aim to eliminate racism, homophobia, sexism and intolerance from the world. 

To those who aren’t used to checking themselves and their language, I urge you to consider the context your words carry and the impact they have on others and then decide if you want to say them. While it’s true that sometimes you can’t avoid hurting everyone, maybe you can avoid hurting one more person than necessary. 

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