Column: “Political correctness” should not make you angry

People don’t want to acknowledge they have to be responsible for what they do because of their privilege, so instead they insist that people are offended too easily.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan of Wisconsin speaks at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Courtesy of Gage Skidmore via Flickr

Madi Baughman is a freshman journalism and political science major at MU. She is an opinions columnist who writes about political and civil rights issues for The Maneater.

I’ve heard people talk nonstop, in both good and bad contexts, about political correctness — the idea that language and practices that could offend someone should not exist. Objectively, I can see why people are annoyed with political correctness. There are some people who have taken it too far, giving it a bad name, and it’s sad that it can no longer be taken as seriously as a result. However, the base idea still stands: Offensive behavior shouldn’t be tolerated. However, many people continue to express their concerns about political correctness.

One of the main problems that people have with political correctness is that it requires them to acknowledge a responsibility that they didn’t have to account for before. For example, I, as a white person, know that I have a ridiculous amount of privilege that people of color do not get. Privileged people don’t want to acknowledge their responsibility for their actions and words, so instead they insist that people are too easily offended and blame political correctness. This has always confused me. We should be responsible adults and be willing to grow and learn from meeting people that aren’t like us, not constantly be looking to tear them down.

The other thing I can’t understand is this — why would you want to be rude to somebody or deliberately try to hurt someone’s feelings? I can understand it happening accidentally, because often, saying something wrong isn’t intentional, but what about the people who go out of their way to use a word in a way they shouldn’t? What about the people who purposefully misgender someone or are openly, proudly racist? Taking pride in being so hateful is one of the things that will never make sense to me.

It’s not hard to acknowledge the struggle that others go through if we only let ourselves see it and amplify their voices. So maybe we shouldn’t call it “political correctness” — maybe we should refer to it as being decent to groups that have been oppressed for centuries. One of the greatest things about life, and society in general, is our chance to learn and grow as people. But as long as we keep tearing each other down instead of listening, we will never be able to achieve that.

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