As someone who fights on the side of free speech, I’m the first to tell ya, we do have a tendency to strawman political correctness. You may have heard things like “them snowflakes just don’t like being ‘fended” or “they want to suppress the truth!” and though I agree in PC cultures worst form all these things are true, those aren’t the actual arguments they make.
There's a difference between being PC and being polite, and I can prove it.So let me arm you with the intellectual tools you need to successfully contribute to the discussion! And if you’re PC, listen with an open mind- maybe I can change it.
One argument they actually make is that “political correctness” is just a bogeyman term invented to lash out against polite society without seeming crude or uncivil. That what we call “political correctness” is actually politeness, and we just don’t wanna be polite!
But this is just plain wrong. There’s a difference between being PC and being polite, and I can prove it! Let’s look at an example: Jim and Jill.
The Motivations to Be Polite vs. PC
Jill doesn’t like racist humor because it offends others, and she doesn’t want to be a jerk. Jill is polite. Jim doesn’t like racist humor because he believes problematic social attitudes inadvertently contribute to the upholding of systemic power structures that strengthen systemic bigotry and subconsciously influence us to commit acts of violence.
Let me break it down. Jim believes when you say bad words, you contribute to negative social attitudes which cause others to commit acts of violence. For example, trans people have a high suicide rate. When you question modern gender theory, misgender somebody, or commit another similar microaggression, you contribute to a culture which marginalizes non-gender-conforming people, and increases their suicide rate.
Don't be PC. Be polite!This may sound convincing – until you realize this logic can be applied to any group if you’re willing to make the same kinds of assumptions. Veterans and soldiers have a very high suicide rate and aren’t well cared for. But we can still criticize US foreign policy and military action. We even burn flags.
Young men have a very high suicide rate as well. Should male-bashing be a hate crime? We can do all the same mental gymnastics to make either case, and whether or not you’re taken in by them, it’s clear that the motivations for being PC and just being polite are different.
Jill doesn’t want to upset or alienate anyone with her language. Jim believes stumbling across improper uses of language is tantamount to violence.
Jill is a nice person. Jim is an ideologue.
Jill is polite. Jim is PC.
Jill: I’m polite.
Jim: And I’m PC. You know, there’s no difference between us, really.
Jill: I don’t know about that. I mean I want people to be polite, I don’t wanna ban impolite speech.
Jim: Neither do I, that’s just an insane strawman argument. Name ONE country where PC folks have gotten ANY forms of speech banned.
Jill: You mean besides Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland…
Don’t be PC. Be polite!