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Political Correctness Creates a Culture of Avoidance

PC culture stifles debate and makes it impossible to have meaningful discussions on difficult issues.

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Context

A recent Cato poll showed that 71% of Americans believe that political correctness had stifled discussions that society needed to have.[1]

The Argument

Many people are forced to hide their beliefs out of fear of being un-PC. This prevents deep and meaningful discussion on a variety of difficult issues. For example, in 2015, Maryam Namazie, an Iranian-born feminist and former Muslim was accused of being un-PC and promoting Islamophobia. Instead of having a meaningful and pragmatic debate over the role of feminism in the Islamic religion, protestors tried to silence her and stifle the debate. [2] Part of the issue is that in a culture of political correctness, the same idea made by two different people is interpreted in two entirely different ways. For example, the phenomenon of ‘mansplaining’ was valuable for pointing out subtle discriminatory and sexist behaviour inherent in our everyday language. However, its use has also extended to any white male explaining a concept. This was apparent when MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry accused White House Press Secretary Jay Carney’s attempts to defend the relative pay of men and women of “mansplaining” despite the fact that Carney was responding to a question by a male journalist.[3] Had a female Press Secretary made the exact same defence, it would have been interpreted in an entirely different way. Applying political correctness in this blanket way is debilitating to public debate and places different merit on the same ideas when they come from different sources. Even the language we are forced to used in PC culture stifles debate. It becomes clunky and does not allow for the easy expression of ideas. Instead of calling someone “poor”, political correctness would have us call them “people who lack the advantages others have”. Obese people become, “people of size”. Adhering to these politically correct constraints on our language just isn’t conducive to healthy debates. It makes our language clunky and imprecise, which in a debate where the nuance is in the linguistic detail, cripples expression.[4]

Counter arguments

Political correctness doesn't create a culture of avoidance. Quite the opposite. It forces us to confront the prejudices and oppressive mechanisms present in our everyday language. Eliminating these mechanisms of oppression and marginalization are essential for achieving equality and making progress in the realm of social justice.

Premises

[P1] Political correctness forces people to hide their beliefs. [P2] This makes meaningful debate impossible. [P3] The inability to debate complex topics is detrimental society. [P4] Political correctness is detrimental to society.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] Political correctness forces people to confront the prejudices present in their language.

References

  1. https://www.cato.org/blog/poll-71-americans-say-political-correctness-has-silenced-discussions-society-needs-have-58-have
  2. http://quillette.com/2015/12/06/the-shame-and-the-disgrace-of-the-pro-islamist-left/
  3. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/01/not-a-very-pc-thing-to-say.html
  4. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/act-four/wp/2015/07/30/the-real-danger-of-political-correctness/?utm_term=.df4b001fb57c

Proponents

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This page was last edited on Monday, 25 Feb 2019 at 21:47 UTC