Political Correctness. When most people hear these words, they think about nice people who never use words or phrases that would offend those around them. I’m a little different. When I hear that particular combination of syllables, I see people who are too afraid to say what they think. I also see people who are looking for a fight.
When I was young we were taught an old adage: Stick and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me. I always just thought it was kinda fun to say, considering how much I let words hurt me. I was bullied as a kid, but I’m not gonna belabor the point or try to get sympathy, just show that I know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of verbal abuse. I’ve come to realize the same thing that most people in that situation do: The bullies only have power over you becuase you allow it. If I choose simply not to be offended, the words lose their barbs. People now seem to want to find something to be offended by, and that must be a terribly stressful way to live. I want nothing to do with it.
With the explosive media we have today, no one is safe. There is always someone waiting to condemn you around every corner. Someone who thinks they can make a name for themselves by ruining yours. If a reporter is the first one to report that so-and-so dropped the n-bomb while eating dinner, it doesn’t matter in what context that word was used, they are immediately treated like a villain. I will admit that I have used many slurs in my life. I’ve told jokes that would certainly offend many people if they chose to take them in a way that they weren’t intended.
There are stereotypes that exist because they’re at least partially accurate, and I’ll be the first to laugh when someone tells a joke about up-tight white people or one about Americans. I don’t get offended and try to sue them, or spam Facebook with calls for their heads. If you are truly hurt by the things that I say, your self esteem needs some serious work. If you know who you are and you’re happy with the person you have become, nothing anyone can say will change that. Letting the words of others harm you is a sure sign that you have things in your life that you’re not happy about and the comment cut too close to home.
Another minor issue I have with this whole idea is that the English language contains a lot of words with speific meanings, and sometimes those meanings change over time. Gay used to mean happy, and language purists will argue that it still does, but happy is not what people think of when you say it now. Happy has become it’s secondary meaning, while homosexual is the primary. I’m not here to debate the right or wrong of that change of meaning, but to point out that it’s just a word with a meaning. We have this amazing, complex, and evolving language, and each of the words in it has it’s place. By making some of them taboo, you just give the bigots of the world more ways to show their stupidity. I, for one, would rather they kept that to themselves.
I know some people will be crying that some idiots use these specific words for the sole purpose of hurting others and that it’s wrong. That’s true, they do and it is, but it’s the intention behind the words that’s harmful, not the words themselves. A word cannot be evil in itself. Plus, what exactly do you hope to achieve by pointing out that someone is being a prejudiced dick? They are the only ones who can change their actions and I’m pretty sure they already know that they’re prejudiced dicks, and are ok with that. They’re unlikely to change because you don’t like it. In fact they’re probably very happy that you don’t like it. It’s exactly what they were going for and you just let them win. Good job.
I wonder. Is it even possible to say something without possibly offending someone? I don’t think it is. If someone really wants to find a problem with what you say or write, they will find it. If you are trying to find a way to describe me, you can’t call me white because I’m not actually white, I’m kinda pale peach colored. I’m not technically caucasian, as that refers to someone from the Caucasus in Russia. That’s not even getting into cracker, corn flake, pasty, or any of the other adjectives that could be used to describe me. You could use any of these in an attempt to rile me up, but it’s not going to work. The important thing you got across to the reader/listener is that I’m not a well tanned individual. I am all of those things and none of them. I am me.
See, the thing is that people need to stop being so concerned about what messages other people are putting out there, and making sure that they are only displaying positivity. Do I like it when some ignorant redneck calls a close friend of mine a dirty nigger? Of course not, any more than I would like someone being called an ignorant redneck just because they have a southern drawl. It’s terrible and stupid, but it just shows their lack of sense. If you react in a hostile manner, you’re showing off your own. My advice: take words for their meanings and if you truly believe someone is trying to offend you, ignore them. Don’t let their idiocy impact your life, it’s not worth dragging yourself down to their level. In fact it’s not even worth reacting to.