Like most of us, I don’t like being told what to do. Like most of us, I don’t like being told that I’m wrong. And like most of us, when it comes to a lot of things, I don’t know what I’m talking about.
In the past few years, political correctness has become a buzzword in social and news media, as well as being a label that many have found themselves on the receiving end of. The word itself can mean a lot of things in a lot of different situations. The New York Times calls this an “era of outrage,” in which everybody has a problem with somebody and they let it be known.
To be politically correct is to insist that somebody change the way they phrase something or refrain from saying something that is offensive or “triggering” to a marginalized community of people.
Now this is where the outrage comes in. Opposers of P.C. Culture claim that millennials just like to complain and shouldn’t stifle their right to free speech. Proponents of political correctness would claim that people who make racist, sexist, anti-LGBTQ remarks should be called out and that they will be.
Regardless of whatever leftist or rightist agenda they may subscribe to, I concede that some people just need to imagine that their mother is sitting next to them and will pinch their leg if they’re about to say something dumb or offensive. Some people need to hear a threateningly whispered “Don’t be ugly” every now and then.
Sure you can say whatever you want and that is your right. But why be so ugly about it?
You know that thing where somebody reminds you of something you said or did years ago and it makes you want to melt into the earth and never be seen again? Well, I think that sometimes when people call you out for something you say it’s like catching a glimpse into the future. Maybe you are continuing with some kind of outdated rhetoric that people have a right to take issue with. It’s not about free speech. It’s more about wondering if future-you will be embarrassed by the current-you. To be clear, when your right to free speech threatens somebody else’s right to exist, then you are out of line.
Also, take into account the pattern of ideologies that also defend their right to “tell it like it is.” Donald Trump has built an entire campaign off of “free speech.” While, we may know for fact that not all Mexicans fit into the “rapist” or “illegal” categories, there are many that identify with his assertions. Trump has cultivated a colossal following of people who feel validated by his “honesty” and commitment to defending free speech, regardless of whether it is true or not.
Not to say that all anti-P.C. people are little Donalds, but in a world where “being chill” is the currency by which most college students live, it is very un-chill to be doggedly hateful against any marginalized group. Unless being homophobic or racist or whatever is really “your thing,” maybe we can just try to be open to people checking your attitude.
In the immortal words of the ubiquitous Ice Cube, “Check yourself before you wreck yourself.”