To Be or Not to Be: Politically Correct

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This is Peggy Romero ‘s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

I’ve always wanted to write a blog about being Politically Correct. I’m going to give a speech in two weeks about this, so it made me drag out my chair and sit in front of the computer, squeeze something out of me!

Whoever has any opinions about being ‘P.C.’, feel free to have an open discussion. Note that the ‘P.C.’ here is not abbreviated from what is commonly known as ‘Personal Computer’.

Politically Correct is commonly abbreviated to PC. This term generally refers to language, ideas, politics or behaviors used to minimize offense to racial, cultural or other identity groups.
I’ve always believed in being Politically Correct. I believe we should carefully choose our words when we talk about certain issues, like race, religion, political views and gender issues.

I once had a struggle over this belief of mine. A few years ago, I happened to have a conversation with an American friend of mine who is rather intelligent. What he said about ‘politically correct’ affected what I thought ‘politically correct” had always meant to me. We were having this little debate over whether we should call people by color or not. I told him that I used the term ‘Caucasian’ instead of ‘White’ because I don’t want to be called ‘Yellow’. I’m an Asian. Therefore, I try to be more PC and I expect people to do likewise. He didn’t agree with me and here is what he said: “Saying what you mean and what you think is what Freedom of Speech is intended for. We all need to realize this (and none too soon) that first and foremost we are all humans. But since we do have differing appearances, it is easy to say ‘White’ rather than ‘Caucasian’. But what does Caucasian mean? It means white, right? So you’re still calling me white, just using another name for it. For example, poop and shit mean the same thing and refer to the same thing. So, why is shit considered bad but poop is ok? Because we, as humans have made it that way. Calling someone black is only bad if it has bad connotations with it. But in fact, they ARE black.”

As a matter of fact, he made a good point. Has the idea of being Politically Correct gone overboard? Maybe we, as humans, literally have made the words good or bad.

Meanwhile, I tried to ask a couple of people’s opinion about it. Some of them say: “Uhhh, I don’t really care. I’m not gonna get offended anyway. Words are just words. Words won’t hurt me.” Many people say: “I think we should say whatever that is in our mind. People’s feelings are eventually going to get hurt no matter how hard we try to be nice.”

There are reasons why I believe in trying to be Politically Correct: First of all, I do not think ‘Words are just words’. We humans have made definitions of words. Yet, if we should simply say whatever that is in our mind, what comes out of our mouth means what we think. For instance, if I were in a foreign country and someone would call me a ‘Chink’, he or she has the right to say whatever that is in his or her mind. But that word is absolutely going to offend me. As we all know, that is a vulgar word to Asian people. Words are NOT just words. They are a powerful tool. It’s a tool invented by humans to express our feelings, thoughts and opinions. Secondly, I believe in the ‘Freedom of Speech’. I do believe we all have the very right to speak out our own opinions.

Admittedly, people’s feelings are eventually going to get hurt. Not for nothing, there is a difference between being offended by one’s informed opinion… and being offended by ignorance. When describing a person who is lacking of certain physical or mental ability, we may use the word ‘Disabled’ rather than calling him or her ‘Retarded’. Calling someone from Asian countries an ‘Asian’ is somehow more respectful than using the word ‘Chink’.

Lastly, being Politically Correct is not censorship. Only when the term becomes institutionalized, it turns out to be a sign of censorship afoot. Being Politically Correct is a choice. It’s simply a choice of selecting a better word in our vocabulary.