No Need to Sugarcoat It

Being politcally correct isn’t necessary this Holiday Season.


Cade Heikes, Staff Writer

It’s the holiday season, and we all know what that means: political correctness will ramp up with a familiar, burdensome tone. There will be no “Merry Christmas” signs in the halls of this school, nor will it even be a good idea for the phrase to be uttered from an individual, as someone could become uncomfortable.

Now that is clearly facetious, but political correctness is nonetheless cumbersome and anti-academic. Let it first be made clear that everyone has the constitutional right to offend people. It is the prerogative of the recipient of your speech whether or not to be offended. However, you do not necessarily have the moralright to say what you wish and to offend people; there is certainly a question of whether you “ought” to or not. The answer is both yes and no.

Being sensitive and striving to be less offensive is undeniably a justifiable cause. If the sole purpose of an idea or exchange of speech are to offend someone, it is probably not good and should not be said. More so, if the ends of an idea or exchange of speech are conveying an intellectually nuanced concept or some other relevant proposal, then it is also within the speaker’s interest not to offend his audience. In this case it would be frivolous for one to even speak out, whether through literal speech or writing; given offense is born of the audience.  The audience in this case is offended nonetheless, and therefore the chance they successfully receive and analyze speech goes drastically down.

Of the two instances of speech mentioned, the latter shall be more thoroughly evaluated. What political correctness gatekeepers often set out to achieve is raw censorship or half-hearted attempts at new word choice that just end up being confusing. For example, “inmate” has been exchanged for “student” in states such as Florida. But this is confusing; is a 15-year-old kid or a felon being referenced? “Inmate” could even refer to a patient in a hospital or someone in prison. The thing that should truly take offense to this is the English language. That is ultimately the solution, to wield the English language, to be uncannily precise and accurate with your word choice, and to maintain denotative accuracy while avoiding objection due to offense. In this case, those who are offended or made uncomfortable are probably not even the inmates themselves. To further the inmate example, “detainee” and “prisoner” both seem less detestable, and even “inmate” is arguably fine due to its plain accuracy. Being sensitive is good, but often the reason the political correctness proponents choose vagueness as the solution rather than precision is because it hides a harsh reality or truth. That so-called “student” is actually a criminal convict.

Here is the argument for truth. Truth is good. It is better for one to know the truth about how another feels than to be ignorant to his sentiments because of a cloud of political correctness. In this case, offense is a possible outcome but that does not deny the potential goodness resulting from the knowledge of the truth. The only conceivable counter to this is blissful ignorance, which leads to more hurt when one inevitably discovers the truth and their own foolishness. The key here is whether or not the truth is known. If it is, especially on relatively insignificant matters, then avoid the whole controversy and hold your tongue. Battle political correctness for truth where it is unknown and hated.

This idea of the goodness of truth crucially extends to morally, socially, politically and economically significant issues (beyond the realm of telling the truth that someone has broccoli in his teeth). Political correctness policing bleeds into this realm. The nature of truth demands that it is singular and objective, unchanging. If moral or significant truth is to be stated and it is interpreted as offensive, then so be it. This is where there is no compromise. Prostitution is wrong, and saying so means sex workers will be offended. Non-Western Islam fundamentally oppresses women, and saying so will offend many. The truth is not interested in people’s feelings. Political correctness warriors would rather none of this be said, and those who use it would rather attack what is truth.

The academic world must be willing to publicly tackle issues by stating the truth! Jason Riley of The Wall Street Journal, notes how in New York City, a black child is more likely to be aborted than born alive, crippling the black community’s own influence. It’s uncomfortable! It challenges the norm and the direction of society, but that is, for no student of sound reason a pass to avoid the conversation.

The world needs writers and people who will, with tact and civility, stand up to the censorship and vagueness of political correctness and project the truth onto the public. Truth must define one’s narrative, not the other way around.  Get uncomfortable, learn, grow, and know.