Home»Opinion»Rebuttal: political correctness doesn’t infringe on people’s right to free speech

Rebuttal: political correctness doesn’t infringe on people’s right to free speech

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    Politically correct (PC) is a pejorative term. It is used negatively throughout conservative news media to demonstrate the “oppressive” nature of the far-left. In fact, Matthew Noyes, the president of SUNY Albany’s Turning Point USA chapter states, “It’s a threat to free speech and freedom and must be fought. For Turning Point USA, “freedom” is their calling card. This is why I found it so intriguing that their president does not know what free speech actually is.      

    Free speech is being able to say what you want when you want, as long as it does not cause clear and present danger. Turning Point USA has every right to say what they wish, PC or not, courtesy of our First Amendment Rights. This is why our police officers protect KKK members and neo-Nazis at public rallies. Someone may correct you, but you can still say what you want. That is free speech.

    If anything, attempting to stop political correctness as the norm is the opposite of freedom. Being PC prevents the marginalization of minority groups and individuals. Being PC also prevents minority individuals from being homogenized into the majority. Being anti-PC is the very definition of ethnocentrism, something that America cannot allow to continue. Every publicly educated child should have been told that America is a melting pot of different races, cultures, gender identities, sexual orientations, religions and values. Being PC allows those variations to blend together, while still acknowledging them for what they are. Forcing an individual to adhere to your norms simply because you are too lazy to learn word differences is dangerous and anti-freedom.

    In Matthew Noyes’s article, he states that PC culture shuts down free speech and is exemplified by the numerous riots that have occurred when a conservative figure comes to speak on a college campus. His logic fails to recognize that being PC has nothing to do with the riots on college campuses and is a separate issue all together. Rioting occurs because individuals do not want to listen to conservative talking heads. I can understand not wanting to listen to conservative logic, but the key to defeating legislative gridlock is through compromise. Compromise must include listening to the opposite side of the political spectrum. Violence is not okay, and the inability to communicate with political adversaries is counterintuitive, but it has nothing to do with being politically correct.

Political correctness is something that should be celebrated. As American citizens we should want to adhere to the correct way to describe a person, regardless of what group they fall into. The PC mindset does not come without challenges, as most people make mistakes regarding pronouns. Personally, I am guilty of using the term “guys” to describe all people, and it is something that I am working on. Someone who uses the term, “man up” in an opinion piece is ignorant of the situation all together. So please, don’t be lazy. Learn from your mistakes. Being politically correct is synonymous to being correct, and the rhetoric of the ignorant should not convince anyone otherwise.

 

5 Comments

  1. Ra
    September 19, 2018 at 10:49 am — Reply

    I personally think this article would have been stronger if you kept two points more clear: first, being politically correct “prevents the marginalization of minority groups and individuals”, which could be strongly argued as a way forward to new, inclusive social norms of speech and second, “the key to defeating legislative gridlock is through compromise. Compromise must include listening to the opposite side of the political spectrum”, indicating a willingness to reach across the aisle to those who believe differently from you in order to forge the best path forward.

    Sadly, I feel you actually undermined both points in your article.

    I typically agree with more right-leaning figures when it comes to free speech culture. I don’t think anyone should actually get offended or demand apologies if I say “hey guys” to a group of individuals because these individuals should understand that the colloquial interpretation of “guys” is gender neutral, even if the formal definition of “guys” is not. In the world of microaggression theory, however, it’s not my place to say if I’ve just committed a microaggression. Indeed, no objective third party can comment either. Only the aggrieved individual can be judge, jury, and executioner in a microaggression case. It’s this mindset that I’m worried about, and the lurch to the left that I’m wary of. For instance, in Dr. Sue’s paper regarding microaggressions I’m pretty confident that referring to America as a “melting pot” is a microaggression, so I would caution against using that phrase in the future if your goal is to be politically correct.

    Reaching across ideological lines, I believe, is incredibly important especially given our recent political climate. I think the best way to engage with ideas contrary to your own is to present them in the strongest possible interpretation of them, and then go from there. I think categorizing right-leaning individuals in terms of the free speech culture as “ignorant”, “lazy”, “guilty” of something, as you claim you were when you use the term “guys”. Instead, why not address what they consider to be their legitimate concerns? Why insult and make enemies when you can appear to be the bigger person? As someone who disagrees with you, I think you had some solid points on which to lean your argument, but you either lost focus or decided throwing stones was a better course of action and, in the aftermath, lost your core points altogether in what could be interpreted as partisan muck.

  2. September 19, 2018 at 11:21 am — Reply

    Hello. Thank you for your comment, and I appreciate both the praise and constructive criticism.

    In response to your statement regarding losing focus or throwing stones, I was addressing the original article (it’s a rebuttal article), which made a large thematic shift from PC culture to rioting when individuals of the opposite political spectrum come to speak on college campuses. My point was that these are different issues, and I agree that violence in this case is wrong and counterintuitive.

    As for the term “melting pot” being not PC, if that is the case, then I will not continue to use it. But I believe that even proves my point in the final paragraph, that we shouldn’t be lazy, and try to learn the proper way to describe people. Additionally, I was not using the term “lazy” to describe right-wing individuals, but individuals who refuse to learn the proper way to describe groups of people, because the way they have been taught to describe people is the same way that has existed previously, despite changing times.

    I think it is important to understand that this is a rebuttal article.

  3. Ra
    September 20, 2018 at 8:53 am — Reply

    I was indeed aware that the article was a rebuttal article and it doesn’t change anything. I believe your overarching point was that willfully being politically correct is a positive direction for society to head towards. I’m glad that you don’t support rioting in response to speakers coming to campus. Personally I believe that is a disgusting display and attempts to de-platform someone is inherently against free speech culture. I think that generally being aware and allowing society to adapt a changing lexicon naturally is a positive direction, but forced or coerced adaption of language laws are abhorrent in terms of basic human rights. There is still the issue that individuals who do not agree are not doing so out of laziness or willful ignorance, nor are they “guilty” of anything. To me those terms, even in a rebuttal, smack of a refusal to really listen and get in the mindset of someone with a radically opposing viewpoint.

    Your willingness to dispose of the term “melting pot” brings up an interesting case related to all this. I personally like the term “melting pot” when applied to America, because I think it implies that over time we all develop a shared national identity and culture distinct from the cultures of the people who made it up. What’s more positive than aspiring to share a common identity with people in one of the most diverse countries on Earth? Others would argue that the term implies colonialist attitudes towards minority groups and cultures, marginalizing them in favor of an American identity. Why should you or I stop using such a positive idea because others get offended? Why should you care that someone projected false pretenses onto your speech? Do your ideas have no ground upon which to stand if someone else takes offense? If we must stop using that term, and that idea, where are the rules governing the rest of what we say? Who decides these rules? These are the kinds of questions I’ve become convinced that people who support politically correct speech culture over free speech culture either do not care about or do not want to answer.

  4. Collin J O'Connor
    September 20, 2018 at 10:23 am — Reply

    Again, as I stated in the article, I support free speech, but I believe being politically correct is the best way to speak. You are allowed to speak in whatever way you want (i.e. Police protecting Neo-Nazis), but that doesn’t make it correct. Believing in PC speech and free speech are not mutually exclusive.

  5. Ra
    September 21, 2018 at 9:27 am — Reply

    As long as you don’t come around me telling me what I should and should not do, I believe we’ve found some great common ground!

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