I see a lot of complaining about political correctness on here, and a lot of rebellion against it. I'm starting to think it's because of a lack of distinction about what forms it can take, so I thought I'd clear it up. I think this is what I tried to say in my "sometimes it's not political correctness, just respect and caring for others" writeup, but just didn't do it clearly enough.

One type is the institutionalized version, used commonly in schools. Where certain views, ideas, and words are not allowed to be used because of fear of offending someone. Well, as they say, you do not have the right to not be offended. Doing this is censorship, and at least here in America, it's theoretically illegal, at least when done by the government.

Censorship is horrible, in any form. It doesn't matter why you're doing it, supressing views and ideas is harmful, even if done with good intentions. Because once you allow something to be censored, then other things become so much easier to do the same to.

The other type is the voluntary type. The set of suggestions about how we should talk and treat each other. This type isn't regulated by law, it's more the equivalent of manners and netiquette. It's a manner of encouraging us to consider the words we use, and select ones that don't offend to show that we respect others. It's the one that says not to use "nigger", or "spic", or "bitch", because the word comes with negative connotations from being used as an insult for years, and we can't just erase the baggage.

I worry that the people expressing anti-political correctness sentiment here on Everything are mixing them up, and in their dislike of the first type, they're ignoring the reasons for the second type. You CAN fight censorship without expressing the views/words that are attempted to be censored - after all, you can fight for the right for the KKK to speak without agreeing with them. Similarly, you can fight censorship without having to intentionally offend people.

Rebellion against the second type does little more than inflate ones' ego without any benefits - it's the equivalent of belching repeatedly in public, or repeatedly posting "me too" on a mailing list. You're "breaking" a rule that's not really a rule, suggesting that you're not truly understanding the ideas behind it.

If it's the censorship form of political correctness you dislike, then make it clear that's what you're against. You'll find few people to disagree with you. But if it's the idea that we should respect the feelings of others that you have a problem with, make that clear also. We'll be more than happy to return the favor and ignore yours.

Well put Saige, there's only one problem. When someone says PC or talks about how you aren't being politically correct, they're referring to your first notion of political correctness. My problem with the first is basically the same as yours -- censorship messes things up. You must be politically correct, but only to those groups that are socially acceptable. That's not quite the right word, but it's close enough. Don't say anything negative about homosexuals or minorities or women, etc. But it's perfectly acceptable to "poke fun at" say, Mormons, or Scientologists. I'm not a supportor or member of either of these groups (nor do I tear them down in any way), I'm merely using them to prove my point. We are told who we should be nice to, and how we should be nice, and how unacceptable it is to be politically incorrect. Censorship. And that's what comes to mind when someone says "politically correct".... We should still try to fight it, but consider that next time you see complaining about political correctness.

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