Political Correctness – is it just a question of right or wrong?

This morning, as with many others, I was woken to what has become an incessant drum beat of political correctness coming across the radio waves. It seems to be tagged onto so many stories as they break into our national conscious, not only those about prejudice or discrimination. The news is so often accompanied by the drumming of the “PC-Gone-Mad Activists”; politicians, journalists, commentators and members of the general public who seem to have taken up this pounding and have become quite masterful exponents of it.

As regular readers of this blog are probably aware, I give much time to the concept of political correctness – either something is correct or incorrect, euphemisms for right or wrong, and politics has nothing to do with it. How often does poor behaviour from one person to another get minimised as an example of “it’s just PC gone mad”.

I thought, to do a trawl of a few media websites to see how often the claim is made. So my findings:-

The Guardian Online – during March there were 13 news stories quoting PC as a reason/excuse for certain complains, behaviours and language issues. The subject matters range from The Leveson Enquiry, to Syria, Mitt Romney, gay marriage and the UK’s boxing bad boys. The Mail Online quotes 20 cases of political correctness during the same period. There subjects involve Prince Philip, a New York school story, plenty of celebrity and media gossip articles and issues about the Union Flag. Interestingly, The Times Online has only four articles whilst the Mirror Online has 269 – I’m not going to bother trawling through them.

So what is the point here?

I wonder how many of us easily cast aside a piece of news or comment worthy of a second thought or glance because it is packaged up or presented as a political correctness story. Does this make it any less worthy or with less learning opportunity?  I know that it is hard not to become judgemental; after all issues of right and wrong are by definition statements of judgement. We must also remain cognisant that often one’s person’s right is very often another’s wrong – but this can be a recipe for healthy debate.

So my appeal to you is not to default to the easy PC conclusion – it does not do justice to the protagonists of a story, the news, the comment or you.

Thanks to my colleague Chris Markiewicz for his input on this one.

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About equalityedge

I run Equality Edge and its unique and creative "Working with Difference" project. It supports employers and managers in gaining a competitive and cost saving advantage from meeting equality and diversity best practice obligations. Coaching and workshops are used to deliver organisational, team and leadership development, assisting in improving communication and the understanding of the impact difference has on workplace behaviour.
This entry was posted in beyond diversity, discrimination, Equality & Diversity, human rights, inequality, Prejudice, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Political Correctness – is it just a question of right or wrong?

  1. Jose says:

    I treat people as I would like to be treated. I get fed up with pc there is too much of it.

  2. I believe in some cases PC puts up more barriers than it brings down.
    prejudice and discrimination is a product of our own misconception of others.
    We can only learn by our own mistakes and need others to educate us.

    I really believe that PC is a form of prejudice in its self. It effects our freedom of speech and even effects the people it sets out to protect, creating prejudice.
    Don’t get me wrong we need laws to protect us from discrimination, but sometimes peoples words can be twisted a made to seem as a racist or prejudice comment.

    When I complete a application form why should I have to complete a section on equal opportunities and have to state my ethnic background, disability or age… This does not make me feel a normal member of society and makes me feel like I am being judged because I belong to another racial group.

  3. equalityedge says:

    Thanks for your comments.

    The issue created by equality monitoring forms is worth looking into and perhaps will be a subject for a future blog. Certainly, there are many people who see that only bad can come from them and that they are unnecessary interventions by authorities trying to ensure fairness. The question is, do they work?

  4. I have always understood the phrase to refer to attempts to control thoughts and behaviours by encouraging/forcing/requiring people to adopt a particular form of words (or behaviours). Originating in US (often in public service and particularly on university campuses), as well as some successes there have been some notable examples where things which were not wrong in the first place were stigmatised with somewhat serious results for those involved. Undoubtedly, there will always be an element of sensitivity involved as one party will likely be in a stronger or more established position and may disagree that there is any need to change

    There are clearly times when it is appropriate and times when it has been appropriated for other purposes. The ‘gone mad’ part represents press laziness at describing something which may (or may not) be with PC or mad but perhaps says more about the writer, or their argot audience.

    The issue I suspect lies in the fact of trying to correct real problems. The attempt should be made but mistakes are always possible and in the end the efforts require humility, tolerance and acceptance from the ‘stronger party’ as a starting place, which is not ‘a given’.

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