General Question

wundayatta's avatar

Can you give examples of political correctness that are justified, or are stupid?

Asked by wundayatta (58586points) February 16th, 2011

I’d like to understand what people mean when they say politically correct. I’d like to see examples to show me what you mean.

Please, no theoretical explanations; just examples.

I’d also like you to give good examples and really stupid or silly examples (in your opinion, of course).

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

73 Answers

bob_'s avatar

“African American” instead of black.

Not all people from Africa are black, and not all blacks are originally from Africa.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

This is always an issue for me: people call things PC when, to me, they’re not PC. For example, it is justified for me to ask you to call me queer even if you think I should be called bisexual (because you: a) don’t think there need to be more sexuality labels or b) don’t believe in more than two sexes and/or genders) and you might take that to mean I’m being PC – except all I take it to mean is that you will use the correct term. Same applies to the word intersex. Not all people use it but a whole hell of a lot more people use it than they use the word hermaphrodite for themselves. So when someone says ‘I’m intersex’ and someone else keeps saying ‘that’s too PC, your she-male’, they are NOT justified, they are being deliberately dense.

Nullo's avatar

@bob_ Probably the ur-example.

The business with PC disability terms is, I think, both. ‘Cripple’ was replaced by ‘handicapped,’ and now that ‘handicapped’ has come to mean the same thing it’s getting replaced (in the language, anyway) with ‘disabled.’ The truly avant-garde are saying ‘differently abled’ and worse.

Crick, of Watson and Crick, recently faced severe acrimony when he suggested that some races might be more intelligent than others – even though that’s exactly the sort of thing that is borne out by the theory of natural selection.

Sociologists have begun replying to questions about race with phrases like, “You know, there is virtually no difference in the genetics.” Which is the reddest herring that I’ve known to swim out of the field – race is (and aside from some awkward moments in the 19th century, always has been) about breeding (for lack of a better word) and ancestry – phenotypical variations, not genotypical ones.

Aethelwine's avatar

Stupid- Happy Holidays! Or keeping religious songs out of school Christmas programs.

My husband and I are not religious, but we were pleasantly surprised to hear the first graders sing Away In A Manger during our daughter’s Christmas program this year at her new school. These songs were not allowed at the previous school district our children attended. Instead, we got to hear Grandma Got Runover By A Reindeer. ugh

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
Nullo's avatar

The censorship of anything vaguely Christian – every year, bunches of school kids are prohibited from performing Ave Maria at events, for crying out loud.

YARNLADY's avatar

Domestic Engineer instead of housewife

crisw's avatar

I read a guide on how to write advertisements for real estate that mentioned that you shouldn’t say “Within walking distance to X” because that could be viewed as discrimination against people who cannot walk.

tinyfaery's avatar

@bob_ Black people aren’t black either.

bob_'s avatar

@psychocandy And white people aren’t white, but that’s the way it goes.

See here.

crisw's avatar

Oh, and to give an example of political correctness that I see as justifiable- referring to animals, in writing, as “he” or “she” rather than “it.”

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@bob_ Not for nothing, but nothing is ‘just the way it goes’ – we made it this way. So other people find they can make up new terms as well that better fit them.

tinyfaery's avatar

So what’s the difference between black and AA? They are both misnomers. Seems like the anti-PC fad is only interested in targeting issues and words that can be construed as offensive to the others. As if it’s so hard to say AA.

I’m leaving this thread before I start. You people are a bunch of big…

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

“Social Conservative,” when you’re talking about a bigoted asshole.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
Scooby's avatar

ENVIRONMENTALISM
Bossy new world religion based on the self flagellating principle that unless we seriously inconvenience ourselves by giving up, or paying enormous taxes for the privilege of enjoying, all 21st-century comforts, from air travel to central heating, we will be personally responsible for destroying planet Earth.

:-/

thorninmud's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I still have a strong aversion to saying “queer”. When I grew up, “queer” was just as offensive as “fag” is these days. PC is a moving target.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@thorninmud I hear you. I have many friends who feel the way you do. I do not label them as queer and try to use LGBT as a word instead when normally I’d say ‘queer issues’.

bob_'s avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I didn’t say “just the way it goes”, I said “the way it goes”, as in, what people say. Of course people have the right to call themselves whatever they want.

@psychocandy See here.

Kardamom's avatar

Sometimes you are trying to give a description of how a person looks, whether it is for a story you are writing, a description of a person whom you are attempting to tell another person that you just saw (because they were cute, had a interesting tatoo, was your waiter, or robbed a bank or whatever), but because I am white, it always seems awkward or wrong or racist to other people to dare to describe someone as black or an African American. Because I am white, using that term is merely to differentiate whom I just saw, not to be offensive in any way.

If I am in a room full of mostly white people and I’m trying to tell my girlfriend that I just saw this cute guy, or that a particular person was our waiter, or that someone had an interesting tatoo, or I just saw someone rob a bank, if the person was black, that term (or African American) is more clear. If it was a white person that I was trying to describe and I was in a room full of white people, using the term white wouldn’t be very helpful and I would have to use more descriptions. But if you just say, “Hey I just saw some a really cute guy” and your friend asks which one, if you are in a room full of mostly white people, it just makes more sense to say “That black guy over there on the bench.” It’s not racist, it’s just a description.

If that same cute guy was white and you were in a room full of mostly white people and your friend wanted to know who you meant, you probably wouldn’t even say that he was white. You would be more likely to say, “That guy over there on the bench with the brown hair and the baseball jersey, the green baseball jersey, not the red one.” But if there was only one black person over there, and he was the cute guy, then it would just make more sense to just say, “That black guy over there on the bench.” But people get all bent out of shape about it.

And like one of the other posters pointed out, not all black people (even in the U.S.) are African-Americans. Sometimes all you are doing is describing someone, but if you don’t use the right terms at the right time people get very upset.

If I was in a room full of mostly black people and I saw a cute guy (that was black) I would then have to use the longer desription, “That guy over there on the bench with the green baseball jersey, not the red one.” If the cute guy in the room at this party were white, then I would probably say, “That white guy over there on the bench.” None of these descriptions are meant to be hurtful or rude or racist. They are just meant to quickly differentiate one person from another in the most obvious way.

And if my girlfriend was black and I was pointing out a cute guy that was also black, but everyone else in the room was mostly white, it would make more sense to say “The black guy on the bench.” It would make less sense (in this example) to simply say, “The guy on the bench with the dark brown hair and the green jersey, not the red one.” Because then she would likely ask, “You mean the black guy?”

I used to work with a pretty equal mix of people from different races and backgrounds and because we often had to point out to a security guard or other person in authority what we just saw, it made reasonable sense to say “The black woman with the green hat” and descriptions have been given to me in exactly the same way, “It was the white woman with the green hat.” In these cases, no one is meaning to be rude or racist, but simply using racial terms often makes people uncomfortable, even when it’s just a description.

iamthemob's avatar

Politically correct, but supportable (even if there are unintended consequences):

The banning of smoking in public restaurants and bars.

Politically correct, but complete idiocy:

The banning of smoking by law in a person’s own home.

thorninmud's avatar

I balk at the term “differently-abled”. I get and respect the point, but we’re all differently-abled. The issues that the disabled have to deal with arise from the absence of certain abilities. That has to be recognized up front in order to address those issues. That needn’t detract from their worth.

crisw's avatar

@iamthemob

“Politically correct, but complete idiocy:

The banning of smoking by law in a person’s own home.”

Is it “complete idiocy” if the home is an apartment and the smoker’s pollution affects other tenants? What about if there are children in the home who are harmed by the smoke? If banning smoking in restaurants is OK because it negatively affects others, why wouldn’t it be OK to ban it in any situation where it negatively affects others?

iamthemob's avatar

@crisw

(1) I don’t see how the “pollution” would get through solid walls or under doors, etc., in a manner that warrants legal prohibition. Regardless, landlords are free to set restrictions if they want to.

(2) The issue of children is an issue for CPS, not an over-arching regulation of how people live in their homes. A law against it is over-reaching to an extreme to not only dictate how people live their lives, but how they do so in their own home.

(3) It’s not okay for the reasons above. It moves from “You can’t impose your decisions on others” to “We will now impose our decisions on you.”

crisw's avatar

@iamthemob

“I don’t see how the “pollution” would get through solid walls or under doors”

Here’s how.

And, such laws have been passed.

I still don’t see the difference. A smoker in a restaurant imposes his smoke on others against their will. So does a smoker in an apartment. In fact, the latter case might be more egregious- you know ahead of time whether or not a restaurant allows smoking and can chose not to patronize such a restaurant if you wish; you don’t know and don’t have control over when a smoker is going to move in next door to you.

DominicX's avatar

A bad example would be something like “holiday tree”. It’s a Christmas tree. That’s the name of the object. The vast majority of people use Christmas trees for Christmas. If you want to use it for a different holiday, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still called a “Christmas tree”. Nonetheless, when people use “holiday tree” they aren’t talking about people using the trees for Saturnalia or Giftmas; they’re talking about Macy’s having a Christmas display wrought with Santa Clauses and “holiday trees”. We don’t call menorahs “holiday candelabras”. They’re menorahs; that’s what they’re called. Why the same doesn’t apply for Christmas trees is beyond me…

Another example of political correctness gone haywire is when we “hypercorrect”. Linguistically, this means saying “he told she and I about the movie”, but PC-wise it means calling all black people “African American”, even those in Europe! In that case, it’s just a matter of accuracy more than political correctness.

Some politically correct terms just don’t make sense. I’ve heard overweight people use the term “people of size” to refer to themselves. What does that even mean? We’re all people of some size, otherwise we’d be non-existent! That term doesn’t even accomplish what it’s supposed to.

Most PC terms I find harmless until they begin to degrade to the point where what they refer to is unclear. Other instances of so-called “PC” is just a matter of being kind. Homosexuals are not “faggots”, they’re “homosexuals”. That is not about being “PC”.

choreplay's avatar

Safety Warning: Don’t close the crib with the baby in it!

DominicX's avatar

@Kardamom

Well, one thing I notice is that when people refer to someone that I cannot see (someone they saw earlier) they will refer to the person by race if they are anything but white. As in “this black guy in my class told me…” but if the person was white they would just say “this guy in my class…”. Why is there a need to point out that the person was black?

Nullo's avatar

I am irked by the horror that I sometimes generate when I use ‘he’ as a generic singular pronoun. Saying “he or she” ruins the flow of the sentence, outside of pseudo-legalese applications.

The use of ‘their’ as a singular gender-neutral pronoun. I don’t care if Shakespeare used it that way, the dang thing is clearly referring to groups. It’s only gender-neutral because groups can include men and women at the same time.

I am also irritated by the way that the Pea Sea is moving in on good manners.

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I only ever use ‘queer’ according to its older definition, back when it was synonymous with “odd,” or “unusual.” You can thank Walter R. Brooks

DominicX's avatar

@Nullo

I don’t make an effort to use “they” as a gender-neutral pronoun; I’d been using it before I even knew it was an issue. It’s automatic for me and linguistically, it’s acceptable to me.

iamthemob's avatar

@crisw

“In a manner that warrants legal prohibition” was the rest of the sentence. I totally see how it could happen generally.

And I know that laws have been passed, that’s why I mentioned it – the OP asked for real instances.

Of course, the laws regarding bar/restaurant was more about employee health (they have less/no choice). However, it’s more supportable as exposure was in the shared, enclosed space with multiple smokers for extended periods.

Regulating someone’s behavior in their own home, regardless of the effect it has on others, should require an extremely high showing of it’s deleterious effects on others, not a mere showing that there is some effect that may be seen.

And again, if the landlord wants to set the policy, he can. If not, you have the choice to live in a building that allows it or one that does not. And if it matters that much to you, you can move.

Kardamom's avatar

@DominicX It could mean something depending upon what the person actually said. If the guy said, “It irks me that there are no people of color in this school!” when he is clearly black. His meaning would probably be different than a white guy in an all white class saying that about a predominantly white school saying the same words. I don’t think people mean to throw any kind of racism into it when they say someone was black or white, it is just that if you belong to the group where you mostly only see that group, another person of another race will stand out. I think black people would do the same thing if there was one white person in a mostly black group. People just use it as a more accurate and specific description.

DominicX's avatar

@Kardamom

I didn’t mention it but I myself have done this and I didn’t even know why. I’d say things like “this Asian girl was saying…” to my friend without realizing it and it made no sense to me. I didn’t think I was being racist, but I think you’re right about those people simply standing out and people don’t refer to people of their own race by race…

FutureMemory's avatar

I’l start saying African American as soon as white people are referred to as “European Americans”. Until then, I will continue to say Black. I wonder though how much of it is generational – my grandmother still says colored. When we tell her it’s offensive, she says calling someone “black” is offensive.

I also use the term “Brothers” in reference to black guys. When I was growing up in the 80s this was not considered offensive whatsoever. People my age still say it (in relaxed company), black and white. I could care less if it’s now considered un-PC.

I personally don’t care for women working in direct contact with criminals, e.g. as prison guards or even as police officers. This is only because of the physical disadvantage they are often at when one of these assholes decides to fuck up the person trying to put cuffs on ‘em. If you’ve ever seen video of a female cop getting the shit beat out of her during a routine traffic stop you get my drift.

Brian1946's avatar

Although I’ve never heard of anyone using this term except for me, I would say that referring to women as gyno-terrestrials is being overly PC. ;-p

bkcunningham's avatar

Enemy combatant instead of what they are: muslim terrorist. Then even dropping that watered down, PC name for “detainees.” Also, when POTUS Obama and his Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napalitano dropped the terms “war on terror” and “terrorist attacks,” and started using, “Overseas Contingency Operations” and “Man Caused Disasters.” PC BS.

iamthemob's avatar

@bkcunningham – Calling them enemy combatants and detainees actually is in many ways the opposite of “PC BS,” as the usage of that terminology was to justify non-standard legal treatment (e.g., prosecution by military tribunal instead of in court).

syzygy2600's avatar

Ultra lefties who want to ban cigarettes, salt and trans fats, and think that every white person should go around apologizing for things their ancestors may or may not have done. Have Irish or Italian heritage? You’re not allowed to talk about the struggles and racism faced by your kind, because you’re white. Grew up poor? Doesn’t matter because you’re white. Basically half of everything an ultra lefty says is political correctness at it’s most stupid.

incendiary_dan's avatar

The only people I ever hear complaining about “political correctness” are privileged assholes who are irked because they suddenly have to think about other people, and therefore also look at their undeserved privilege.

I’m sorry, I meant “racial, gender, and socio-economic superiors” instead of “privileged assholes”. There, that’s my example.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
lynfromnm's avatar

Saying “gender” instead of “sex” is often a misguided attempt to be PC.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@incendiary_dan Agreed and I think more people need to read this.

bob_'s avatar

@incendiary_dan If I showed you my Mexican passport, would I be allowed to voice my opinion without being referred to as a privileged asshole?

Politically correct stupidity: saying that while people cannot be the victims of injustice.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@bob_ I don’t think people say that, do they? White people have certain privileges in certain contexts but also can be victims of injustice in some others.

syzygy2600's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Haha, seriously? Most ultra lefties I’ve ever spoken to believe it’s pretty much impossible for a white person to have ever been disadvantaged by anything (unless they have a vagina or like members of the same sex, of course. Funny how straight white males born into poverty get no sympathy at all, but a black person born into wealth is still seen as a victim.).

CaptainHarley's avatar

@incendiary_dan

Well, I guess that means that I’m a “privileged asshole” then, since I despise political correctness with a passion.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@syzygy2600 What are these ultra lefties you speak of? And why is that term any better than fundies, which you so despise, sometimes? It is much harder for a white male to be at a systemic disadvantage but no self-respecting activist will ever actually think that poverty doesn’t cross race lines. I know I don’t.

syzygy2600's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I’m not sure what you’re asking me. Yes, I don’t like religious fundies either. I don’t like most people who position themselves at either end of the political spectrum – I find them to be close minded.

rooeytoo's avatar

I think it is absurd how often I hear the description of perpetrator of a crime being described without their ethnicity included. But to specify if the person is muslim, mexican or any minority group then it is called racism or profiling and is not PC.

I am another of the privileged assholes who was born white female and still work and fight the discrimination against me. I just started a welding class and must wear steel toe boots. If I were of a minority the boots plus work pants, shirt, hat etc. would be provided for me by the government. As I pass through certain areas of this country there are health clinics which state on the sign out front that they are for specific non white ethnic groups.

What I want to know is why does being PC only apply to white folks. Do any other ethnic groups worry about being PC. Does a queer person worry if the manner in which they refer to me is offensive to me? Hell the only group of people that it is still okay to ridicule in jokes is white women.

Now someone is going to say 2 wrongs don’t make a right and I agree, but it would be nice to play on a level field.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@syzygy2600 The ‘you’ I was using isn’t you you. I just dong know who these ultra-lefties are.Am I it?? Yet, we seem to agree. I think political angles muddy these important discussions on race. @rooeytoo I actually think the term of PC is often applied by those in power to those not in power.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir – I am not sure I know what you mean by that. I know that you prefer to be referred to with certain terms when it comes to your sexuality. Do you wonder or care if the terms you would use to describe me are acceptable to me? If you have not considered that point does that mean you are in power? And I am not? Power over what?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@rooeytoo No, my comment wasn’t about that. But we can examine it. The sexuality given power is heterosexuality. Therefore, when a non-heterosexual asks for their sexuality to be considered just as valid and gives it a name, people (generally heteros) say it’s about being PC. And what do you mean power over what? Power in society, benefits, value attached, etc.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir – above you said “I actually think the term of PC is often applied by those in power to those not in power” and I wondered who the ones in power are.But then you did say that because I am heterosexual that gives me some kind of power and therefore anyone who is something other than heterosexual has the right to call me a name that I don’t like or find insulting just because I have some sort of perceived power?

I don’t see that contributing to the level playing field that I have always wanted for myself and others.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@rooeytoo “therefore anyone who is something other than heterosexual has the right to call me a name that I don’t like or find insulting just because I have some sort of perceived power?” – um, no, I’d never advocate anything like that. Luckily, you can call yourself anything you want and I will not accuse you of being PC. Ever.

Nullo's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I get the impression that @syzygy2600 is the sort of person who wants to be left alone by our two opposed – but similarly meddlesome -groups. That is, we both know what’s best for people (though we don’t agree on any of it) and @syzygy2600 is tired of hearing it.

iamthemob's avatar

Here’s my take:

Anyone who thinks that accusations of insensitivity that might be deemed “PC bullshit” are not lobbied at people belonging to a “minority” group from members of other minority groups or within that group hasn’t been to a meeting or conference focused on the issues faced by those groups. Realize that members of these groups are generally hyper-aware of political identity issues, and therefore when a member makes an “error” they are often more viciously criticized.

The problem with the accusation of “PC bullshit” is that I feel like it’s often lobbied, as @Simone_De_Beauvoir says, by people privileged in some way when they don’t want to be reminded of that. But I wonder how often people who hear what they think is “PC bullshit” ask follow-ups, or don’t feel ashamed about expressing their position, etc.

mattbrowne's avatar

Justified: Not calling people with Down Syndrome mongoloid

Not justified: Replacing the word obesity with unhealthy weight

incendiary_dan's avatar

I really suspect that a lot of people who say “what lefties say” have never bothered to talk to lefties, but rather only at them. Not that I can particularly blame you most of the time, they do get annoying.

@mattbrowne Wouldn’t the term “unhealthy weight” be more descriptive, and therefore more useful in reality? Ultimately, terms that are more descriptive are those we should be using, rather than obscuring meaning.

bob_'s avatar

“Unhealthy weight” can be either over- or under-weight.

mattbrowne's avatar

Well, I was referring to examples like

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1265327/Council-ban-word-obesity--fat-children-dont-offended.html

In my opinion obesity is a common term and we should use it.

Scooby's avatar

I often wonder what MURDERERS will be referred to when they are no longer allowed to be called MURDERERS, in case it offends them! :-/

If we commit a crime & are convicted & sentenced by judge & jury, how long will it be before we can sue for being humiliated in the court room? I wonder?? :-/

iamthemob's avatar

I think @Scooby‘s hyperbolic slippery-slope argument above is perhaps why many arguments that people consider to be “politically correct” are more than likely justified.

rooeytoo's avatar

I think @Scooby ‘s question is right on the mark. I am not a gun advocate but recently on the news was the story of a man who when confronted by 2 adult males breaking into his home, shot them both in the arm. It is now being debated if he should be arrested for using undue force??????

Probably those guys broke into his home because they were disenfranchised therefore should have been handled gently so as not to disenfranchise them more.

iamthemob's avatar

@rooeytoo – That has very, very little to do with “political correctness.” We can all pull out a wack example of abuse of the system on one side or another – and without the facts as to what was going on we don’t know whether the suit was valid (e.g., were they running from him and he shot them anyway? did they surrender and did he shoot them anyway? etc.)

In any case, this reveals that, at worst, there are some sleazy lawyers that will try to make money off of anything. Unfortunate, to be criticized, but not about “political correctness.”

hobbitsubculture's avatar

Stupid PC: differently abled, vertically challenged, holiday tree. African American used to describe a dark-skinned person who is not actually descended from Africans, or living in America. Using “womyn” instead of “woman,” because it’s a useless gesture that often distracts from what is often a well-made point.

It’s a matter of definitions. Political correctness, when done properly, is just a form of courtesy. When these sort of phrases are mincing, inaccurate, and wordy, they’re PC. As in, politically correct, but incorrect in every other sense. On the other hand, simply being courteous means admitting that other people are not the same as you, and doing your best to be open and polite.

Nullo's avatar

This is why I prefer politeness; rather than imposing and trying to enforce a change in lexicon, politeness suggests that being mean isn’t helpful, and lets you figure out what to do about it on your own.

@mattbrowne “Obese” is a gross word, aesthetically. “Overweight” sounds less like an effort to make your skin crawl.
Hehe. “Gross”.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Nullo – The meaning of overweight is not exactly the same as obese. Actually, most overweight folks are not obese. So would “extremely overweight” sound better?

CaptainHarley's avatar

How about “runaway infatuation?” : D

Kardamom's avatar

I think @hobbitsubculture got it exactly right!

DominicX's avatar

@hobbitsubculture

I always thought “vertically challenged” was just a joke; I used to say that about myself back when I was teeny…

Also, some “politically correct” terms seem tongue-in-cheek; does anyone use the term “intellectually challenged” in a non facetious way?

hobbitsubculture's avatar

@DominicX I always thought “vertically challenged” was a joke too, but I’ve heard it used seriously a few times. Maybe it was a joke, but some people didn’t get it and took it on as a serious phrase.

Nullo's avatar

@mattbrowne I think that it would; the nastiest part is the “beas” sound.

wundayatta's avatar

Actually, I think the whole concept of “politically correct” was a joke back when it was first being spread around. I was working with a lot of feminists and lesbians at the time, and they always said it in an ironic way, as if making fun of themselves. In the office, we were always throwing around “PI” and “PC” and no one seemed to expect anyone else to toe the PC line. We knew the real world wasn’t like that.

I think the right wing started taking it seriously, and then, since they didn’t get the joke, the left got stuck and had to take it seriously, too. Now, I’ve even forgotten there was a time when it was a joke. Of course, I’ve forgotten a lot of stuff, so maybe that isn’t necessarily a sign that forgetting that the idea of “PC” is a joke is unexpected.

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther