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Blackberry's avatar

Hey guys, sorry to bother you today, but where is the line between political correctness being a barrier, and someone just wanting to say stupid stuff?

Asked by Blackberry (30929points) December 25th, 2011

For example, someone may say something ridiculous (to me, it is) like “We should be checking muslim people more at airports instead of being politically correct and treating everyone equally.”

Sometimes it seems people use the “we have to be politically correct” excuse because they don’t want to be chastised for saying something uninformed or ignorant.

Is there something that political correctness actually acts as a barrier to?

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14 Answers

Aethelflaed's avatar

It acts as a barrier to people getting to be openly bigoted without being called out on it.

Blondesjon's avatar

Political correctness is supposed to have the same effect as everyone getting a trophy because there are no losers.

Spoiler Alert: it doesn’t work

muppetish's avatar

I understand that people get frustrated in situations like the one @Blondesjon mentioned. I also hate the “if your kid brings a treat for one of their friends, then they have to bring treats for all the kids in the class” kind of thinking. That’s pretty lame. We are all equal, yes, but that doesn’t mean we are all going to have and experience the same things. That’s part of life. I understood that as a kid and I understand it now – no big deal.

However, in the situation you mention in the original post, the kind of counter “rationale” disturbs me. It’s not just being “politically correct” to suggest that all Muslim persons shouldn’t be targeted as terrorist suspects. It’s a stereotype we shouldn’t indulge in because it’s fucked up. Some families just want to travel without being harassed: why is that so much to ask for? I think they use their ignorance to pin some kind of cowardice on others (like… “you just don’t want to let us pull them aside because you’re too scared to let them know you’re afraid of them” or some bullshit like that.)

How can people really feel that way? I don’t understand it.

Blackberry's avatar

@Blondesjon Oh yeah, that’s a good example of PC gone awry.

digitalimpression's avatar


By Soft-Skinned People For Soft-Skinned People.

Even kids are taught that sticks and stones may break their bones but words will never hurt them…. and yet adults can think of nothing that hurts worse than words. Lame.

snowberry's avatar

I hate politically correct nonsense. I really do.

I’m also impressed with the track record that Israel has managed to keep, some of which includes racial profiling. I don’t think we can argue with results, but we do get caught up in the details of how it’s accomplished.

I really got hot under the collar for example when I was targeted by TSA because “You might have a bomb under your skirt.” (I was not given the option of an x-ray machine.)

I know I should have thought it through better, but sometimes you don’t think of everything. I was thinking how comfortable it would be to travel in a longish skirt…

In all the wisdom and intelligence of the TSA people, they were really great at explaining how to travel with liquids, but carefully avoided mentioning what a traveler might expect if they wore a skirt. I suspect politically correct policy had something to do with it, but maybe they were just being creepy people. To be honest, wisdom and intelligence had nothing to do with it

augustlan's avatar

See my related question for some thoughts on this.

I really, really hate it when people say that legitimate concerns are “politically correct”. When really, it’s just about being a decent human being.

everephebe's avatar

“A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone’s feelings unintentionally.” – Oscar Wilde
PC is for people who are unintentionally offensive, and need boundaries to save themselves from getting into trouble.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

I have a Muslim friend who was denied entry to come back to Canada from Germany, I think it was, for a bit because of the possibility that he might be a terrorist. When he told us this, I found it amusing. This guy is one of the nicest, most forgiving, and most understanding guys I have met in my life!

I remember another time that he came to school really late because he was stopped in his car because it was thought that he might be a terrorist. When he told us this, I found it amusing as well. How ridiculous this was to me.

Does it bother me? Well, I do find it sad… and childish. I also find it humourous that people can be that ignorant in today’s world, that they feel they must stop someone who is minding his own business just because of the colour of his skin.

I suppose it would bother me a lot more if this friend of mine was not the type to just laugh it off. He is used to the racism and makes jokes about himself, so it’s a whole lot easier to forgive when people are racist towards him… but yes, racism is definitely out there.

However, his attitude towards racism and prejudice directed at him ends up getting people to take him more seriously and be more friendly with him because he is just so fun to be around that where he comes from and the religion he chooses to associate himself with just does not matter, no matter who tries to discredit him or his character because of who he is. He is a very lovable guy and it is often joked that he knows everyone. :)

Can political correctness be a barrier to anything? Of course it can. It discourages people from being open about their hatred that is probably unreasonable for them to feel in the first place. It discourages people from treating people they don’t like for things they can’t help unfairly. Is that really such a bad thing? I am not asking for an answer as I feel I may be speaking to the choir. :)

I hope the stories I’ve shared above have helped to illustrate how silly using the “I wish I didn’t have to be so politically correct, but Muslims this, Muslims that…” way of thinking is.

YARNLADY's avatar

Yes, there is a line, but it seems to vary depending on who is doing the talking. I asked a question about PC on Fluther awhile back and it was clear from the answers that some people would rather speak their mind than worry about what they are actually saying.

To my way of thinking, the way people talk is a good indication of their level of maturity.

ragingloli's avatar

probably somewhere between satire and the republican party. The former are hindered in their work and the latter see themselves prevented from launching full on propaganda portraying all muslims as terrorist murderers, homosexuals as hellspawn that must be all be killed, etc..

snowberry's avatar

@agustin “I really, really hate it when people say that legitimate concerns are “politically correct”. When really, it’s just about being a decent human being.”

Considering that after the TSA people finished, they gave me a smirk and a “Have a nice day!” Naw, they were creepy, really creepy, and a few other adjectives as well, but anything resembling decent would not be on that list.

Edit: after reading your link, maybe those TSA guidelines weren’t about being PC, maybe it was something else. But it was pretty bad, no matter what other label you want to paste on it.

augustlan's avatar

@snowberry Yeah, I’d hate to go through that, too. Who would’ve thought a skirt would be an issue. Sheesh!

Theremin's avatar

The term “politically correct” didn’t become popular until it was used as a pejorative. So it’s almost always meant negatively. I disagree with @Blondesjon that the original intent behind behavior that would later be labeled as “politically correct” was like giving everyone a trophy. It started being used pejoratively do describe people who thought we should teach kids about Martin Luther King, Jr. in school and stop publicly referring to non-whites using terms they found offensive.

When that worked as a strategy, politicians just started calling everything used against them “political correctness” as if that would absolve them of all blame. Think someone should be voted out of office for arguing that black people shouldn’t be allowed to marry white people? You’re a PC, lefty Puritan! You don’t get to vote the way you want!

I’ve never actually heard anyone defend political correctness. It’s just a term that people throw around when they don’t actually want to think about whether or not they might have done something wrong.

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