The Backlash Against Equality
For about 15 years, right-wingers have gleefully paraded the words, "Politically Correct" around as another in a line of derogatory words aimed at their political opponents. Why has PC gotten such a bad rap and what is PC?
Conservatives decry "political correctness". They say that it's censorship, that it's the liberals removing moral clarity from our speech. The truth is that Democrats, liberals, and progressives don't use the words, "politically correct" except when quoting or refuting Rush, Neal, or some other right-wing idealogue. The fundamental misunderstanding here, in my opinion, is how the right wing sees PC (blurring the truth to make things feels better; removing value judgements) compared to how the left wing sees PC (removing exclusionary and often antiquated language from our lexicon). Some examples are using "firefighter" instead of "fireman", "police officer" instead of "policeman", "anchor" instead of "anchorman". While nobody would have an issue with calling a male cop a policeman, why would you call a female that? And if you did (as it's your American right to say what you want, even if it makes you sound like an ass), why would you not think it wouldn't be as insulting as if she called your father a "little girl"? At least English has gender-neutral words to use. Some other languages require the use of a slash (as in son/daughter).
Maybe conservatives don't like giving up racial slurs? Some in the so-called "PC crowd" would ask people to stop using the word "gypped", as it refers to how a Gypsy might renege on a deal. Or "jewed", as it refers to how a Jewish person would bargain for a lower price. Or that ubiquitous middle school phrase, "that's so gay!" Is it really a hardship to stop insulting people (purposefully or not)? What on earth could be more awkward than this conversation: "The guy that bought my house really jewed me down" "I'm Jewish" It's awkward because the first speaker knows it's insulting.
Of course people go overboard. In 1999, a mayoral aide in Washington DC had to resign because he used the word "niggardly", which has absolutely no connection to any racial term. But how is that any reason to treat people with anything less than respect? Is it really such a hard thing to learn - not insulting people you don't know? Is it really so hard to make sure that the words that come out of your mouth aren't racial or ethnic slurs? Can you really not resist telling your secretary that her boobs look fantastic today? What is so bad about human dignity that any attempt to be inclusive is immediately derided as "politically correct" and that being "politically incorrect" is such a badge of honor?