The View From Here – We need to challenge political correctness with common sense, civility and good judgment

Tom Henihan

In our overwhelming politically correct environment, it appears that half of the world is behaving boorishly while the other half is suffering from hypersensitivity.

Every time someone has their feelings hurt or claims to have their identity unceremoniously stamped upon, the castle guards are summoned, sides are chosen and the matter is discussed and analysed ad nauseam.

People do behave boorishly and others are genuinely offended. Individuals and institutions can be thoughtless and grievously at fault in their dealings so occassionally, the matter merits broad discussion and needs a constructive resolution.

However, the notion of representing one’s self when trespassed upon, of personally confronting the offending party and speaking out, of attempting to resolve the issue in the moment, that approach has been abandoned.

Now every transgression must go to committee or discussed in an open forum to be resolved only when new social “norms” are imposed.

There is at this time, a litany of words that have entered the lexicon of political correctness of which bullying is the favourite.

Ironically, the situation has become so convoluted that one can now be bullied by being called a bully, in effect being prevented from voicing opposition to another’s opinion because offering an opposing point of view is often deemed bullying or disrespectful.

There are also the hyphenated forms of shaming such as fashion and food-shaming, mom-shaming, dad-shaming and so on as if the word shame or shaming is no longer adequate.

Nobody should be subjected to shaming but the word shame, without the politicised hyphenation, is perfectly adequate to describe any indignity no matter the context or situation.

Like many food allergies and other exotic, unverifiable ailments, there are those who feel left out of the conversation, deprived of a platform unless they lay claim to being victimized, bullied, shamed or violated.

Political correctness is an astringent, smothering malaise that is destroying the language we use and destroying spontaneous social interaction.

At one time, if we overstepped the limits of decorum or embarrassed someone, we were called to account and like normal, socialized adults, we apologized.

Now it is necessary to second-guess almost everything and use circumlocution to modify, qualify and disclaim in order to speak without saying something that someone will find offensive.

In certain professions and even on the most pedestrian levels of conversation, caution and self-censorship need to be exercised in order to avoid being embroiled in a debate over political correctness.

It is difficult to maintain equilibrium around those who are always ready to take exception or claim to be offended.

Being offensive, disparaging others on grounds of race, gender, religion etc, deserves no margin.

But we also have a responsibility to be mature and distinguish between truly objectionable behaviour designed to demean and offend, and that which is merely in poor taste or an innocent faux pas.

Otherwise, political correctness is itself a relentless form of intolerance and bullying that accepts no other outcome than having everything its own way.

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