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Does political correctness harm society? Show more Show less

Politically correct refers to the avoidance of words, actions, or policies that could offend disadvantaged people groups. In modern discussions, the word is loaded, with commentators divided concerning its influence. Many people use this term disparagingly, and see it as a reflection of our culture's hypersensitivity. However, others argue that political correctness reflects respect for diversity. Does political correctness disrupt honest public discourse, or show concern for the marginalized?

No, political correctness doesn't harm society Show more Show less

Political correctness protects the marginalized and ensures that cultural influences do not breed hate.
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Political correctness protects people with disadvantages

Political correctness prevents people from sharing and promoting hate speech. This works in the best interest of vulnerable people such as minorities, those with disabilities, etc.
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Context

The Argument

Our culture's politically correct standards protect disadvantaged people. In our society, statements deemed politically incorrect often involve offensive terminology and ideas that threaten society’s vulnerable members.[1] The unspoken rules of political correctness prevent such harmful rhetoric from being shared without criticism. They prevent public figures from disparaging the vulnerable with racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic sentiments. If we did not hold public figures accountable for their words about marginalized groups, respect for the vulnerable would not be present in public discourse. Put simply, political correctness is an unconscious agreement to not spew hate speech. In this way, political correctness actually benefits society. This standard protects vulnerable people, ensuring that they do not face blatant disrespect from elected officials and public figures. Being politically correct means asking a person about their "partner" instead of gendered terms such as girlfriend/boyfriend or husband/wife. This avoids assuming a person's sexual orientation, gender, or marital status. Making assumptions on someone's identity can be rude and offensive, especially to minority groups that are already disadvantaged within society due to stereotypes and cultural perceptions.[1]

Counter arguments

Although hate speech is never acceptable, much of what is classified as "politically incorrect" does not qualify as hate speech. Hate speech is "a legally actionable attack on a particular group provoking hatred."[2] Politically incorrect statements aren't necessarily intended to be an attack to provoke a certain response. Instead, it is often based on ignorance of "correct labels." Further, people are often characterized as "politically incorrect" for sharing opinions that are not offensive to vulnerable people groups, they are simply unpopular. We cannot defend political correctness through saying that it prevents hate speech, because much of what is classified as politically incorrect is not pervaded by racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic sentiments. Rather, politically incorrect statements are merely unpopular, not hateful, ways of speaking.

Framing

Premises

[P1] Politically correct standards exist to prevent hate speech. [P2] These standards ensure that the vulnerable are not disrespected by public figures. [P3] In this way, standards of political correctness benefit society.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] Much of what is considered "politically incorrect" does not qualify as hate speech. [Rejecting P2] Because "politically incorrect" often does not qualify as hate speech, it is unlikely that politically correct standards prevent disrespect towards the vulnerable by public figures. [Rejecting P3] Politically incorrect statements are merely unpopular; standards of political correctness don't necessarily benefit society.

Proponents

Further Reading

References

  1. https://au.reachout.com/articles/whats-the-deal-with-political-correctness
  2. https://qz.com/1707322/politically-incorrect-speech-can-be-good-politics/

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This page was last edited on Wednesday, 8 Jul 2020 at 15:42 UTC