In the USA, the Political Correctness movement is a way to stifle debate by attempting to claim high moral ground. This is an extreme case, but when a thug gets shot and killed while attempting to rob a store, his parents/friends say "he didn't do anything wrong." (I'm avoiding the opportunity to do a dialect comment here because that WOULD be politically incorrect.) The fact that the thug waved a gun in someone's face and got shot for his foolish notion of how to get money doesn't register. All they know is "He was a good kid."
To then tell his mother that she raised a thug is considered heartless. Yet it is true. The Black Lives Matter movement needs to take stock of how many cases of black-on-black killing have occurred. But that would be non-PC. And yet they want to fix the problem? But they are rejecting the obvious answer - clean your own house first.
I've thought about this for a couple of days now and I'm about ready to express my thoughts.
Firstly, what do we mean by the term. 'Political Correctness'? The Wikipedia definition is a good place to start:
The term political correctness (adjectivally: politically correct; commonly abbreviated to PC or P.C.) is used to describe language, policies, or measures that are intended to avoid offense or disadvantage to members of particular groups in society. Since the late 1980s, the term has come to refer to avoiding language or behavior that can be seen as excluding, marginalizing, or insulting groups of people considered disadvantaged or discriminated against, especially groups defined by sex or race. In public discourse and the media, it is generally used as a pejorative, implying that these policies are excessive.
For me, and I realise that it's not the same for everyone, the key words here are: "language, policies, or measures that are intended to avoid offense or disadvantage to members of particular groups in society."
So, distilling that information down, I take it to mean: be courteous to and inclusive of everyone.
Again, that is my interpretation - but I've also been on sufficient Equalities training to know that it's also the interpretation of trainers and policy-makers. And it makes perfect sense. Why wouldn't you want to be courteous and inclusive?
The difficulty comes with the implementation. Because we all interpret things differently, there is a wide bandwith on this topic. Some people are ready to pounce on things they incorrectly believe to be offensive, such as singing 'Baa Baa Black Sheep' as it is allegedly an allusion to the slave trade (it isn't) and the idea gained traction 20-30 years ago in predominantly left-wing Councils. Still, the myth perpetuates today. So, there is always going to be someone who is
a) quick to be offended, and
b) offended by the wrong things
This attitude has stifled common sense debate and discussion. I've noticed a trend prevailing. Many people are unsure of how to describe other people and which language is acceptable to use. We have an inbuilt fear of getting things wrong - and compounded with our own desires not to cause offence, or be lambasted by the quickly or mistakenly offended, we skirt around using certain words.
But, it's perfectly okay to describe someone and to mention their skin colour - it's a fact, not an opinion. What isn't okay is to treat that person differently because of their skin colour. And that's really where political correctness is causing confusion, hesitation, and conflation. We are so afraid of being called out for mentioning that someone is black, or disabled that we become colour-blind which is in itself a problem because it stops us from having some of the more difficult conversations, and also acts as a barrier to the history and culture of the other person.
For clarity, there's nothing wrong with discussing black knife crime, or Muslim grooming gangs. It happens. It's fact. Where the line is crossed is that some people see a black teenager and immediately make a negative judgement or assumption. That's prejudice.
Diggers makes an interesting point about the playing down of Easter and Christmas, while Eid and Diwali are promoted. I think there's two things going on here. Firstly, the UK is becoming more and more secular. When I was growing up, Easter was sacrosanct as a Christian holiday - even more than Christmas. I think the religious aspect has been eroded because fewer people are going to church to worship, and also because of the changes to the Sunday Trading laws. When I was growing up, Sundays were holy days - no shops etc. Now, we live in a 24-hour society and Sunday as a day of worship has become just another day to go shopping, relax, take leisure - or for many, to work.
Secondly, we are often told that multi-culturism isn't working. That people from other cultures stick together in their own enclaves. And society has encouraged that to a degree. Think about London. There's Chinatown, Little Italy, the Jewish quarter etc. When you are in a foreign place, you look for the familiar and stick with it. It's human nature. Over time, we've adapted features of other nations culture into our own - or they have become familiar to us. We can celebrate Chinese New Year, we eat lasagne etc. Recognising Eid and Diwali as celebrations doesn't diminish our own holidays - there's no Newton's Law of Holidays which says for every holiday celebrated there must be an equal but opposite diminishment of an existing holiday. (I know, I know, I stretched that metaphor beyond even Hooke's Law).
Is it prejudice to know what the data says and make estimates about your safety based upon hard facts? Or, is it prejudice to discard those facts because they are just the aggregate, whereas each individual is unique and different? Which would increase your life expectancy?
Bee, your point is well taken that when P.C. is called because someone is discourteous, a wrong thing has been done. My objection to P.C. call-outs (or would that be calls-out?) is when the call-out is used in response to a factual statement for the purpose of stifling debate. And THAT is not acceptable to me. I would rather be thought of as not P.C. but honest, rather than as P.C. and losing debates because I was too afraid to step on someone's toes. Very situational.
It's lazy to make assumptions about people. It shows a lack of imagination and curiosity.
If you have the data to back up your assessment, that's a fact-based opinion.
If you have made an assessment based on gossip/something you've heard/something you believe - without even looking into the facts - that's a prejudice.
Doc, I am in total agreement with you - and wish I had also included a sentence or two on the subject. The ill-informed (easily/mistakenly offended) use PC to shut down debate. Partly through ignorance (their own), partly through fear (their own), and partly because they are not thinking about the issue critically and objectively.
There is evolutionary efficiency in believing what you hear. If someone said don't go down into the woods, there is a nasty man there, the ones who didn't would live, the ones who did...well, they may or may not live, depending on if the source was truthful or not. Net result, believing saves lives! (Under these conditions!)
What if you knew that talking about a particular edgy topic would lead to the instant suicide of the listener? Instead of taking the politically correct course, you said something so offensive that it led to something akin to spontaneous human combustion. Is it not better to tow the line to avoid causing so much offense with such drastic consequences? Or is this just a very effective way of removing those who are "part of the problem?"
Let us say that this person was evil. They already tortured you the previous day. Would you want to be courteous then? Or is it like in the Art of War, keep your friends close, but your enemies closer still?!