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The term political correctness or "PC" is a snarl word usually referring to upholding a social taboo against language and attitudes that might be considered bigoted. Ruth Perry wrote in an essay entitled A Short History of the Term "Politically Correct" that the term was first coined by Mao Zedong, but was later hijacked by conservative eclectics who proceeded to overuse it in exactly the manner above described, hence taking all the juice out of it. (Defending oneself with it might be the most popular handwave to dismiss social criticism.) Political correctness has become so pervasive that Donald Trump blamed the decision of the Kentucky Derby race stewards to disqualify apparent winner Maximum Security for veering across traffic in front of other horses on it. More recently, advocates of political correctness have therefore substituted the term "civilized speech" for "politically correct" in order to boost its image in light of the PC backlash.
In full irony so high that it wiped out nearly every irony meter we own, conservatives have also adopted political correctness widely: trying to justify censorship on the grounds that something is anti-American or anti-Christian, such as Conservapedia's insistence on BC/AD to the total exclusion of BCE/CE, and Kowardjou's scorched-earth perma-banning followed by the complete deletion of the banned heretic's userpage and talk page, as well as his rule that mentioning or linking to us will instantly earn one a perma-ban.
In fact, it's probably helpful to remember that in common parlance anything a conservative would consider to be polite speech isn't PC, whereas anything a liberal would consider to be polite speech is. This is why banning the "f-word" from broadcast is neutral and not PC at all, whereas banning a racial epithet from broadcast is.
As a pure and basic concept, yes, there is technically some validity to the idea, and hypersensitivity can be taken a bit too far at times, particularly as it relates to academic revisionism and the tendency for a small, but vocal (not as big as conservatives would have you think) minority who seek to search for things to become outraged about, just like conservatives. However, the term has been so overused, that the validity that the concept holds in some respects has been overshadowed by the fact that it is frequently used as a buzzword by the far right simply as an excuse to be total assholes.
“”People forget that "political correctness" actually used to be called "spastic gay talk."
Political correctness is associated with specific terms that are attempts to describe people in the most neutral and objective way possible. Sometimes these work (certainly "Asian" works better than specifically saying "Indian" or "Paki" (considered racist and pejorative in the UK, Ireland and Canada) when you don't know what country someone is from) and sometimes they defy logic.
It's important to note whether the term is advocated for by a group of people, or if it's pushed onto them. If people say "Call me X," then it's polite to do so. If people say "We should call them Y," then that's not necessarily a good thing.
- "African American" instead of "black" (extra specially hilarious when used to describe someone who is neither African nor American).
- "People of color" (PoC) instead of "colored people."
- Some people object to the implications of all non-Caucasian ethnicities being treated as interchangeable and the historical connotations of black people being described as "colored people". This has now moved into the mainstream media, and taken up by many activists, so it's pretty much entrenched now.
- "Inuit" rather than "Eskimo" (except in America, where "Eskimo" isn't insulting), although this is based on a false assumption that Inuit is a better, more catch-all term when it's not - the "Eskimo" people are actually two groups, the Inuit (Greenland, Canada, US) and the Yupik (US, Russia) (and the Aleuts, though not considered Eskimos, are close relatives). Really, claiming "Inuit" is better than "Eskimo" is akin to saying "German" is better than "European."
Thanks to the euphemism treadmill, language about disability is constantly changing so that disabled people can describe themselves using terms that haven't been commandeered as insults. (If you think this is annoying as a non-disabled person, just imagine how annoying it is to people with disabilities.)
Language preferred by most disabled people
- "Disabled" or "with a disability" is how most people with disabilities describe themselves.
- Americans and people with illnesses or intellectual disabilities generally prefer person-first language. For example, you would say "person with schizophrenia" or "person with Down syndrome" rather than "schizophrenic" or "Down syndrome person."
- Members of the Blind, Autistic, and Deaf communities generally prefer identity-first language. (Think: Person-first language is "B.A.D." for some people.) Thus, you'd say "blind person" or "autistic person" instead of "person with blindness" or "person with autism." Some disabled people argue that identity-first language is destigmatizing, because it treats disability like an ordinary adjective instead of something needing special treatment.
- The term "intellectual/developmental disability" is preferable to "retard(ed)."
- "Neurodivergent" can be used to describe people with brain-related disabilities such as autism or ADHD.
- "Little person" or "Person with dwarfism" are preferable to "midget." Many little people don't appreciate being called "midgets," and consider the term derogatory.
- "Person with cerebral palsy" is preferable to "spastic."
Obsolete and ridiculous language
- "Crippled," "handicapped" (which suggests begging, "hand in cap"), and "lame" were once used to refer to people with mobility disabilities. None of these words are preferred now (though some physically disabled people have reclaimed "cripple").
- "Idiot," "moron," and "cretin" were originally used to describe people with intellectual disabilities.
- When those words were turned into insults, the word "mentally retarded" was created as a word without negative connotations.
- When the r-word became a serious insult, the term "intellectual disability" came into popular usage.
- "High-functioning" and "low-functioning" have long been disliked by autistic people, and are inaccurate labels anyway.
- Terms like "suffers from," "struggles with," "victim of," "stricken by," and other negative words tend to paint people with disabilities as powerless victims instead of everyday people.
- Saying that people are "overcoming" a lifelong disability just because they achieved something doesn't make much sense.
- "Differently abled," "handicapable," "diffability," "diversability," and other
nauseatingly patronizingpositive words might be used to try to emphasize the abilities of disabled people. Tired of euphemisms, disabled people started the #JustSayDisability and #SayTheWord hashtags.
- "Special needs" has raised objections as a term, because is the need for inclusion really all that "special"?
- Homosexuals instead of gays/lesbians. Usually includes bisexuals/pansexuals as well despite not meeting the definition of "homosexual". Nowadays, even the word "homosexual" itself has become an offensive word used in a pejorative way. "Queer" now appears to have become an acceptable catch-all term for LGBT folks, reclaiming it from the former insult.
- "Same-gender attracted" or "SGA" has been used on Tumblr, though it has roots in conversion therapy. Probably not the best umbrella term, after all.
- Transgender instead of transsexual. "Transsexual" is considered outdated.
- Intersex instead of "hermaphrodite."
- "Happy Holidays" is a more inclusive phrase than "Merry Christmas." Fox News whines about this one each
Christmaswinter season in December. It should be noted that a) "Happy Holidays" refers to all holidays that occur at around the time of the winter solstice, including Christmas, and b) even some heathens celebrate AthmasChristmas, as it has gained plenty of traditions that are not religion-related at all.
- "Person of size" is sometimes used to describe larger people in the airline industry. (Which makes little sense, since everyone has a size.) Unfortunately, the acronym for "person of size" is "POS", the same acronym for "piece of shit."
- "Vertically challenged" rather than "short-arse."
- "Person" instead of "man" when the gender is unknown, unspecified or associated with a trade, skill or position in a hierarchy ("Congressperson," "Chairperson," "Personhole Cover," "strawperson"). Probably the least perverse form of PC language because it actually eliminates bias instead of just rewording it. It is unfortunately more cumbersome, though some gender-neutral substitutes exist, such as "Chair" in place of "Chairperson" (but of course those have their own problems).
- "Person with racial prejudice" instead of "racist." This is part of a redefinition of "racism" to mean "prejudice plus power," so that the "powerless" automatically cease to be "racists."
- "Racist" instead of "Islamophobic." Pretending that Islam is a race in order to caricature all opponents of Islam, the religion, as opponents of Muslims, the people; see Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 for an example. (That doesn't mean there aren't Islamophobes, just be clear.)
- "Creation scientist" instead of "raving loony," "nutjob," "wingnut," "crackpot" or any one of a number of highly suitable terms.
- "Freedom fries" instead of French fries because frogmunchers
object to George W. Bush's batshit foreign policyhate America.
interrogationinterviews" for torture.
- "Extraordinary rendition" instead of "kidnap and torture."
- "National Socialist" instead of "Nazi". Ironically, some real neo-nazis (e.g. at Metapedia) find the term "Nazi" offensive and use "National Socialist", often shortened as "NS", to describe themselves. Also have a look at this. This also has the unfortunate side effect of offending "demanists" (people that follow the beliefs of the Belgian antifascist and socialist politician Henri de Man) because "national socialist" is how they used to name themselves before World War 2 happened. The term "Nazi" was originally a derogatory term (just like "Commie" when referring to a communist) and in fact the real Nazis also found it offensive, like their latter-day followers at Metapedia.
- “Bubba” instead of “redneck” or “hillbilly”.
- When in reference to goats, "buck" and "doe" instead of "billy" and "nanny". No, really. People think the goats will get offended if you call them these things.
- "Politically incorrect" for "bigoted".
Today, "political correctness" is used more ironically than it is earnestly, and is generally looked upon as a synonym for censorship. No one sees their own manipulation of language as "political correctness," only applying that term to manipulation of language done by other people.
These days, many celebrities try to be edgy and risqué by being "politically incorrect," instead of trying to be politically correct. This is particularly true of comedians, who are often restricted in what jokes they can make on TV - and particularly whom they can pick on. Many make a living out of doing such edgy material in live stand-up shows, or in the studio (when they know it'll be cut from broadcast). However, it should be made abundantly clear that there is a world of difference between cutting edge alternative comedy that breaks social taboos (Jerry Sadowitz, Charlie Brooker, Chris Morris) and complaining that political correctness doesn't let you call a coon a coon (Jim Davidson, Bernard Manning, Andrew Lawrence) and is thus tantamount to censorship. After all not everyone can be like the brilliant Rucka Rucka Ali, with his song "parodies" involving poorly-written lyrics full of stereotypes, bad imitations of celebrities, and blatant potshots. The worm has turned, surely.
The concepts that came later to be known as political correctness were seemingly first made by a "Cultural Marxist" named Herbert Marcuse. Marcuse, in an essay titled Repressive Tolerance, argued that the concept of tolerance can be liberating or oppressive depending on who uses it and how. He defined "liberating tolerance" as tolerance of communists and other "movements from the Left," and "repressive tolerance" as tolerance of anti-communists and other "movements from the Right."
There is a cure!
To fight political correctness, start young. Buy children's books and albums for your kids that were written before about 1970. In particular, make sure you buy Little Black Sambo for them. Even there you have to watch out with some older books - all the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books were rewritten starting in the 1950s to make them PC, so get only the old out of print original editions, which have pre-1950 copyright dates on them. Good comic book choices are some of the early Tintin albums which will give your kids a proper view of Reds, of Africans, and of Japs - but not Tintin in America (replace with some Chick tracts or other proper reading material). Another good choice is to read your male child Tintin stories, which, in addition to being unbelievably badass, are the most un-PC things since southern justifications for slavery. Note - do not read these stories to your little girl. The incredible volume of manliness in them will probably turn her into a lesbian or something (though fringe schools of thought maintain that this is the reason you should read them to your little girl). A rather funny example of changing titles is Agatha Christie's Ten Little Niggers (she was fond of naming her books with references to nursery rhymes and books, for instance One, Two, Buckle my Shoe) which was Americanized to Ten Little Indians until that was unacceptable too and finally named And then there Were None which kind of gives away the ending even more than the original title did. (In fairness, at least they didn't rename it something godawful like Ten Little Native Americans.)
Also, it is vitally important to buy only appropriate books and toys for their gender. For a boy, a Red Ryder BB gun is a
must compromise if local laws or ordinances prohibits you from getting the real deal, and toy Cat 'dozers and other heavy construction equipment is always a good choice. What, you're afraid he'll shoot his eye out? You PC wimp, he's supposed to shoot his eye out, because adversity builds character and exposing the young boy to danger prepares him for life and ensures he will not grow up to be an effeminate geek. Also, there is nothing in this world more badass than an eyepatch. For a girl, get them dolls, miniature kitchen appliances, and anything related to princesses, but beware! The Disney princess stuff coming out today promotes multiculturalism! Fuck Pocahontas, Mulan and Tiana! Be sure to get them only princesses and dolls that existed before 1970 and haven't significantly changed their design. Barbie dolls are always a good choice. Girls should not be allowed to play with things like fireman helmets and Thomas the Tank Engine, and boys should not be allowed to play with any toys that look like they may involve cooking, clothing, babies, cleaning, or the color pink. That's just asking for them to grow up gay.
Avoid Teletubbies, which promotes effeminacy and homosexuality. Perhaps even worse, Teletubbies is set in a totalitarian world in which a creepy sounding loudspeaker orders them about, and thus looks like the show was consciously designed to prepare toddlers to accept the New World Order. Also avoid Barney the Dinosaur, which is pure social engineering with its "I like you, you like me, we're a happy fam-i-ly" nonsense (a dinosaur can't be happy! It doesn't have a soul!) Come to think of it, avoid all toys and cartoons in which a main character is any pastel color, especially purple or lavender, whatever gay ass colour that is.
Sesame Street is an especially insidious PC social engineering tool. Note the subtle promotion of multiculturalism. The show is even called Sesame "Street" instead of Sesame "Road", a dead giveaway, and the buildings look like some nappy-headed inner city housing project. That show even includes a bum living in a garbage can portrayed as a cute and cuddly muppet, instead of a pathetic layabout who has earned his fate.
If you catch your boys watching Teletubbies or any children watching Sesame Street, turn off the TV pronto and send them outside to play Cowboys and Indians. The future of Western Civilization depends on it! Kill! Kill! Kill! Remember, Sesame Street and Barney & Friends are only for the ragheads at Gitmo. Whatever you do, do not get them that god-awful 1974 children's album that teaches that it is okay for boys to cry and play with dolls.
This is often overlooked, but if you catch your child looking like they might start writing with their left hand, you need to take action fast. There is a definite correlation between left-handedness and left-wingedness! Spanking has proven to be a successful form of D.I.Y. aversion therapy to set children on the path to righteousness.
If you overhear your child using bad language they may have picked up at school, words such as privilege, intersectionality, cisgender, heteronormativity, or ableism, wash their mouth out with soap fast! For boys, use lye soap or original Lifebuoy, not any girly perfumey soaps. Thumbscrews can be useful for especially stubborn cases.
Probably the most important single step you can take to fight political correctness is to homeschool your kids, so they are not exposed to the PC social engineering and brainwashing rampant in today's public and private schools alike. Use the McGuffey Readers, which are excellent books and notably free of any PC influence. Since one particularly insidious PC social engineering tactic was to take phonics instruction out of schools and replace it with the "whole language" approach which is rooted in moral relativism, use phonics material exclusively. You can find some good ones sold via mail order ads on your favorite AM talk radio station.
Smoking is recommended for both genders so start your children on cigarettes early. Nicotine addiction by 8 or it's too late! Girls should smoke something ladylike like Virginia Slims. Camel or Pall Mall no-filters for the boys. Pipes and cigars are good for boys too, but do not let girls smoke those or they'll turn into lesbians.
And now the counter-argument
Because we at rationalwiki pride ourselves on being echo-chamber-free skeptics who consider all points of view before committing to a stance, we will now let one of the master skeptics himself speak, George Carlin (keep in mind that these speeches were given in the 80's).
The nature of language is such that the meat-noises we like to call "words" are entirely subjective in nature and only ever have the meanings, definitions, and connotations that we as a culture and as individuals decide to ascribe to them. As such, monitoring language is a poor way to combat bigotry. If a racist engages in hate speech in the form of a long rant and happens to use a word that African-Americans use quite affectionately amongst themselves, it's the speaker that's the problem, not the words they use. Telling them not to use the n-word won't make them stop being a racist or even stop engaging in hate speech, the most effect it might have is enable them to disguise it better. Trying to combat bigotry by eliminating words commonly used by bigots would be like trying to combat the unabomber by shutting down the particular postal service he used: he'd just use a different one, and then you'd have to shut down that one, and then the next one he used, and so on and so forth until nobody was even able to send messages from one person to another anymore.
"But wait!" We hear you say. "What if it's not about bigotry? What if I personally just don't like the word?" Well that honestly depends on why you don't like the word in the first place. How valid is your reason for not liking it? Are you an achondroplasic who simply wants people to stop using the word "midget" in reference to a condition it does not dictionarily refer to, or are you disabled in some way and living in denial that there's anything wrong? Because when you take offense at something where none was given (such as a creationist who takes offense at their high school teacher portraying evolution as a proven fact), that often means that you are a sensitive prude who needs to just grow thicker skin.
- Comics Code Authority
- Conservative correctness
- Dog whistle politics
- Gender-inclusive language
- Person-first language
- Politically incorrect
- Social justice warrior
- Ideological patrolling
You will not truly grok the extent to which political correctness has ravaged society until you watch some of these old commercials from the 1960s. You must see these commercials!
- Mattel toy gun ad. OMG we must protect the children from this!!!
- Me Chinese me eat Jello
- Flintstones Saturday morning cartoon sponsored by...wtf? OMG we must protect the children from this!!!!
The internet has also allowed us access to these glorious cartoons that were banned by the PC police!
- You're a Sap, Mr. Jap! - Popeye
- Jungle Jitters - one of the Censored Eleven
- Uncle Tom's Bungalow
- Banned Cartoons from Cartoon Network
- See the "Censored Eleven" for more politically incorrect fun!
- Aulbach, Lucas: Trump: Country House's Derby win was a case of 'political correctness' gone wrong, The Louisville Courier Journal, May 5, 2019.(paywalled newspaper site, open in private window).
- See the comical outrage from conservatives in the comments on this story: FCC to consider banning NFL ‘Redskins’ team name on TV and radio
- For example, Thomas Sowell in a 1995 column "An Alumni Revolt Against Overzealous Correctness" complaining about academia for being a tad too critical of Western civilization and being "not interested in alternative perspectives." Maybe because such perspectives are simply wrong?
- There's an oldish joke/trope involving calling someone a "paki," and then they respond by declaring "But I'm Indian!! I fucking hate those paki bastards!!"
- Depending on how ancestry is defined, everyone may be an African; see Recent African Origin theory. (Then again, racists may even call that politically correct.)
- Person first language? - Real Social Skills
- Yes, Autism is a Disability! - Autistic Dreams
- The Pitfalls of Political Correctness: Euphemisms Excoriated - National Federation for the Blind
- Identity-First Language - ASAN
- Self-Identification in the Deaf Community
- WHY PERSON-FIRST LANGUAGE DOESN’T ALWAYS PUT THE PERSON FIRST
- LPA issues statement to abolish the "m" word
- Did you know that ‘midget’ is a bad word?
- Crippled, handicapped, disabled?
- What’s the Difference Between High Functioning and Low Functioning Autism?
- High-Functioning or Low-Functioning?
- New Study Agrees Harmful Autism 'Functioning' Labels Are Harmful
- The media's struggle with disabilities
- "Differently Abled" - Autistic Hoya
- #JustSayDisability on Twitter
- 'Disabled': Just #SayTheWord
- #SayTheWord, Not "Special Needs" - Erin Human
- 3 REASONS TO SAY “DISABILITY” INSTEAD OF “SPECIAL NEEDS”
- My needs are not “special”
- Glossary of Terms - Transgender
- This is probably because it is very difficult, if not impossible, actually to be politically correct, according to what Aesop said about trying to keep everyone happy.
- Wheres Rucka, (23 August 2013). "Blurred Lines PARODY Obama Been Watchin' ~ Rucka Rucka Ali". Retrieved on 3 July 2016 – via YouTube.
- "Repressive Tolerance, by Herbert Marcuse (1965)". marcuse.org. Retrieved on 3 July 2016.
- Tintin in the Land of the Soviets)
- Tintin in the Congo - just be sure you get an uncensored version of it, though.
- The Blue Lotus
- Sesame Street breaks Iraqi POWs, BBC, Tuesday, 20 May, 2003, 12:23 GMT