How PC Are You?
When I mention PC, I’m not referring to your personal computer. I am talking about Political Correctness. Merriam-Webster defines the concept as the practice of not using language or exhibiting behaviors in a manner that could offend a group of people. Click here for the actual definition and sentence usage.
However, I don’t find the practical application so simple. Communication is a subjective process, meaning our language patterns and behaviors are open to various interpretations by the recipient. Now, I am not suggesting we should speak offensively to others with disrespect, such as destructive name-calling, personal attacks or insults. On the contrary, I support more mindfulness in tolerating disagreements and valuing diversity, two essential ingredients regarding ethics in free speech.
The initial idea of political correctness was to encourage sensitivity toward others, which is a communication behavior we should all practice. I will take it a step further and emphasize the importance of accommodation and the practice of personalizing language patterns and behaviors to your conversation partner. However, when it comes to political correctness, there is little discussion about the intention of the message from the speaker’s perspective. In a conversation, have you ever found yourself saying, “…that’s not what I meant!” As a result, you might have stopped yourself from further contributing to the open discussion about political issues or trending events for fear you might “say something wrong.”
The thought of not fostering dialogue to avoid communicating freely with others is scary. How can we establish cohesiveness with others if we are afraid to discuss sensitive topics? In order to minimize ignorance, don’t we need to openly discuss issues that are confusing or challenging to us? A human bond is virtually impossible to form with such barriers. Perhaps we need to also place emphasis on the intention or the purpose of messages we exchange with others. My intention with this blog topic was not to offend, it was to provoke thought. So this Easter, I will be celebrating the Easter Bunny, not the Holiday Hare!