Cellar door. Orifice. Racist. Serendipity. Whore. Maggots. Discombobulate. Moist. Stupid. Love. Secrete. Fascist. Ointment.

Language is powerful. The words we choose convey our thoughts, ideas and feelings. They have meaning, definitions, connotations and impact.

stupid

Modest or Mousy – Persevering or Stubborn – Inquisitive or Nosy – Relaxed or Lazy – Butcher or Execute – Prophecy or Prediction

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about the term “Political Correctness.” Is this idea of avoiding words that are perceived to exclude, marginalize or insult groups of people silencing debate and discussion? Have we lost the ability to explore ideas out of fear of using the wrong words? Is this PC backlash an excuse to spew hatred and maintain a system of a powerful elite keeping marginalized people in their place? Is PC really just a term that defines courtesy and respect?

Our country has turned into a bit of a laughing stock with the antics of Donald Trump as he attempts to shake up the system with outlandish behavior in stark contrast to the professional and polished politicians we expect. When someone says something you can either choose to believe that the person feels the way they communicated or that they are incapable of choosing the right words to express themselves. By attacking the idea of political correctness – choosing words that communicate what you want without insulting others you are saying that you are incapable of choosing the right words.

The Donald Trump quote that has fueled much of this debate, “I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct. I’ve been challenged by so many people, and I don’t frankly have time for political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesn’t have time either.” So our country and you don’t have time to think about what we want to say and do? Or are you communicating exactly how you feel?

“Political correctness” means avoiding words that exclude, marginalize and insult or according to the New Zealander programmer Byron Clark, “treating people with respect.” In a brilliant demonstration of what this conversation is really about he set his web browser to replace the words “political correctness” with “treating people with respect.” 

The conversation is wrong. Language matters, the words you choose matter, you have a responsibility to think about how your words and actions effect others. We can and should discuss how to have conversations around race, equality, gender, power, etc. without being so scared of saying the wrong thing that we say nothing but that is not an excuse to discharge thoughtless, irresponsible insults.

Please see Amanda Taub’s brilliant piece on this http://www.vox.com/2015/8/10/9118339/political-correctness-respect

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