I am really getting tired of “Political Correctness”, and many of my fellow Generation X friends, coworkers and acquaintances are starting to feel the same way.
When we were growing up in the 1970’s and 80’s, I remember that life was a lot more fun. By comparison, in my opinion, the culture we share now is dry, corporate and listless. Also, back then, the music was better – by far.
For example, I remember riding the bus every day, and whenever a song by Queen (We will, we will rock you!) or Pink Floyd (All in all it was, just another brick in the wall!), or some other popular band at the time came on the radio, EVERYONE on the bus (except the stodgy old bus driver) got excited and sang along to the lyrics. You’ll never see that happen these days! (Sony’s and I-pod’s with earphones have taken over so that we never need to “bother” each other with our preferred tunage.)
[Eds. note: These songs and other shared life experiences are called “generational cohorts”.]
Another thing that is different, is that people didn’t spend so much time with their technology. Instead of playing video games and surfing social media on the internet, people actually went to visit other people, in their homes. That was called, “Hanging out”.
But a lot of other things have changed besides the music and technology.
I also remember that the English language was different. It was full of emotional expression. Forms of speech such as hyperbole, metaphor, simile, irony, sarcasm… were commonplace in daily interaction. Political Correctness has replaced all these with muted euphemisms.
Supposedly, as we are told, Political Correctness has become necessary to “civilize our society”. The narrative implies that we need a new standard, to be used as a social law to instruct, correct, and punish some very mean people who use these forms of speech in wrong ways.
But what is so bad about sarcasm? Do we have to throw away our whole culture because “some bad apples spoiled the whole barrel”? It’s more like “throwing the baby out with the bath water”!
Twenty years ago, our friends used sarcasm towards us every day, and we felt closer, because we knew that we weren’t letting appearances or fragile egos stand between us. As ugly as it may have appeared, we knew we were being authentic, and we loved each other for it.
If someone told us about political correctness back then, we probably would have said something to the tune of,
“THAT is a bunch of pansy @$$ kissing bull $&!#!”
My interaction with many members of preceding generations (Boomers, Silents, Greats, and even a couple Missionaries), has proven to me that such a use of speech is indeed not unique to my own generation. Most of the expressions used by the older generations have now passed from daily use, and have been substituted by modern expressions. But moreover, I’ve learned that such a use of the language permitted a deep communication, rich in emotional undertones.
Forty years ago, most of the music that we now call “Classic Rock”, was being generated in extremely informal settings by Boomers who were actually way off line, in terms of Political Correctness. Silents tell me the same thing was happening in the 40’s and 50’s with Jazz and Rock and Roll. They knew something that we don’t appreciate anymore – that risk, sincerity and original creativity are golden.
Sixty years ago, during the World War II era, my grandparents’ generation (The Greats) had the patriotic belief that they could tell who the “Real Americans” were, by whether the person in question had a good repertoire of all the aforementioned forms of speech, and used them correctly and with confidence.
Today, this sort of thinking would appear to be too “middle class” for most to accept it. Today, it’s a SIN to think middle class. Even those who ARE middle class, instead of enjoying the great life that America gives them, these people feel that they need to spend over $3.00 for a “gourmet” Starblinks (or $tarBUCK$) cup of coffee, so that at least they can make themselves believe that they have “high-class” tastes.
Is it not obvious to everyone, that REAL QUALITY LIVING is much deeper than this?
From a proper viewpoint, “politically correct” Americans should know that a large middle class population, and the right to freedom of speech, are the very FOUNDATIONS of a strong democracy! And we should watch out for anyone who pressures us to “conform”.
My beef with Political Correctness is that it deadens expression in speech, it erases culture and regional color, and homogenizes everyone into an “acceptable form”, which is actually a reverse judgment on the intolerance of our own culture.
Whatever happened to those beautifully contrived phrases, rich in connotation, such as, “fed up”, “junkie”, “wrathsome” … What’s wrong with being a “cook” or a “janitor”?
Instead, the most expression we hear these days is, “Whatever…”, because to finish this statement would be Politically INCORRECT!
Let’s get right down to it. We need to face up to the fact that everyone is different. Everyone has different ideas, thinking, attitudes and speech. Why can’t some people just accept the fact that everyone is different, and stop tip-toeing around all those who are resorting to Political Correctness, not as a genuine demand for respect, but because they are too emotionally insecure, or they are lacking sound thinking and a firm knowledge of their own identity. Those people need to be told the real truth, so that they can face it and grow up.
The politically correct truth is not always the whole truth about who each of us are, and that does not need to imply that we’re all graphic at heart. If people think it’s too basic, then it’s only because they are common themselves and they can’t accept being that way. They miss the idea that true greatness is always personal and informal.
Being politically tactful never led anyone to success (with President Obama being the one exception).
The real nature of men has been evidenced by the many political blunders committed by the greatest men among us when they were caught off guard at a candid moment. It was an embarrassment to them to be held guilty for their transgression of political correctness, but it is even more embarrassing that the public as a whole should come to demand political correctness at all times by all people. Instead, people should respect the differences of others in totality, without feigning shock when someone accidentally behaves how they really feel.
While it is true that “diversity” and “political correctness” are both highly valued for conveying modern social sophistication, as well as their usefulness in condemning and eliminating social “offenders”, sooner or later, we will have to wake up to the fact that they are entirely incompatible ideals.
What am I saying here? I am not saying that we should resort to a stone-age society. I am saying that people should use their own personal discernment coupled with common sense to interpret the basic meaning of anothers expression, while maintaining enough personal integrity and security in their own identity not to take offense from the differences they have with others.
Of course, I have to agree that there has been a lot of denigratory terminology that political correctness has removed from our language, making our society more civilized in some tactful ways. But I have the impression that while the dirt is being cleaned off the surface, nevertheless, Political Correctness introduces a deeper and more insidious contamination to society.
While it is true that political correctness is a high card in eliminating racism and bigotry from public life, it also removes a great deal of emotional color, good and bad. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the norm of Political Correctness has robbed the American people of the beauty and versatility of our own language, and forced a subtle sense of shame into middle class American life, towards anyone that is somehow, “different”.
Recent studies have shown that the middle class is disappearing, but actually, I believe part of this is because no one wants to admit being middle class. It’s like the social standard has been knocked down one strata. Simply saying that you’re middle class automatically makes you a lower class wannabe. People who were once considered lower class are now seen to be “cracker” or “ghetto”, but Political Correctness dictates that we’re not “allowed” to say so!
I think these people need to travel more!
Hold on to your hats now, but sometimes I suspect that the baby-boomers invented political correctedness to counteract their own guilt for being overly expressive and rebellious in their youth. Remember the “Peaceniks” and the drug cultures? I personally wasn’t there, but my father told me all about it.
If Americans eventually outgrow the current trend of political correctness, then we can truly claim that we have achieved a mutual self-respect amongst ourselves. But if not, then the intimacy and warmth of small town Americana has passed forever, replaced by the “Big Brother” society that Orson Wells warned us about nearly sixty years ago.