Political Correctness… Liberal Hogwash or Necessary Behavior?

I am the black sheep in my family. I believe in protecting the environment and animals. I don’t believe that some book purported to be written by someone’s god gives anyone the right to rape the planet and abuse animals. I believe that people who “have” are morally obligated to be of assistance to those who “don’t”. I also believe that it is unacceptable to call people derogatory names based on their racial appearance. One, it’s freaking WRONG and two, what if you ARE wrong? In our country of ethnic mingling, what makes you so sure that your ignorant comment is even “correctly” misapplied? Okay, so I realize that there really doesn’t need to be an explanation of why calling someone a name is wrong. I also won’t go into detail listing them out. If you wouldn’t yell it out in a crowded room of strangers, you know it’s wrong.

So… obviously this is not anything new. But it is…

A personal experience with prejudice first. Shanna and I went to restaurant in our neighborhood. A restaurant that we frequent regularly. We sat down in our usual section when I noticed a table of three men behind Shanna. The man facing me was staring at me, in an extremely hostile fashion. I saw him mouth, “fucking dykes”. He began making pointed eye contact and making extremely hostile faces and swearing at me. Though not so loud that I or anyone else, could hear him. I was getting extremely pissed off. Shanna and I were sitting on opposite sides of the table and were doing nothing that could be construed as PDA or otherwise. Simply two females sitting at a table, in fact, we were meeting three of our male friends that night. All three of whom are high ranking martial arts teachers. One of whom is an MMA coach for a  team whose record is 21 wins to 1 loss. I knew the guys were coming and I was fairly certain that these men were not going to do anything more than sit at the table and make comments (read: cowards). When Shanna asked if we should leave, I adamantly remained put. One, I wasn’t going to let a few bigots ruin my night, but I wasn’t sure that we would be safe if we left the building and went into the dark parking lot. I was aflame with righteous indignation. How dare they!

Yet, I learned that I was still a little bit prejudiced. Not very long ago, I was training for my volunteer work as a  medical advocate for a sexual assault service center. During one particular class, we were having a conversation about prejudice. One of the ladies in the class brought up her dislike at being referred to as African-American, as she was of Jamaican descent. Another girl asked what she would like to be referred to as. She simply responded, “black”. Another said, “well, what do you want us to do? Black was considered ignorant, now African-American is considered rude. What would you have us do?” I wasn’t being my usual vocal self, because I thought by referring to a black person as an African-American I was being politically correct. In actuality, I was still being prejudiced. If someone called me English-American just because I was white, I wouldn’t appreciate that. I am much more diverse and a large part of my lineage is Irish. That part bristles at being called English. So, I can understand her point. Her point? Take the time to get to know someone before making a decision about who they are. That’s what being politically correct is. Not being so arrogant that we think we know something about a person when we don’t even know their name. This all comes down to seeing people in color instead of in spirit or as human. It’s all about labels. In my opinion, labels are for soup cans.

I was looking at images that illustrate political correctness. All the images where about how a politically correct society makes us communists or setting ourselves up for a terrorist attack. Pardon my language, but that is bullshit. If we take the time to get to know the people around us, we lose the preconceived notions that we create about who they are. We become more vulnerable to treating people as equal and we have to give everyone the same chance. This means that we cannot believe that someone is inherently wrong or bad because they are different than us. Being different makes us interesting and beautiful and special. It doesn’t make us strange or bad or untrustworthy. So, what’s wrong with a little PC behavior?

copyright 2011 Michelle Cahill


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