One of the core values I believe in wholeheartedly is the value of Respect. It’s my belief that we should always treat every person with respect, we should always voice our opinions in a respectful way, and we should talk to one another in a respectful manner, always. As a CEO I made sure that at my company respect was one of our core values that everyone was expected to uphold. Another core value was being honest in our words, our actions, and in speaking to others, whether it was giving honest feedback, or it meant speaking truth even in scariest of circumstances when our honestly may even result in a negative consequence. And it was imperative that those two values be upheld together. Whenever we spoke we needed to do so with honesty and respect, and the way we treated others needed to be honest with respect as well. It is those two values combined that I was raised to understand were the meaning of being “politically correct” – speaking in an honest respectful way and treating others with respect.
Over the last several years the world has turned the notion of being politically correct to mean something totally different than what I was raised by. People have somehow taken the term “politically correct” and used it to try and make people feel they should not be allowed to speak honestly even when they are doing so with respect. They’ve taken the definition of “politically correct” from meaning speaking and treating others with respect to a totally different definition that has crossed the line into absolute ridiculousness.
Actor Tim Allen does a brilliant job of using humor in this short clip from his sitcom Last Man Standing to illustrate just how ridiculous today’s twisted definition of political correctness has become:
The most disturbing thing to me is the way some people use a twisted definition of “politically correct”. They use it as a means to accomplish their own self-serving purposes and it has become a way for people to try and absolve themselves from the need to act responsibly.
For example, many make claims of offense at “political incorrectness” as a tool to get out of doing things they simply don’t want to do, such as one group of University students who claimed they couldn’t take their college exam because they were too emotionally distraught by the results of an election, convincing their college professor that the politically correct thing to do was to cancel their exam.
Others use claims of “political incorrectness” as a way to garner public attention to capture their five minutes of fame, such as a group of students at one University whose protest caused the entire campus to be shut down all because burritos had been served at a space themed science fiction club event, claiming that it was offensive that Mexican food was served at a science fiction event that included spaceships and aliens.
Others use claims of “political incorrectness” as a way to absolve themselves from having to be responsible to actually do their job, such as an elementary school that decided to ban students from celebrating Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and other holidays in the school because the principals and teachers were afraid parents might get upset with them if a students who celebrate Christmas were to mention believing in Christ or Santa Claus or things like that which parents claimed were politically incorrect and which “threaten the culture of tolerance”.
How did things cross over to such ridiculousness?!? As far as I am concerned, political correctness is not about telling people what they can and can’t say, it’s not banning the celebration of holidays, or banning burritos from being served (…there is just never a bad time to serve a burrito because burritos are always fantastic!), and it is not about telling people they should or shouldn’t feel comfortable saying they believe in Christ or Santa Claus or anything else for that matter! I believe that political correctness never had anything to do with curtailing anyone’s beliefs. or views. or ability to speak about those if they do so in a respectful way. Heck, what makes this world interesting is being able to learn from each others different beliefs and views. And no twisted definition of political correctness should ever be allowed to be used as a self-serving tool to justify bad behavior. Let’s get back to what political correctness used to be – simply treating others in a respectful way and speaking to others in an honest respectful fashion. That’s it!
Now I’m gonna go get me a burrito because suddenly it’s all I can think about 🙂
~Amy Rees Anderson