To be honest…with Hannah Garner

To be honest, it’s time for Americans to understand why being politically correct is necessary.

Yes, political correctness- the concept that candidates such as Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are claiming is ruining our country. The term itself became well known after members of the Republican Party used it to label anything that could portray the wealthy, white, cisgender and heterosexual demographic in a negative light. Since there seems to be such a negative connotation around the phrase, feel free to call it as something else, such as common decency.

But for the sake of this argument, I am going to continue to refer to it as being politically correct.

I’m not saying every member of the GOP uses this term to undermine any effort of the unempowered. There are plenty of members of the Republican party who simply want a smaller federal government and believe in a strict interpretation of the Constitution.

However, there are quite a few prominent members who believe there aren’t ongoing issues with white privilege, male privilege, heterosexual privilege and cisgender privilege and will disregard or oppose any display of what doesn’t fit their mold.

Furthermore, if the press speaks out against any of their indecent remarks towards a certain demographic, they’ll immediately defend their First Amendment right, accuse individuals of being too sensitive and claim that “political correctness is ruining this nation.”

So, this brings us to the term “political correctness.” Why should we embrace this concept? Those opposed to it want you to believe it’s a phrase delicate and weak individuals use to promote censorship while enforcing a liberal agenda. But being politically correct, in its simplest meaning, is being non-discriminatory and understanding that every person you come in contact with has value. To better understand this concept, a few specific instances may be necessary.

Political correctness is addressing someone as their preferred pronoun because it exemplifies that you acknowledge and value their gender, even if it isn’t the one they were assigned at birth.

It’s understanding that using the phrase “to rape” in a casual manner can be very triggering and makes the connotation of the word less severe.

It’s refraining from the phrases “don’t be such a girl” or “that’s so gay” because they could perpetuate the idea that some demographics are weak and undesirable.

Political correctness is placing a critical lense on how privilege can appear in the choices we make every day, even if they’re unknown to us. Political correctness is recognizing that words are choices that can make or ruin someone’s day. Political correctness is having compassion and choosing to take others’ feelings into account when we speak. There’s no agenda, no motive and no over-sensitivity. It’s being polite and accountable for your speech.

Another argument against political correctness is that it silences the privileged demographic. If a wealthy, white, heterosexual man wants to tell the public why there should or shouldn’t be a Qdoba so close to Chipotle, by all means, let him speak.

However, when we are discussing the racial and economic imbalance in this country, the wealthy, white, heterosexual opinions are not going to have much value. They have never been displaced or disadvantaged because of these reasons and, therefore, are not going to be able to truly understand the challenges marginalized Americans face everyday. The truth of the matter is that the underprivileged are best poised to speak to the prevalence of privilege in our society, and if that fact makes you uncomfortable, then you’re probably part of the “privileged” to which so many people keep referring.

We wouldn’t lose much at all if everyone made an effort to be politically correct. If being politically correct means your favorite not-so-creative comedian can’t crack a joke at the expense of a racial minority for cheap laughs, then so be it.

If we as a nation desire to move toward a more collective and cohesive society, we need to stop insulting other people’s races, religions, sexual preferences and gender identity. If it’s unintentional and accidental, then be aware that your words can and will hurt other people and make an effort to correct that behavior.

No one is born calling something or someone “gay” or “ghetto,” so a person shouldn’t act like impolite behavior is something that can’t change. The things that a person can’t change are often what an individual undermines with insulting speech.

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