Over the years I’ve seen many, even my close friends, attack the attitude of political correctness. There seems to be a fear that in the censoring of how we really want to be, we become worse as a society… the fear is often in our creative ventures (comedy sketches, etc.) as well as our interaction between fellow humans.
What most fail to realize, however, is that political correctness is a product of enforcing ethics in a void of ethics.
Where Did Political Correctness Come From?
The roots of political correctness come from federal protections of previously abused classes of people – namely workers. Racial & gender demeaning, caused people to want to solve this growing problem of unfairness in the work place.
A woman gets a job in accounting, not so she has to sleep with the boss, yet she’s treated this way. An Irishman is working at a lumberyard and finds he’s labeled a drunk, simply because he’s Irish. These generalizations and abuses were created by members of the majority, against those that were different.
Consider a Jewish accountant that overhears his boss telling his employees that they “hate working with a Jew, but they sure are good accountants.” How do you think that makes the accountant feel? How good of a job will he contribute in a hostile environment? Does this belong in the work place? Society in general rallied against this bad behavior and this got the attention of those running for government positions – we would abolish the bad behavior by law.
The outpouring of these problems, caused the government to step in. This eventually turned into federal protections. If someone where to be found guilty of discriminatory behavior to their employees, the employee could win damages.
As cases of women not being paid equal pay, of women not being hired, of African American workers being treated less than other races on the job, corporations began to see this as a financial burden.
To help prevent lawsuits they sought to create an environment that was devoid of racism, sexism, and bigotry. Obviously this isn’t entirely successful, but this is the general goal.
Money became the great equalizer. While these established rules were in place, work environments strove to become less charged with abuses that might lead to financial ruin. Employees were instructed to address co-workers with respect. Training and HR classes sought to improve people’s behavior with one another. This goal is a good goal.
Political Correctness is Good
Without political correctness we have what we used to have, work environments where women, and people of different races were treated with contempt.
Now, regardless what a manager or business owner believes, they have to treat everyone equally and within legal guidelines – when they don’t (and I’m quite aware that many still break these guidelines), lawsuits can form that further reinforce proper behavior.
Some men are reacting right now to political correctness as it applies to their behavior. A friend of mine recently posted on social media a response from Mel Brooks condemning political correctness in comedy.
Others are upset with a razor manufacturer for producing an advertisement encouraging men to treat women with respect. This upset, this anger is from not wanting to change – they continue to want to be who they have been – the powerful, dominating the powerless.
While I can understand his worry that comedy will lose its edginess. I also feel that maybe it should.
Look back at one of the comedies of the 80’s – The Benny Hill Show. That show showed women as sexual objects. Benny Hill with his funny faces was always trying to look down their dresses, or up their skirts… Other actors on the show would grope or chase these women all around and everyone laughed.
This type of a show is dangerous – because it normalizes a problem. Benny Hill and the cast all seem like funny old men, and that makes a serious issue, something to laugh about.
When we normalize bad behavior or a lack of ethics, it makes a generation resonate in this same exact way.
The product of this behavior are people who chase after female employees, grope women or otherwise try and look up their skirts or down their dresses… and when they get caught they have a, “what’s the big deal,” response.
What We Gain with PC
It may be true that our comedy sketches will lack “impact” in the future, but perhaps that’s just a sign we, as a country, are GROWING UP. That objectifying women, demeaning other races, minorities, refugees or other religions, is a state of mind we must finally put to rest. It’s time to grow up.
Just as a child learns to give up their selfish behavior and share with others, so too must we as a society learn to play nice. If we don’t, we’ll just suffer more problems.
The problems we will face without PC will be the further separation of our society into an “us vs. them” mentality. We will gain more projected racism. We will gain more projected sexism. We gain aggressive and condescending attitudes towards others.
While it is sad that human beings have to be held ethical by fears of financial loss – it seems one of the few ways to enforce fairness. Without it, our society slips into anger and hate.
Political Correctness isn’t a magic pill. Nor is Political Correctness a result “Liberal Agenda.” It’s a way to treat others with respect, by enforcing rules with financial implications.
It is a step in the right direction.
While it won’t solve everything, it will cause people to take more ownership of their actions. Yes, there will be those who manipulate the system for financial gain, but without political correctness I foresee more of the same hate and anger that has been steadily growing since 2016.