Last week we heard about a series of bombings in Thailand. It happened a few days after the ruling junta, which had overthrown the legitimate government, held a constitutional referendum that many feel was rigged.
So why should we care about this? Because a friend of mine immediately assumed the bombings were a Muslim terrorist attack and blamed “political correctness” as the reason media outlets did not call it that. I pointed out that branding every incident as Muslim-inspired terrorism unnecessarily stokes up the underlying fear Americans have dealt with since 9-11.
It also led me to question the entire concept of political correctness. It seems we can’t say “what is on our minds” anymore because it will offend someone. Really? Now, before you agree with that statement you might want to think about what it really means. If you are standing in a room full of people and you are about to say something on your mind that is not politically correct, do you glance around to see who might be offended? Chances are it is a woman, a minority, a homosexual, someone of a different religion, a person with disabilities, a liberal or a conservative. So maybe the problem isn’t political correctness, but the problem is really “what is on our minds.”
Yes, we live in America, where free speech is guaranteed, but more importantly, we have a Constitution that grants all of us equal status under the law. In theory then, we should automatically respect everyone in the room and his or her right to be there. Does “being politically correct” mean some political body, presumably the government, is interfering with our right to make offensive comments when we want to?
We probably all have a friend or close relative who fits into one of those “offend-able” categories above. So, how would you feel if a stranger said something offensive to or about them in your presence? Suddenly it isn’t political correctness; it is offensive. In that context, there is nothing “political” about respecting others. Treating people as you wish to be treated yourself is a basic tenet in every religious, social, ethical and moral tradition.
The exception is when someone says or does something to lose that respect. We certainly know people who fit into that category. But to beat up a stranger just because he attended prayer services at a mosque (last week in Fort Pierce), or deface a church sign to read “Black Lives Matter LESS” (Vero Beach), should not be acceptable in any society, especially ours.
So the next time someone complains about “political correctness,” ask who it is he would like to offend, but feels he can’t do it.