Political Paranoia: anti political correctness

By Tony Espinal

I have never been one to be on the side of being politically correct. Not that I endorse hurtful words or stereotypes, but I feel that sometimes, in the interest of sparing feelings and controversy, we allow this idea of being politically correct to take control of everything.
This holiday season reminds me of Christmas 2006. One afternoon while at work, I was listening to the radio and a troubling news story came on.
Back in the state of Washington, a rabbi by the name of Elazar Bogomilsky threatened to sue Seattle-Tacoma International Airport if it did not include a menorah along with the Christmas trees that it had set up for the season.  For more than 25 years, the airport had set up Christmas trees for the holiday and now had to remove them all to avoid this lawsuit. The rabbi felt the airport was showing an overt support of Christianity and ignoring the Jewish faith.
The Christmas tree is about as much of a religious symbol as Frosty the Snow Man or Rudolph.
We are surrounded by debates of what is and is not appropriate anymore. In September, a family in Boston fought to change the Pledge of Allegiance by removing the phrase “under God” because it claimed it violates equal rights and is discriminatory. Creationists are calling for the theory of evolution to be banned from schools, and there has been a fight raging for some time to force the Washington Redskins to change their team name because it is insensitive.  As recently as October of this year, a parent of a Texas high school football player filed a  bullying complaint against the coaching staff of Aledo High School when Aledo defeated her son’s Western Hills team 91-0.
Seriously, where do we draw the line?
I believe the issue of unneccessary political correctness is a slippery slope, and while some people may disagree with me, instances of this occur every day across the country. That is not to say there is not validity to some of the mentioned claims. Though there may not be validity to every claim. we have allowed ourselves to become so fixated on the issue that we have created a proverbial “Frankenstein’s monster” out of it.
Imagine the following scenario. The nation starts by forcing the Redskins to change their team name, and then it bans the use of words that can be found offensive and hurtful, such as “gay” or “retarded.”
While that solves one issue, it has just opened a Pandora’s Box for others.
A person now has precedence to demand that the word “short” be banned because he or she feels that the word is derogatory to those who are not as tall as others.
If the Redskins’ name is deemed offensive, does that mean the Braves, Blackhawks and Indians are next?
It is time we stop relying on government, school boards and courts to resolve these issues for us.
Yes, words have the power to hurt people, but it is people who give words power.
For example, at one time the word “gay” meant “happy.”
It was us who allowed “gay” to be turned into a derogatory word. Even though we call the community the “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer community,” some still find the term itself to be offensive.
People who did not believe in Christianity can opt out of saying the phrase “under God” during the pledge, rather than attacking religion.
As the future leaders of this world, we have to teach other students, coworkers and children to think before they speak, and understand the importance of contextual use.
We must work together to understand and respect differences, not throw temper tantrums when we do not agree with a certain point of view.
Show respect to all faiths and creeds. The courts should be a last resort.
Most importantly, take time to hear an opponent’s point of view. You may find that you can reach a compromise or even an agreement on some level.