BREAKING NEWS: the world does not revolve around you

Photo courtesy of Alexis Price

AUSTIN KLAWITTER | OPINION COLUMNIST | aklawitt@butler.edu

Despite what the anti-politically correct movement is telling you, your free speech is not being limited, your opinions are not being stifled and you most certainly are not being personally attacked for the things you say.

Political correctness is not the evil it is made out to be —  in fact, it is inherently good.  It has two facets of goodness: one being its use in promoting Butler’s Community of C.A.R.E, and the other is its use as a tool for a greater, more productive debate.

It is impossible to be on Butler’s campus at all without reading or hearing about the Community of C.A.R.E.  Simply put, it is the university’s mission to promote healthy behaviors among students.

Despite its formal description, and the various organizations it supports, the Community of C.A.R.E is an ever-present entity on this campus. The driving force behind it? The genuine care we have for others, their feelings, thoughts, goals, beliefs and values.  

What strives to do nothing more than take into account all of the things listed? Political correctness.

Sensitivity is not an issue. The millennials are not a weak, spineless generation that need to “man-up” or “grow a pair.” Millennials are a generation not afraid to speak out against the latent oppression facilitated by those “exercising their First Amendment right.”

The fact is, it is not a weakness to be conscious of the feelings of others; it is a strength. It is a sign that as human beings, we are respectful of the individuals around us.
Conservatives have been getting upset recently over the various changes in words or phrases that allow for a more inclusive atmosphere. It seems like it would be common sense to advocate for an atmosphere that allowed the opinions of all to be respected, but supposedly that is not the case.  

One example is the switch from “freshman” to “first year,” that we have seen at Butler and other liberal arts colleges across the nation. While it is understandable that you may not have been affected at all by the term “freshman,” is it not worth it to adopt this new vocabulary for the inclusion of your peers?  

Not only does everyone deserve a seat at the table, but also they deserve respect. Changing a few vocabulary terms seems like a fairly straightforward compromise to achieve that level of respect.

We all learned the Golden Rule in kindergarten, and naturally political correctness is at the heart of this rule.  Treating others the way you would want to be treated is not characterized by refusing to not be offensive.  

This may sound like liberals are asking you to censor yourself in order to protect someone’s feelings, but censorship is not the point.  When your opinions not only disagree with someone else’s, but also trigger them emotionally it becomes a problem. The point is to convey opinions in a manner that is respectful.

Now, it is necessary to address political correctness’ role in politics, as it plays a huge role in damaging our political discourse.

If the election season is not evidence enough, not being politically correct distracts from the issues at hand. The American electorate is not stupid. It is simply misguided.  

Donald Trump’s racy comment on immigrants living in America becomes political news; in reality, the news should be his actual plan for immigration reform.  The media emphasizes what gets the people’s attention, and that is often the “edgy,” politically incorrect nonsense.

The solution? A politically correct, greater debate.

President Barack Obama, an advocate for a better political environment, described it best in his 2015 State of the Union address.

“A better politics is one where we debate without demonizing each other; where we talk issues, and values, and principles, and facts, rather than ‘gotcha’ moments, or trivial gaffes, or fake controversies that have nothing to do with the people’s daily lives.” Obama said.

This greater debate involves stating only facts, being respectful to those you are arguing with, and disagreeing in an educated and informed way.

We cannot expect to move forward as a respectable nation, or manage to inform voters if we cannot be inclusive and respectful of the entire electorate.

Political correctness should be common sense. It should just be the way in which we act toward one another.  Whether people are having a discussion about what they did yesterday or two presidential candidates are discussing tax reform, political correctness should be present.  

Why? It is a term that is synonymous with consideration.

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