Have you ever been apprehended by the Political Correctness Police (PC Police, for short)? Ever had an online spat with a Social Justice Warrior? At least ever come across the term SJW? Anyone who spends a significant amount of time on social media sites such as Twitter, or Facebook, or, nay especially YouTube must have the answer to at least one of the above questions. But what exactly is Political Correctness? And are these callouts for cultural insensitivity appropriate or does being politically correct do more harm than good? First, let’s start with what Political Correctness mean? PC, in very simple words, is the avoidance of language, specifically words/terms, which may offend a particular demographic and instead replace them with ones which are more acceptable to the demographic in question. The basic idea behind PC is that an individuals’ dignity, and that of the demographic(s) she/he belongs to, is/are under threat of derogation. Derogation or offence (a far more omnipresent word), even if unintentional, is believed to be an infringement on someone’s Right to Equality, since the speaker has implied that the listener (who is often an unwilling one) is not worthy of the same respect that the speaker has, by the virtue of belonging to a particular demographic. If the above text doesn’t make much sense, let me explain with an example. What is your opinion of the word “retarded”? Offensive? Insensitive? According to Political Correctness it’s both, and something I agree with. The word has gained notoriety for causing a growing number of disabled people to feel unfairly stereotyped. A far better term would be “people with special needs”. There are numerous other such examples which I have on purpose not mentioned since they are related to gender, race, ethnicity, religion, etc. basically things which can cause outrage. But that exactly is the point of this article. Why should there be an outrage? Why can’t sensitive topics be discussed without offending someone? Do people have to get offended by anything they hear, see or read? Opponents of Politically Correct discourse argue that substituting harmful words for more fashionable or acceptable ones doesn’t do much of anything. In the essay “A Critique of Politically Correct Language” Ben O’ Neill argues that politically correct language is pointless as long as the social stigma still survives. Political correctness, according to O’ Neill, suffers from a cyclical bully problem: new words replace hurtful language, but individuals remain stuck on a “euphemism treadmill”. The word “Fat” gets replaced with the phrase “a bit healthy/chubby”, which then gets replaced with another phrase like “a big person”, and now finally the term “Plus Size” before it gets replaced again. The problem is that the new vocabulary tends to be taken up by the same individuals with the same intent. In other words, the underlying harmful intent never changes. For example, some might use the term People/Person of Colour (POC) which sounds respectful, but might not as such have any respect for POC. If politically correct language is supposed to heal the wounds of harmful speech or at least balance the negativity created by harmful speech, and create a form of language separated from the pain and historical baggage of bigotry, we should ask: is it actually helping? But for the advocates of PC, defending it starts with the idea that the words we use profoundly impact people’s lives. The central force behind PC has to do with the language of philosophy. Language is not just descriptive – it shapes our reality. Certain forms of injurious speech, in their very utterance, create – and this case that creation is pain. In her book “Words that Wound”, law professor Mari Matsuda explains that Hate Speech, the moment it’s uttered, is violent – it places the speaker above the listener or addressee and enacts a violent exclusion of another person. Beyond that there are material implications to harmful language – it causes emotional distress, forces people to change jobs or schools and it creates the isolation that comes with the feeling like you’re hated and alone in the world. Researchers have also identified some of the psychological implications that stereotypical language has on mental capacity. There have been experiments in which women were asked to solve different math problems after they were made aware of the stereotype that men are better than women at mathematics. The women who were made aware of the stereotype did worse than the control group who were not reminded of the stereotype. They found that “Stereotype Threat” or the awareness of a negative stereotype, hinders the working of mental capacity. Our brains are subconsciously aware of the stereotypes that society employs to define us. Stereotypes that can affect members of minority groups in their academic and job performance.Of course, there is the counter argument that adversity is an important tool in growing up and maturing. Someone who will go out of his or her way to try denying these people adversity to small problems like words, is doing harm in the long run by allowing complacency with their inability to handle adversity. To be overly PC is necessarily coddling people to a fault. The damage done is not in the immediate here and now, but is more like a snowball effect down the line. ome might even argue that PC suppresses actual discourse. Taking away the ability to “be mean” is also a double-edged sword of taking away the ability to argue against actual discriminatory behaviour– if you just call people racists, for example, and censure them for it, those who aren’t actually discriminatory/racist (but just a plain rude) are going to be bitter at your arrogance and slander and be even less receptive to changing their racial stance, while those who are actual racists would just hide the racism more subtly. Most urgently, the advocates of PC need to grow a funny bone and understand that not all dark humour is bigotry, lest they stratify society and end up being self-defeating again — if people can’t make insensitive jokes on Facebook, they’ll turn to reddit to make even more dirtier ones, which would make it even more difficult to identify such people since there is greater anonymity. What a self – defeating exercise!? This was an observation I myself made during the U.S. election. Trumps’ campaign was largely depended on an over-the-top Anti-P.C platform. He even said in one Republican primary debate, “I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct. I’ve been challenged by so many people and I don’t, frankly, have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesn’t have time, either.” Apparently, elections are won by presenting proper arguments and not by calling people “deplorable”? What a shocker I know. That’s what political correctness does, it functions on the assumption that if a person says or implies something derogatory then it is done for purely hegemonic reasons, and isn’t the result of either misunderstanding or just having a crass sense of humour. That instead of rolling our eyes at something, we should feel outraged.The privileged liberal elite also fail to differentiate between racism/xenophobia and economic suffering. In reality, Trumps’ victory was not a result of racism/xenophobia but economic suffering, and the latter has been on sharp ascendancy amongst the non-elite Americans since 2008. Does racism explain the vast number of whites who voted for Obama twice, but then for Trump in 2016? In truth, they are only desperate for change. One might feel compelled to bring up Charlottesville riots, but considering what an immediate backlash it received from both the Democrats and the Republicans shows that the latter are not as backward minded as the former think they are. The PC brigade or Social Justice Warriors have almost a vindictive approach to progress. Either you have to completely agree with them or you are a supreme bigot. There is just no room for disagreement. This is a complete “Either you’re with us or against us attitude” which is too extreme for democracies. Language is how we come to understand the world around us and it shapes our perception of others. Stereotype Threat seems to reinforce the idea that words have the power to significantly diminish a person’s potential. A choice to censor language, to not replicate potentially harmful stereotypes, maybe a totalitarian self-censorship or it may be a way to avoid harmful language that has a material impact on others. In the end the language you use is your choice. Choosing to be PC may or may not change the way you and others think about the world. So is political correctness the right path to fighting prejudice? Or are we all terrible misguided? Only time will tell..