Political Correctness

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There's a cold civil war brewing in the US and one of the coldest fronts is where factions attempt to draw the line on political correctness, a term that, for all its power these days, perhaps enough to derail our nation's politics, few people bother to define.

We're told PC is wrong, but what is it? One vague notion is that it's taking offense. If you're offended by what I do, then you're PC and therefore wrong.

The main target of PC-policing these days is the left, always fretting about things said by right wingers. Many Trump supporters subscribe to this notion. To them, it's time to throw off the shackles of left-wing hypersensitivity.

There are plenty of hypersensitivities on the right too, but somehow these don't count. Fox news fretting about gay marriage, Planned Parenthood, and transgender bathrooms. No that's not PC, that's just upholding standards.

The United States is an apt oxymoron of a name for our country. Which are we, a united whole, or individual states? It matters, since they're opposites.


The answer is both and that's not easy. Individual states, not just the 50, but our diverse states of mind will clash. That's democracy.

Whenever there's conflict the question arises: Who is being hypersensitive and who is being insensitive? It can't be answered by accusing each other of political correctness, since in conflict, we're all offended. The touchy, toughy anti-PC police as much as admit it, saying "I'm offended that you're offended."

I think a better definition of political correctness comes from taking the term literally. Politics is the struggle for power. Correctness is having the 100% right answer

If there's anything to police in our country, it's the trump-card self-certainty that the term suggests when read literally. Political correctness is the tendency for any faction to get on its high-horse, certain that it has the 100% correct solution to our country's challenges, no debate, no negotiation, just civil war with anyone who disagrees with us.

With a Perspective, I'm Jeremy Sherman.

Jeremy Sherman is an author and a blogger for Psychology Today.