Most people strive to avoid uncomfortable situations and sounding ignorant by using politically correct terms.  But what happens when P.C. comments end up paralyzing us and keep us from accurately seeing reality?

A few instances I can think of that continue to irk me:

  1. Last year, a student was chastised by their history teacher for referring to themself as black rather than the P.C. term of African-American.  The student refused to change her wording, stating she is not of African descent.  As a result, points were deducted from her essay.
  2. Grocery stores which have Mexican food items in a section labeled “Hispanic”.  Many countries do not eat tacos or burritos, yet Americans tend to automatically label them as “Hispanic foods” rather than Mexican in an attempt to achieve P.C.
  3. The recent controversy surrounding NPR firing Juan Williams for stating his feelings about sitting near Muslims on planes.  Most media quoting Williams express outrage at the following remarks:
“But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”

Unfortunately, very few go on to include the rest of his remarks, including statements about how such feelings are a personal issue that he, and many other Americans, need to work towards overcoming.  But how dare he share such un P.C. feelings.

I am constantly yo-yoing back and forth between the true power of words.  On one hand, they are mere words–brush them off and carry on.  On the other hand, sometimes words can be the most powerful force in the world.  Perhaps finding the proper balance distinguishing between the semantics of a word and the speaker’s true intentions in speech will help America end this witch hunt.

  • [UPDATE] I stumbled across Mr. Larry Dauterive’s story and couldn’t help but notice the stiking connection to the points I try to make in this posting.  During a Quarterback Club meeting (I’m assuming this is something similar to the Booster Club), the head football coach made remarks concerning his player’s family lives (such as mentioning that many students came from teenage mothers, lacked a father figure, and often didn’t receive proper meals).  The remarks sparked such controversy within the town that Mr. Dauterive handed in his early resignation and will be reassigned to another teaching position at a different school within the district, leaving a heartbroken team and a divided town.  [Did I mention the team was undefeated?]

I take no offense at the coach’s decision to speak the truth about his players.  Had he been identifying individuals by name and describing their personal situations in detail, perhaps I could understand the outrage.  This gentleman was speaking the truth, identifying areas of need he noticed within his own circle of influence and was trying to raise awareness to spark change.  What he got in return was the undue loss of his job and condemnation from prideful parents too concerned with their own appearances to accept help that their children may have desperately needed.  Again—why do people take things at such superficial value rather than balancing what is said with what the intent of the speaker is?