On the Jan. 27 episode of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, the eponymous host burst into a montage of situations where celebrities were forced to apologize for comments and actions which were viewed as being culturally insensitive.
He began by saying, “Republicans apologize for nothing, Democrats for everything. Can’t we find a balance?”.
Maher is absolutely right.
Political correctness has gone awry in America.
What was once believed to be an instrument to bring us all together, to blanket our society in expressions that brought the marginalized into the fold has only deepened the divide among liberals and conservatives.
It is also apparent that the 2016 election was the battlefield on which this separation raged on.
The main problem is the restriction on language that follows the insistence on political correctness, and college campuses have become its overwhelming stomping ground.
Political correctness places rules and procedures on the way we communicate, which is only to lead to a skewed and incomplete form of dialogue.
Currently, there are things that you can say, and things that you can’t.
Unfortunately, the things you can’t say haven’t been deemed incomprehensible through debate.
No, they have been shut out completely in an attempt to eradicate them forever.
Instead of having individuals discuss opposing opinions, one view tends to be accepted as fact and the other is pushed underground because the surface is now inhospitable to a civil disagreement.
If some views are incomprehensible, shouldn’t it be simple to defeat it in debate?
If so, why the need to stop the conversation instead of using it to prove the point?
We all know what some of these disavowed ideas are.
Have a not-so-liberal opinion on the transgender bathroom issue?
Want a tightened immigration system?
Don’t talk to me you xenophobe.
Are you a big believer in capitalism?
It sucks that you hate working class people.
It’s a perfectly democratic notion to disagree with someone on political issues because the very nature of these questions show a lack of consensus.
Their elimination from civil discourse is tyrannical.
These responses, or ones with similar sentiments, have succeeded on campuses for a number of years.
However, I believe it has come back to haunt the liberal cause.
These politically correct attitudes have backed people into a corner and micromanaged them into submission.
This leaves them no political escape other than doing exactly what they were told not to do.
We have all done things simply because we were warned against them and, at times, we have all wanted to be the person that is completely rebellious to a status quo we don’t like.
We listen to music that asserts no remorse for their honest lyrics, we watch movies in which recalcitrant characters are respected, and we look up to individuals who never change their resistance even with the strongest of winds in their face.
Yet, you may not express a politically incorrect opinion because you were told not to.
It’s quite obvious why our generation is splitting at the seams.
I can’t even count the amount of people I know that have rejected many a liberal cause not because they disagree with it, but because the way they felt forced into the belief.
Political correctness has stripped the human element from conversation.
Our conversations have become robotic, mechanical, hierarchical, something relegated to you at the permission of someone else.
People do not give their honest opinion because we have branded those that disagree with us as bigots, or ideologues, or fascists, or mentally ill.
This is where the difference Maher referred to becomes relevant. The two major parties differ on this topic in vast ways.
Donald Trump, whether you love him or think of him as an evil ruler, is clearly the antithesis to a politically correct way of speaking.
Other Republicans aren’t very cozy with it either.
To many average college students, the Democrats demand an apology before they seek safety for your family, a truthful media, or accountable governance.
To a rather aloof millennial, they very well may see Democrats as the party of political correctness.
Some of these young people found solace in a candidate like Trump. Not because they like him or his policies or what he speaks of, but because they saw the majority of elected Democrats and those running for office as the enforcers of this PC mindset they are disgusted by. A mindset that is omnipresent and affects them on a daily basis.
This drug was initially meant to numb the pain of the oppressed, which is an effort worth respect.
Unfortunately, it has done serious damage to the language we use to express ourselves.
Language is the waterway on which humans explore the unknown; it’s the mechanism from which society breathes.
The greatest conversations about life, religion, politics and love occur when, in that moment, our words have no filter.
It’s just your free flowing thoughts and emotion that unleash the truth.
People love Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” because it’s raw and unflinching.
We read Wilfred Owen’s “Dulce et Decorum est” because it is bold and shakes us to the core.
Honestly, how can you describe the horrors of the First World War while using a filter? You can’t.
The truth is ugly.
It stings, it’s chaotic, and at times makes us writhe.
But we won’t solve anything if we refuse to listen to other arguments.
It is how we find the truth.
Without it, who knows where it will lead.
For the time being, this is an issue met with warm applause and visceral condemnation, sending many into the ballot box aiming to remove it from their lives entirely.
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Cover Photo Credit: Nicolas Raymond/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)