Political Correctness and Human Decency.   Leave a comment


Content Note: Sexism, Gendered Language

So I’ve noticed that I’ve been self-censoring myself increasingly lately. The immediate catalyst for this post was me almost saying, “It’s amazing how much news is driven by guys trying to shill their recently published books.” But I stumbled right before I got to “guys,” and I said “people” instead.

Why did I do this?

There are at least two possible answers to that question. The first one, we’re all familiar with. I censored myself because its politically incorrect to use gendered language,  and apparently I must have a liberal burr up my butt, because what I was going to say first was Just Fine and it wasn’t worth stopping in the middle to fix. According to this answer, I changed what I was going to say in order to fit in with some liberal orthodoxy. I didn’t want to be “politically incorrect.”

But the answer I would give is a lot simpler and a lot more visceral than that. Halfway through saying that sentence, I remembered that there a lots of female authors too, and I didn’t want to make them invisible. That’s it. That’s all. Terms like political correctness didn’t cross my mind at all. I simply wanted what I said to be more accurate, and to not perpetuate the idea that People Who Know Things are always “guys”. I wasn’t trying to be “politically correct.” I wasn’t trying to fit in with all the other liberals who get hung up about this kind of thing. I just wanted to not ignore every woman who has gone on radio or television to try and shill their book.

(As an aside, I’ve got nothing against authors doing interviews to try and advertise their stuff. I hope to be one of the book shillers someday. I just think that it’s messed up that the media relies on these people so heavily for news. Good shilling is A-okay by me; media incompetency, not so much.)

And that’s the thing about political correctness. It’s not about trying to censor people. It’s not about shutting down dialogue. It’s about using accurate language that doesn’t step on people. It’s about using language that doesn’t erase people or demonize their conditions in life. It’s about treating people with basic respect and human decency. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, so can we please stop treating political incorrectness as a badge of honor?

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