Opinion: A discussion about PC culture


A common theme heard today is that our nation is more polarized than ever before. We are more angry and hateful toward those with different views from our own and this only pulls us farther apart.

Our country desperately needs to work towards repairing this divide if we ever hope to progress as one nation, undivided. But before we can begin that process, though, we need to talk about political correctness.

As many know, attacking PC culture was a significant part of Donald Trump’s campaign. Many conservative news organizations, like Fox News, claim that Trump won the election partly due to this issue.

To them I say, I agree. Yes, a liberal just agreed with Fox News that PC culture is part the reason we have President Trump.

Something that is often brought up when discussing political correctness is that people have become too sensitive to scrutiny. In fact, a new Pew poll shows that 59 percent of Americans, a majority conservative, agree with this viewpoint, while many liberals do not.

Now I may not agree with this entirely, but I do believe that PC culture has become too outrageous for us to not talk about it.

One example of this is in 2013, a student, who was a veteran, was told that he was not allowed to hand out constitutions on a California campus without special permission and the only place he could do it was in the “Free Speech Area.”

Another more recent and highly publicized example were the violent protests at UC Berkeley that caused Milo Yiannopoulos, a key figure at Breitbart News, to cancel a scheduled speech. Many outbursts from conservatives followed, with even the University spokesperson saying the group, “undermined the First Amendment.”

Political Correctness often refers to the idea of “safe spaces,” “trigger warnings,” or “micro aggressions.” An article from the Atlantic in 2013, written by a Social Psychologist and a Constitutional Lawyer, explains the affects that these ideas can have on the minds of people.

Trigger warnings, used to signal something that might cause a flashback to traumatic events, can lead to being, demanded for a long list of ideas and attitudes that some students find politically offensive, in the name of preventing other students from being harmed.”

The argument boils down to this: if someone will be (objectively) harmed by it, we cannot, therefore, discuss it. However, following that logic, if we control our language based on whether someone could be offended, we would have to minimize our language to an outrageously extreme level.

There has even been a movement to put trigger warnings on books so they won’t cause offense in a classroom setting.

The same article previously mentioned points out that some books include famous works like The Great Gatsby because it “portrays abuse” and Things Fall Apart because it discusses “racial violence.”

The “chilling effect” of books and professors leads to the inability to discuss difficult subjects, therefore, shutting down the opportunity for new insights and harming the academic community.

The final argument to be made is that in forming our academics and society around trigger warnings and microaggressions, we will actually cause traumatic events.

It can be summed up as such: if a person gets trapped in an elevator and has a fear of elevators, you should be a good person by helping her avoid elevators. But, if you want them to return to normalcy, you should slowly reintroduce them to the fear as the more interaction they receive the more they realize it is safe.

Freedom of speech is a fundamental right to our society and the idea that we should alter our speech as to not offend others is not a good idea. I agree that we need to encourage a safe environment for everyone, but it should not be at the cost of the First Amendment.