According to “Republican” presidential candidate Donald Trump, something America does not have time for is political correctness. This raises an important question: what is political correctness, and what is political incorrectness? These words are frequently thrown around in political discourse, but we rarely take the time to stop and think about them.
At their core, political correctness and incorrectness have to do with how we use language to talk about issues faced by society. Politically correct speech may be defined as a “description of the practice of using speech that conforms to liberal or radical opinion by avoiding language which might cause offence to or disadvantage social minorities.” By contrast, political incorrectness is defined as “the attitude or policy shown by someone who does not care if they offend or upset any group of people in society who have a disadvantage, or who have been treated differently because of their sex, race, or disability.” Being politically incorrect does not equate to being lewd, nor does it equate to saying something for shock value while disguising it as “telling it like it is.” Using certain words for comedic reasons or telling sex jokes is also not being politically incorrect.
The problem of political correctness is real, but political correctness must be defined properly in order to see how it negatively impacts society. For example, let’s look at how these definitions stack up against generally bombastic speech, such as Trump’s comments about blood and Megyn Kelly’s “wherever” from after the recent GOP Debate. Simply put, they don’t square up. Being politically incorrect should require some substantive reasoning. There was no logical argument behind the comments about Megyn Kelly. Trump only spoke those words because he was upset about the debate, and his comments came off as the rantings of an attention-seeking carnival barker.
Political incorrectness should be used in the defense of, to steal a phrase from Al Gore, inconvenient truths. The left has a set of political beliefs that have gained some social traction, and many on the left believe that disagreeing with these beliefs is unacceptable. Dissenters must, therefore, hate science, women, blacks, Latinos, immigrants, gays, transgenders, Muslims, young people, seniors, the poor, and “the children.” Modern progressives and online activists (pejoratively called “social justice warriors”) have declared any criticism of certain religions, philosophies, and politicians to be “hateful,” among other things.
For example, one inconvenient truth that the left clings to is multiculturalism. Multiculturalism is the idea that all cultures or civilizations are equal in terms of their moral virtue. It is usually used by the left to reject the belief in American exceptionalism or delegitimize Western Civilization generally. When conservatives respond to this, the left often compares the United States or Israel to some terrorist organization or some Middle Eastern country. Believers in multiculturalism will, for example, claim Israel and Hamas to be equal in terms of blame, morality, and conduct. Conservatives reject the moral comparisons between Israel and its enemies. We believe it does not do justice to oversimplify a situation: it is not accurate or fair to describe both the man who pushes an old lady in front of a bus and the man who pushes her out of the way of the bus simply as the type of man who pushes old ladies around.
While defending Israel is important, especially given what they are up against, there is a much better example conservatives can use to fight against the idea of multiculturalism: the Korean Peninsula. As many escapees of North Korea have testified, the southern side of the DMZ lies a vibrant and free society, while on the northern side lies hell on earth. The Korean Peninsula is home to one ethnic group, but two vastly different cultures and societies. Nobody would dare to claim that South Korea and North Korea are on a level moral plane.
The main difference between political incorrectness and bombastic rhetoric is that being bombastic require does not require thinking before you speak, while political incorrectness does. Political Correctness has put certain topics and beliefs off-limits in political discourse. However, the comments about Megyn Kelly were not about political philosophy or policy positions. Genuine disagreements with the questions she asked or the way in which she asked them that are one thing, but making the comments Trump made, and then pretending to be talking about ears, is not “telling it like it is.” By contrast, the multiculturalism example above is an example based on evidence that not all cultures are equally moral. This is quite different from rhetoric that is meant to attract the attention of every television camera and microphone within shouting distance.
Some things are considered off-limits for a reason. However, there are also some things that have been declared off-limits by the left that should not be. It is important to remember that there is a difference between being politically incorrect and simply being lewd.