The National Prayer Breakfast and the PC Police

Mitch showed me this clip from the National Prayer Breakfast of a speech by Dr. Benjamin Carson:

You only need to watch the first six minutes to hear what I'm talking about.

I think it's a mistake to understand political correctness the way he does. He frames it in terms of unanimity and restriction - the idea that political correctness means we need to agree on everything or that we get in trouble for what we talk about rather than how we talk about it.

I agree with him that we need to have conversations - hard conversations. I believe in freedom of thought and speech and the value of saying things that maybe not everybody is going to like. But I don't think political correctness negates this.

Political correctness is essentially public politeness. Its benefits are in letting people participate in a conversation who would traditionally be kept out. It strives to keep personal attacks out of sensitive arguments. It's to broaden conversation rather than restrict it.

I think it's a mistake to blame political correctness for the difficulty in talking about hard or complex topics. The reason it's hard to have conversations about a lot of important things is that a lot of those things are hard. The content makes it uncomfortable, not the PC police.

1 comment:

  1. I think your critique of his definition of PC is spot on. PC is much more about form than content. That said, there is a fear of offending people (which, let's be honest, is almost always motivated by self-interest rather than concern for the other) which does get in the way of open and respectful dialogue. I think that fear of offending is a problem, but it's not identical with PC, even if it uses PC as an excuse not to engage.