I respect political correctness. I respect the need for political correctness. What I do not respect are the people and their ways of finding the most trivial thing about with to scream the lack of political correctness.
In the dictionary, political correctness is defined as “the avoidance, often considered as taken to extremes, of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.” Although I’ve never felt excluded, marginalized or insulted by it, I understand why, in all of the nouns that are used as titles which are applicable to both genders, we no longer have postmen, trashmen, deliverymen and the like. Although postal service worker seems like a mouthful of words, trash collectors and delivery drivers are very easy to adapt to.
Oddly enough, though not often, I hear a ‘blonde’ joke. If you’re of my generation, you remember these, all with punchlines that were meant to indicate that, simply by the color of their hair, blondes as stupid in one or more ways. I also remember some jokes told about the Polish heritage, similar to the blonde jokes in that they both were intended to label certain people as stupid. How interesting that blondes and Pollacks never raised a fuss about being discriminated against.
My dad was born and raised south of the Mason-Dixon line. He was raised to be a non-violent racist. I can remember a time or two, in my younger years, that he used the “N” word without batting an eyelash. Fortunately, he did learn to curb the use of that word, and in time, he was able to accept Afro-Americans as a different race. However, I believe in my heart that he never fully stepped away from his roots in racism. Meanwhile, when he succumbed to the old habit of using the “N” word, I always spoke up and said that, to me, the word defined a certain group of people by their actions and had nothing to do with the color of their skin or their heritage.
I have never, to the best of my knowledge, been racist in any way. I have never understood why racism has always been limited to “black” versus “white”. I mean, we know that people of Asian heritage have slanted eyes, so why aren’t we racist against them? We know that our world has humans who profess many different religions, so why aren’t we racist against anyone who does not practice our preferred religion? The Jews were persecuted simply for being of Jewish faith, and we look back now at the Holocaust and shudder at its events. But wasn’t that also racism in action?
During my junior- and high-school years, the news was filled with blacks speaking up about being treated differently, as being singled out as a minority and not given the same rights as white people. We know the story of Rosa Parks, an American activist in the civil rights movement best known for her pivotal role in the Montgomery bus boycott. We know of the teachings and speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesman and leader in the civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968. And yet, racism is alive and somehow still thrives today, but in smaller quantities and in more subtle ways. I remember the years by remembering that the black students took advantage of things like jumping ahead in the lunch line and we dared not say a word because they’d call us a “racist”.
That being what it is, my biggest gripe is that songs and storybooks are now being attacked for not being “politically correct” in some way or another. To me, it’s a huge leap to believe that the song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is being considered as a problem because it hints to the idea of a man forcing a woman against her will in some way.
And more recently, these imbeciles raised a stink against Hasbro, stating that “Mr.” Potato Head is not gender neutral (wasn’t there also a Mrs. Potato Head?) and Hasbro has succumbed to the pressure, planning on changing the name on all future productions of this toy as just Potato Head.
It’s extremely clear that our society, already so strongly divided politically, seems to be itching to pick at anything in order to raise a fuss. Seriously, I have plenty of holiday/winter songs to listen to that I won’t even miss “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” if I never hear it again. Seriously, I haven’t played with a Hasbro toy by any name in well over 40 years, and I don’t see myself doing so again.
How do we put a stop to this ridiculous behavior? Have we truly become a nation who is afraid to say “No more” from fear of being attacked for standing up to the idiocy?