Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The following was written today (November 20, 2016) as my response to a social network post about political correctness. One writer was holding that we must ensure political correctness (PC) to protect the sensitivities of others at all times. I posited that, while we are all responsible for being thoughtful and considerate, that too much PC stifles a free society, that taking offense was a choice, and by choosing to be offended we surrender our emotional power to others. There was some continued discussion and this was my most recent response:

I must admit that I have felt offended. Note that what I am acknowledging here is a feeling, an emotion. I believe that offense, like anger, is often a secondary emotion. What I determined to do some years ago is to take time to pause and consider why it is that I feel particular emotions, in particular, those that can lead to negative actions: anger, jealousy, offense. If that emotion is the result of something that is a direct threat to me or mine or our way of life, perhaps there are more effective courses of protective action, and actions that should be taken, rather than merely expressing my outrage. Often I find that my emotion is stirred by words or actions that, in examination, present no immediate or direct threat to me or to mine. In these cases, sometimes a smile and a shrug may be the best courses of action on my part. On occasion, the action or thought that stirs my emotion is something else, indeed--rather than presenting an existential threat--they run counter to a belief that I have held dear, and yet may bear serious reexamination. In these cases, sometimes further thoughtful discussion is in order. Thus, I may grow and improve. In a world where expression is bound by political correctness, I may never have had the opportunity to hear or see the thought or action that provides me an opportunity for growth. Without words and actions that challenge me, I would live in a never-ending echo chamber that would ultimately stifle me. My religious heritage teaches that there must needs be opposition in all things (The Book of Mormon 2 Ne. 2:11). If there is no wrong there can be no right. I hope that I have been able, here, to share the logic behind my belief that *enforced* political correctness is near to the ultimate sin in my eyes, and why, while I may not agree with what you say, I will defend to the death your right to say it. Even if, or perhaps especially if, I may find it to be offensive.