Charlton Heston once said, “Political correctness is tyranny with manners.” And Voltaire is quoted as saying, “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” Political correctness has run amuck in our era; it is impossible to escape its tentacles. We encounter it regularly, whether it’s in our classrooms, the news, or simply talking to the neighbor next door. With President Trump’s campaign and election, the topic has become even more prevalent in the media. With all the hype and mania surrounding us, I think now is a good opportunity to discuss what we’re really dealing with.
To help us learn what we’re dealing with, let’s begin with a couple of definitions.
Google defines political correctness 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.”
Merriam Webster defines political correctness this way:
“conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities (as in matters of sex or race) should be eliminated.”
In the book, Well Versed, James Garlow writes:
“Political correctness is about control. Forcing people to use concocted terms defined by the political Left (progressives) obscures reality and purposefully creates confusion. It also puts people on the defensive by being constantly hyperconcerned about saying the wrong thing and being branded as a horrible, ignorant, person. Terminology and perceived or imagined prejudice becomes the issue – not the subject at hand. That effect is intended to disarm any objective dealing with real issues, while making the problem the one who disagrees…
“…Not surprisingly, the promoters and users of political correctness tactics are those who typically hate biblical truth, traditional morality, sexual restraint, personal responsibility, the nuclear family, or any other concept based on transcendent, unchanging truth revealed by an almighty God for our society’s good.”
Political correctness has really only come into play within the last 100 years or so, with the rise of Marxism and socialist ideology. Tolerance has become the Left’s motto; but, I would ask, tolerance for whom? In A Critique of Pure Tolerance — a book published in 1969 — one of its authors, Herbert Marcuse, defines “liberating tolerance” as “intolerance for anything coming from the Right and tolerance for anything coming from the Left.” Isn’t this exactly the hypocrisy we are witnessing in the aftermath of last year’s presidential election?
A recent article in the Washington Times touched on this very thing:
“On the small side of political correctness, a couple of the Rockettes’ refusal to perform with their troupe at the Trump inauguration reveals standard PC hypocrisy. The same liberals who are defending the aggrieved Rockettes as if they were Soviet dissidents have no problem with Christian bakers, florists, photographers and wedding planners to violate their faith and conscience by being forced to provide services for same-sex weddings.”
Political Correctness and the First Amendment
Personally, I don’t think any discussion on political correctness would be complete without analyzing it in light of the First Amendment, which reads as follows:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
Freedom of speech is a right given to us in the U.S. Constitution. The right to speak freely, and hear what is freely spoken, is a right guaranteed to every U.S. citizen by our Constitution. If someone, or a group of people, is allowed to censor the content of speech before it is allowed to reach the general public, what keeps this from being defined as tyranny? When we realize that freedom of speech is our right, it helps us realize that we do have ground to stand on when defending it.
One area under the greatest attack from political correctness is our college campuses. Between the “Snowflake” movement, politically correct textbooks, and college professors who push the liberal agenda, many of our institutions for higher learning are a mess. The millennial generation has been indoctrinated with this ideology. No wonder our country is in the state that it is today!
The Cato institute brought out an interesting point about free speech on campus:
“The attack by some professors on the speech rights of others is a puzzle. Since academics make their livings through debate, it would appear that their interests would be in relatively free discussion. Moreover, a debater becomes more valuable when he has an opponent. Thus, there appears to be an economic interest among academics in unregulated speech, a notion that has received support in economic theory and public choice theory of the First Amendment in particular…
…Believers in constitutionalism sometimes act as if a constitutional prohibition will itself offer substantial protection. However in the case of the First Amendment, this is not so. Recent initiatives by academics and by the civil rights and feminist hierarchies to limit speech in the workplace have been successful, and for all practical purposes an entire class of speech has been denied protection. Constitutional protections have held up only where an economically interested group has spent real resources defending these protections.”
This is why we can’t afford to be passive.
A Call To Action
I think we can all see the problem with political correctness, but what can we do about it?
First, let’s make sure our own hearts are right, lest we be guilty of the very hypocrisy that we discussed above. God’s word says, “And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32), and, a little earlier in that same chapter, we’re told to “[speak] the truth in love”.
Once again, James Garlow stated, “We can’t allow ourselves to be intimidated into saying and doing nothing.” I think this is one of the most important things to remember.
To quote a line from one of my favorite inspirational movies, “Stay humble, but confident”! Don’t cower in fear – remember the rights you’ve been given and stand for them. And whatever you do, don’t let the political correctness police keep you from speaking up for what you believe. You’ve been given liberty – walk in it! Speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
Charlton Heston gave a speech at Harvard Law School in 1999 and discussed the issue of political correctness:
“I believe that we are again engaged in a great civil war, a cultural war that’s about to hijack your birthright to think and say what lives in your heart. I’m sure you no longer trust the pulsing lifeblood of liberty inside you, the stuff that made this country rise from the wilderness into the miracle that it is…telling us what to think has evolved into telling us what to say, so telling us what to do can’t be far behind…So that this nation may long endure, I urge you to follow in the hallowed footsteps of the great disobediences of history that freed exiles, founded religions, defeated tyrants, and yes, in the hands of an aroused rabble in arms and a few great men, by God’s grace, built this country.”
We’ve become a society that is way too sensitive about the wrong things. It’s time to grow up and focus on things that truly matter. We need to stop this hijacking of one of the most precious gifts that has ever been given — our civil liberty!
-Well Versed, James Garlow, 2016
-A Critique of Pure Tolerance, 1969
-Washington Times Article:
-Cato Institute Journal:
-Charlton Heston’s speech at Harvard Law School, 1999: www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/charltonhestonculturalwar.htm
-We’re way too sensitive: