fbpx

The Correctness of Political Correctness

Robert Saul MD writes that political correctness is ok and necessary, serving to adjust our moral compass on an episodic basis.

November 22, 2023

If you believe the political discourse of today, then political correctness is basically evil.

If we believe what is being said, then we should no longer have a filter on social or political discourse.  I have even heard politicians and commentators say that being politically correct is corrupting our society.  I refuse to believe that.

 

Needed for democracy

Social discourse and our democracy demand that we carefully consider our remarks and not defame people or inflame situations.  Valid and constructive criticism is always appropriate and necessary but should be measured.  Terms that degrade others have no place in our discussions.  Let me consider a lifetime of experience.

 

My mea culpa

When I was young, people with intellectual disability were referred to as “retarded.”  Even worse names were often used—imbecile, retard, moron, idiot, and simpleton, to name a few.  I did not understand the impact of using such terms and often used them.  I am now embarrassed by my immature behavior and regret it.  The use of those terms implies a less-than-human status for others and falsely elevates me to a greater level than my fellow citizens.

As I have continued my introspection, I realize that I also used negative terms to refer to folks with physical disabilities.  People with physical disabilities do not deserve to be referred to with demeaning and dehumanizing words.  They are people, not ugly words.

Also, in my youth, I used words to make fun of folks that were homosexual. Additionally, terms that degrade one’s race or ethnicity are offensive and regrettable when used.  Someone’s sexual orientation, the color of their skin, their language, or their accent does not define their humanity.  Words do matter when referring to others.

 

Examples of political correctness

So, my life journey has taught me that words make a difference.  The term “political correctness” (defined as the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against) has evolved during my adult years.  The action of “being PC” (politically correct) has become part of the culture.  And I think that the practice is absolutely to our benefit.

 

 

Let me provide some additional examples.

When changes were made to some Dr. Seuss books, some people shouted “woke culture” implying that political correctness to remove offensive and racist images is a bad idea. Just because something was present in the past and nobody complained doesn’t mean that it should continue on unchallenged.  When offensive materials are present, changing them is the only rational and humane response.

Eliminating symbols of the Confederacy could be considered an act of political correctness. I consider such actions to be acts of patriotism to the USA and an act of reconciliation to the generations of people that were enslaved in our country and have suffered (and realistically continue to suffer).
We have historically glamorized the Wild West and all of its ruggedness. When people have countered with the realistic narrative about the confiscation of Native American lands and systematic destruction of their cultures, there was an outcry of too much political correctness.
Similar outcries have been heard recently as an honest reckoning of racism in America has been greeted with denial and refusal to understanding the importance of such a reckoning. Such a response whitewashes our history and denies so many past incidents that still resonate today—Rosa Parks on the bus, John Lewis at the Selma march, the Birmingham church bombing and death of 4 young girls, Emmet Till’s death in Mississippi, the death of freedom riders promoting voter registration, the AME Emmanuel Church massacre in Charleston SC, and so many, many more.

 

Denial of history

The denial of history is a tragic consequence of the lack of grace and lack of acceptance of our common humanity.  It only leads to further schism in our society at a time we are trying to heal, and it is antithetical to the teachings of faith-based living.

 

Winners and losers?

Under the guise of purposely not being PC, numerous politicians, commentators and fellow citizens are now rude, crude and disrespectful.  They say that they “tell it like it is” or “call a spade a spade.”  I have no problem with criticism. Criticism delivered in a civil manner is valid, helpful and can even be life-changing.  Criticism delivered in an uncivil way (degrading, demeaning, disrespectful) only serves to inflame passions and foment hate.1 Calling people “losers” implies that our fellow citizens are either winner or losers.  Really?  We are all in this together and deserving of respect.  Life circumstances can alter at any time and today’s “winner” could be tomorrow’s “loser” if one accepts that people are either winners or losers.  I choose not to believe that.

 

The specter of violence

What is equally disturbing is the acceptance of violence (threat or actual) as an expression of various grievances.  Often when facts are twisted or lies confronted, the offending party yells and even threatens offensive actions or physical violence.  How can this be seen as acceptable?  Yet by inaction or silence, those that do not speak out and condemn such actions are complicit in their acceptance and growth of violence.  The acceptance and growth of violence in our society perpetuates the political rift in our society.  Violence only serves to allow hate and selfishness to fester.

 

Yes, PC is good

So, political correctness is ok and necessary in my view.  It serves to adjust our moral compass on an episodic basis.  It provides the right examples for our children.  Parenting should be an exercise in political correctness.  Parents that are conscious of their words and deeds provide the proper roadmap for their children.2

Can political correctness be overdone?  Sure, but if one’s criticism and/or remarks about our fellow citizens are respectful, I submit that being PC is still a good thing.  Not only is it a good thing, it is a necessary component of a civil society and democracy such as ours.  After all, civility is the hallmark of citizens of faith.  Citizens of faith care about how they treat each other. It is the correct thing to do.

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. For more information, or to submit your own opinion, please see our submission guidelines or email opmed@doximity.com. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Find out what we’re looking for here and submit your writing, or send us a pitch.

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Submit your own article now here.

Share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This learning experience is powered by CMEfy - a platform that brings relevant CMEs to busy clinicians, at the right place and right time. Using short learning nudges, clinicians can reflect and unlock AMA PRA Category 1 Credit.

Of Interest

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get updates and learn from the best

Social Dissections

[SERIES] Social Dissections

Join us in a visual and audio show, where we host light conversations with some of today’s standout healthcare experts.

David Norris, MD, MBA

Negotiate as a Physician and Win

Catch this 8-part series, hosted by physician & business consultant David Norris, MD, MBA & produced by Dana Corriel, MD. Learn to be a stronger negotiator with these important tactics.

Brand Your Social Media Content in a Day

Doctors Exploring Social Media

Raw and real social media-related questions, discussed in a video collection, hosted by Dana Corriel, MD, over a casual – but fun! – virtual setting.

Andrea Rustad, MD

Andrea Rustad, MD

I am a dermatology resident and also a fitness instructor, dancer, and recipe creator!

Want More?

Be a part of our healthcare revolution. Don't miss a thing SoMeDocs publishes!

Disclaimer: SoMeDocs assumes no responsibility for the accuracy, claims, or content of the individual experts' profiles, contributions and courses. Details within posts cannot be verified. This site does not represent medical advice and you should always consult with your private physician before taking on anything you read online. See SoMeDocs' Terms of Use for more information.

follow us

© 2024 SoMeDocs. All Rights Reserved.

Soak up our content & grow

Earn CME

Drop your email address below and we’ll email you the link for earning CME (through CMEfy). Please check your spam folder if you do not receive our email. We’ll also add you to our Sunday newsletter, so you can earn more CME’s reading our content!

Support A Platform that Celebrates Real Doctors

For just $10 a month, you can help keep this openly accessible site available to all & help us sponsor in more doctors.

Interested in subscribing
to our unique content?

Interested in subscribing to our unique content?

I acknowledge that this site is not to be used for medical advice.

Play Video
Our Founder Answers Your BURNING Question

SoMeDocs

“Why should I become a member of SoMeDocs if I already have my own space online?”

Site SoMeDocs Logo, square

WANT TO STAY IN THE LOOP?

DON'T MISS A SINGLE CONTENT PIECE.