Tell and Hear it Like it Is

A native Bulgarian woman once told me that the politically correct paranoia in the United States was similar to communism where citizens felt they could not freely express themselves.

Telling and hearing difficult truth is not easy but more necessary than ever. Freedom of expression is not only a First Amendment right, but it is good for the United States for many reasons. It supports the creativity that makes the United States a leading exporter of great ideas and innovative products, just to name two reasons.

In January, there was uproar about Congress trying to control Internet content. But what about political correctness? This too is a threat to our First Amendment rights.

As a writer, I am very concerned. There is a social force, backed up by legal precedent, which is also limiting free speech. And when people simply practice good manners, political correctness is not even necessary.

Politeness assumes respect for all persons, so avoiding offense is a natural outgrowth.  By supporting clear interpersonal communication, it fosters free expression necessary for healthy human relationships.Political correctness, however, dictates what should and should not be said to avoid offending certain types of individuals and situations. It muddies the waters of words, fostering ambiguity and discouraging clarity.

  _______________

I don’t want to live in a world where people
are afraid to tell it like they think it is.
_______________

Political correctness is pervasive in places like Washington, D.C., which could benefit from clarity and truth the most. I know. I have been living here for 17 years.

Moving here from my hometown of straight-shooting Cleveland, Ohio, to what I affectionately call “PCDC” was a shock. What a culture of uptightness! Once an older Indian gentlemen from work sincerely told me I looked nice. Another male colleague told me I should be upset by the comment. It did not bother me! I’ll accept all the compliments I can get! But as a woman, I found it more offensive that a man felt the need to educate me on what should offend me.

Political correctness has blocked many a sincere compliment because it places the burden on the communicator to fearfully anticipate what could be considered offensive. What’s worse, it implies the perceived right of individuals not to be offended even at the expense of the First Amendment right to free speech.

I don’t want to live in a world where people are afraid to tell it like they think it is. I for one would rather someone tell me the truth, even if it does offend me or hurt my feelings. I put the right of others’ free speech above any perceived right I have to be offended.

Political correctness is dangerous because it white washes and sugar coats the realities of today and history. Mark Twain’s works have language deemed inappropriate for today’s readers. Removing or changing it disrespect’s the writer and the times he lived in.

Shakespeare’s works are somehow protected from such foolishness. He was quite politically incorrect and offensive by today’s standards. The Taming of the Shrew features a man putting a woman in her place, but there are no complaints because The Bard’s words are somehow sacred literature. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/craig-hotchkiss/finn-rewrite-twists-twain_b_805776.html)

Sacred scriptures held dear by believers of the world’s largest religions do not enjoy the same tolerance.  Quoting them has lead to the arrests of ministers in the Western World, just as revolutionaries suffer for quoting “dangerous” philosophers.

Political correctness is more dangerous. Speaking truth already requires great courage, but political correctness makes being misunderstood more risky.

If you want to make a difference in this world, choose to surround yourself with friends and colleagues who will tell you the difficult truth. From nations to small businesses, poor decisions of destiny have been made because leaders either put themselves before the truth or because they were surrounded by those too timid to tell it.

We can freely speak because others before us took the risk. We must freely speak so the future can as well.

3 thoughts on “Tell and Hear it Like it Is

  1. Carolyn Davisson says:

    Thank you for stating so well, the truth of what is going on in our country. As I make my way through the book, “Bonhoffer”, I can see parallels that make me very uncomfortable.

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