Political Correctness: The enemy of Art?
OK, so no one is blind anymore, they are visually challenged. No one is ever mad or retarded, they are intellectually challenged. Also no one is fat these days, they are big, plus size, curvy. Oh! And people stopped having diseases or afflictions, the only have ‘conditions’. And you don’t say Merry Christmas anymore, peeps, you had better say Happy Holidays, or else!
I think political correctness is the new censorship, the new curtailment of the freedom of expression and speech, even the freedom of thought. Though political correctness supposedly seeks to minimize offense to gender, racial, cultural, disabled, aged or other identity groups, the term is mostly viewed in the pejorative sense. Increasingly new ideas, different ideas, change, even originality is sought to be stifled under the pretext of political correctness.
So is this political correctness thing going just too far? Do we constantly watch what we say, lest we tread on some sensitive toes or lest we cause offence to overly thin-skinned people around us? (or perhaps I should not say thin-skinned; perhaps the correct term is dermatologically challenged?) This excessive and almost obsessive preoccupation with saying the ‘Correct’ thing can sometimes get rather ridiculous as illustrated by this cartoon; that all the ‘correctness’ is stifling free speech, the right to express ourselves, creativity and variety. It is straitjacketing and most often quite unnecessary. Political correctness is often referred to as communal oppression, which it is at some level. This is manipulation and restraint of language to prevent dissenting thoughts being expressed, which makes the fabric of the language poorer as a result.
Political correctness so circumscribes our speech, thoughts, actions and ideas that it limits us, even straightjackets us. And what’s wrong with calling a spade, a spade? But no; you cannot refer to dwarf as a dwarf; only as a little person or, even more ridiculously as ‘vertically challenged’. If an artist forever has to watch his or her p’s and q’s, lest he or she tread on some thin skinned, overly sensitive toes, this is not conducive atmosphere for original thought or the creative process.
The book The Rape of the Masters: How Political Correctness Sabotages Art by Roger Kimball examines the problems posed to art by the scourge of Political Correctness among art historians and the current trend of viewing all Western art (as well as Western literature) solely through the prism of sex, gender, and class. What results is a ludicrous but scary disfigurement of Western art.
Political correctness often goes to ridiculous lengths, I came across this site where people share their stories about political correctness going to just such ridiculous extremes. Sample this: “I went into Costa coffee and asked for a black coffee, and the guy on the counter refused to serve me because I asked for a "black" coffee.” Here I found a hilarious collection of political correct one liners for college goers which has some gems like, these days, a student isn't lazy. He's "energetically declined. And you don't have smelly gym socks, you have "odor-retentive athletic footwear."