Sick of the Political Correctness Movement
It seems to me this whole country has gotten into a defensive mode about the spoken word. By this I mean, it seems everyone takes certain words to heart, words that used to be commonly understood by everybody, and have now somehow become off-color. I don't know who started it, or when or how it started, but I feel there has been some kind of movement in this country to become politically correct when speaking. It is ridiculous!
I personally hate the fact that this country has become so anal and obsessed with a fear of hurting someone's feelings that free speech is becoming greatly oppressed. Many words and meanings have become so altered that people have become hyper-vigilant not only about what they say, but how they say it and to whom.
Since when is it wrong or offensive to say you have a partner or significant other rather than a husband or wife? Why is it offensive to say someone is gay or straight? Why is it offensive to say black American rather than African American? Who decided that the words Merry Christmas, God, or the Pledge of Allegiance are so offensive? Is it because of the influx of foreigners to our country? Are we so afraid of offending another culture and not adopting their words for the same kinds of things that we kowtow to everyone? When did our country lose its backbone? When and why did the way we speak become lost? When and why has everyone become so hypersensitive?
George Carlin on Politically Incorrect
Pay Attention to the Makeup of Your Audience
Many times, people do not take into consideration the type of audience they are addressing. Certainly, we know when speaking to children, we need to speak in a way they can understand. Likewise, the same is true when speaking to adults. Misinterpretation comes in when children don't fully understand the meaning of what was said, and process it at their level of maturity. Misinterpretation by adults, I feel, is because their perception of what was said is skewed by their own ideas, thought processes and life experiences. I may say to you, wow, where did you get that dress meaning I like it, and you could then misinterpret my use of the word wow as meaning ugh, where did you get that dress?
Consequences of the Mispoken Word
Today, one can't say to someone your child is a brat. He or she might be sued for slander. Parents won't and don't correct their children out of fear of their own children, a fear that their children will report them to the authorities as being abusive, or that the children will take it a step further and petition a court to divorce themselves from their parents. A teacher can't correct a child verbally for fear of being labeled biased or racist. Where and when does it end?
There are also many words that have become so commonplace as to become overused, for instance, husband and wife. When a woman refers to her husband as her partner in a conversation with others, the woman will glance at the group, interpret the stares and think, oh, maybe she should have said husband. The woman speaking has just perceived that the group has no clue what she just meant. Just because she used the term partner, it threw everyone off since the word partner is not commonly used when speaking of a wife or husband. This doesn't make the word partner wrong. It is because the public has become so used to commonly used words in certain contexts.
In the matter of relationships, sometimes there has to be a clarification made for the words boyfriend or girlfriend. Those words imply a couple, usually romantically involved, whereas if a boy or girl is just a friend, it would then be proper to say I have a male friend or female friend. So, there are times when it is necessary to use certain commonly used words.
Options and Individual Choice
If our language should become broader in its scope, fine. Go ahead and Google alternative words, and learn them. Incorporate them into your own vocabulary. That doesn't have to mean if someone dislikes a not so common description or word, that the whole population needs to adopt the more widely used word or description. Just remember, what works for some doesn't necessarily work for others. Our world is made up of individuals of all kinds. Everyone is unique. It is this very diversity that makes up the fabric of our world. Why should anyone want to become a cookie cutter version of someone else, either in the ways they dress, worship or speak?
Our language is what it is. My own opinion is that anyone can use whatever word, term or description they like. To take offense at a different word or expression used in an everyday conversation, as opposed to a more commonly used word or expression is a bit of an over-reaction. However, if it's said in a confrontational way, then one could quite innocently feel it was politically incorrect. I think, though, in a confrontational situation, the reaction would be caused more from the accusatory tone of voice and therefore, misconstrued as a slight or offense.
In summation, I'd like to say that while so many people have become so sensitive to less than commonly used words, and attach, in their own mind, the word offensive to whatever was said, that there are times and situations where words can and do hurt. It is when someone deliberately tells a child that they are stupid, and says it daily. It is when one tells a person who has just lost a loved one, you're better off because he or she was a jerk, get over it. It is also when a whole host of other intentionally meant words or phrases are used that not only wounds the heart, but kills the soul and spirit of a fellow human being. It is when words are used with malice. For that, there is no excuse, and those people who do that should rot in hell.
When will the world get over itself?