ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Dark Path of Political Correctness

Updated on April 17, 2020
The Fall of Atlantis by Monsù Desiderio
The Fall of Atlantis by Monsù Desiderio | Source

Defining Political Correctness

The problem with debating political correctness is defining what the term means. It’s perhaps a little like art, in that it means different things, to different people, in different contexts and you only know it when you see it (or hear it), but can’t really define it.

Nevertheless, I’ll attempt a definition: correcting society through political means. I believe this works, but of course what is left unsaid is why society needs correcting and how it is to be corrected. Therefore, to be more specific, I'll add this refinement: the coercion of speech, thought, and behavior towards achieving an equality of outcome for disadvantaged groups.

The Dark Path

Desiring people to be more polite or accommodating to legitimate struggles is laudatory and sometimes necessary. However, wanting to achieve equality of outcomes leads down very dark paths. Likewise the means of achieving a preferred outcome can vary from open debate about language and reasonable accommodation to forced compliance. For example, establishing rules of etiquette in a workplace is necessary to keep the peace and maintain morale. But these rules should be open for debate and not enforced by injunction.

In Bad Faith

Another aspect of political correctness is to obfuscate a truth because it doesn't fit a political narrative. This is what George Orwell warned about with his "doublespeak". While this is another pernicious aspect of political correctness, it is engaged in by bad faith and will not be the focus of this article. Instead the focus will be on understanding the faults of political correctness pursued by those who believe it a tool for good and not simply a way to spin a debate in their favor.

Equality Never Achieved

As I defined political correctness above - forcing an outcome of equality - is anathema to a free society. Forcing people to do anything is a limit on freedom. Sometimes force is justified, but when the goal is to force an outcome of equality then the means certainly don’t justify the ends. Still, what is inherently wrong with equality of outcome? The problem starts with it being unachievable at a technical level. Defining what is equal is the first difficult step, then defining how many ways a person can be defined in terms of lacking equality is the next problem, then how do you achieve equality without forcing inequality to others. Even when all these factors are very narrowly defined (which is itself unfair) forcing an outcome ends up hurting people more than helping.

What’s Good For Me Is Not For You

For example, If certain minority groups are underrepresented (as defined as their overall demographic make-up in society) in higher education, then one way to solve this is to hold open the door for members of these groups, but to the exclusion of others. This may sound reasonable, fair and equitable, in order to give them a chance they historically haven't had, but what if another minority group overachieves and is overly-represented. The overrepresented minority will be doubly disadvantaged as will society. Likewise, it would be unfair to not consider any disadvantage in society: why stop short at race, gender, religion, ethnicity, or class? Why are these special groups? Why not consider all traits? What about attractiveness, height, weight, or intelligence. Of course some of these traits can be self-improved, others are inherent to a person at birth or even dependent on other traits. But, if fair is fair, then it is not a big jump to expect all disadvantages to be leveled even if an advantage was previously earned. Of course this would be impossible and absurd.

By Force Or Whatever Means Necessary

But, whether society considers fairness to extend broadly by all traits or much more narrowly, how equality is assured can only be achieved by forcing an outcome. This means people must be forced into equality. The Soviet Union and later communist societies considered class to be the fundamental driver of inequality and therefore sought to level the playing field forcing everyone (except party apparatchiks of course) to give up wealth, property, privilege to achieve an equality outcome. This led to famines and purges with millions of victims.[1] This is the natural outcome of forced equality. Give a government enough power to achieve an outcome, why would you expect that government to give that power up even if the outcome is achieved?

Zero Sum Games

So, coercing people towards an equal outcome based on inequality is not good. There are no real limits to how far one can define inequality. There is no real limit to how much force one should apply to achieve the desired results. And even if limited, you still get unequal outcomes no matter how hard you try; when your game is zero sum then there will always be winners and losers. Instead if you reframe and understand the game as equal opportunity then everyone has a chance of winning, and many do, because opportunity is endless, while outcomes are by definition narrowly defined.

Finding Meaning

Of course there will always be losers, but everyone suffers in life, some of course more than others. You can't eliminate all suffering - especially through force. Utopias are only built on the bodies of the dead. Instead one should seek meaning so that one can then bear the suffering. Living in freedom to the extent possible, while respecting others and demanding equal opportunity, so that all can pursue happiness, is the closest to utopia a society can become.

In conclusion

Politeness and true equal opportunity is highly desirable in society. Convincing people to change language, behavior and attitudes through open debate should be the means. Convincing people to be polite is a social good. Ensuring everyone has equal opportunity should be the measure. Convincing not coercing. Removing barriers to entry, not excluding. Respecting individuals, their value and potential should be the goal.

© 2020 W J Fitzgerald


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)