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Does political correctness harm society?
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Politically correct speech is a superficial solution to problems with inequality and discrimination

Although advocates of political correctness claim it helps the disadvantaged, speech alone does not rectify inequality. Focus on political correctness has taken attention away from the actions that do help resolve inequality and discrimination.

The Argument

We often perceive politically correct speech as a means of respecting society's disadvantaged members. However, language alone does nothing to improve the circumstances of these individuals. Our culture's focus on proper rhetoric emphasizes a trivial language issue, but ignores the real problems faced by vulnerable communities. In this way, our society falsely presents political correctness as the solution to inequality. "Political correctness" is often used as an umbrella term to "dismiss a concern or demand as a frivolous grievance rather than a real issue."[1] When this happens, the concern in question is seen as not important enough to be addressed by its own merits. As a result, people are divided on two sides of political correctness rather than choosing to resolve the actual problems behind the political correctness. Political correctness is seen as a solution to inequality and discrimination, but it doesn't actually solve the root of these problems. Collectively, we should become more focused on actually improving the circumstances of these people, rather than enforcing pointless rules of propriety. By continuing to focus on politically correct speech, we draw much-needed attention away from real solutions to inequality, choosing instead to police language. For this reason, our society's standard of political correctness is harmful.

Counter arguments

Our society's language about disadvantaged groups matters deeply. It is not divorced from "real" actions taken on behalf of the marginalized because language shapes public perception. Politically incorrect speech cultivates callousness and prejudice in the public consciousness. Statements deemed politically incorrect often involve offensive terminology and ideas that threaten society’s vulnerable members.[2] The unspoken rules of political correctness prevent such harmful rhetoric from being shared without criticism. Politically correct standards protect disadvantaged people. Emphasizing the importance of being politically correct gives people an awareness of ideas and words that hurt disadvantaged people. Armed with this awareness, individuals can prevent using their free speech in a derogatory way. For this reason, political correctness is actually an asset to society. It enables people to share their opinions in an unoffensive way, ultimately encouraging the free flow of ideas. Politically correct speech is a necessary facet of any fight for equality.



[P1] Inoffensive language does not help disadvantaged people. [P2] Our society's focus on political correctness draws attention away from helping the disadvantaged. [P3] Politically correct standards harm society.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] Politically correct language prevents discrimination against disadvantaged people. [Rejecting P2] Emphasizing the importance of being politically correct draws attention to the plights disadvantaged people have been through and the ways that they can be helped. [Rejecting P3] Politically correct standards don't harm society; they help it instead.


This page was last edited on Tuesday, 14 Jul 2020 at 11:12 UTC

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