Garland: Has Political Correctness Gotten Out of Control?

December 2, 2015

By Garland Robinette at WWL.com

Do you hesitate to say Merry Christmas out of fear it may offend somebody? Do you consider yourself politically correct or incorrect?

A sheriff in Harris County Georgia posted a warning sign – “we are politically incorrect.” “We say Merry Christmas, God bless America, in God we trust…we salute our troops and our flag – if this offends you – leave.”

​Would you want a sign like that in your town? Do you think political correctness is necessary or has it gone too far? Do you worry about offending people with simple greetings? How do we balance 1st amendment rights with political correctness?

To better understand some of this I invited Ari Cohn, attorney & author with FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) onto the show to share some thoughts. Is this important? Or is this the way things have always been?

“Humans have always had a tendency to want to shut up people that disagree with them; we’ve spent the better part of our history trying to conquer that. It is a vitally important issue, particularly in our nation’s colleges and universities, which are supposed to be the incubators for ideas and developing critical thinking skills and giving us the next generation of people who will lead this country. So to see all of these demands for censorship and attacks on free speech is certainly disheartening, although it is certainly nothing new.”

I’ve read about micro-aggressions and trigger warnings… what are those and what do we do about them?

“Micro-aggressions are statements that are not made with any intent to be offensive but which are perceived as racially ‘aggressive,’ like asking someone where they’re from if they appear to not be from the area… which maybe makes some kind of small assumption on the part of the speaker but is not made with any malintent. Trigger warnings were originally devised for purposes of PTSD in terms of people who had been in war, and later migrated to people who had been victims of sexual assault that may have flashbacks hearing or seeing a certain thing.

Now, it’s migrated onto college campuses, asking for content warnings on anything that someone might consider offensive or unsettling or challenging or difficult, which is particularly distressing, given that college is the place to be exploring and confronting challenging ideas.”

So how do we strike that balance of exercising our right to free speech and not being unneccessarily offensive? To hear the rest of the conversation with Ari, and your calls, click the link below.