KEEP IT “PC”: Political correctness creates productive communication

Political correctness creates productive communication.

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Gillian Paxton, Perspectives Editor

Nothing hurts my opinion of a person more than when they use “retarded” as a synonym for stupid. It’s a personal preference of mine—my sister is on the Autism spectrum, and the word has always been a sore spot for me, reflecting my own personal fears about society’s lack of acceptance of her and people like her.

I know people who use this term aren’t bad people; they aren’t intentionally trying to hurt me. Language can very easily become a habit for people. Many of my friends are guilty of using the term around me, but they’re always quick to apologize and change their ways when I point it out.

Being aware of what you’re saying and apologizing and trying your best to relate and connect to the unique situation of the person you’re talking to is essential in this time of deep division.”

— Gillian Paxton

Yet I cannot ignore the effect this word has on me. It basically shuts down any conversation between me and someone else. When I’m talking to someone, and they use that word, it immediately changes my opinion of them, and it makes it far more difficult for me to understand and relate to what they are trying to say to me.

While I agree that everyone should be free to speak their mind, people should be just as free to criticize the use of derogatory language, especially when this language hinders communication.

It’s true that no one is perfect, and everyone is prone to making mistakes and being accidentally offensive. But being aware of what you’re saying, and apologizing and trying your best to relate and connect to the unique situation of the person you’re talking to is essential in this time of deep divisions. Relating to one another is becoming more important than ever before, and I think our country as a whole should commit to being more politically correct. In that way, we can open up communication and reach across ideological divides in the spirit of cooperation.

And if all it takes to achieve that is to change your language a bit? I think it’s worth it.

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Gillian Paxton at [email protected]

Read – Gabby Perelmuter: Political correctness hinders productive communication.

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