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OP/ED: An Open Letter to Anti-PC Culture

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OP/ED: An Open Letter to Anti-PC Culture

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In an age of the unknown, one issue that cannot be undenied is that the expectation of what someone can say without the possibility of facing criticism has changed greatly.

From #MeToo to a slur in a song, American culture is seeing the results of an effort to change the way we view and speak about various groups throughout our country. While not unique to the USA, I can only speak and say political correctness has played a massive role in the reshaping and redefining of our society.

But with this, has come the worst take I’ve ever heard in my life.

“Being Anti-PC is the new punk.”

While I’m not quoting an exact source, I am referring to a collective mentality. And to call it anything other than stupid would be unfair to just how ridiculous this is.

Political correctness attempts to take the way we look and speak about minority groups, whether they be Black, Jewish, or whatever, and try not to make them feel anymore abandoned then our society already allows for these smaller groups to become.

Because of this, we’ve seen a “counterculture” arise. This group seeks to claim that PC culture takes aim at free speech, makes people softer, and is destroying the fabric of our nation.

To those individuals, I can say: stop being a snowflake and shut up.

Before I go anywhere further, I need to address why the “Anti-PC = Punk” take is so awful. The entire concept of punk rests on a counterculture that wanted to change and shift our systemic and cultural norms to combat issues we still face today on racism, transphobia, sexism, and other forms of oppression.

Anti-PC culture aims to support the status quo of what we live in. Yes, changes have been made to not make minorities feel forgotten. But as long as trans women continue to get slaughtered at horrific rates and Muslims are harassed by white guys who think they’re making America great again, it’ll always be the same picture with different paint.

This idea is an oxymoron. A paradox. While there were right-wing punk bands, that just came a result of a movement growing into a mainstream one. The origins are 100 percent pro-PC.

As best said by Felix Biederman in his docu-series, “Fighting in the Age of Loneliness,” “We usually hear complaints about political correctness when someone’s told they can’t shout racial slurs at a little league game.”

This quote, while ridden with dark humor, is a great take on what makes anti-PC followers so upset.

The argument of free speech being taken away in PC culture isn’t wrong on the surface. It can seem very attackable and censor-esque if you didn’t understand it any deeper. This is where most problems begin for people of this mindset.

Now, I’m not stupid. There are plenty of people who are genuine scumbags who truly hold racist and other terrible beliefs. But the problem is that a natural response to being pushed back is to fight back, which produces normal people to reveal ugly colors.

This is what many anti-PC believers understand neither: the “free speech” that you’re often fighting for comes at the expense of groups that can lead to harassment, violence, or even murder. Free speech isn’t free for the people who have to pay for the consequences because you can’t figure out why allowing a white supremacist to say whatever they wish is harmful to a community of people of color.

Aside from that reality, PC doesn’t take away from your right to be a prick; it makes you accountable if you want to be a prick. You aren’t even truly guaranteed freedom of speech in America anyway, you’re still liable for the words you say. If you threaten to harm an individual, for example, you aren’t safe from getting arrested or facing further charges. You can’t lie in court, you can’t falsely advertise, and you can’t yell “fire” in a theater either. PC culture doesn’t at any point censor your speech, it’ll just call you out if you’re being an awful person.

And none of this is being soft. This is being a human being with compassion for other people. If you equate not caring for women’s equality as being tough, you aren’t tough, you’re just a pathetic creature.

The problem from here becomes the doomsday mentality people go through when arguing against PC culture. Somehow, a criticism of white, cisgender, heterosexual, and able-bodied men might lead to the extermination of the white race entire, at least according to certain thought groups within the anti-PC culture.

What needs to be understood also is that people who fall into this bracket of PC culture don’t expect perfection from everyone.

If you’re constantly pissing people off, you’ll be subject to criticism, but no rational thinking person will forever stamp a label on your for making a mistake/not understanding a concept. While I’m not saying that going full ‘Michael Richards in a comedy club’ is worthy of forgiveness, everyone slips up and makes a mistake. Me included.

A mistake makes no one a bad person. What makes someone a bad person is the knowledge and awareness of a mistake, but then following it up by making the same mistake on with that insight.

Political correctness is still a grey area. It’s a label thrown on to others by people who disagree with it. While many who would fall under this bracket know what would be considered politically incorrect, there isn’t an official rule book that must be followed upon.

So I guess my message with all of this is to look at yourself and the world around you. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that you’re in a position of power or privilege. But what’s vital to do is understand how this puts you in society compared to marginalized groups.

Learn.

Simply put, use empathy: treat others with the same respect you expect to be treated with. It’s okay to slip up, but just understand why what you said was hurtful and move on. It’ll make you a better person and make our world a greater place.

About the Writer
Steven Keehner, Associate Editor

Steven Keehner is a media studies major with an unhealthy addiction to coffee and the British band, Oasis. Hailing from the mediocre town of Oyster Bay,...

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OP/ED: An Open Letter to Anti-PC Culture