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Political correctness harms free expression

Published 9:25am Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Column: Guest Column, by Peggy Bennett

I have come to the conclusion that we are not in the Age of Political Correctness. We are now in the Age of Political Correctness Gone Amok.

I am sure we are all familiar with the celebrity chef, Paula Deen, who admitted to using the N-word, along with some inappropriate racial talk. She has genuinely apologized for it and admitted she was wrong.

Peggy Bennett
Peggy Bennett

This lady has been getting blasted from all sides. Her show on the Food Network was canceled. Stores will no longer sell her materials. Many sponsors have dropped her. And now her publisher has announced that it will not publish her new book.

There probably should be some ramifications for this woman’s actions, but, really, all of this? This is political correctness to the extreme.

Not only that, there seems to be a double standard. African American rappers can say the N-word and evidently that is acceptable. We don’t see stores refusing to carry their CDs. Actor Alec Baldwin can say derogatory homosexual terms on Twitter, and yet we don’t hear any outcry over that. Where is the rabid attack by the PC police for these people?

Disparaging or disrespectful language directed toward another race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc., is unacceptable to me. I think it’s wrong, it’s hurtful and it’s rude. Not only that, it showcases the person’s intellectual ignorance.

However, as much as I dislike hurtful and crude talk and believe it has no place in the public forum (or anywhere else for that matter), I understand that things like this are sometimes a necessary evil in the realm of free speech.

I am not saying we should live in an atmosphere where there are absolutely no constraints on people’s speech. There are certain things — for example, bullying and slander — which should have consequences. Yet, even the concept of bullying is being redefined by the PC police. Now every perceived offense seems to be called bullying. We have moved from common sense to the nonsensical!

Political correctness and freedom of speech cannot exist together in the same social arena. Political correctness takes logical social mores that would help hold offensive speech in check and pushes an extreme. It attempts to remove all “offense” from society by controlling what people say, and sometimes attempting to control what people think.

Every time political correctness proclaims its mantra of “freedom from offense,” it squelches free speech. Freedom of speech and freedom from offense are polar opposites and cannot exist together. To embrace one is to forego the other. The very liberty that is the essence of freedom of speech necessitates the “freedom to be offended.”

I believe political correctness is one of the most dangerous enemies of our time. Two fundamental and precious principles in America are the freedom of thought and freedom of expression. Political correctness shuts those down.

The fear of being crucified in the public court puts a muzzle on people. It goes beyond squelching name calling. It attempts to snuff out dissenting talk that can lead to healthy discussion. If political correctness is not reined in, it will not only shut the door on freedom of speech in America — a freedom that is part of the very foundation of this great nation — it will lock it.

That, my friends, will be the beginning of the end of our country as we know it.


Peggy Bennett resides in Albert Lea. She is an elementary school teacher in the Albert Lea Area Schools and has enjoyed teaching children from Albert Lea and the surrounding areas for more than 30 years. Peggy is also a member of Grace Christian Church in Albert Lea, where she serves as director of Christian education and church elder.