It started with a phone call before I knew it was really bad.
When my little sister, still in high school, called me angry that she had been told she had to remove her Donald Trump apparel because it “ruins your relationship with people you don’t know,” I knew our society was in serious trouble.
While I knew freedom of speech and political correctness were problems in college, I never would have expected it would become a problem in my own high school.
The problem of political correctness boils down to one thing: the difference between politeness and political correctness. Those individuals that believe in an overly strict form of political correctness oftentimes do not understand the difference between these two and how they operate within our society.
Our society is at a crossroads. Our political correctness has become dangerous to our society, and dangerous to the founding principles our Founding Fathers put forth. In order for us to understand how we got to this point, we must understand the concept and how the movement all began.
In a quote obtained by The New York Times, American feminist and social justice activist, Gloria Steinem said that political correctness was created by social justice activists to “make fun of ourselves.” In doing so, students would create imaginary characters who would be given the sole task of making sure people were being “politically correct,” these characters would live on through comic strips and word of mouth.
Political correctness is cultural Marxism.
Marxism by definition is the analyzation of socioeconomic status that analyzes class and its relationship in society. While this definition is more geared toward the economic side of society, political correctness focuses on the cultural side. Individuals that believe in political correctness believe in a complete divide in our society based on cultural terms, and through these divisions, rhetorical sensitivity must vary.
Political correctness looks to reduce the scope of acceptable thought and language in order to guide the discussion in a particular ideological direction. It is an elaborate form of lying. Through PC culture we are trying to limit language to cut off certain avenues of thought, therefore limiting the ability for people to think, speak, and express themselves freely.
On college campuses across the country, a movement has begun that has looked to silence the voices of the conservative right. The group that has legitimized this movement is the “illiberal left” who wants nothing more but to demonize those who have the “wrong” views, which oftentimes means the views differ from their own.
The concept of political correctness is paradoxical as it looks to decrease the offensiveness of specific acts or words of a certain group at the cost of offensive acts to another group. These ideas that come from the illiberal left are meant to curb the offense experienced by certain groups in our society.
As this section of the left believes that their views are the only views that should exist, they work to delegitimize the opposition through character assassinations. These people are hunted down, in-person or on social media, and are (often times) viciously attacked in order to make an example for the rest of society to know not to challenge them. And if you find yourself disagreeing with these people you are immediately labeled a racist, misogynist, or bigot.
Criticizing the due process of a male rape victim is seen as being a rape apologist, and people who don’t believe in abortion are seen as not caring about a woman’s health. Who are we to tell someone which beliefs they should hold?
Whether a Democrat or a Republican, you have the right to speak freely, but some individuals, however, believe it is their right to limit freedom of speech of others.
In her book The Silencing, Kirsten Powers describes it perfectly when she says, “the illiberal left yearns for a world sanitized of information that offends them…they are authoritarians at heart; they know what Americans should think and what information they should consume,” and they will do anything to keep this in their control.
The current targets of illiberal indoctrination are college campuses across the nation. These limitations of free speech include speech codes, safe spaces, and complete violation of first amendment rights. Texas Tech University, for example, implemented speech codes that prevent speech that could potentially cause “reasonable apprehension” or “psychological harm” or speech that is “humiliating demeaning or degrading to any member of the university community.” Or look into the policies that prohibit all speech that fails to show “respect for personal feelings.”
How can our nation pride ourselves on being a melting pot of diverse ideas and race, but attempt to limit the freedom of individuals to say what they please? First Amendment rights are not valued in academia where they should be nothing but encouraged. Schooling should be a time where students can learn from the dissension of opinion and world views, no matter the sensitivity of the words spoken or actions expressed.
Unfortunately, though, the limitations by these groups don’t stop there.
According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), an organization dedicated to defending the freedom of speech on college campuses, over 22 years (from 1987 to 2008) of planned campus speeches, 138 protests occurred, leading to 62 incidents of the speaker being canceled. Then over six years (from 2009 to 2014) of planned campus speeches, 151 protests occurred leading to the cancellation of 62 speakers.
Whether a Democrat or a Republican, you have the right to speak freely, but some individuals, however, believe it is their right to limit the freedom of speech of others. Whether it be limiting an organization’s right to exist or host a speaker, no person has the authority or the privilege to disrupt and limit the speech of another individual. While we were created differently physically, we still all possess the same rights as everyone else, no matter their race, background, or social status.
As the illiberal left continues to suppress people who have dissenting beliefs, the fewer objections there will be, and the less diversity we will have in our society. Through the terrorization that is being performed by this section of the left, people are beginning to stay silent rather than express their personal views that may cause confrontation. This is a problem.
Our society has been built on the idea that we can hear each other’s thoughts and words without being offended or trying to limit people from saying certain things. The left believes that if you change the words you use, or don’t use, to express things, you can change reality. You can’t. You can’t prevent people from being homophobic by banning school children from using the word “gay” on the playground. We are embarking on a new era of McCarthyism as certain clusters of people are attempting to weed out and silence those that do not speak the same way or share the same ideology.
We are the land of the free. We are the home of the brave. We pride ourselves on accepting the beliefs and actions of others regardless of how they make us feel. As I continue to go through my college journey I am continuously surprised by how many students are silenced by the illiberal left because their words “make them feel bad” or “offend them”. Wake up America! Democracy is slipping away from us right before our eyes and will continue to do so until we do something about it.