Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Question: Are we too politically correct?

As a journalist, commentator and overall observer of the world around me, I sometimes ask whether I am too politically correct. My roommate and some members of my family periodically provide me with an affirmative answer to this question during conversations about politics, current events and other things that happen to dominate headlines on a given day. But the question about whether a person (or an organization) is too politically correct, however, is one that extends beyond an individual or entity.

The movement for LGBT rights arguably tackles with this question on a daily basis as it seeks to expand its collective agenda. Jay Leno's insensitive joke towards actor Ryan Phillippe during a taping of the "Tonight Show" last month, efforts to curb 'homosexual,' 'transvestite' or even 'faggot' in the media or even calls to boycott pundit Ann Coulter, radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh and other (arguably) anti-LGBT figures from the airwaves are endemic examples of this debate that so often takes place within organizations around the country. Activists behind these efforts often have the best of intentions: They want to ensure fair, accurate and inclusive images and representations of LGBT people in the media, they feel "faggot" and other anti-LGBT slurs defame, prejudice and even encourage anti-LGBT violence or they feel Coulter and company have had their moments in the sun. But are these efforts actually effective?

This question is not an attempt to distract attention away from the need for people to be held to account for their anti-LGBT statements and actions, but it begs us to examine the broader issues associated with it. An observer outside the movement for LGBT rights can arguably conclude it has become obsessed with political correctness. The examples cited in the previous paragraph, and a plethora of others, could certainly prove this subjunctive hypothesis correct. But yet another question remains as to whether this obsession has produced tangible results beyond the admittedly small sphere that is the movement for LGBT rights. Time will certainly tell.

1 comment:

Nick said...

I just got a button for our store that says "Hot Chicks Dig Obama." I was trying to explain to a younger employee (age 30) that some feminists ("older" ones I said) might get mad about it and she didn't understand that at all. I think political correctness can get wearying to everyone at some point, but it is an attempt to bring discourse to higher level so it is hard to discount it. It's a constant balancing act, I guess.