Nowadays, people are getting more and more het up about political correctness, and how it’s stifling our right to offend in public. I think this is just another symptom of an overly individualistic and entitled society of people, not just of my generation but of all. There has never been a time when we were ‘allowed’ to offend, we just used to say what we wanted and we just dealt with the social repercussions that came directly from that person if they wanted to pull us up on our comment. Is it really so wrong that we live in a society now that is calling those people out for being dicks?
When you’re in a social setting, and you don’t know those around you, it’s really just common courtesy to be mindful of what you say. We’ve all been there in that situation when someone says something offensive- and often incredibly so. If you correct them, is that PC gone mad, or is it just the right thing to do by others?
A while back I was at the gym thai boxing the shit out of my abs, (still waiting for them to stay) and someone made a joke about the instructor being worse than Hitler. As a jewish girl who has grown up with the knowledge that just under a 100 years ago 6 million jews were killed in the most brutal fashion, a number I could easily have been a part of myself, I had to stop when I heard this. It wasn’t so much the content, though this sort of comment is incredibly offensive and backwards; it was the fact this guy had said it infront of about 15 people he didn’t really know. Sure he’s seen us all weekly, and we’ve had banter and whatever, but in no way does he know that none of us are Jewish or take special offence; in fact in no way does he know that no one may have grandparents who were in the Holocaust! (I know people my age who have relations who were in concentration camps.)
Maybe he was saying it to try to get a laugh and decided he couldn’t without going for the shock factor. Or maybe I was channelling PC gone mad, and just shouldn’t hang out with them if I find them offensive? Should I have taken such deep offence to a statement made clearly just so people would pay them attention?
Because PC certainly has gone crazy; disallowing certain play ground slides and fixtures in Schools because of Health and Safety and changing well-known fairytale characters, such as the 7 dwarfs to more ‘PC’ appropriate names such as ‘vertically challenged people’ could be just cotton balling our kids. Even the Jewish Primary School I went to as a kid went a bit nuts, when, with the employment of a new Head Teacher, it was decided Fathers weren’t allowed to watch their children at Sports day because they could potentially look at the other children inappropriately!
But just because PC has gone mad it doesn’t mean that we should throw caution to the wind, courtesy to shitter, and wipe our asses with other people’s emotions and experiences! There is PC gone mad, but then there’s PC for a reason.
Political Correction is just a modern name for Common Courtesy.
Yes kids used to be able to run around in fields without having to wear high-vis jackets, and yes we may live in a society which is obsessed with filling the quotas for women, blacks, pinks and greens rather than employing people solely by merit; but we have PC for a reason. We FUCKED it in the past. So maybe it is time all the other colours apart from white had a push start in life. (This is a completely different can of worms though, which I’m not going into right now.)
PC has gone mad in it’s censorship, but that doesn’t mean we as people have been violated in some way, and it certainly doesn’t mean we now should push back by offending as many people as possible whilst waving a made up waiver stipulating it’s our right to. Now people are being called out on it, it’s suddenly all they’ve ever wanted to do and an obligation on the Bill of Rights. Nothing’s changed, society is just being more mindful of others; when did these people ever utilise this ‘right’ before without being thought of as a bit of a knob?
People have always been knobs for making offensive comments in public, now we’re just labelling them as such.
Of course when we’re with friends and we know each other’s boundaries it’s fun to tease and exploit stereotypes in the name of fun. However, just because a ‘sandwich’ joke gets someone a laugh from their intensely feminist friend who knows they’re just teasing her, the same joke can be incredibly dated and backwards looking if said in a seminar or even on the train with 50 other people listening in.
This whole notion that we have “the right to offend if we have the right to be offended” is the most entitled thing I’ve ever heard.
In the realm of Humour however, it’s a different story. I find lots of offensive stuff funny, in fact, I was just on google looking for a picture for this article and found all the offensive pictures on Google images hilarious. (Just type in offensive to google and see what comes up.) HOWEVER – they’re done tastefully, and they’re well done: In the realm of humour, offending people has it’s own special territory, and some people swear by humour in it’s ability to take away the power of troubling issues or from figureheads.
What I’m talking about it is not the solo act of voluntarily looking through pictures on google however, but rather the communal arena in which offensive comments can be made crudely and offensive jokes told badly.
So let’s stay mindful. Don’t offend people because you think it’s ‘your right’, because it isn’t. And neither is it mine. We live in a society where people have all had different experiences and different things will run deep for each of us.
Unless you’re Frankie Boyle sit down.
If someone wants to offend someone else, then all they will have accomplished is offending someone: they won’t have fulfilled some divine prophecy of humanity.