Is Political Correctness Killing Our Society?
I recently returned to my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio where I met with some classmates for dinner prior to attending a football game at my high school alma mater. In particular, I got to catch up with a female friend who I have known for a long time. Our families were very close and our parents often met on the weekends and took vacations together. Her father was a noted physician in the area, and her mother was a great cook of Jewish cuisine. I loved visiting their house to sample some of her delicacies and share a cigar with her father. My classmate and I were so close, she still refers to me as her “Big Brother” and I think fondly of her as my sister.
During the course of our discussions, we caught up on what all the other family members were doing. We laughed, we were serious, and we were candid. It was great to see her again. However, there was a point where I wanted to talk a little politics; to discuss a column I was working on. Hearing this, my friend raised her hand, and knowing my political persuasion, said, “We better stop here.” She obviously didn’t want to get into a situation that may cause friction.
Frankly, my friend’s opposition to discussing such a subject surprised me. I can vividly remember our parents talking politics over their Friday night get-togethers. When it came to politics, the families were polar opposites, yet this did not deter them from talking about such things as Richard Nixon, the Viet Nam war, Israel, and a plethora of other subjects. They disagreed on several areas, but found the dialog stimulating and there was respect for opposing opinions. They then sat down for dinner and laughed.
So here was my classmate and myself, practically brother and sister, just one generation removed from our parents, and we can no longer discuss politics without offending someone, and I find this all rather disturbing. Frankly, I blame it on society’s inability to carry on a conversation (thanks to excessive use of technology), the visceral ideological differences of today, and political correctness which has run amok.
It disturbs me we cannot carry on a dialog of anything meaningful anymore, be it political, religious, racial, even humor. The point is, such discussions, should be a two-way street, certainly not one way. They are vital for building awareness and trust, which is what happened to my parents and their friends years ago.
Once a week, I meet with a small group of men where we enjoy some libations, and talk frankly on a wide variety of subjects, particularly current events. We have been doing this for several years now, and, No, we do not always agree, but I wouldn’t trade these get-togethers for anything as it adds meaning to my life.
When we can no longer speak from the heart without fear of offending someone, it is time to pack it in. As for me, I prefer a respectful argument, something with some useful mental gymnastics, before sitting down to dinner and laughing.
Let me leave you with a piece of the famous “Argument Sketch” from Monty Python which, unfortunately, is how a lot of people perceive such discourse today.
MONTY PYTHON – THE ARGUMENT SKETCH
Man: Is this the right room for an argument?
Other Man: I’ve told you once.
Man: No you haven’t!
Other Man: Yes I have.
O: Just now.
M: No you didn’t!
O: Yes I did!
M: You didn’t!
O: I did!
M: You didn’t!
O: I’m telling you, I did!
M: You did not!
O: Oh I’m sorry, is this a five minute argument, or the full half hour?