Language is constantly evolving, as well it should. There is no good reason to keep a word or term around once it becomes antiquated, stale, or inapplicable. Keeping a term around once it has outgrown its use is akin to keeping around an old mattress – yes, it still functions as it is, but it’s not optimal. Ultimately, that’s what political correctness is, just a correction of antiquated machinery. The moving parts of our language need constant redress, and so we as a culture are the stewards of that – changing out parts as they become outdated or defunct.
Political Correctness has become a maligned term, often used to refer to what the speaker believes to be an overcorrection of our language/culture. The term is rarely used to refer to the necessary deletion of slurs, though it most certainly encompasses that as well. But “political correctness” and being “politically correct” are often referred to in the negative, as though a burden pressed upon us as a people. But in truth, political correctness is a necessary revision of our old language.
A lot of oxygen is wasted resisting political correctness. So many people, from TV personalities to comedians and politicians, decry political correctness as the bane of our existence – as if real problems don’t exist. These people whine on about how political correctness has gone too far. I personally haven’t been bothered by any changes. The linguistic changes take some getting used to, but only in so much that it’s like learning the name of a person – it sets in after you say it enough.
But there are those on both the right and the left who vehemently resist political correctness at every turn. These people are incensed by the changes in “their” language, and mean to actively resist those changes, even rail against them. This has been a popular stance amongst many stand-up comedians for quite some time. Political correctness is a prime target for those clinging hopelessly to the past. It represents a progress that the speaker isn’t part of, supportive of, or understanding of. In most cases, the resistance to political correctness is espoused by a white man who has spoken the way he has for some time, and so changes to the language don’t sit well with him. He feels he’s entitled to use the language he’s always used. They prattle on endlessly about how political correctness will be the death of us, how the changes are ridiculous. This is childish.
Political correctness is an easy target. For some, it’s indicative of an overreaching and an oversensitivity. This of course is a deliberate misunderstanding of the ephemeral nature of our language. Language isn’t a building or a statue, it’s not meant to be erected and go unchanged for the rest of its life. Language changes, as it must.
The viewpoint that “change is bad” isn’t new. But when it comes to political correctness, it tends to be something that some people can’t grasp as a necessary correction of an ever-evolving cultural vernacular. When you listen to someone prattle on about the scourge of political correctness, what you’re really hearing are the dying gasps of a dinosaur struggling through its death throes. The anti-PC argument doesn’t really hold water. And while a person can vehemently resist political correctness and the changes it brings, they’re really just flailing against the tide.