Is Political Correctness the Bigot's Best Friend?
It is natural for many people to want to muzzle the people they disagree with. Rather than debate, or tolerate, or ignore, there is a large contingent that would just as soon forcibly shut up their dissidents with the aim of creating society in their image, no exceptions.
And so, in a culture of supposedly free speech where this isn't legal (yet), we instead have "political correctness" where social pressure is applied to people who don't toe whatever party line is being applied at the moment.
The story goes that after an endless parade of euphemism, careful expressions and purposeful waterings down of ideas are foisted on the people by an enlightened few, paradise shall follow soon after. But, of course, we're talking about people here, so paradise is never found. Instead, the mandarins who came up with "mentally-handicapped" decide that they need some more press, so they come up with "differently-abled", or that Halloween costume depictions of a historical figure are insensitive. Maybe the term "mandarin" is insensitive.
So, rather than promoting a polite society, it does quite the opposite. Political correctness only serves to supercharge the old, insensitive speech and habits of the past.
By making simple words and ideas completely taboo, they become completely taboo, which in a world of gigantic, Photoshopped naked people having simulated sex on every imaginable screen, billboard and printed article, is an awfully rare concept. Practically nothing is forbidden except politically incorrect speech, and that makes it tremendously powerful.
In the 1970's, a flamboyant racist might be discredited, as Earl Butz was in 1976 when he privately remarked that "I'll tell you what the coloreds want: a tight pussy, loose shoes and a warm place to shit." He resigned, and that is about right in my opinion. It took zero courage to privately say what Butz said in 1976, and so it only revealed his massively poor opinion of black people.
On the other hand, in 2015, when a person picks up this glowing Excalibur of wild, vulgar ideas, people can't help but stand slack-jawed in amazement as someone actually has the gall to publicly say such things.
The national attention and breathless coverage of the unapologetic Trump campaign is amazing, as he drives his 10 million ton gaffe-train through the now-delicate national psyche, throwing out Mexican rapists and banning Muslims all along the way.
Unfortunately, it belies audacity and fearlessness to defy political correctness and say bigoted things. Perhaps it also belies stupidity, but for the billions in free press that Trump has been getting, it mostly seems to be clever. A careful Trump campaign would have gone nowhere.
Before the advent of social shaming, a bigoted statement only spoke negatively about the speaker. Now the speaker is ensconced in a sense of social rebellion, plucking the forbidden fruit, and appearing to have a great deal of courage, foolhardy or not.
If someone uses politically incorrect language, you might be right to assume they mean what they say, since there is tremendous social cost assigned to using it. Such language is expensive, powerful and rare, and it holds more effect over people than any other speech. Rather than muting the bigot, political correctness has only served to attract attention to and amplify the bigots words to a much greater extent than ever before.