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Hooked on PC

By Timmy Watson in News on Feb 24, 2007 8:20PM

Joel Bleifuss, of In These Times, released a "‘how-to’ guide to avoid offending anyone" offering wordsmiths around the Chicago area the opportunity to offer their expertise on political correctness (PC) and how PC has shaped the way we communicate. Rinku Sen from Colorlines, Tracy Baim from Windy City Times and Lott Hill from Columbia College in Chicago

In These Times, by far one of the boldest of the cities publications, focuses mainly on the cultural aspects of PC. For instance, GLBTQ2IA – Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Transgendered, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Allies, is becoming pretty widely known as GLBT. Tracy Baim, executive editor of Windy City Times - a Chicago area gay and lesbian publication, says “This [GLBT] is coming from the youth movement, the college campuses, it has not seeped into the whole community at this point.” Bleifuss notes that The New York Times has yet to publish the acronym.

07_02_24_1984.jpgPC originated in the 70's, during which the left, according to Bleifuss, "used the term to dismiss views that were seen as too rigid and, also, to poke fun at themselves for the immense care they took to neither say nor do anything that might offend the political sensibilities of others." Conservatives, under pressure from the far right and not wanting to disappoint their massive base, have increasingly become tight lipped on anything that strays from their parties mantra. Our Political Correctness these days is comparable to Newspeak from George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.

A majority of the words in the article are not as much politically incorrect as they are flat out racist, but the underlying theme that our lexicon is subject to rules, like our words fit into an equation, is still apparent. Political correctness seems to have slowly changed from decency in our communication to a box of words that are used to avoid political sensibilities. It has not only affected those in power, but those that are charged with taking politicians to task.

While the media is under almost as much scrutiny as politicians, it is their job to give the public information and strive to get it. PC has its value in general decency, as the group showed in the article. But, as exemplified in Ben Javorsky's article on the upcoming Mayoral Election in this weeks Reader, we become fearful of our walls crumbling down because of change and trade our vote for a watered down version of democracy.