Political Correctness and Labeling

I’ve always been a bit divided personally when it comes to political correctness, and simply stating things as they are. I find it outrageous when I hear some people claim that things like PC are destroying America. I do not think that simply stating things as they are all the time is appropriate. Clearly we need to take a measured approach when discussing matters that are sensitive to some. It is interesting though how uncomfortable we get when postulating which words to use. Mendel’s Dwarf raises this issue; at one point in the book Benedict cringes as he is forced to produce the word “normal”. He knows very well that in genetics this is a very widely used term, and I do not think the he could honestly describe himself as normal. Dr.Lambert is a dwarf, and a brilliant geneticist. If those two traits in one person are normal, then I do not know what could be considered an outlier. Personally I would choose to use the word dwarf when referring him. I find the word midget somewhat derogatory, although it is clear that one could use this term without any malice intended. Some people might refer to a gay person as a homo (or another term which is much worse), and in doing so truly offend a friend, or fellow student. It is a matter of opinion in a way.  I think that the whole point of PC is that Benedict’s opinion of the word would matter more than a “normal” person’s would. PC is not around because we are week, or else afraid of telling the truth. Political correctness is an attempt to to not offend another human being. Personally I feel awful when offending anyone, and honestly try to put myself in other peoples shoes frequently. I would much rather be too cautious when describing people than risk insulting someone. It reminds me of a recent news story about how the president’s speech writers have chosen to not include the words “Islamic extremism”, even though that is really what we are threatened with. I do not intend to discuss politics, so please do not reply with something too political, but to me this is part of an effort to not solely focus on the religious aspect. A shift in focus such as this could help reduce incidents of American citizens being antagonized because they are Islamic or else increase cooperation among us and middle eastern countries. At the same time though, when appropriate, we need not be afraid to discuss such matters. I apologize for a slight digression, but it ties in with the concept of the use of language in certain situations. Benedict Lambert is a person just like you and I, except for a mutation that shows up in his phenotype. We all have mutations somewhere, but they do not show. It comes down to the sender and the receiver. As long as the sender is not saying “midget” in a cruel way, and the receiver is not offended by the word, then it seems that there will never be a problem. I assume that my classmates are  never saying some of these “iffy” words to be mean (you all seem nice enough), so I am never offended, but I wonder how one of us would feel if we were just like Benedict.

-CSW

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~ by cswilkins on April 12, 2010.

One Response to “Political Correctness and Labeling”

  1. Only .06% of the US population exhibits dwarfism. Similarly only about 1% of the US population can be considered “genius”. In this sense, Dr. Lambert is a statistical miracle because the chances of being both are around .00006% (that is if i did the math right, I am not a math person). Regardless, the chances are VERY VERY small. Why is it that we don’t revere and respect people like this? Why are they “freaks”?

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