From Euphemisms to Eugenics

These days being “politically correct” is so important to us that we sometimes get a little silly. I have seen people mistakenly call a black person African American, in an effort to be sensitive but end up looking foolish because the person is really actually Haitian.
I decided to share my opinion about these issues because it seemed that most of my classmates were addressing the other side of the issue. I agree with them for the most part. Still, I think there is something to be said about profiling, stereotyping that in general is correct, and certainly won’t offend me.
What I believe happens is simply a flux of well meaning but misguided political correctness. What is with all the euphemisms these days? I walked into a bathroom stall and I see “Do not dispose of non-organic items in anything but the proper receptacles.” Why can’t they just say “Throw your trash in trash cans.” It would be so much simpler and so much more easy to understand. Again– this stems from a strange human need to soften up language so as not to offend.
Now I can only speak for myself, but I am not going to be offended if someone calls a black man black or a trash can a trash can instead of a waste receptacle. Honestly, I find it extremely pretentious half the time. Of course, I realize that that is not at all the intention but it just comes across that way. And it is FRUSTRATING.
Here is an example of a stereotype that is legitimate: a glowing red stove is most likely hot. There are times when this may be untrue, but as a general rule red=hot. A stereotype that is not cool is that blondes are stupid. You may not agree with her policies but there is no doubt Hillary Clinton and many other blonde women (I point you to at lease half of the sorority population on campus here at Vandy) are very intelligent. Some stereotypes that are common that tread a fine line between true and funny are those like Asian people are smarter, men are more violent than women, things like this are seeded from a very commonly known truth. Not always the case, however, some people can be offended.
Here is my question: Would anyone be offended if I locked the car doors while driving through a predominantly black neighborhood? My mother used to do this and I have found myself doing it out of habit lately. On the one hand I positively LOATHE myself for perpetuating a stereotype I used to yell at mom about. On the other… more car jackings and car crimes happen in neighborhoods like this it is a proven fact. So where can we draw the line between overly politically correct, and just plain offensive? Help me, because I sure don’t know.


~ by onealac1 on April 19, 2010.

2 Responses to “From Euphemisms to Eugenics”

  1. You make some interesting points. I don’t think you intentionally lock your car doors while driving through a neighborhood because its black. I think its because you know you are in a bad area of town– regardless of what racial groups live there.

  2. Like you seem to suggest, the issue is rather situational. I think it depends on the intention behind your actions or words. If someone is perpetuating a stereotype, regardless of its accuracy, simply to degrade the group of people, then it should obviously come across as being offensive.
    On the other hand, a stereotype may very well be valid, and although it may be used in a harmless way, some people may still find it offensive.
    The issue with such language is that it depends a lot on the context – I’ve jokingly stereotyped about my asian, mexican, iraqi, and black friends, and vice-versa.
    As long as there are not ill-intentions behind the use of such language, or any language really, then I see no reason why it shouldn’t be used.

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