Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31
“PC” stands for “Politically Correct”. It has gotten a lot of press, but rarely with a biblical worldview.
Millennials have been indoctrinated by an educational system where “empathy” has been extended on college campuses to mean that anything someone might say could offend another is taboo.
That has led to the creation of campus “safe spaces”, where students can go to a cocoon-like area where they can be free of hearing anything that might offend their delicate ears. Add to that something called “trigger warnings” and speech codes.
Why all the fuss? The term was first used in a 1793 U.S. Supreme Court decision. Since then, it has had a variety of definitions. Most recently, the phrase pits free speech and free choice against civility and inclusion.
Its modern-day roots come from Marxist ideology in the early 20thcentury when Vladimir Lenin was coming to power in Russia. The Marxist-Leninists placed a strong emphasis on “ideological correctness, both politically and theoretically” according to Frank Ellis, a Professor at the University of Sheffield.
“An [open] forum for discussion”, according to Ellis, “would impede the revolutionary spirit needed to upend the social order.” That’s chilling to anyone in a country where the Bill of Rights assures freedom of speech.
The result: the creation of a totalitarian regime dedicated to quenching dissent or discussion. Only one ideology mattered: the one that the government wanted. Around 8 million civilians died in this quest in the early 20thcentury.
The current stated goal of politically correct language: to improve multiculturalism and diversity. Being politically correct means that you say nothing that would offend anyone, least of all a minority. I’m all for civility in language, to a point.
George H.W. Bush, in a 1991 Michigan commencement address warned that free speech was under siege by the PC culture:
”Although the [PC] movement arises from the laudable desire to sweep away debris of racism, (..) sexism and hatred, it replaces old prejudices with new ones.”
Fast forward to today. Instead of the term “PC” describing a culture clash within academia, it has been weaponized as a term of insult directed against any ideological opponent.
Allan Bloom, author of The Closing of the American Mind in 1987, believed the push for “open minds” in academia was instead a method of offering narrow perspectives. His example was the Black Power movement which replaced the civil rights movement.
Instead of pushing for universal rights, it demanded black identity. Its core view was “that the Constitutional tradition was corrupt and constructed as a defense of slavery.” The result was that education has become “less about history and those who were held to be its heroes.”
Bloom continues: “Nothing has taken its place (on campuses) except a smattering of facts learned about other nations or cultures and a few social science formulas.” The emphasis on multiculturalism and diversity has displaced “rigorous education and free thinking.”
One difficulty is that everyone can be offended by almost anything. Yet, free speech doesn’t limit speech to that which is non-offensive. You may not agree with what is said, but you don’t have the right to quell their right to say it.
Calling someone “racist”, or one of the many words ending in “phobe” has had a chilling effect on civility, which was the original idea of the PC movement. On college campuses, it has made discourse a one-way street. If academia likes what you are likely to say, you have a free pass to speak on campus.
If not, you may be disinvited, like First Lady Laura Bush or Condoleezza Rice at university commencements. Almost all of them held conservative views, either on abortion, politics or other positions.
I would hardly call these speakers “radicals”, nor whose views are outrageous. Yet, the PC movement has now become a weapon against dissenting views. Basically, if you don’t think like I do, then you will be disinvited, shouted down or protested. Or even stigmatized if you are a conservative.
Couched in simple terms, the PC movement has an unintended consequence of quelling free speech, the exchange of ideas and has bred its own matrix of intolerance.
As one writer in the Atlantic put it: “The new climate [of PC culture] is being institutionalized on campuses”. The next generation has been bred on an educational diet of developing emotional well-being which “presumes an extraordinary mental fragility of the college psyche.”
How does this square with Christianity? As believers, we should not go out of our way to offend anyone. Instead, we are to love one another. Christianity itself was offensive to many. Paul references the “offense of the cross” to Jews in Galatians 5:11.
Our citizenship is in heaven, not on earth. PC is a form of false morality and is not the morality of scripture. If you limit offensive speech, then the next step is to limit your freedom of religion. The Golden Rule has never been limited to a specific audience.
MENTOR TAKEAWAY: You can help your mentee understand that the excesses of the PC culture is a danger to free speech, including the expression of our freedom of religion.
FURTHER RESOURCES: Why the Origins of Politically Correctness Should Frighten You.Wash Times.
Washington Post: How ‘politically correct’ went from compliment to insult.(2016).
The Staggering Toll of the Russian Revolution. Foundation for Economic Education.
Political Correctness vs. Faith. Crosswalk
Franklin Graham: Political Correctness Gone Amok.
WORSHIP: Listen to Liberty Campus Band play How Deep is the Father’s Love.
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