Braking Points

Exploring the Adventure of Aging


May 2014

Questions from a Friend: 2. How important is political correctness?

Following up on Jeff M. of Louisville, KY questions posted the on Facebook:

“So, I have a few questions for you: Do you think we can or should legislate tolerance or morality? How important is political correctness? Can intolerance promote tolerance? Can violence promote peace? Do you hesitate expressing your view here and if so, why?”


First, a short history lesson, in the 1960’s bolstered by academia, identity politics, feminism, etc., a linguistic turn occurred in an attempt to change social reality by changing language so that it was more culturally inclusive and gender-neutral. New terms were introduced to leave behind discriminatory language and to make older terms “taboo” often labeling them as “hate speech”.

Since that first fledgling movement introduced political correct (PC) replacements others have become popular to the point that I, no longer am short, instead I am “vertically challenged”. And even at that the initial PC terminology has evolved with the first terms becoming outdated and insensitive. For example, individuals who had cognitive brain disorders were referred to as fools or idiots prior to PC terms and admittedly these terms sound derogatory, so now we just use them as low level profanity, as in “those idiot drivers”. The first term introduced was “mentally retarded” to be replaced by “mentally challenged”, rendering the first replacement as less sensitive. Or I no longer am a redskin, a person of American Indian heritage, instead I am of Native American ancestory.

I started to write that no one in my family nor I ever used the “N” word and then I remembered the original words to “Ring around the Rosie”, so I will simply say I never heard nor did I use the “N” word with knowledge of it being “hate speech”, but I do know it now. Back in Frederick, OK where I grew up, we used the terms Negro or “colored” but as a child of the 1950 and 60’s, I quickly became aware that there was a great divide and that divide was wrong. Did the PC term “Black” which later became “African-American” bridge the divide? I think the jury is still out on that, because racism is still a “fungus among us”.

I took a course in Semantics at the University of Tulsa in the 1970’s where I came to understand that English like most languages is a living language with ever changing definitions of words and even with new words, hence words like “selfie” making the dictionary. Words change and yes, words do influence thought and behavior, but do they change the center of a person’s being? Can linguistics alter the tribe like tendencies of the human? In some ways I embrace the PC terminology because I think it centers with my Christian faith. The Bible is full of admonishments related to misuse of God’s name, calling others fools, speaking unkindly of both friend and enemy, and James puts it like this:

“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. “(James 3:9-12 NIV)

And yet, the BIBLE would not past muster with PC purists. The Bible calls “errors in judgement and bad choices” and even culturally and PC acceptable life styles: SIN. And still in a time when Men truly dominated Women, the Bible tells us that in His IMAGE, He created them, Male and Female, he created them. Jesus defied the PC police of his day, the Pharisees and Sadducees, He touched women and lepers and ate with rift raft. Clearly, He loved all people enough to die for all, even the PC police of his day.

I am growing older day by day but if I can grow in love that considers how I say something and if I choose to use kind, compassionate, gentle words instead of ugly hateful speech, You can call it what you want to, PC even. But I still know that speaking the Truth is important and that to tolerate everything is to weaken myself, my family, my friends, my country and my world. Worse than that failing to identify sin as sin might cause someone to choose destruction rather than life.

So frankly while I use gender neutral terms most often, I still break down and use “cowboy” or “cowgirl” instead of “cowperson”. Likewise, I am not offended when referred to as a “short old lady” instead of the PC phrase “vertically challenged senior” or “petite woman of a certain age”. If I am missing, whatever phrase gets me home safe is the one I want broadcast, with my most recent picture and not one of that skinny young thing I was 25 years ago.

Photo attached.

Selfie May 27, 2014
Selfie May 27, 2014

Next: Can intolerance promote tolerance?

Questions from a Friend: 1. Can you legislate tolerance or morality?

Recently Jeff M. of Louisville, KY posted the following on Facebook:

“So, I have a few questions for you: Do you think we can or should legislate tolerance or morality? How important is political correctness? Can intolerance promote tolerance? Can violence promote peace? Do you hesitate expressing your view here and if so, why?”

The comments with some back and forth discussion numbered were well thought out, sincere and I think reflected the thoughtful worldview of those who responded. I heartily cheer those who responded and expect others wished to respond, but hesitated to do so, especially in light of Jeff’s final question.

Reading the forum that his questions initiated, I recognized old debates restated by intelligent people who were born and raised in a postmodern world, where skepticism of anything and everything trumps “walking by faith”. Frankly, I encounter skepticism among my peers who like me are older, but that usually involves “technology”.

I personally am less inclined to debate issues, finding that words well chosen often lead to a “winner” but not always to the truth. But still Jeff’s questions intrigued me, because they are not new and yet they are timely. So thank you, Jeff for making me take a new look at old issues.

imageDo you think we can or should legislate tolerance or morality?

Not really sure if tolerance belongs in this question, but more about that later. Can morality be legislated? Should it be? And to what end? Apparently, it can be since Moses traipsed up Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments. Whether one is a believer in God or not, one has to acknowledge that these ten standards or at least five of them establish a foundation for civil and moral law. Just read them through, all ten:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

“You shall have no other gods before me.

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

“You shall not murder.

“You shall not commit adultery.

“You shall not steal.

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:2-17 NIV)

And yet if you read the Bible or even if you don’t empirical knowledge supports the fact that the intention of the law to govern behavior worked part of the time with some horrendous lapses and the true intention of the law to change the inward man or woman failed pretty much 100% of the time. The intention of God’s Law to shape inner character, love, grace even in the most faithful fell short, because alas we are a fragile, flawed people. As a Christian, I could now lead into a discussion of how Jesus fulfilled the Law of God and set us free from its power, which involved a massive load of guilt for those trying to follow it. But, I will continue to weave that into my posts rather than digressing from the point of this one. Suffice it to say, everything I say and everything I do if it has any worth comes from the rock solid center of Christ in me the hope of Glory.

So can morality be legislated through civil law? Yes. Should it be? Yes. Is all law intended to legislate morality MORAL? No. (for another time) Am I bound to follow it? In most cases, yes? Will it change my inner self, my views, my beliefs? Probably not, but it might open my eyes to a new way of looking at things. Will it produce a kinder, gentler people? Only in those who truly seek to be kinder and gentler and in others who do not care, it will create practiced hypocrites. It will create the facade of political correctness with no depth of human compassion.
Next time: How important is political correctness?

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