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Is political correctness important?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/23/2016 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 422 times Debate No: 96355
Debate Rounds (3)
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Is political correctness important? I believe that this is true. Ideally, in a perfect society full of perfect people, political correctness would be obsolete, but unfortunately, we life in a society where I believe it does a lot of good.

To start off, I would like to say that I only believe in political correctness when it is causing offence to someone. I am not calling for Washington D.C to change it's name because it is named after a slave owner*. However when a certain phrase is KNOWN to cause offence to a certain person or group, I believe that it is better left unsaid. In Ben O' Neill's article ' A critique of politically correct language', he argues that political correctness is pointless, as long as the social stigma still exists. For example, if you have some sort of prejudice against black people, for whatever reason, you may feel inclined to call such a person a 'nigger'. Some would argue that this person may as well say the word, as they are thinking about it anyway and the hate exists within them whether they say the slur or not. However the counter argument, which I agree with, is that by saying such a slur, the hatred not only exists within them, but they are spreading such language. Mari Matsuda, a law professor, lays out this theory in her book 'Words that Wound'. She claims that hateful language, the moment it is uttered, is violent, and it places the speaker above the addressee.**Take Hitler for example. Even if his social stigmas existed, if he had spoken about them using calm, tolerable language, he is unlikely to have inspired the hatred he did.

This is all I will say for now, and good luck

Sources: * George Will, Washington Post Pulitzer prize-winning columnist ,'A Progressive's guide to political correctness'
** Wisecrack, 'Does Political Correctness WORK? " 8-Bit Philosophy',


First off, I'd like to thank my opponent for creating what is effectively my first debate.

The biggest reason for why I am opposed to political correctness(specifically enforcement of it) is how it hugely violates one"s freedom of speech. I don"t care how abhorrent or vile what they"re saying seems, they should be able to say it. This is so important because a state in which only one idea is permitted(whether or not it is good) allows no progress and therefore delays social advancements. While I think they should not be banned from saying what they wish, I equally believe one can rebut and refute their point, which allows an open discussion between differing ideologies and beliefs.

Furthermore, I disagree with you that saying offensive things should be outright banned. Preventing someone from doing something does not make them learn how to be good, therefore they cannot become better people. This lack of reformation often leads to their offspring also being a closet bigot(or whatever it may be). This perpetuates the issue instead of reforming the "bigot"s fallibilities.

You also say about not spreading the hatred, and how it"s better not to allow people to say it because it makes a nicer society. This is advocating "bottling up" feelings, which leads to very bad things like health issues[1] and resentment. Resentment and prolonged anger/hatred can lead to horrific incidents[2], which are detrimental to society.

Then you speak about Hitler. HItler was a crazy, anti-semitic racist who advocated the slaughter of those who he believed were of a lesser "race". To do so, he climbed to the top of the German government and actually undertake those beliefs regarding the Jews" murdering. While I agree, it would"ve been better if he had just spoken about it I doubt such an person would just stop there(especially seeing as he thought it was God"s wish[3]). Furthermore, he couldn"t just sit down and spoken about it if he wasn"t allowed to(i.e. What political correctness advocates), therefore you are arguing against your own point.

Thank you for your time and for listening(or rather, reading).

[3] (I would put the exact location in Mein Kampf, but I don"t currently have a copy) Fighting Jews as Defending God,
Debate Round No. 1


I would like to thank my opponent for his response, and to welcome him to Now, for my response to his argument.

I am left wondering whether or not my opponent misunderstood my argument. He starts off by saying "a state in which only one idea is permitted(whether or not it is good) allows no progress and therefore delays social advancements". I heartily agree with this statement and never suggested otherwise. I in no way think that the state should be an enforcer of politically correct language, and did not one say anything to support that claim. My argument is merely on the level of the individual, and not the government. More then once my opponent suggested that the title of this debate may be "Is freedom of speech important?", which of course I am in support of, but let's stick to the matter at hand, that is political correctness, which is defined as the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against, (not state enforced censorship).

My opponent's next either misconception or outright ignorance of my argument takes the form of this statement; "Furthermore, I disagree with you that saying offensive things should be outright banned. Preventing someone from doing something does not make them learn how to be good, therefore they cannot become better people." Again ,as you can see, I in no way indicated that I thought offensive things should be "outright banned". Secondly, I clearly laid out my first argument as to why refraining from saying potentially offensive things can be beneficial to the world, even if the stigma still exists.

Many people would agree with me that it would in fact make a nicer society for everyone if people weren't constantly being harassed for things about them that they cannot change, i.e race, sex, disabilities. It is believed by many that by not saying these hateful things like "slut", "cripple" or "nigger", we are giving a positive example for younger generations, and even if the stigma exists in older generations, it will eventually die out. If it was not considered politically incorrect to use all the aforementioned slurs, it is almost a a certainty that these groups, who were once the subject of violent verbal discrimination, would not have the rights they enjoy today. A lot of what political correctness prevents is essentially bullying, which is an example we must lead for younger generations.


Firstly, I'd like to say you initially failed to define what political correctness actually is, which may have lead to some confusion. Political correctness is generally thought of as a little more than what you seem to be advocating, which is called politeness. Had you defined it, perhaps we wouldn't have wasted a round. When I spoke about it before I was referring to the common meaning where enforcement is required. However, despite me now somewhat agreeing with you, I will continue as best I can.

I'd like to ask as to what exactly the point of political correctness is if it isn't enforced? Those who believe messages are more easily conveyed via more polite ways will continue doing so and those who do not won't. Advocating this is therefore pointless because it changes nothing because, without enforcement and while retaining free speech, the only thing it does is use the definition of politeness and puts it under another word.

I'd argue that the few who feel inclined to self-censor will only build up the hate. Often, an expression of anger(however rude) is far better than 'bottling it up'. To continue your Hitler analogy, I highly doubt he was born with a built in hate for Jews. It would've been hatred built up over time, which is what self-censoring will do because those who are tricked into believing being polite is more important that expressing oneself as is required will build up their hatred which often can cause more issues further on in the future and health issues[1]. I"d like to say that mild anger is a good thing, as I"ll mention in a later point, but when you reach the point it is damaging your health said hatred is bad for you and everyone else. Like Aaron Sell said, "We need anger, and there are negative consequences for those without it".[2]

While it can be damaging to other people to call them names about something, I"d argue it"s more important for the person to express his or her feelings. This is because It keeps anger levels at a controllable level, so it won"t escalate into violence or another short outburst of hatred. Furthermore, this managed anger can be useful. It can help the conveyal of points because it makes people more motivated and therefore they care more[2]. Another upside is that people are more optimistic when angry[3]. These benefits and the lack of the downsides from perpetrated anger[4] are why one should express their anger(however poorly founded) instead of holding it in.

I agree that, ideally, not having these unfounded feelings would be beneficial to society, but that view point is unrealistic because it's in human nature[5].

Debate Round No. 2


I would like to mention that although I did not point out exactly what I meant by political correctness in round 1, I argued my point from the point of view of the definition which I later gave. Anyhow, I would like to assume when someone undertakes a debate, they know the general definition of all the words used in the title.

You do realise that you have argued that people can only be influenced to behave a certain way if they are forced to do so, by saying "what exactly the point of political correctness is if it isn't enforced?". However as we know from many dictatorships (e.g Hitler, again), lasting change in the way people think and act cannot be brought about by force. As Kao Kalin Yang says, "Lasting change cannot be forced, only inspired"*. You are ignoring all the positive change that has been brought to the world without using force and the amount of influence example has on people.

You are arguably correct that those who refrain from saying hateful things MAY just build up this hate. But that's no reason to release all this hate onto society. Furthermore, these people who hold all of this hate may one day become enlightened and no longer have the desire to say these things, in which case they will be glad they never did. In a study by Brad J.Bushman of Iowa State University, it was found that subjects who expressed their anger and thought about who was angering them while punching a punching bag, ended up more angry then the control group , who thought about getting physically fit whilst punching the bag.**

In a recent study from Indiana University, the researchers were trying to determine whether the stereotype that women were bad at maths effected their performance in a maths exam***. They took two groups of women and told them that they would be taking a maths exam. One of the groups was reminded of the stereotype that men are better than women at maths, and the other was not. The average scores in the classroom where the women were reminded of the stereotype were significantly lower. This goes to show how stereotypes, and slurs alike can effect peoples performance in everyday life. Being a little more politically correct can clearly go a long way.

Hitler was not in fact born with a hatred for Jews. He did not develop it until after WWI, despite some of his claims. Through voicing his racism, and having others support him is what caused his evil to develop fully. Thoughts can die out if people do not think that society will positively reinforce their ideas.

*The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir, Kao Kalin Yang.
** 'Does Venting Anger Feed or Extinguish the Flame? Catharsis, Rumination, Distraction, Anger, and Aggressive Responding', Brad J. Bushman, Iowa State University, http://www-personal.umi...
***'Forecasting the experience of stereotype threat for others', Kathryn L. Boucher, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, May 2015 , info@


What you advocate is arguably different to the common understanding of political correctness. It is "the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against"[1]. You are suggesting more politeness, which is politeness; "showing good manners"[2]. Political correctness is not necessarily about diction, as you seem to believe. Furthermore, it isn"t necessarily regarding the wrongly "discriminated against". It would be just as non-PC to say all "NAZIs are racist"(because NAZIs are socially disadvantaged - they are often not included in society if they are openly so) as to advocate for the murder of a racial minority who is discriminated against. This term, therefore, does not encompass what you are suggesting(politeness), rather it protects people - innocent or otherwise - from criticism/rudeness, which is unfair because criticism is often insulting - after all, how can attacks on things such as bad ideologies come off as anything but insulting?

When I say enforced, I mean socially as well(i.e through education systems) as via police, etc. Long lasting ideas do not last when socially enforced as well if they are wrong. Neither will it if it is "forced" through a state"s power. This is because people, in general, are not stupid and all it takes is one person to break a wrong idea. It"s not easy to make a great deal of change without any degree of forcefulness, even if that forcefulness is through peer-pressure, etc. Even then, it is hard to bring through. While that is not a reason not to try, one cannot suggest that advocation, protest and more is not somewhat forcefully pushing an idea because, unfortunately, most people are followers, not leaders. This means most people become more "enlightened" via external forces, not internal conflict(without other people helping). Consequently, change(positive or negative) requires a degree of enforcement.

One should not be barred from expressing one"s opinions due to their degree of hatefulness, but by their validity. Therefore, instead of attempting to protect feelings, people should be open to arguments(hateful or not) that differ with their own ideas and attempt to rebut them. Otherwise, as state of stasis is set in place because controversial ideas are often not allowed because those with them are not supposed to say it(because this social norm of political correctness has been perpetuating to be normal). This is an abhorrent vision of the future we should all do our bests to stop to allow the evolution of society.

Referring to your Hitler point, the reasons why so many people believed him is because of pre-existing tension, his affluence and his oration skills. Without those things, Hitler would likely have had no effect - just another crazy man.

Thank you.

Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Ehsom 7 months ago
I would write more on my last point, but I ran out of room. Sorry!
Posted by Ehsom 8 months ago
I'll be away on Tuesday the 25th of October for most of the day(GMT). Sorry you get impatient from my absence!
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