Political Correctness
Definition from Google. noun: the avoidance, often considered as taken to extremes, of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against. A simple example: If Laura, Kate and Sarah go out for lunch, they will call each other Laura, Kate and Sarah. If Mike, Dave and John go out, they will affectionately refer to each other as Fat Boy, Bubba and Wildman. Is this offensive to the men doing the nicknaming? Is it offensive to others who might hear them? Does it matter? A more complex example: As reported in the media, in a memo to students sent out by West Virginia University (WVU), Title IX coordinator James Goins, Jr. declares that anyone who refuses to use a person’s preferred transgender pronouns is breaking federal law! A political example: Robert Litan, a Democrat, was fired from his left leaning think tank after delivering testimony against an Elizabeth Warren-backed Labor Department plan to regulate financial advisers. Half of House Democrats and virtually all Republicans in Congress oppose the plan because of its costs. Instead of rebutting his argument, Ms. Warren decided to punish it, he was fired from his think tank. One ridiculous example: Princeton University’s ‘Men’s Engagement Manager’, to rehabilitate men that are too masculine. Obviously there are many more, even more dramatic, examples of political correctness gone wild in our culture today. Political correctness can be best described as the opposite of or the enemy of truth.

Are We Free to Discuss America’s Real Problems?

by Amy Wax,
from Imprimus,
January, 2018:

There is a lot of abstract talk these days on American college campuses about free speech and the values of free inquiry, with plenty of lip service being paid to expansive notions of free expression and the marketplace of ideas. What I’ve learned through my recent experience of writing a controversial op-ed is that most of this talk is not worth much. It is only when people are confronted with speech they don’t like that we see whether these abstractions are real to them.

The op-ed, which I co-authored with Larry Alexander of the University of San Diego Law School, appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer on August 9 under the title, Paying the Price for the Breakdown of the Country’s Bourgeois Culture. It began by listing some of the ills afflicting American society: Too few Americans are qualified for the jobs available. Male working-age labor-force participation is at Depression-era lows. Opioid abuse is widespread. Homicidal violence plagues inner cities. Almost half of all children are born out of wedlock, and even more are raised by single mothers. Many college students lack basic skills, and high school students rank below those from two dozen other countries.

In what became perhaps the most controversial passage, we pointed out that cultures are not equal in terms of preparing people to be productive citizens in a modern technological society, and we gave some examples of cultures less suited to achieve this: The culture of the Plains Indians was designed for nomadic hunters, but is not suited to a First World, 21st-century environment. Nor are the single-parent, antisocial habits prevalent among some working-class whites; the anti-‘acting white’ rap culture of inner-city blacks; the anti-assimilation ideas gaining ground among some Hispanic immigrants. The reactions to this piece raise the question of how unorthodox opinions should be dealt with in academia—and in American society at large. It is well documented that American universities today, more than ever before, are dominated by academics on the left end of the political spectrum. How should these academics handle opinions that depart, even quite sharply, from their “politically correct” views? The proper response would be to engage in reasoned debate—to attempt to explain, using logic, evidence, facts, and substantive arguments, why those opinions are wrong. This kind of civil discourse is obviously important at law schools like mine, ... But academic institutions in general should also be places where people are free to think and reason about important questions that affect our society and our way of life—something not possible in today’s atmosphere of enforced orthodoxy.

So what happened after our op-ed was published last August? A raft of letters, statements, and petitions from students and professors at my university and elsewhere condemned the piece as racist, white supremacist, hate speech, heteropatriarchial, xenophobic, etc. There were demands that I be removed from the classroom and from academic committees. None of these demands even purported to address our arguments in any serious or systematic way.

A response published in the Daily Pennsylvanian, our school newspaper, and signed by five of my Penn Law School colleagues, charged us with the sin of praising the 1950s—a decade when racial discrimination was openly practiced and opportunities for women were limited. ... an open letter published in the Daily Pennsylvanian and signed by 33 of my colleagues.

Of the 33 who signed the letter, only one came to talk to me about it.


Disliking, avoiding, and shunning people who don’t share our politics is not good for our country. We live together, and we need to solve our problems together. It is also always possible that people we disagree with have something to offer, something to contribute, something to teach us. We ignore this at our peril. As Heather Mac Donald wrote in National Review on August 29: “What if the progressive analysis of inequality is wrong . . . and a cultural analysis is closest to the truth? If confronting the need to change behavior is punishable ‘hate speech,’ then it is hard to see how the country can resolve its social problems.” In other words, we are at risk of being led astray by received opinion. The American way is to conduct free and open debate in a civil manner. We should return to doing that on our college campuses and in our society at large.

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