Political correctness has gone too far

By Isaac Simon

(Laurence Kesterson/Philadelphia Inquirer/MCT)
(Laurence Kesterson/Philadelphia Inquirer/MCT)

Understanding what is and is not offensive is something that has been long debated. Whether it’s people being offended or people who choose to be offensive, there have always been components of American society that have gotten individuals riled up. While there will never be any shortage of controversial content, one thing is certain: we are living in a time with unnecessary amounts of political correctness. The truth of the matter is that it needs to end.

Let me be clear: no one is saying that being politically correct should be punishable by law. People are entitled to say what they want, and that includes proponents of politically correct language. But such nonsense has gone too far.

This is particularly true in the comedy business. Jokes are necessary for a variety of reasons, mainly because we live in an imperfect society where individuals make irrational decisions for irrational reasons. People do stupid things. We are not perfect. Making jokes and laughing at ourselves and how we respond to the way we act is a healthy component of our existence. There is a need to poke fun at ourselves – it’s what makes us interesting as human beings.

But recently, everything has become offensive. This is especially true for college students. More and more, college students have conservative tendencies, and I do not mean politically. They have becomes stiffs, unable to take a joke and calling out everything that includes a tinge of political incorrectness. There is such a willingness to be PC and to make sure no one gets offended, and it has reached an unhealthy level. Suddenly, when a comedian says a joke about gay people, that person is considered a homophobe. Why is comedy taken so seriously? Maybe the person is just trying to be funny. Since when are any group completely off limits to comedy? Writer Caitlin Flanagan of The Atlantic argues that is has a lot to do with thirty years of inherited identity politics, where individuals have come to internalize and personalize whatever they want.

It has gotten to the point where popular comedians like Chris Rock, and Jerry Seinfeld are speaking about this issue. Both comedians have talked about how they have stopped performing at colleges, a place that has a history of fresh, vibrant stand up comedy. The reason Rock and Seinfeld won’t perform at colleges is because their material is no longer acceptable. Being offensive ruins an opportunity for enjoyment. But I believe that one of the reasons for this new trend is the need to suddenly rationalize language. Now rational thought supersedes irrational amusement. The problem is that it has become an impediment on our culture.

As long as the First Amendment endures, PC language will eventually have to go away. It does not better our society to allow this version of censorship to flourish. But of course, the entire idea of something being PC is nonsense. What is PC for someone is not PC for someone else. In this case, it is entirely subjective. The problem is that a consensus has spread, thereby creating a broad definition of what is politically correct.

What people seem to not understand is that there can be certain topics that are within limits to comedians and don’t have to be considered politically correct. Being offended is one thing. But at the end of the day, no one can tell others they can’t be offensive, and certain comedians can’t function if censorship is so widespread. It is a pointless game to try to please everybody at once when a small few find something so benign so offensive.

A school in Seattle now calls Easter eggs “spring spheres” because it is possibly offensive to non-Christians. Other schools replaced the term Christmas tree with ‘holiday tree’, despite the fact that having a Christmas tree is part of celebrating that holiday. When names are changed so frequently with more bizarre connotations they lose their meaning.  Ironically some of the new PC phrases are humorous, and something tells me that even PC language won’t pass for laughs.

Isaac Simon is a Collegian Columnist and can be reached at [email protected]