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Political Correctness Is A Right-Wing Myth

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Watching TV recently, I heard another pundit complaining yet again about just how "politically correct" this nation has become.

There's that term again: Politically Correct.

With the entire continent engaged in some of the most polarizing politics seen in decades, everyone seems to have one thing in common: Everyone thinks people these days are too easily offended.

But they aren't. They're no different than they've ever been. And, as for political correctness, it doesn't exist.

As a comedian and talk radio host, I've heard this term tossed around forever. Comedians as famous as Jerry Seinfeld have used it when complaining about college kids.

Right-wing talk radio hosts use it as a smear term against liberals and anyone who disagrees with them. That's exactly why it's a myth. It's nothing more than a scapegoat term used to smear the other side of a discussion.

For something to be "Politically Correct," there would have to be some sort of political ideology that correctness identities with. Conservatives often use the term as a blanket complaint of Liberalism.

In the 90s, everyone's drunk uncle complained that it was because of "political correctness" that it was no longer acceptable to refer to black people as "coloreds." In their "Archie Bunker had some good ideas" world, things were so much better back when white people could just "speak their minds" without repercussions.

Nowadays, racist rants can get you fired... and apparently political correctness is to blame.

There is no such thing as "political correctness." Not when those who complain about the world being too easily offended find themselves so easily offended.

But that's not "PC," it's just the changing societal norms around you. Eighty years ago, negative stereotypes about the Polish were the norm and blackface was a popular form of entertainment.

Today, a majority of North Americans would be shocked and offended by it. Same goes for Mickey Rooney's awful portrayal of an Asian man in Breakfast at Tiffany's. That kind of humour is not politically incorrect anymore; it's just incorrect.

Watch a teen movie from the 1980s -- something as harmless as Teen Wolf -- and witness how the word "fag" is thrown around as a casual insult or how the word "gay" is used synonymously with the word "lame."

Some would label it because of political correctness that we don't insult each other the same way anymore, but societal norms change all the time. It's nothing new.

History also shows us this is not to be attributed solely to liberals, either. When The Dixie Chicks were boycotted and shamed for mocking then-President Bush, who was being politically correct? The Dixie Chicks for being Liberal? Or those defending the president, then the epitome of status quo?

Who was "too easily offended" then? Why was that merely an exercise of free speech and similar protesting of Duck Dynasty just "political correctness run amok" by people "too easily offended?"

As for comedians, it wasn't a Liberal audience that demanded Bill Maher be fired from ABC when he made the claim that it was far more cowardly to lob bombs at nations from afar than it was to be a suicide bomber.

Yet no one describes that outrage as "political correctness run amok," even though -- had it been a conservative TV host fired for an opinion -- that's exactly the term that would be tossed around. "Freedom Fries" weren't a Liberal invention.

People act like this is a new thing, even though it clearly isn't. Who was being "politically correct" when protesting The Last Temptation of Christ? Or when burning books at schools? Or when boycotting Sinead O'Connor?

For all the talk about how Liberals can't take a joke, enough conservatives complained about a joke that David Letterman had to make an apology to Sarah Palin for it.

Who was being "politically correct" when Rosanne Barr was booed for horribly singing the National Anthem? Was that an acceptable moment of being offended and all others are not?

As for college crowds, comedians seem to act as if they haven't always been uptight and more easily offended than the average comedy club.

But I remember this complaint 25 years ago, coming from the mouth of a comedian I was watching at my school. When I was in my twenties, older comedians complained all the time about college audiences and, now that I'm older, I'm complaining about them, too.

But the truth is that not every comedian is fit for every audience merely because of job title.

For all the talk about how Liberals can't take a joke, enough conservatives complained about a joke that David Letterman had to make an apology to Sarah Palin for it.

If Bill Maher -- noted atheist comic --w ere booked at a Christian school and made jokes that likely would offend 90 per cent of the crowd there, is he being "politically incorrect?" Are they if they don't like it?

I'd say it's more likely that this is a case of a comedian being a bad fit for his audience. Plenty of comedians are very successful with college crowds. That doesn't mean that every comic will be.

Comedians don't regularly complain about how "PC" it is that they can't curse indiscriminately on national television at 8 p.m. We've accepted you don't curse in front of church audiences or on cruise ships or at corporate gigs.

The fact remains that comedians have their speech restricted all the time, from private parties to late-night TV appearances. Yet we are quick to blame the blanket scapegoat of political correctness every other time there is an ounce of pushback from the audience.

As for audiences being more easily offended than in previous years, it wasn't yesterday that people were boycotting Andrew Dice Clay and Sam Kinison. It was nearly 30 years ago. George Carlin fought it for 40 years, from the left and the right. And The Smothers Brothers were kicked off television for criticizing the war in Vietnam.

Conservatives were outraged. Who was being politically incorrect then?

SNL recently parodied an actual Donald Trump supporter in a sketch. Trump fans are notorious for loving him because he is against "political correctness."

Well, what did this Trump supporter think about being mocked on TV? She portrayed herself as a victim of bullying. The irony is thick... but it's also more proof that there is no such thing as "political correctness." Not when those who complain about the world being too easily offended find themselves so easily offended.

Ward Anderson is a comedian, author, and co-host of the SiriusXM talk radio program "Ward & Al", heard weekedays from 1pm to 4pm Eastern Time on the "Canada Talks" Channel. He has two novels, tours the world, and isn't easily offended. Check him out at www.wardanderson.net

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