Nobody likes to be insulted, oppressed, treated with prejudice or abused, but in our society’s efforts to not offend anyone, has the pendulum swung too far in the other direction that we cannot communicate with each other effectively without fear of offending others?
George Carlin, an American comedian, discussed the speech restriction that is known as political correctness.
“Political correctness is America’s newest form of intolerance, and it is especially pernicious because it comes disguised as tolerance,” Carlin said. “It presents itself as fairness, yet attempts to restrict and control people’s language with strict codes and rigid rules. I’m not sure silencing people or forcing them to alter their speech is the best method for solving problems that go much deeper than speech.”
For some reason, the millennial generation is oversensitive and easily offended. The millennial generation includes those who are born as early as 1980 until about 2000. As a society, we hear the term being thrown around, ‘millennials are just being millennials,’ but what does that actually mean?
Millennials are seemingly being excluded from the general population and treated like a different species, but they are not. Words such as “feminist,” “racist,” “sexist,” “safe space,” “privilege,” etc. are at the top of the generation’s vocabulary. These words set people off and with the use of social media, these words spark movements primarily based on feelings being hurt.
2016 has really taken a turn in where being offended by something is basically the new trend, and if you are not into that trend, people also take offense to that. Today people use trigger words such as “racist,” “feminist” and “gender norms,” but do they actually know what those words mean or have they just heard their parents and the media say it, and then use it to get their point across? Some people have never truly learned the meaning of those words so they toss them around without thinking of the backlash.
The framers of the Constitution knew a thing or two when creating the First Amendment; the right to free speech. What a crazy concept that is. Anyone can say whatever they want without the risk of being punished? However, that is not so true in this day and age. Nowadays, if someone has an opinion that differs from one’s own, they are often offended. The problem occurs when not only is the person offended, but they have to turn against the offender, retaliate by doing something like posting about it on social media, and make it a bigger deal than it necessarily needs to be.
John Cleese, an English comedian said, “If people can’t control their own emotions then they have to start trying to control other people’s behaviors.”
The oversensitivity starts when we are little. When playing on sports team the winner wins a first place trophy, and the loser wins a participation ribbon because everyone’s a winner. However, life was not designed for everyone to win in every situation.
Political correctness has become so prevalent in today’s society that it seems many politicians do not say how they truly feel about issues, most likely because it would be too controversial and they would not do well in the polls. By censoring what politicians want to say, I believe we are undermining their right to free speech.
“I don’t agree that you, when you become college students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of view. I think you should be able to- anybody who comes to speak to you and you disagree with, you should have an argument with ‘em. But you shouldn’t silence them by saying, ‘You can’t come because I’m too sensitive to hear what you have to say.’ That’s not the way we learn either,” President Barack Obama said during a speech at an Iowa Hall meeting.
As millennials, we need to toughen up and not allow ourselves to be so easily offended. We need to look beyond the emotional reaction of the comments of others and evaluate the true meaning of the comments before announcing, “I am offended by what you said.”