Political Correctness: Taking it too far?

Sarah Van Heuverswyn

Wednesday January 24

Sherlock, Ruth. The Telegraph. How Political Correctness rules America's student's safe spaces http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/12022041/How-political-correctness-rules-in-Americas-student-safe-spaces.html Nov. 28, 2015

Ruth says that campuses are becoming too closed off with the need for "trigger warnings" and "safe spaces." There are even students asking professors not to put some content on an exam because they feel like it might "trigger distress" on an exam. Sometimes, the content is being taken out entirely out of the syllabus. Safe spaces used to mean refuge for people to get away from sexism or prejudice, but now it's a place one can be that avoids discussions that might make one feel uncomfortable. If people want to have a well rounded education, they need to have discussions about things that will make them uncomfortable so that they can be exposed to different points of view.

Maloney, Ryan. Huffington Post. Most Canadians say political correctness has gone 'too far': Angus Reid Institute Poll http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/08/29/canada-political-correctness-poll-angus-reid_n_11761738.html

A pole was done in 2016 that shows how many Canadians who  that political correctness has gone too far. From the people who have been asked, "82% of Canadians over 55" thought that is had gone too far. "78%" were between "35-54" thought this, and "67%" were "18-34." Also,  "80%" of people are self censoring themselves and saying that they can't express their opinions to people they don't know because someone will be offended by it. Many are offended by the language of others and "too easily insulted."

Sunday January 28

Josh Purtell.  "Trump "Shithole" Countries and political correctness: a response" http://thepolitic.org/trump-shithole-countries-and-political-correctness-a-response/  January 27, 2018

Josh was reporting Trump's "shithole countries" statement. He says in a tweet that he doses not want immigrants from "shithole countries" like Haiti. The majority of people were not surprised with his statement, as he is known to say offensive statements. Many right- wingers agree wholeheartedly and are siding even closer with him. I am not a right- winger myself, however, it is true that Haiti is not the greatest of countries. Most of the people are impoverished, the politics are volatile and the infrastructure is very poorly maintained. Those are facts that are easily accessible. Although, this statement of Haiti being a "shithole" should not be coming from a president under any circumstances. There is a line from not being politically correct, to being completely disrespectful.  He is not afraid to go against political correctness and it is very well known. People with power and status should think about what they say because they have a lot of influence about how people think and react to a certain topic. This is different than average people expressing their opinions because they don't have any power. Being politically correct is not something that people should be forced to do, but if a person has power and status they should rethink their approach on how to address certain topics.

O' Neil, Ben. Indipendant Institute. A Critique of Politically Correct Language http://www.jstor.org/stable/24563157

Many words that have been used in the past are not used anymore. Some for very good reason. Some words have been changed to sound more pleasant, but in reality it doesn't matter if the word was changed or not. The reason why some words don't matter if they're not used anymore is because even though people make up new words to use that is more "politically correct" or pleasant sounding, the meaning is still the same. For example, the term "retarded" means that one's mental ability is impaired or slowed down. At first it was never used as an offensive word, but over time it was made offensive. Language is constantly evolving, and the intent is equally as importent as the words. Many people look at the actual terms and deem them more important than the intent. Therefore, people who hear the words they find offensive automatically assume that the other person is using it in a condescending way, rather than looking at the context and judging whether or not they should be offended. This is a very superficial way of looking at things because instead of listening to the message, people are too focused on one specific word that they don't like.


Sunday February 4

Green, Roy. Global News. Roy Green: Political correctness is gagging freedom of expression https://globalnews.ca/news/3843732/roy-green-political-correctness-is-gagging-freedom-of-expression/ January 31, 2018

This article shows lots of statistics in America, while last week it was only in Canada. Liberals and conservatives have extremely different views, as predicted. 83% of liberals say its hate speech to say transgender people hate a mental disorder and only 36% of conservatives agree with that statement.  I wanted to include two separate polls of Canada and America to show how different, but also how similar the numbers were. 

Liu, Tina. The Gateway. Censorship, victimization and political correctness https://www.thegatewayonline.ca/2017/01/censorship-victimization-and-political-correctness/ January 27, 2017

This article is saying that words such as "trigger" are regularly used and this desensitizes it to us and this is one of the reasons why we don't take political correctness as seriously. We use words like "triggered" and "anxiety" usually in the wrong way. Someone who is "triggered" means that something brought them back to the time of the trauma. It shouldn't be used in place of "offended," but sadly, it has. With this being said, its not a bad thing to use it incorrectly, as long as people are being corrected and being told why it's not proper. It's the same with offensive terms. It's okay to use them, as long as people are telling them why it's hurtful. If we toss these words and saying under the rug, no one will know what they mean or they won't know why it's harmful, and it will do more harm than good. The saying "that's gay" used to be common when doing something bad or uncool, but educating people so that they learn why it's hurtful has made the saying less popular. People still say it, but it's not as common as it used to be (as far as I know).

Sunday February 11

Malcolm, Candice. Toronto Sun. "Why I wont be singing the gender neutral anthem." http://torontosun.com/opinion/columnists/malcolm-why-i-wont-be-singing-the-new-gender-neutral-anthem Toronto Sun February 2, 2018

In this article, Candice tells us that the Liberals in the senate passed a bill to change the lyrics in O' Canada from "all thy sons command" to "all of us command." However, in this context, "sons" refers to all children, not just boys. This is a misunderstanding of the use of certain words in English at the time when O' Canada was written. Not only this, but they were also paying respects to the ones who went to war, who were men. This is an unnecessary change because as most people agree, there was nothing wrong with the previous lyrics, and it was not sexist or bigoted. I find it interesting because its unclear whether it's a genuine concern, or if it was because they want to appeal to many.

Neumann, Anne W.  Australian Institute of Policy and Science. "Excuse me, your political slip is showing."  http://www.jstor.org/stable/20637750  Aug. 1998.

This is a journal article and it first asks us if political correctness does limit speech, should we accept it. There would be no point in limiting our speech if there was no benefit from it, but hopefully changing the way we speak can affect our culture, how we feel or how we act towards each other. We aren't completely free because we can't shout anything we want, whenever we want. It also goes on to say that words are actions and we can change the way we act by the way we speak. While I agree that we aren't completely free in the sense that we can't shout anything we want whenever we want, it's naive to think that we can change the way we think and act by merely changing our words. Words are not actions by any means and the way we change actions and thoughts are by presenting facts. But political correctness shuts down facts and puts feelings on a pedestal. Being politically correct is very different than being polite.

Sunday February 18

Robinson, Joanna. "Matt Damon Apologizes for Controversial Project Greenlight Diversity comments" https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2015/09/matt-damon-apology-diversity-project-greenlight-effie-brown Sep. 27, 2015.

This story was from a while ago, but I think that this is important to mention. Matt Damon was having a conversation about Effie Brown about diversity. He interrupted her and said "in the casting of the film, not the casting of the show." However, a crucial part was cut. In the original, it cut to him saying that it's good to have more diversity in film and such, but people should be chosen based on skill and merit, rather than choosing someone based on race in the name of diversity. That seems to be counter productive because it's telling us that skill doesn't matter, only skin color. Matt Damon got a lot of hate for his statement and was forced to apologize. I don't see anything wrong with what he said; its completely reasonable. Many people are supporting him and also hating him. With this reasonable statement, why are so many people becoming defensive and offended?

O'Connor Roisin. "Matt Damon slammed for 'tone -deaf' comments on sexual assault" http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/matt-damon-sexual-assault-comments-minnie-driver-harvey-weinstein-louis-ck-rehab-rape-a8114261.html Saturday December 16, 2017

Another story from Matt Damon serves a purpose. This article is telling what happened in an interview. He said, There’s a difference between patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right? Both of those behaviors need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn't be conflated.” Again, he got a lot of hate for this interview and since apologized for this. I don't necessarily have an issue with this either because it's a true statement. In the media the words have been taken out of context and put him in a bad light. But seeing the full interview online, there's nothing wrong with his comments, and the majority of people in the comment section on YouTube agree.

The reason why I wanted to but two articles on Matt Damon was because when I first saw theses stories, I wondered why the media took both of them extremely out of context. The media does this so often its almost their job (it kind of is, but that's a different topic). However, it caught my attention that he was the only one going against the crowd, or bringing up things that people refuse to. In both instances he was made out to look like a horrible person instead of someone who could start a new conversation.

February 25  - all articles were made later- the February dates passed this point are just to keep it in order

Written by Sheena Goodyear. Interview with Georgiana Uhlyarik http://www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/as-it-happens-tuesday-edition-1.4672905/why-the-art-gallery-of-ontario-removed-indian-from-the-name-of-this-emily-carr-painting-1.4672934 May 22

This is an article that explains the reason behind the Emily Carr painting "Indian Church" to "Church at Yuquot Village." The reason for this change was because the original was culturally insensitive. To change a painting title that was representative of the time into something that is representative of our time is ill-advised. It erases some of the history behind the painting because changing the name will show future generations that the 1920's was a time where people were tolerant of other cultures, which wasn't the case at all. People are trying to "erase" history and if history is erased, it might repeat itself because we don't know what happened. Judging things from the past by present day standards is a an inaccurate way to view history.

Whitney Ellenby https://citizentruth.org/pc-conundrum-when-political-correctness-hinders-the-disabled/ June 13

The author of Autism Uncensored: Pulling Back the Curtain is saying that when people use the term "differently abled" rather than "disabled" it glosses over the disability aspect. If someone has autism or another mental disability, some are differently abled in the fact that they might be fantastic at drawing or math. However, it glosses over the fact that speech is limited and impulse control is an issue. This makes it sound like having any disability is shameful, and it takes away the impact of what people with disabilities have to go through. Instead of using "differently abled" and leaving it at that, people should be able to use "disabled" and have discussions about it.


March 3

Criminal Code Section 319 http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-46/section-319.html

This is a document of the criminal code that's about the promotion of hatred and the public incitement of hatred. It's a very good idea to have this document because it has stopped people from publicly spreading hate and violence against a specific group. There was a case where Kevin J. Johnston was publicly encouraging people to attack Muslims, and he was charged for this. Speech isn't entirely free, but in this case its a good thing.


When you think of being politically correct, many people have different views about what it is. It comes from a good place with the best intentions, but it makes people bend over backwards to make a good impression. However, it also makes people more tolerant because it helps to include everyone. From the dictionary definition, it sounds very positive and many people should be on board with it. It's not the dictionary definition of it that people don't like, it's how extreme it has become and how constricting it can feel. When people are "colour blind" or go out of their way to appeal to this ideology, it puts more strain on society, or even on interracial encounters.