For anyone keeping up with American politics, one term has probably caught your attention — political correctness… or rather, the lack there of. Being politically correct is a general avoidance of potentially offensive language, especially when it comes to topics such as religion, sex and race. Let’s face it — PC language has gotten a bit of a bad reputation over the years. By political media, it has been under fire for suppressing free speech and promoting the idea that “minority groups can do no wrong.” But as with anything in life, balance is key — we cannot allow the extremists of PC language users to make us forget the absolute necessity of it in our lives.
UBC is synonymous with diversity, as is the city we live in. We don’t label our actions as politically correct but, without prompting, we show courtesy to one another, demonstrate respect for different beliefs and at the very least, we all show tolerance without hostility. We are considerate of those around us, and do not express our opinions at the expense of others. No one would accuse UBC’s diversity to be based on falsities, but genuine, altruistic acceptance and this, I believe, are the heart of PC language.
PC language doesn’t prevent us from developing our own opinions on sensitive issues or from expressing them, but teaches us to speak with a level of respect — it is a standard of required eloquence if one wishes to communicate with another. Within the realm of conscientious expression comes open and healthy discussion of sensitive topics that need to be addressed in order for us to grow as a community. It allows us to find solutions without falling into potholes of hurt feelings and senseless arguments over thoughtless words. Through this, UBC is opening up discussions on topics such as rape or gender equality, none of which would be possible without this basic level of mutual respect.
By falling into the trap of being anti-PC, we not only risk hurting others, but unconsciously inculcating our mind into understanding hurtful and prejudicial beliefs to be ordinary and acceptable. It is because of the overwhelming diversity of our 50,000 students that UBC is what it is — not only should we protect this, but we should allow it to grow. PC language simply means maintaining respect for one another. Even if it doesn’t come naturally now, keeping an open mind and through consideration for one another, it is certainly something we can achieve.