In a season full of political ads and fury, I’m going to endorse a different type of political situation. One that might be as controversial as all those opinionated Facebook statuses in your news feed. Maybe more controversial than Mitt’s “binders full of women.” How do I get in there, by the way? That’s right, I’m going to endorse political incorrectness.
A lot like whichever candidate you’re planning to vote for, you probably don’t agree with him on every issue or every situation, unless you’re a single issue voter, but hey, that’s a topic for the Opinion section. Similarly, political correctness, or lack thereof, is very much situational.
According to Wikipedia, the ultimate source of knowledge, political correctness refers to language intended to “minimize social and institutional offense.” That’s cool and all, but I like a little spice in my life.
I’m a little biased, as are you. I love politically incorrect people. By nature, those less P.C. are spunkier than your general line-toer. I’ll put up with a few more inflammatory comments than the average bear, but as a reasonable human being, I realize there’s a point where being politically incorrect gets out of control. Let’s be honest — that’s pretty P.C. with this crowd right? — I cross the line sometimes, and I’m working on it, but aren’t we all?
Scholars of modern language spend — waste? — excessive amounts of their time debating where the proverbial line is. So you can trust the worldly knowledge and observations I’m about to drop. There’s reason those scholars should just give up now and debate something more definitive. Did Shakespeare write his own plays? Was Abe Lincoln actually a vampire hunter? These debates will be more conclusive than those P.C. studies. I’m no scholar of the English language but a wordsmith and a conversationalist for sure.
Everyone has a different line of appropriateness, and that’s the problem. It’s not just that, the line is always moving, so you can never quite keep up. There are certainly some instances the vast majority of people can agree are offensive and straight uncalled for. For example, you should probably not tell a girl you just met — or arguably any girl — “I’ll ‘see you next Tuesday,’” unless you are actually planning to see her next Tuesday. Though you might get a few points for discretion in concealing your rudeness in an acronym.
Of course, proponents of offense will play the “it’s just a word” card. I’ll let you debate the playing value of this card. After all, I’d probably just offend a good portion of people here.
More importantly, offended people often overlook the fact that political incorrectness can provide a valuable opportunity to talk about generally taboo subjects, if done in the right setting. Instead of getting angry, we can use politically incorrect comments to open the door for discussion.
Everyone’s got some politically incorrect thoughts, and that’s cool. A world where we walk on eggshells isn’t a place I want to live in. Let’s just agree to avoid hitting Mel Gibson status. But in their excellent adventure, Bill and Ted were on to something — “Be excellent to each other” and “Party on.”
Admittedly, some people are total jerks, but brush that dirt off your shoulder. In the vast majority of scenarios, you’ve just got to be able to laugh it off. Life’s too short to get angry by one person’s opinion or comment. Just maybe if you stopped being offended, you might find some humor in it.
So that’s it. It’s okay to get a little saucy sometimes; try not to long jump over the line. Just remember being P.C. is about as cool as having one.
Abbi’s column runs biweekly Wednesdays. She can be reached at email@example.com.