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A couple of years ago I wrote a post about opinions and political correctness. I guess you’d call that Part I since I’m bringing it up again.
There’s a huge difference between being polite and thoughtful and being politically correct. It seems to me that political correctness has crossed a line. I read an article in yesterday’s newspaper about a Secretary at a corrections facility who sent a memo to staff saying “Those serving time in prison will no longer be referred to as prisoners, offenders or convicts. Instead, they will be called students if they are in some type of class and patients if they are in the prison infirmary.” A spokesman said “…if no other moniker applies, they will be identified as incarcerated persons.”
I’m sorry (she said facetiously), but I intend to call a prisoner a prisoner, a convict a convict and a criminal a criminal. Chances are they were convicted of a crime or they probably wouldn’t be in prison.
Some of the stories I’ve heard on the news about new college rules make me glad I’m not going to college today. I won’t repeat some of those rules because they’re simply ridiculous.
Frankly, I’m tired of feeling like I have to watch every word I say in public. One of the reasons I enjoy being a fiction writer is that I, or my characters, can say what they want. Mystery writers tend to include crimes in their books. Are we supposed to pussy foot around what happened to create the mystery? Are we supposed to be politically correct with our words? If we aren’t, are the Word Police going to show up at our doors?
The way I look at it, books are like television in that if the story is upsetting the reader, they can get rid of the book just like they can change a channel.
I wrote the original post because I read that a number of colleges had students requesting “trigger warnings” on books. That means if there’s a controversial crime, or even a non-controversial crime in the story then there should be a warning on the cover. Someone could read the book and be upset over what it says. It could bring back bad memories. If that’s the case, don’t read the book.
If a book contains specific and graphic violence or graphic sex, maybe it could be in the blurb on the back of the book. Reader beware. Read the blurbs on the back cover.
When did common sense fly out the window? Many of the things written in books would never be tolerated in today’s real life situations, even if they’re innocently said. Have people become that thin-skinned?
I recalled reading about a kindergarten boy kissing a kindergarten girl on the cheek and it was considered sexual harassment. When I was a kid that simply would have caused giggling among the children. So the little boy has to pay a price for kissing a little girl on the cheek? Give me a break.
How hard is it to change a channel or set a book aside if you find it offensive? How hard is it to acknowledge that children will be children?
If you disagree with me, that’s your right – just as it’s my right to speak up. Enough is enough, and I certainly hope this political correctness, at the lengths it’s reached, is dealt with soon. Yes, be polite when it’s called for and, yes, be thoughtful when possible. However, don’t try to dictate to everyone else how they should act or speak.
Okay, this deserves some discussion. Do you feel things have gone too far? Do you feel things are out of balance? Does it affect your writing? Do you ever change something you’ve written because someone might not accept it (in terms of political correctness)? Or do you write what you feel is right?
Until next week, try not to judge me too harshly. I do frequently use my common sense, although maybe today I should have kept my trap shut. It just felt like it had to be said.
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