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Political Correctness: The Effects on Our Generation

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According to Listverse, a school in California sent five students home after they refused to remove their American flag t-shirts on Cinco de Mayo, the day that marks Mexico's victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla. An Xbox player who put his homeplace, Fort Gay, West Virginia, on his Xbox Live profile was banned by Microsoft because it was "inappropriate in any context". Santa Clauses in Australia were forced to stop saying the traditional phrase of "ho ho ho" because it could "frighten children" and be "derogatory to women".

George Washington once said, "If the freedom of speech is taken away then the dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to slaughter." Our contemporary society has no defined limitations on free speech, however, there is an undertow threatening to erode this sacred principle: political correctness.

To comprehend how political correctness is shaping the privilege of free speech, one must first understand several major aspects of this concept. The basic premise is that if intellectuals and pundits can influence how individuals think and act, then they can also influence what is socially 'acceptable' language. By imposing their political views on some subjects, they create a pressure to conform to these standards. But generally, a person does not want to be labeled as an objector of popular opinion, thereby forcing them to subject their own ideas to the prevailing ideology.
In addition, political correctness encourages the pursuit of conformity. Through social intimidation, a diverse body of ideas and expressions no longer flourishes in the diminishing world of American free speech. A growing aspect of societal multiculturalism only further contributes to this problem. Proponents of political correctness obsess over their belief that language should not be injurious to any ethnicity, race, gender, religion or other social group. They attempt to eliminate what they consider to be offensive remarks and actions and replace them with harmless substitutes that come at the expense of free expression.

Several institutions have come under fire for issues relating to political correctness. One of the more recent controversies has been about Amherst College's decision to drop "Lord Jeff" as their mascot. Many of the college's students viewed Lord Jeff as a racist and oppressive white symbol. The institution was "encouraged to cut its ties with Lord Jeff, who came to be seen as an inappropriate symbol and offensive to many members of the student body", as per the New York Times. The Lord Jeffery Inn, a local campus hotel, is also going to be renamed. However, there has been an understandable backlash stemming from current students and alumni. The opposition criticized the incident because of how it affronted the legacy of Lord Jeffery, who was a respected war general, as well as the college itself. William H. Scott, a member of the class of 1979, said, "We sterilize history by eliminating the mascot...It's...censorship."

Declaring that some thoughts, phrases, and actions are 'correct' while others are not is creating an ever-tightening noose around the freedom of speech and expression. No matter how uncomfortable we are with inflammatory language or actions, it's crucial to recognize that this is a small price to pay to maintain a democratic system that promotes free expression as a basic pillar of society.

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