Nothing in this “How To” installment is intended to impinge on anyone’s right to free expression or freedom of speech. The idea that “political correctness” silences people has become a very popular one. But it sidesteps the question of the intention of our attention to what words mean and how they function among people.
Asking ourselves and one another to be thoughtful about how our actions and words may impact others is not equivalent to outlawing contentious, mean, or hateful behavior and speech. Some behaviors are illegal (and immoral), and so is some speech (speech intended to induce violence, for example). This “How To” invites us all to be aware of our own motivations and intentions and to recognize that the impact we have on others matters. Further, it asks us to recognize that we are not always (maybe even not usually) aware of the many and complex experiences, histories, and perspectives that shape the ways our choices can be experienced by those around us.
We invite conversation about “political correctness,” freedom of expression, and related issues. Please contact IDE if you would like to know more or have ideas about productive ways to generate more thinking and talking about these important questions.
Last Updated: 10/22/08