When to draw the line between political correctness and censorship

Wyatt Waters, Staff Writer

On September 14, fourteen-year old Ahmed Mohamed was arrested for bringing a clock in his school in Texas, and since then, a hurricane of arguments over discrimination in schools has flooded news broadcasts and social media. On these public forums the presence, or lack thereof, of political correctness has sparked debates on its own, leaving people to argue furiously over its place in society.
Political correctness has undoubtedly played a massive role in shifting everyday attitudes towards equity and inclusion, and— despite what Republican candidates will say—it remains important. These shifts in attitude have opened up a dialogue about the rights and treatment of marginalized groups, and brought to light issues previously not considered. This crucial shift has resulted in significant legal rulings on issues such as gay marriage.
Political correctness, however, has an array of effects on society, not all of them being productive or favorable. Particularly in academic or work-oriented environments, people painstakingly calculate their words so as not to be “offensive” when communicating with other cultures or ethnicities.
In such an atmosphere, arguments that dissent from the unspoken canon of political correctness are muted, and the people who hold those contrarian opinions or beliefs are detested. Instead of being met with rebuttals, evidence, and logic, contrarians to the popular opinion are simply told that they are wrong, and then blocked from contributing any further.
Social media is a prime example of this, where users met with opposing values respond with insults, threats and attacks on the opposer’s identity. When such a response occurs collectively across an ideology, the onslaught of online hate can be too much for most to handle, and most either leave the site altogether or create a new, more discreet account.
As a consequence of this abandonment of argumentation, the public discourse turns repetitive, and conversation—the exchange of ideas itself—is replaced with an echoing chamber of similar, agreeable opinions. Ironically, in the pursuit of including more group identities, people limit the public discourse to a singular, consensus opinion.
Now, this argument is presented not for the purpose of removing political correctness from society, but instead to remind people that a contradictory opinion cannot be dismissed simply for being different. Rather, it opens an opportunity for a discussion in which that opinion can be tested against the merit of other arguments and evidence.