Political Correctness

Last night, I was sitting in Wrigley Field watching the Cubs grind out a win against the Giants, so I didn’t see either Jon Stewart’s last show or the GOP primary debate. But, thanks to the miracles of modern video recording, digital compression and instant replay — shazam! — I could still see the highlights.

I enjoyed the tribute that Stephen Colbert made to Jon Stewart as a boss, it reminded me of my best bosses and the way I want to be remembered by the people who I have been lucky enough to lead. And, I loved Jon Stewart’s final moment of zen about bullshit, where he ended by saying, “If you smell something, say something.”

So, here I am saying something.

During the GOP primary debate, Donald Trump was asked about derogatory public statements about women. He’s polling poorly with women, and it seemed reasonable (to me at least) to ask how he felt about that and how he would respond to concerns on the matter. I won’t put the entire quote here, but in short he asserted that he doesn’t have time to worry about political correctness and neither does America. He needs to get stuff done and can’t be bothered with us thin-skinned whiners.

Bullshit.

People generally consider me to be an effective and results-oriented professional. True, my net worth is not over a billion dollars, but I started out with privilege not a trust fund. And, while I recall a couple of times when my passion got the best of me, I have tried to be respectful of my colleagues, even when I struggled to find common ground. My grandfather once told me that his mother told him, “It doesn’t cost a penny to be polite.”

I believe that resorting to name calling and personal insults is not a reflection of expediency or results, it is good old fashioned laziness. If you have to use crass or demeaning language and personal threats to get stuff done, well, that’s not much of a toolkit.

And, the idea that language didn’t matter prior to the term ‘political correctness’ being coined is ridiculous, too. True, some terms become less respectful over time. Language is a living social construct, and it reflects the social norms of the day. A word that was used respectfully between individuals in 1890 might organically become distasteful by 1990. Or it might have been derogatory from its origin, but only be realized to have a negative impact much later.

It isn’t political correctness it is just fundamental respect.

So, I listen and I learn the words that have a negative impact on others. It may be obvious, or I may not understand why — but it doesn’t really matter if I do. Because respect isn’t about me, it’s about showing another person that I value them and their point of view through my words and actions. If I said I respected someone but then turned around and was knowingly rude with my language…

See, that just sounds stupid. You wouldn’t do it, not really. And if you did on accident, you probably would feel a little bit bad about it. Again, if you respected them.

When I add a word to my “do not use” list, I have a plethora of alternatives (also see variety, cornucopia, assortment, buffet, etc). And if I’m really stymied, I just ask. “Hey, what’s a better word to use?” Problem solved. It doesn’t take more than a minute and it speaks volumes.

So, Donald Trump (and anyone else) quit using the derogatory term ‘political correctness’ to cover up your lack of respect for your fellow humans. And stop pretending that in order to be efficient and expedient you have to be rude. Because that is just bullshit used to cover your laziness or the fact that you don’t feel them deserving of basic human consideration.

No disrespect intended to the bulls.

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