When I was first given the list of all the honors seminars at orientation and had to consider what kind of class I wanted to take, a class based solely on discussions of opinions on hot topics was not something that immediately jumped out at me as something I would want to do for a semester. If someone had told me that I would end up signing up for a class that fit that exact description, I would not have believed them in the slightest. Speaking in front of people has never been my thing, especially when I am talking about my own opinions and beliefs. People say that college is a time to get outside your comfort zone and try new things, however, so I registered for this class. I thought that it would help make it easier for me me to talk in front of people, since that is a very important thing to be able to do, and it fit into my schedule pretty well. This class has made me more comfortable talking in front of groups of people I do not know very well and has been an overall good experience for me and a good way to start my college career.
The term “political correctness” gets thrown around all the time, so I decided to look up formal definitions to see if they lined up with my general understanding and the usual usage, as that typically has a negative connotation. Google defined it as “the avoidance, often considered as taken to extremes, of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against” and Wikipedia said it was “a term primarily used as a pejorative to describe language, actions, or policies intended not to offend or disadvantage any particular group of people in society; in such usage, the people using generally imply that they see these policies as excessive” . These definitions pretty much lined up with what I understood political correctness to be and even mentioned the negative connotation with which it is generally used and helped to deepen my understanding of what political correctness actually is.
I don’t actually have a problem with political correctness in most situations. I think that if something you say or do offends someone, even if it is unintentional, you should try to fix it. Going out of your way to be offensive is a really terrible thing to do and makes no sense in the long run. If someone tells you that the way you refer to their race, gender, sexuality, etc is offense to them, you should take that into account. Where there is a history of violence and/or oppression, the words you use to refer to or describe a person can be very important. The government can’t ban you from using racial slurs, gender-based insults, and offensive terms for LGBT people, but that doesn’t mean that you should use them. Words can really hurt, and “exercising your freedom of speech” by bullying people doesn’t make you a brave defendant of your rights as an American, it makes you a coward and an altogether unpleasant person to be around.