Should There be a Limit to Political Correctness?
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Q. Lewis, I have tried for many years to understand the concept of political correctness. Today I read an article that says they are going to restrict what and what is not the acceptable language in Scrabble. Can you decipher all this for me?
A. This question is a great mystery – What is the meaning political correctness? You might even ask – Why do people dislike political correctness?” This all has to do with a culture war taking place over Political Correctness (PC).
Do you think people have taken political correctness too far? Obviously the people at the Scrabble Association don’t think so. Let’s explore political correctness pro and con, as well as the history of the term.
Recently, Leaders of the Scrabble tournament community in North America decided to vote on whether to ban the use of racial and homophobic slurs. Some think this is an example of political correctness 2020 to the extreme. What do you think?
This vote will determine whether certain words will be removed from the North American Scrabble Players Association (NASPA) list of accepted words. I have done much research and have not found political correctness articles concerning Scrabble and other board games. Still, there is clearly a war going on in gamer psychology.
So what again is political correctness? It is a term used to describe measures, policies, or language, intended to avoid disadvantage, or offense to those of particular groups in society. In the media and public discourse, the term is generally used negatively and as a pejorative with an implication that these rules, regulations, and policies are excessive or unwarranted.
For almost forty years, the term has been used to describe a preference for inclusive language and avoiding language or behavior that can be seen as excluding, marginalizing, or insulting groups of people considered discriminated against, disenfranchised or disadvantaged or especially groups defined by sexual orientation, gender, race or religious affiliation.
What started out as mildly sarcastic has become serious business. Consider that in its early usage the term politically correct was created by leftists in the 1970s and 1980s as self-critical satire. Back then the usage was ironic, rather than a name for a serious political movement. Essentially It was considered an in-joke among leftists used to satirize those who were too rigid in their adherence to political orthodoxy, especially by the new Left concerning positions taken by old-line communists.
The modern pejorative usage of the term emerged from conservative criticism of the New Left in the late 20th century. This usage was popularized by a number of articles in The New York Times and other media throughout the 1990sturned the term into a meme and a Regerating Thought Processes (RTPs). The term was further fueled by the debate surrounding Allan Bloom‘s 1987 book The Closing of the American Mind. The term gained even further currency in response to Roger Kimball‘s Tenured Radicals (1990), and conservative author Dinesh D’Souza‘s 1991 book Illiberal Education.
One might say that concerning this term conservatives used a bit of tricksterism to flip the meaning of the term politically correct. Commentators on the political-left in the United States contend that conservatives use the concept of political correctness to downplay and divert attention from substantively discriminatory behavior against disadvantaged groups, and on this point, they may be right. Many progressive thinkers also argue that the political right enforces its own forms of political correctness to suppress criticism of its favored constituencies and ideologies. In the United States, the term has played a major role in the “culture war” between liberals and conservatives. Still, it was a suprise to many that somehow the humble, non-political, and highly correct game of Scrabble somehow got pulled into all of this. After all, what is scrabble about?
Here we have a word game in which two to four players score points by placing tiles, each bearing a single letter, onto a game-board divided into a 15×15 grid of squares. The tiles must form words that, in crossword fashion, read left to right in rows or downward in columns, and be included in a standard dictionary or lexicon.
Just think how difficult it would be to force Scrabble to be politically correct? After all, the game is sold in 121 countries and is available in 29 languages. Over 150 million sets have been sold worldwide, and roughly one-third of American and half of British homes have a Scrabble set. As for groups dedicated to Scrabble – there are approximately 4,000 Scrabble clubs around the world.
What are your thoughts on political correctness?. I’d like to hear them.
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Here is the link to the BBC report that motivated me to write this blog. Click on the BBC logo.
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