The concept of political correctness has always rubbed me wrong. It is rooted in the belief that you should not say or write anything that might upset another person.
Apparently people have gotten it into their heads that you have some sort of Constitutional right to not be offended. Proponents of political correctness insist that those of us who violate their imaginary rules are crude and offensive.
Having perused the Constitution I assure you that no such right exists. You have no such right in this country. In fact, I think it would do everyone good to get offended now and then. It tells us where the boundaries of our society are. It allows us to define what we find acceptable as citizens. When we allow people to tell us what to say, it is censorship. As a writer, I refuse to turn that kind of power over to anyone. Sometimes ya gotta step on some emotional toes.
For example, I went to a McDonalds in McLean the other day and ordered a Big Mac (no pickles), small fries and a hot cocoa. I got a puzzled look. âYou want a meal?â she said in barely understandable English. âNo,â and I repeated the order. She was confused and called over the junior manager. They carried on a conversation in their native language, then he told me they didnât have hot cocoa (I think).
To hell with political correctness. âWhat do you mean you donât have hot cocoa?â Yup, I raised my voice in public and made it clear I was mad. I was out to offend â if only a little.
She proceeded to tell me in horribly broken English that McDonalds didnât have hot cocoa.
âAre you crazy?â In a politically correct universe, I would have gotten a Latte or anything else just to get out of there. âI order hot cocoa all of the time at McDonalds.â
Her manager, who also didnât speak clear English told me that I was wrong.
I opened my mouth, fully prepared to unleash a diatribe on speaking the language of the country you live in when another young lady from behind the counter spoke up. âYaâll, he means hot chocolate.â Suddenly they seemed to understand what I wanted. After I got my meal, I went to the sundry station to get ketchup but they were out. I went back to the counter. âYouâre out of ketchup.â
âNo sir. It is at the bar behind you. You pump it.â
âYou donât understand. Itâs out. I tried to pump it. Can I have a packet of ketchup please?â
âNo sir, itâs behind you.â
I looked. Hell, maybe I had missed it. I hadnât.
Realizing I was never getting ketchup I looked at the woman behind the counter and offered her my unsolicited advice.
âYou need to learn our language.â She got red, but I was good with that. I was mad too.
When it comes to anger, I like to think of myself as a carrier, spreading it to those around me. I know that this woman screws up orders every day but no one would say anything to her because, heaven forbid, it might offend her.
Now before your itty-bitty liberal sensitivities get all in an uproar, I understand she was new to this country and was working to make a better life for herself. That doesnât mean Iâm going to hold back what I think because it might upset her. She needed to hear this, if not from me, from someone else.
Over the last few years we have allowed ourselves to be muzzled and silenced because we might upset someoneâs delicate little feelings. Now Iâm not saying we should go out of our way to insult people â but at the same time we should not hold back what we say out of fear that someone might not like what they hear (or read). When you give into political correctness, you weaken not just yourself, but all of us.
Now that Iâm sure I have insulted a few people, feel free to write in and complain. That IS a right you have under our Constitution. I assure you, I will react!
Blaine Pardoe is a historian and author living in Amissville VA. His most recent book is Virginia Creeper, a horror story set in Fauquier and Culpeper counties. He is also the author of Secret Witness and Lost Eagles. E-mail Pardoe at: www.blainepardoe.com