On political correctness and avoidance of critical conversations

Guest column by Danielle Shorr, senior creative writing major

Political correctness is a term I’ve been grappling to fully comprehend since its resurrection back into popular culture. Perhaps its contention came with the term’s inception, although it has arguably been made relevant again with the country’s rising tensions.

In his opinion piece for The Panther Oct. 16, sophomore business administration major Ryan Marhoefer used “political correctness” to assist his opposition to the strive for diversity. His disdain for the idea is apparent as he writes, “The obsession with multiculturalism and political correctness, in a vain attempt to create ‘inclusion,’ has created an environment where students only hear one side.” How does a move toward political correctness imply a goal for one-sidedness? And how do the topics of diversity and inclusion relate to the term?

It seems like those opposed to critical conversation and analysis seek refuge in the proclamation of political correctness. Like Marhoefer, many conservatives blame political correctness to avoid productive conversation. Marhoefer argued multiple times that radicalism breeds silencing and produces an echo chamber. However, I would argue that radicalism challenges what many avoid because they’re afraid of changing their beliefs. Conservatives often view themselves as open-minded, but it is narrow-minded to dismiss other perspectives. If radicalism is an echo chamber, then why do many conservatives choose to counter argue instead of understand different views?

The argument that radicalism silences is curious. The institutionally racist structures of this country do more to silence people than radicalism does. As shown by President Donald Trump’s election, radical ideology is in fact not the majority in America, and as a result, its supporters must consistently and actively fight for its platform to speak.

Political correctness, although a hot button term, may actually have no relevance to the conversation. Diversity and inclusion have less to do with being politically correct and more to do with simply creating space for those who have been institutionally blocked from having it. The term needs updating or complete abandonment for these conversations to progress. Political correctness, while necessary for basic decency, has gotten lost in divisiveness. Political progressiveness gives a much better representation of radicalism and its goals. Political correctness, on the other hand, frequently claimed as a weapon of anti-free speech, has become a buffer to prevent political progressiveness.

Marhoefer is persistent that radicalism has become a method of silencing, “This radicalism has hushed numerous individuals who were merely presenting legitimate questions and critiques,” he wrote. But he doesn’t acknowledge that silence is a choice that many choose to avoid having critical conversations.

Claiming that an opposing side silences opinions implies that one doesn’t want to engage in deeper conversation. A political majority’s claim of silencing, unlike the silencing caused by institutional power systems, exists because of a lack of engagement in dialogue rather than force. Marhoefer’s ability to succeed, unlike that of his marginalized peers, is not infringed upon by issues of race. He’s not being forcibly silenced. It’s his privilege that allows him to succeed. His insistence that opposing political views silences opinions, and his disdain for political correctness stems from a privilege to separate political views from identity. Diversity and inclusion are not just matters of appeasing standards, but they are necessary for a more equitable society. Perhaps privilege shows itself most when someone is able to view both as unnecessary.


  • As a senior creative writing major, one might assert that this would be a well-written article–WRONG. You are in fact the closed minded individual and should examine your privilege before examining that of others. Leave Ryan alone, you’re only seeking support from fellow welfare receivers.

    • I’m sure how she can say that Ryan was opposed to diversity and had a disdain for it when he specifically said that diversity of thought beats diversity of skin color.

      He was supporting diversity, just not the type of diversity that this “ally” liked.

  • Hard to argue that Marhoefer is close minded when the very title of his article calls for diversity of thought and opinion!

  • “It’s his privilege that allows him to succeed“- what a terrible thing to say. Why so angry?

  • Ah, it seems one of those crazy commenters from Ryan’s peace felt the need to lecture with their own two cents.

    Conservatism is just that: conservative. There are a set of ideals defined, and we stick to them. It is progressivism that introduces radical ideology, the erasing of all ideals to the point of being completely idealess but for one fact: everyone must accept all ideals as good. So long as they’re anti-traditionalist, anyway.

    And please, the last election clearly showed the country is fed up with progressivism. Unless you really count the corpses who voted for Hellary.

    I will accept people with different ideals, but that does NOT mean I have to accept their ideals. But progressives will not hear that, hence cries of “racism,” “sexism,” “homophobia,” and down the line. Not only that, but groups like ANTIFA have shown just how far liberals will go to silence those who hold views diverse from their own. I am all up for debate, but only when the left gets down off their relative pedastal of “Progressive Righteousness” and stops having such a narrow mind themselves.

    That’s right: both sides have narrow minds. The Left believes in chaos, and the Right believes in order. In chaos there are no rules because it is all left up to choice; but people must pay for this chaos to exist, and that is why the right opposes such choice.

    It is a pity your holy Barack Hussein Obama’s legacy is being slowly washed away, but that’s how social movements work.

    No one really cares about diversity and inclusivity; the real meat of the matter is how capable the individual is at handling the task put to them. That’s what the right fights for, and why the left’s socialist movement, where one just becomes a number, is an utter failure.

    Groupthink is a plague, and it makes most liberals completely unreasonable to engage in conversation with. Because all of their friends say so, they know what they have is objective truth, and anyone who doesn’t see that narrow way of thinking has a narrow mind themselves. After all, the liberal knows what they say is true, even though they’re all for diversity and relativity, so how can they be the ones with the narrow minds?

    They are. Sorry to inform you the opposite of what all your friends say.

  • I love how the juicebox / milkbox men love to consistently comment on panther articles and try to spread the idea of “open-mindedness” but they never once read articles and actually talk about nuances of them. “Open-mindedness” is “having or showing a mind receptive to new ideas or arguments” according to the dictionary. So, by listening and trying to process arguments so nicely laid out for you in articles, you get the privilege of listening to arguments without seeking out discussion.

    In your comments @milkbox and juicebox men, you point to a “dismissal of Ryan’s article” but both in the comment section of his article and in this article, there are multiple addresses of the problems we have with them and why we think they are problematic/racist/white supremacist. Perhaps instead of blatantly dismissing them, you two can just look at actual arguments instead of blasting your own horn in your echo chambers about how “open-minded” and “up for free speech” you are. If you have problems understanding the arguments (because of how jargon heavy the left can be), you could ask for someone to explain it to you. There’s nothing wrong in asking for help, that’s why we have office hours. Then, maybe your fake “open-mindedness” bs can actually be valid, rather than an empty statement jerk off circle. So, again, if you are so willing to engage in these dialogues, make an effort to have a conversation and actually listen to some arguments. Once you do, then you can have the higher ground over some people on the left, good for you.

    • Hey Kyler, perhaps you should stick with being an RA! If you are truly open-minded, you wouldn’t accuse any individual who disagrees with you as being a white supremacist. Step out of your “echo-chamber” or safe space as you like to call it, and into the real world, where people can say things that will hurt your feelings.

      • Here here! You’re the one with the bigger jerk-off circle; it includes 40% of the nation, the mainstream media, and the entertainment industry!

        We’re only acting for diversity. If we weren’t here, you and the other opinion columnists of The Panther would sprain your poor wrists.

  • Political correctness is a terrible thing that hinders progress and ruins fun. That being said, it’s not just the left that have a problem with political correctness. The right has it too. For example, you can’t make a joke about the flag, the military, 9/11 etc.. and the constant whining over people not standing for the national anthem.. that’s a form of political correctness as well

  • When my ancestors emigrated from Ireland, Hungary and Germany with no money they had the odds stacked against them. They, however, did not take on the mindset that they were held back from attaining their dreams even though they were. They worked to build a successful family. Dr. Ben Carson did not take on a negative, failure mindset and give up, which is the easy choice. If he had, he would have failed. Attitude is everything and if you go into any job or any situation in general with that attitude, eventually you will succeed. Granted, you will fail from time to time and some people have a bigger chance of failure because of factors they can’t change. Giving up is easy, but sticking it out will show you that your attitude is the most important factor. Florence Nightingale attributed her success to never making an excuse. Privilege is there, there is no denying that, but it’s an excuse and things won’t get any better if people just make excuses all day, which there is a lot of in our society. Be positive, don’t spread negative ideas, because they lead to more negative ideas which come true if enough people believe them to be true. PS if you call me a privileged white boy in the comments it’s true but also it’s an excuse 🙂

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