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OC HIGH: STUDENT NEWS & VIEWS : MY TURN : Political Correctness Can Blunt the Point

March 10, 1994|ROBERT McLENDON | Robert McLendon is a senior at Capistrano Valley High School in Mission Viejo. This article first appeared in the student newspaper, the CVHS Times.

Take your turn in My Turn, a place to voice your thoughts, stands and opinions--whether serious or funny. Send your piece along with your name, age, address, phone number, school, class level and a recent picture to OC High-View, Los Angeles Times, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626.

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Once seen as a symbol of tolerance, "political correctness" is increasingly being criticized as excessive and restricting.

People from opposing sides of the political spectrum now seem interested in halting extremes of politically correct policies.

Political correctness, or PC, began in liberal circles as a way of thinking and speaking in order to reduce prejudices. In effect, PC codes and policies eliminate blunt, possibly insulting speech.

But to many, PC has become humorless jargon that limits people's actions and speech. PC critics point to Antioch University's recently enacted "sex code" as an example of unreasonable limitations PC policies can place on supposedly spontaneous activities. The Antioch code is intended to reduce the incidence of date rape and sexual harassment, primarily by dictating that partners must request specific permission for any form of physical contact. For example: "May I kiss you?" "May I put my hand there?"

Some people, such as Capistrano Valley High School senior Kevin Hagan, are critical of what they see as a liberal bias in the terminology. "I think PC is just a euphemism for talking about liberal values, things that are accepted by liberals . . . (values) that are propagated by the media that are supposed to be the (average) of what America thinks, when in actuality I think they are, a lot of times, the opposite of what America thinks," Hagan said.

Erich Ludwig, a Capistrano Valley senior who describes himself as on "the left side of moderate," says, PC "is a good idea, but it has gone too far. People have become a little bit too sensitive. . . . I believe that people should be polite to each other, but with PC, people are being forced to be polite."

Ludwig adds, "A sort of fog surrounds PC. By skirting the real issues of the world, through PC things become muddled. People don't say what they mean to say, so it causes miscommunication. People are starting to feel resentful, because they'd like to know what's really going on instead of having the truth shrouded from them."

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Obviously, sensitivity to the variety of people that one meets is a good idea, even if for purely pragmatic reasons. Certain words are clearly offensive.

However, when "lazy" become "differently motivated" and "women" must be spelled "womyn" to avoid the syllable "men"), things have gone too far.

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