The irony of free speech advocates who rail against political correctness? They’re railing against free speech.
Every other week, it seems like another conservative star is in the news for saying something completely racist, sexist or homophobic. And like clockwork—even before a decision’s been made regarding sponsorship/said star’s firing—there’s a chorus of fake outrage “free speech advocates” who slam whatever company that decides to break ties with Paula Deen, the guy from Duck Dynasty, or whoever, for being “politically correct”.
Political correctness, to some people, is being a wimp who doesn’t understand the concept of “sticks and stones”. I remember being 13 or 14 and watching PCU with Jeremy Piven and thinking, “Wow, these “politically correct” people are giant assholes”. (Note: in some cases, this rings true, especially concerning internet activists who take up their issues with a keyboard instead of, you know, action.) But the problem is not political correctness. If you find yourself seething at someone who reminds you that words have power, your issue is with free speech.
What the anti-PC crowd doesn’t realize is that they are not the only ones who are covered under the First Amendment. The Constitution, despite what Bill O’Reilly and Ann Coulter want you to believe, is not a document that gives rights only to Bush and Romney voters. It covers all of us, including people who are pissed off at the stupidity and complete disregard for someone else’s experience, and companies who don’t want to be attached to this stupidity.
You, as an individual, have the right to say whatever you want. I have the right to say whatever I want. But there are consequences; if I say something they think is utterly stupid or offensive, and could bring the website a reputation they don’t want or desire, they have the right to shut me down. This concept is glaringly hard for adherents to an ideology wrapped in “freedom” to realize.
This hypocrisy is never more apparent to me than any time I hear someone rail about “happy holidays”. “Happy holidays”, for those who have better ways to spend their time than looking for non-issues to be outraged over, has been demonized by Fox News for about a decade now. The prevailing theme is always, “It’s Christmas! You PC liberal fascist commie scumbags just hate Christians and Jesus!”. Except, no, it’s not just Christmas, and while you can make the argument that this is a predominantly Christian country that maintains a lot of its’ puritan heritage, it’s becoming increasingly more diverse, and the all-knowing and powerful Free Market found a way to not alienate non-Christians who are also celebrating holy days or time spent with families. “Happy holidays” is not an attack; it’s a catch-all. But, every year, without fail, there’s talk of a “War on Christmas”, a David vs. Goliath battle fought by the tyrannical majority of PC atheists in this country against the pious Christians who are just trying to save Jesus’ birthday.
Racist, sexist and homophobic comments, in contrast, have power: a lot of it. The United States has a long and storied history of alienating minorities, women, and homosexuals; if you’re not a WASPY straight male, chances are that power brokers in this country have had a major bone to pick with you at one point or another. This has restricted access to freedom, jobs, education, or any shred of the “American Dream”. So, people who want to make a better future, without all of the alienation and prejudice, have a legitimate gripe to pick with people who open their mouths, like Phil Robertson, Paula Dean, or the many other celebrities that have made downright ignorant comments while in the spotlight.
Unfortunately for the religious right and self-proclaimed defenders of free speech, these PC assholes have the nerve to air their grievances. That’s something the Founding Fathers would have never wanted.
Credit: Photo—Zach Dilgard/AP