Being Politically Correct in America: Have We Gone Too Far or Not Far Enough?

Does America try too hard to be politically correct? Do we try hard enough? Should the federal government be more or less active in enforcing political correctness in its policies? Take this survey and send in your views.

With national elections coming up in November, the subject of “political correctness” in America is popping up again–as it often does around the time of our elections. The firing of NPR correspondent Juan Williams by National Public Radio is the latest incident within this broad category. The incident led to comments by widely divergent points on our political spectrum. (See NPR fires analyst who made comments about Muslims on a plane)

Political Correctness

Political correctness (or the term “politically correct” and often abbreviated to just “PC”) is a term most people know about and which impacts our social and political actions. The term denotes language, ideas, policies, and behavior seen as seeking to minimize being offensive. It is particularly used in occupational, gender, racial, cultural, sexual orientation, disability, and age-related contexts.

Most FedSmith readers are current or retired federal employees. The federal government is in a position of trying to accommodate widely varying political and social views and, as a result, those working for the government often come into contact with some form of political correctness as the government tries to accommodate these differences.

For example, should the federal government use racial profiling in airports in an effort to prevent terrorism? Some argue racial profiling would make travel safer. Others argue such profiling is an unnecessary violation of the civil rights of a person or group.

Juan Williams Controversy

The controversy surrounding Juan Williams at National Public Radio (NPR) is the most current example. Williams commented on a Fox News show: “I’m not a bigot… But when I get on a plane, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”

NPR is often viewed as having a political point of view that is left of the political center. Fox News is often viewed as having a point of view that is right of the political center. Williams was fired by NPR and, subsequently, reportedly offered a substantial contract and an enlarged role at the network. The issue cuts across political lines as you can see in this column from a person who is a Democrat and a supporter of NPR.

Many of us see examples of political correctness in our daily lives at work or in social interactions. We see comments on our site from readers who have said they are not free to express their views on social issues for fear of being labeled by others who do not like their views.

Others comment that friends and colleagues are too insensitive to the feelings of others and should be more restrained in their comments or at least in expressing their views.

Express Your Opinion (Whether Politically Correct or Not)

The federal workforce is unique in several respects. What are your views on being “politically correct?” Does American go to far in political correctness or not far enough? Should the federal government try to control speech to protect the sensitivities of others? Should the federal government use racial profiling as a security measure?

Here are the survey results on this topic.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47