Political Correctness and the Federal Workforce

Has America become too politically correct or do we still have further to go? About 2500 readers expressed their view on a topic that generated one of the most uniform responses we have had in our survey results–even though the answers were not always the politically correct response.

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.

We asked readers to express their opinions on the subject, even if their opinions are not politically correct.

The results were definitive. While it may not have been politically correct to express an opinion on a topic that can be so controversial, readers did have a strong opinion. In fact, among our surveys, this topic gathered the most uniform response of any of our previous surveys.

Moreover, the results of this survey of readers were even more definitive than a similar poll conducted by Rasmussen in which 57% said America had become too politically correct. 

Here are the results:

Has America become too politically correct, not politically correct enough or is the amount of political-correctness about right?

Too Politically Correct: 92.2%

Not Politically Correct Enough: 3.2%

Political Correctness is About Right: 3.2%

Undecided: 1.4%

Should factors such as race, ethnicity and overall appearance, sometimes called profiling, be used to determine which boarding passengers to search at airports? 

Profiling Factors Should Be Used: 80.7%

Profiling Factors Should Not Be Used: 12.3%

Undecided: 7%

What is your view of profiling in today’s environment?

Profiling is Necessary: 82.9%

Profiling is an Unnecessary Violation of Civil Rights: 9.6%

Undecided: 7.5%

Is the federal government too sensitive to the concerns of racial, ethnic, religious and social minorities or not sensitive enough?

Too sensitive: 85.6%

Not Sensitive Enough: 6%

Undecided: 8.4%

Which is better—allowing free speech without government interference or letting government decide what types of hate speech should be banned?

Allowing Free Speech: 82.3%

Letting Government Decide Which Types

of Hate Speech Should Be Banned: 8.7%

Undecided: 9%

The topic is obviously controversial and generates strong opinions which are evident in the thousands of written comments sent in by readers.

Here are a few representative comments on the question of profiling. The vast majority of comments showed more concern for security of Americans and less concern for being politically correct.

  • Whatever it takes to be safe, I’m in favor for…If you don’t like it….take the bus!!
  • Profiling does not work!
  • There is a reason a profile is a profile…
  • Profile Muslims, white skinheads, or me. I don’t care. Keep us safe and forget PC.
  • Profiling is being applied to auto insurance in terms of age and type car driven; why not for other potentially destructive behaviors
  • Overall appearance, yes. Race alone, no. Ethnicity alone, no. Race and ethncity alone, no.
  • Airplane or other public transportation profiling is a automatic reaction to seeing people in their ethnic dress and it immediately reminds us all of past events. It is kind of a knee jerk event. If Juan Williams or any of us are so bothered by it we would ask to deplane.
  • Common sense must be used. If terrorists have all been mid-Eastern men then perhaps they should be searched more carefully than let’s say…elderly white women… You think? 
  • Why wouldn’t you want to scrutinize people who stand out? Would you invite someone into your home who didn’t quite look right to you? Would you want to fly in an airplane full of Muslim / Arab people who are sworn by their relegious views to rid the world of non-believers? Not me!
  • It is not profiling if you are looking primarily at the types of people who typically commit a specific crime. What’s the point in looking at people who do not fit the general description?? Search to types KNOWN to have done the damage.
  • All passengers should be search at the Airports, it cannot be determined by appearance who will be next to try and take us out.
  • Profiling works. Ask any police officer or federal agent.


On the topic of whether the federal government is too sensitive or not sufficiently sensitive, most of the comments went in one direction:

  • It seems to depend on the specific race, ethnic, religious, or social minority…for some the government is too sensitive, for others, not sensitive at all.
  • Our country was always set up that majoity rules. If you don’t like this don’t come to the US. We have too much minorities changing rules and laws just to serve them.
  • They are only sensitive to certain groups. There is 0 sensitivity to the persecution of Christians.
  • As an senior executive I reviewd many EEO allegations. Most were baseless.
  • Too many managers are afraid of an EEO complaint, so we all walk on our tip toes to make sure we don’t say anything I means ANYTHING negative to a minority, even during performance discussions. If they are a minority we look the other way, and if it is the majority we watch them like hawks. It is reverse discrimination.
  • The federal government, by being overly sensitve to PC issues, has essentially restricted the rights of all Americans to converse freely. If someone makes a statement with no malice intended, they shouldn’t be penalized for someone else’s interpretation of that statement.
  • It is good to be sensitive, but things have pushed to far everyone is almost walking on eggshells now. Making new friends is becoming increasingly hard this days lest you open your mouth and say something politically incorrect.
  • Federal Government issues must be handled professionally but thoroughly. Minority issues that conflict with required enforcement MUST be secondary considerations. The right to religious freedom does not include concealment of identity or contraband. Security MUST trump modesty IN ALL CASES. 
  • Grow up Amercians! This includes African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Irish-Americans, and any other hypenated-Americans. We are ALL Americans now. Why do you think so many people are coming to America Illegally? Because they want to be American. 
  • As a white male, actually part american indian, I find most of the negatives are now forced on my, male white group. Doesn’t anyone see that when you do things in favor of one group, you take that same freedom away from another. 
  • The trouble is that sometimes a false claim by a “race baiter”, can lead to the defendant being automatically guilty when it is only a revenge tactic many times. I have seen it! 


On the topic of free speech and the role of government, readers had a wider diversity of comments.

  • Good grief, this should not even come up – the government has no business decideing. Free speech is free speech, (even for some jerks…)
  • We should allow freedom of speech but when it starts to harm others, what does that do to the other person’s right to be freed from those assaults? People think just because we have freedom of speech in this country that means that we can say harmful/hurtful things and then stand behind our “freedoms”. That is not what was meant by the Constitution.
  • We seem to have forgotten to teach our kids, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. We need to learn that life is full of bumps and bruises and we need to learn how to get over those hurts. A free society doesn’t need the government to be its nanny.
  • I believe that the government should not interfere with free speech. As an ethnic minority I despise racist people, however I believe they have the right to expose their ignorance and stupidity if they choose too. In fact I would feel safer knowing where these racist people live and congregate than be uninformed about where they live and congregate. Because poeple are free to speak their hate I know where and where not to visit taking my personal safety into consideration.
  • I believe in free speech. However, there HAS to be a limit on how far someone can take an issue, because we all know there are radicals on each end of the spectrum that think there are no bounds on their rights to “free speech”. The government is NOT capable of determining where to stop.
  • Free speech is is the most precious of our rights!
  • Freedom of speech does not mean, there are no consequences.
  • Set us free! America used to be the land of the free (speech!) Bring that back. If a certain type of “person” is dangerous – don’t be afraid to single them out!
  • Hate speech can hurt, however it’s up to the person to decide what to say and not the government
  • A modern proverb says that a camel is a horse designed by a committee. The federal government functions as the world’s largest and most complex committee, so when it designs something like specific definitions of “hate speech” the result is unlikely to be reasonable.
  • ANYONE bad mouthing America should be asked to leave and move to the country of their choice and not come back.
  • I believe that government itself if not kept in check could become a source of hate speech. History teaches this lesson. Nazi Germany, U.S.S.R., Maoism, even in the U.S. against the Native Americans, Japanese, Germans during WW1, Macarthyism and the slaves in the Civil War and Antebellum.
  • As long as free speech does not interfer with national security.
  • Too much government control to let someone from the gov decide what is hate speech-hate speech is anything a white says against anyone else, racially and ‘sexually’. I feel right now there is a lot of racial hate speech against whites and yes I am white.
  • If government, or anyone else, gets to decide what speech is “acceptable”… then there is Freedom Of Speech no longer.


Our thanks to all readers who took the time to submit their opinions on this topic.