1353322_81484672Dr. Ben Carson, at the President’s Prayer Breakfast,  said he thought political correctness was destructive.  Jason Hines, writing at religiousliberty.tv, disagrees. He thinks that politically correct speech is just courtesy, so as to avoid offending people.

This always sounds nice. I mean, as Christians, we don’t want to intentionally offend people, do we?

Well. . . it’s not so easy as all that. Paul tells us the gospel is often an offense. And I’m thinking the moneychangers were probably offended by being told they had turned the Temple into a den of thieves. At the same time, we are told Jesus would not put out a smoking flax. Truth is, the Bible, and Christ’s example, indicates that sometimes we need to confront people, in no uncertain terms, and other times we need to take great care for their feelings.

I remember many years ago, an article in the Review talked about “Kid glove people.” These people, and we all have known some, are always being offended by something, so we have to learn to handle them with kid gloves. And, the article went on to point out, these same people are often totally uncaring when it comes to the feelings of others.

That’s the problem with political correctness. Some people, who often claim to represent large groups of the oppressed,  are perpetually offended. We must use very careful language or we will offend them. That’s because they are using political correctness, and being offended, as a tool of manipulation.

And that, I believe, is what Dr. Carson was talking about, when he spoke disparagingly about political correctness. And that is what those who use political correctness object to when it is criticized: they don’t want that tool of manipulation taken away. Because then they might have to address the logic and reasoning of those they disagree with, instead of dismissing them as politically correct.

Besides, the shifting definitions of what is permissible–as Dr. Carson pointed out–effectively makes real discussion, and thus resolving differences, impossible. And it all looks and sounds faintly ridiculous, if observed objectively.

Like the story of the woman who went away on a trip, and left a friend and neighbor in charge of her house. On one of her calls back home, she asked

“How’s my cat?”

Her friend replied, “I’m sorry, your cat died.”

“Oh, that’s too harsh,” the traveler replied. “You really should  break the news to me more gently.”

Puzzled, her friend said, “What  do you mean?”

“Well, do it gradually. This time, you could have said, ‘Your cat is up on the roof.’ And next time, you could tell me it fell off. And then it went to the vet. And eventually, it did not recover, and died.”

“That’s how you want me to tell you, next time?”

“Oh yes. That would be so much kinder.” After a pause, the traveler said, “There now, I’m over it. Now, how is mother doing?”

“She’s on the roof.”

That, of course, is a joke, but like many jokes, it points to a truth: There is no pleasant way to say some things. And that’s the real problem with those so concerned about others being political correct: Like the traveler whose cat died, they don’t like what they’re hearing, and blame the words used for their pain, rather than facing the reality represented by those words.