2015_Kehinde_Wiley_EL137.13_428H“A plague is upon us, he warns. Harmless jokesters and joy-bringers are literally being figuratively strangled by the long, thin goblin-fingers of “political correctness” (which is a fancy term for “not treating people who are already treated like garbage like garbage”), even though all they were trying to do was just say anything they want to, the way they always have, without ever being questioned or criticised by known killjoys such as “people of colour” and “women”, and with zero regard for the institutionally oppressed groups upon whose backs their industry has been stepping for generations in the service of shallow, straight white dude “catharsis”. Is that so wrong? Jerry Seinfeld, hero, is here to say “yes”; yes, that is so wrong.”

The above passage comes from a fantastic Guardian article written by Lindy West back in June in which she responds to some remarks about political correctness that comedian Jerry Seinfeld had made. I’m really happy I found the article, West is a great writer.

Recently, I was thinking about how odd it is that political correctness seems to be something that both conservative and liberal minded folks tend to rail against as being a problem of some sort. Usually, when I hear the term “politically correct” employed, it typically functions as a derogatory, conversation stopping dismissal. It’s meant to imply that someone has, as West puts it, “a regressive devotion to propriety.” But, as far as I can tell, the motivation behind political correctness (for most people) isn’t dogmatic, tyrannical rigidity, but compassionate, egalitarian sensitivity; it’s less about controlling what others think/say/do and more about allowing more and more people to be able to think/say/do things as well. West says it nicely:

“It’s so-called political correctness that gave me the courage and the vocabulary to demand better than that from the community I love. Yes, this cultural evolution is bumpy, but what Seinfeld and some other comedians see as a threat, I see as doors being thrown open to more and more voices.”

Painting above by Kehinde Wiley, a NYC artist I appreciate who, interestingly enough, was accused by an art critic last Spring of “Seducing An Art Public Cowed by Political Correctness.”

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