In Praise of Political Correctness (A Poem)

In Praise of Political Correctness (A Poem) June 27, 2016

I don’t know if they know what they mean
When they mock it, but
I sure know what I mean
When I praise it.

It’s like gun safety, people. You don’t point a loaded sentence
At someone. You never walk through a crowd without clicking
The safety on your mouth. Certain words are like triggers.
One careless political speech or misfired paragraph
And bullets fly, children die, and mothers cry.
Print it on a billboard and read it every day: Speech kills.

It’s like hiring a licensed electrician, people. Some bozo fake
Handyman comes to install a ceiling fan and next thing you know
The whole house burns down.
You want an electrician who’s got basic electrical correctness.

And the same goes for politicians.
Why would I elect a feckless, willfully ignorant
Clown to wire up high-voltage words where I live?
The Bible nails it: a rogue tongue, like a random spark,
Can reduce your whole religion or nation or civilization
To smoke and ashes.

So whether you’re my brain surgeon or my urologist,
If you take out a scalpel in my presence,
I’d like you to be surgically correct.
And if you want to run something I’m part of,
I’d appreciate you caring enough to be politically correct.

Sure, I’m all for telling unpopular and inconvenient truths.
I’m for straight talk and rocking all boats that need rocking.
But I’m not for sinking them
If there are breathing human beings aboard.
Words have consequences, political consequences,
So consider the consequences when you detonate your words.

Don’t be stupid. Don’t spread bigotry or
Undermine decency in the way you talk.
Don’t lie. Don’t scapegoat. Don’t bully or blow whistles
That get racists salivating.
Don’t incite, divide, or wound with careless rhetoric,
Even if it wins you a standing ovation or a huge election.
And while you’re at it, don’t be a demagogue either.
The political world is one place where correctness
Matters.

 

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  • Julie S.

    The problem with the label “politically correct” is that is condescending and de-humanizing. Why can’t this be about a basic respect towards others? I don’t want to use this or that or the other label to be “politically correct”. I want to use language (along with my actions) in such a way that others know that I respect them. I have seen problems surrounding this term and the language coming from both sides, both those who (all too often) demand political correctness and those who (equally as often) scoff at it.

  • Yonah

    Thank you Brian. A good word.

  • Jerry Lynch

    Of course we know the steady insistence by the Right that racism was dead in America was so that they could have at the president without a charge of being racists. And the anti-political-correctness movement by the Right was so they could also use all the dog whistle terms and even plain language to spread their hate and fear without accountability for their words. Virulent speeches became “speaking plainly.” Concern over sensibilities became “coddling the pouty and kooky.” Brilliant! There will be some silly examples of political correctness, such as garbage men insisting on being called sanitation engineers and the like. This does not give cruelty and hate license to bred in public.