We often hear the words “political correctness” in 2016. I would like to remind your readers that this issue has been around for years.
In fact, as I was researching my “Memoried Glances” column for the LaGrange Daily News I found a column on Glen Long’s editorial page in June 1991, one entitled, “Politically Correct?” The 25-year-old editorial said, “There are few objects that have withstood an unrelieved onslaught from politicians and do-gooders more than the 45 words in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”
The writer, probably Glen, listed other times in our history when our freedom rights were attacked by the “1917 Espionage Act, the 1920 Palmer raids, obscenity laws, war-time atomic secrets, gag orders, the Pentagon papers and student censorship.”
He added “the First Amendment stands, a bit bloodied, but alive.” And then, “Now come the 1990s, and an intense movement, on the part of ‘politically correct’ persons, to ban speech that hurts people’s feelings is the order of the day.”
The editorial’s argument was that our Constitution should not be abused by incidents of hate mongering when “laws can be passed that do not infringe on free speech — trespass, arson, open-air burning, defacing property, disturbing the peace, nuisance, zoning and time, place and manner restrictions.”
He added that “any restriction on speech would require that someone be anointed to make judgment as to what is acceptable. Speech is either free or it isn’t. The price of freedom is tolerating the offensive.”
In 2016 we are seeing a new attack on the First Amendment that might seem more subtle, and even sinister at times. When people want to say that our police officers are wearing “police protection equipment” rather than “riot gear” they are spinning the truth as a cover-up. And our president can’t use the words “Islamic extremists terrorism.”
Political correctness has already taken its toll in our lives. No longer can all our children pledge allegiance to our flag in our schools, no longer can we have prayers at some of our sports and civic events when this has always been an important part of such gatherings.
As I listened to our Republican Convention it was obvious that “political correctness” is still making the news. These are a few references I recorded:
“I’m not politically correct. I don’t like political correctness. …We need to say what we believe.” — Ben Carson.
“We need to be politically incorrect and tell it like it is.” — Florida Governor Rick Scott.
“Trump doesn’t tiptoe around the rules of political correctness.” — Governor Mike Pence.
“We cannot afford to be so politically correct anymore.” — Donald Trump.
And my favorite of all: “Our nation will not risk its future on political correctness or reckless hyperbole.” — Lt. General Mike Flynn.
In my Roget’s International Thesaurus, H. Adams is quoted as saying, “Practical politics consists in ignoring facts.” I prefer William Cullen Bryant’s “Truth crushed to earth shall rise again — the eternal years of God are hers; but Error, wounded, writhes in pain, and dies among his worshipers.”
Why can’t we change the question by simply asking for correctness? A correctness in line with the protection of our Constitution’s Bill of Rights and the principles expressed by the founders of this great nation — a belief in wisdom, justice and liberty, law and order, compassion and truth? A correctness that brings with it a promise not to spin, but demand the truth?
Julia Traylor Dyar
A fifth generation Troup Countian