conversation is an engine

A lot can happen in a conversation

What we mean when we say “PC”

with 7 comments

Conversations will sometimes offend

“We’re all so PC today.”

When I hear this I wonder what the speaker means:

  • Does she mean we work so hard to not offend each other that what we say is meaningless?
  • Or does he mean he wants to get back to days of privilege (white, male, boss, pastor/priest, authority—name your privilege), back to when a part of our daily lexicon meant disparaging others deemed “less” because they did not line up with us?


If political correctness impinges on our ability to speak freely, that is not good. We must find ways to speak our thoughts—even if it means threading our words through verbal and perceived obstructions and pitfalls. Even if it means offending. But that’s the same with any relationship. Our conversations aim toward pulling others in more than pushing others away (Otherwise why talk at all? Just walk away.), so we take care speak to where our conversation partner is coming from. The end game of speaking our thoughts to each other is greater freedom, better articulation, and deepening friendships. Comedy sometimes makes that leap quickly by abruptly articulating a hidden thought. Those hidden thoughts, when exposed to air, can carry great meaning.

If there is one positive to come from the mouth of the patent-medicine salesman Trump, it is recognition that privilege exists in our nation and now we simply have to talk about it as a nation.

But if political correctness makes us long for a return to days of privilege where we verbally bully anyone perceived as different, then we must work against that. Others are to be understood, not hated. If political correctness helps us begin to see the inherent blindness of our particular place of privilege—let’s embrace that and learn.

We are at our best when connecting with each other.

We are at our worst when building walls.


Image credit: Kirk Livingston

7 Responses

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  1. Oh, Kirk. This is one of your best pieces I’ve ever read. I can’t say amen or cue the applause enough. Bravo and encore, buddy. I’d love to see this in Newsweek (or better yet, the WSJ). Beautiful!

  2. It’s definitely hard to tell sometimes where the border lies. There’s a lot of humor that relies on being offensive…and I’ve had many people tell me I have no sense of humor when I find something to be offensive rather than funny. On the other hand, as you say, not saying things we really think is dangerous too, because then it goes underground. So…you are right. When it opens things up, it’s good. When it shuts things down, that’s not good for anyone. (K)


    May 18, 2016 at 4:18 pm

  3. Agreed. So true!

    Sand Salt Moon

    May 18, 2016 at 9:23 pm

  4. Some people are proud of being not being ‘PC’. To me this is code for thoughtless venting, rudeness and at its worst, racism. I totally agree that it takes effort to communicate anything more than base feelings.


    May 18, 2016 at 11:47 pm

    • Nobody wants boundaries around what they say. And yet we need to be mindful and respectful in communication. Thanks for your comment.


      May 19, 2016 at 9:15 am

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