Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; of abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. This should sound familiar to any United States citizen. We have been hearing it all of our lives. It is the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Over recent years many people have decided that our speech should be curtailed if not all-out censored. This censorship of our speech is commonly known as political correctness. However, requiring people to be politically correct and punishing them if they are not is unconstitutional, for it inhibits a person s right to be honest, to speak unpopular sentiments and to question authority.
In 1987, Charles Lawrence, a professor of law at Stanford University, wrote an essay arguing that it is in fact constitutional to suppress speech with a racist message. From his essay people came to the conclusion that restraining speech that is hostile to any minority is constitutional. Extrapolating this argument, many others came to the conclusion that political correctness should also be applied to five general areas: racial minorities, gender relations, homosexuals, American society as a whole, and Western culture and values. Many feel these groups are being oppressed and should no longer be verbally persecuted. Consequently, speech considered offensive to these groups should be prohibited and all people required to treat others with sensitivity and respect. After all, is not every man and woman created with equal value in the eyes of God? Although all of this political correctness might sound ideal, there really are many dangers with the concept. Sociologist Paul Hollander says that any man who is not politically correct may be publicly abused, ostracized, formally or informally sanctioned, suffer from job consequences, and may be subjected to sensitivity training. Imagine an American citizen suffering such treatment for speaking freely. Is it not this person s right to speak however he or she desires? Yes, there are some logical limitations to freedom of speech. For example, a man cannot yell fire! in the middle of a crowded theater for obvious reasons. However, he is and should be able to speak freely against whomever he wishes without the fear of legal consequences. When it was decided that our speech was to be censored it only applied to minorities. You can call a white man a redneck, white trash, a cracker, whatever you want. No one is going to stop you; you might even get a laugh. But, if this man were gay, retarded, black, or Hispanic, you would not dare say such things. People cannot speak freely anymore about what bothers them concerning the behavior or beliefs of others. If one were to see a black man breaking the law, he or she might hesitate to tell the police. What if the policeman is black? He might assume that he or she is just racist and thinks that every black guy is a criminal. However, if the person is breaking the law, he is a criminal; his being black has nothing to do with it. What kind of nation do we live in where people have to hesitate to tell the truth as they see it? What is wrong with being honest? What is wrong is that our society has become so psychologically hypersensitive that it is against the law to say something that may hurt the feelings of various minorities. Political correctness strips people of their right to freedom of speech. No where in the Constitution did our forefathers write that United States citizen s have the freedom to speech, unless it hurts the poor, the gay community, or the feelings of a black person. People say stupid, hurtful things that anger others. This is their right as US citizens. If we begin censoring any speech we run the risk of suppressing the truth. After all, 250 years ago it was considered treason to speak out against the King of England.