Sunday, June 7, 2015

On Politically Correct Speech, or, as I like to call it, Being Polite

Read on without fear, my friend!  This note will not discuss political belief, sexual orientation, or guns.

Instead, it will involve Brussels spouts and boiled peanuts.

Brussels sprouts are a fairly polarizing topic in the food world.  I've never met anyone who didn't have a strong opinion on Brussels sprouts.  Of course, I am unaware as to where many of my friends stand on the issue of eating Brussels sprouts; for me, it's not a condition of friendship, and it's just not a topic that comes up frequently in conversation.  Why would it?  Unless Brussels sprouts are on the menu, it's a bit of a non-issue.  But bring up Brussels sprouts, and reaction is strong and swift.  For the record, when it comes to Brussels sprouts, I guess I could be labeled a "hater."  I've read nutritional reports on how beneficial they would be in my diet, and I've been told that I'd really like them if they were prepared properly.  I'm tired of experimenting with eating Brussels sprouts, however they are prepared.  I just don't like them.  But I fully support your "right" to like them.

Boiled peanuts are another somewhat polarizing topic.  As with Brussels sprouts, most people have a strong taste for them, pro or con.  I am a little more likely to know where my friends stand on boiled peanuts, though, again, the like/dislike of boiled peanuts is not a condition for friendship.  I have also noticed that the taste for boiled peanuts is closer to a regional thing, with Southerners more likely to express preference for them than non-Southerners.  For the record, I am a HUGE fan of boiled peanuts.  I've never read any nutritional reports on boiled peanuts, because I don't care.  There have been times that I've bought boiled peanuts that proved not to have been prepared "properly" -- that is, by my standards.  But I do like them, and fully support your "right" not to like them.

So, how do Brussels sprouts and boiled peanuts figure in to "politically correct speech," which I believe is often confused with "being polite?"

"Brussels sprouts????  Ewwwwww."  vs  "Brussels sprouts.  Not a fan." 

"Boiled peanuts.  Slimy and disgusting!"  vs  "Boiled peanuts?  Eh.  Never cared for them."

"Gross!!!!  Why in the world would you eat that nastiness???"  vs  "I'll pass.  You go ahead and help yourself, though."

You don't have to eat anything you don't want to eat, and you don't have to believe or be or own anything you don't care to.  Whether it's pickled pigs' feet or political belief, okra or sexual orientation, garlic or guns ... It is possible to express an opinion, even a strongly-held opinion, even a studied and long-held and deeply convicted opinion, without using language that insults others who do not share your opinion.  That's not political correctness.  It's merely ... not being rude. 

Or you can refrain from passing judgment.  That's an option too.

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