Commentary: What Ever Happened to Political Correctness?

Public examples of hate may be ushering in a new era.   

Posted: 03/08/2012 06:15 PM EST

Remember when everyone was afraid to say some of the things that lie in the deepest recesses of their hearts because they were afraid to be offensive? Political correctness was the marching orders the nation seemed to live by.


Bosses were afraid to compliment their secretary’s new dress, teachers referred to Christmas as “the Holidays” and, in perhaps the most patronizing example, disabled people were referred to as “handi-capable.” Well, I believe that those days are long gone. 


Just pick up a newspaper, turn on a TV, or log on to your most trusty Internet news provider and you’ll understand what I mean. 


Today, I read about the American Atheists’ billboard in Harrisburg, Pa., where it sparked outrage from people in the largely African-American area where it was on display. The billboard depicts a Black slave in a metal collar along with a quote from the Bible, "Slaves, obey your masters."


The billboard was supposed to send a message to state legislators who deemed this the “Year of the Bible.” But invoking the Bible along with painfully insensitive imagery in order to make a statement crosses lines of decency thought to be inappropriate in years past.    


What happened to the good ol’ days when racists would just whisper their epithets in the shadows, never thinking it appropriate to put their hate on display in full view?


The billboard incident has happened in the wake of a flurry of incidents that cause me to wonder what is going on.


Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum likened President Obama to a drug dealer; not a very sensitive metaphor to use against an African-American whose very ascent to the White House shatters racial myths.


But Democrats have been in trouble for remarks they’ve made as well.  California Congresswoman Maxine Waters came under fire for referring to certain Republican leaders, who happen to be white, as “demons” and “the Devil.” 


A 13-year-old Rochester, N.Y. student won an essay contest in which she compared her school to slavery.


And the discussion would not be complete without at least mention of conservative shock jock Rush Limbaugh’s “slut” comment. 


The more I think about it, the more examples come to mind. I remember when even the most revoltingly offensive group would have thought twice before putting up a billboard that would knowingly offend many of the very people who would view it.


The only thing I can say to these events is, “What were they thinking?” But in an age of “speak now, apologize later” it appears people aren’t doing much thinking at all anymore.


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