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Psst! A majority of Americans sees too much political correctness; even more say it's a problem

a Rainbow somewhere celebrating happiness

But be careful what you say about it, because someone somewhere might be offended.

Here's a statistical finding that may confirm what many of us had been thinking in recent years without really realizing it:

A majority of Americans, who are globally famous for candidly saying what they think, now say they believe that their country has become too politically correct.

A new Rasmussen Reports survey finds that nearly six in 10 respondents (57%) say they think we've gotten too hung up on too many sensibilities. Can we even talk about this with the other 43%?

The subject of political correctness burst into the news again Wednesday night when NPR fired commentator Juan Williams for saying he gets nervous on planes when he sees Muslims on planes "identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims." And before that CNN fired Rick Sanchez for his comments.

But here's an interesting result from the Rasmussen research: Nearly three out of four Americans say they think that political correctness is a problem.

So, wait a minute: More people think PC is a problem than think there's too much of it. So, how then is it a problem?

Of course, we respect the right of some people to hold nonsensical views like that. Such thoughtful minorities are an important part of the diverse American identity.

Rasmussen also finds that 13% say they disagree with the 74% and think PC is not a problem. And another 13% are wishy-washy can't-decides who should probably move to Canada.

There is, of course, a serious application to PC-ness in a society that prides itself on freedom of speech, if not civility. It is, first of all, an ill-defined social regimen. One person's statement of fact is another's outrageously incorrect assertion. Witness last week Fox News talker Bill O'Reilly plugging a new book on "The View" and telling the women, "Muslims killed us on 9/11."

Factually accurate but politically incorrect to the ears of Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg, who walked off with the impression he cast aspersions on all Muslims. When O'Reilly said he meant "extremist Muslims," they returned.

And a poll last year found that 63% of respondents said they believed that political correctness prevented military authorities from confronting a Muslim, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, before he killed 13 people and wounded many others at Ft. Hood, Texas.

But here's a final chilling factoid from the new Rasmussen survey: Eleven percent of the respondents adopt the Goldilocks approach, that is, the balance of political correctness and incorrectness in America today is just about right. Goody-goodies all of them in clean white socks.

However, nearly one in four of our countrymen (23%) think the country isn't sufficiently politically correct. We need to be even more careful about what we say to each other, lest someone gasp.

And, strangely enough, every one of those humorless prudes lives in Massachusetts.

Just kidding.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo credit: University of Arizona

 
Comments () | Archives (73)

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i agree.. be honest and cut out the political garbage.

I second that levi. I prefer honesty over PC. Bunch of whiners.

They fired Juan Williams for saying he was afraid of Muslims on planes? I was on a flight yesterday. It was packed except for one row where there was a Muslim sitting in the window seat. The entire row was empty. No one would sit anywhere near him. And who were these frigtened people? They were a rainbow of Americans, white, Black, Asian, young, old, you name it.

As for political correctness, it is a virus that has done nothing but divide Americans. No one believes most of it. Why would any sensible person believe anything that is based on falsehood? (Anyone else waiting for some sensible American to finally point out that the emperor is wearing no clothes?) No one honestly thinks that the latest person standing up and demanding a (financial) apology is actually the least bit insulted. In fact, we all know that the insultee no doubt thinks he just won the lottery. In America today, we have millions of midgets with a huge cudgel that they use to clobber anyone they can get away with clobbering. The latest of the midget groups, ably represented by CAIR in the United States, actually poses a significant threat to any host country where its representatives are present. And everybody knows it.

Soft easily offended people are easily overcome. Stop crying victim.

Barney Frank cancels out both the humorless and prude contingent for MA if you weight for impact and duration.

Yes, can't we go back to the times when the dark people were our servants, the Mexicans stayed in the fields, the gays kept quiet and women stayed in the kitchen. Things were so much better then for us white men folk. I didn't have to worry about who I offended because, well, they just didn't matter. (end sarcasm)

"Preserve us from loonies with their heads in the fog who pity the tapeworm instead of the dog." An apt quotation that describes the PC crowd in this country.

In totalitarianist countries, the goal is not just to apply censorship, but to have it so all-encompassing that people censor themselves. This is an extreme version of PC. PC is self-censorship...for fear of being called a name (bigot, homophobe, etc.) and exposed to ridicule and contempt. IMO it started out as a method of elminiating racial slurs from day-to-day interactions. It worked so well that the Left expanded into the policial realm. It's a form of moral bullying; a way of saying I am morally superior to you...and therefore my political positions are valid and yours are evil. PC is vile and is being used by control freaks to bully the rest of us.

Whether well intended, or not, the PV is a form of behavioral control that has gone well over its eventual positive results - it is simply coercive, and it's generally been used as a tool to inflict political interests of minuscule groups upon the larger society (the useful idiots are present here as well). Political correctness has destructive effects upon critical spirit and the necessary exercise thereof in any context there is - be it science, law, you name any possible human intercorse.
A frightening example of this is the attempt to break the DADT in the army, where, in order to satisfy a minuscule group's wanton wishes, the military and the nation would have to go to self-destructive accommodations for gays - no matter how the truth is distorted, fact is the open homosexuality in the rigurous society that the military service is, would be highly destructive - consequences of the accomodatio's burden, constant irritation and the harassments caused by the already existing gay and lesbian coteries in the army increasing significantly -
Remember Whilhelm Tell? A mediaeval case of political correctness corrected by the public anger: the Austrian governor placed his hat on a pole in Tell's town, demanding the locals to greet the hat - Tell's protest eventually igniting a rebellion, and soon, out the Austrians were - we reached this point, too, since we are forced to greet everyday the many hats of the liberal hydra that terrorizes this nation -

Dear NPR and PBS

For many years now you've sought to inform and persuade and lead a productive life, from your infancy to your adulthood. All the while, you've been living at home off of mom and dad and we believe it is time that you do the right thing and move out and provide for yourself. We are taking your allowance away (tax dollar funding) and wishing you the best as you finally move out of the house and become a true adult, just as mom and dad have in raising you. We've obviously made one admitted mistake. That is letting you get fat, happy and comfortable by allowing you to live off of us way into your adult years.

Best wishes,

Mom and Dad Taxpayer

I'M OFFENDED that people are so easily offended! What happened to being able to express an opinion, popular or not, or make an observation in this country.

It is the misuse of political correctness that is the problem. For the past sixty years, anyone who disagrees with Israeli policy is labeled an anti-semite. The United States can not support one religious state in the Middle East (Israel) and then say another religious state (Iran) is a threat. The United States is supposed to support separation of church and state.

While well-intended, PC crossed many lines of reasonableness.

Simple guides would have & will suffice:
1) Love your neighbor
2) Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

It's ok to actually have YOUR OWN opinion. It's what you do with it that matters.

Can I say that?

Firing Juan Williams over what he said is the worst case of PC we've seen in a while. It belongs in a skit on SNL rather than in the real world. What were those assess at NPR thinking? They are the ones that should be fired.

Whatever happened to the old adage: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me. We've gotten to the point where even when we say things inncocently, someone (cough...Al Sharpton) feels the need to be offended.

What I can stand the most is when good valid discussions get disrupted by PC nonsense. This seems to happen most as a defensive tactic, people shut down their reasoning and latch on to the next thing that could possibly be construed as offensive. From this point on the other party also gets on the defensive and they trade barbs seeing who can make the other one out to be the worst. While the original (usually important) point of discussion is completely lost in the sound bites.

Hey Andrew!

Get it right! "...countrymen AND COUNTRYWOMEN"

Kidding.

Great post!

It is stunning to read of the separation of Juan Williams from NPR. I always felt his presence on the network lent some balance and rationality to the overwhelmingly liberal rhetoric they promulgate.

If we have drifted into a PC realm, it is our own fault. We have lost the ability to approach any argument with an open mind as well as admit our own errors in thought and judgement. It is also our fault for hoping those who hold positions which are an anathema to scoiety will "change their ways".

Be responsible for your thoughts and actions, prepare to be wrong and take time to see things from different sides. These are good rules to follow in civil discourse. No where does it say you should stifle your principles.

Political correctness is not just idle hypersensitivity. It is a concerted effort to manipulate the way we think about thing by limiting the words we may use to describe and discuss them.

Where in the Constitution is the unalienable right to never be offended stated?

good job Andy, it's time we face the reality of life, instead of worrying about hurting someone's feelings!

Political correctness is censorship plain and simple. It is a way of directing conversation and changing the subject. What NPR did to Juan Williams was wrong. NPR needs to learn that they must target the whole market and not just their politically correct audience. I'm sick of it and I will listen to NPR less from now on.

When the PC crouds use it as a weapon to supress opinion, then flaunt it when it suits their purpose, that is when the people cry enough.

What happens to the First Amendment, freedom of speech?
America has become a pathetic nation, thanks to all those bleeding heart liberals.

Let’s see...how has this once great Nation gotten so confused? I believe that Liberal Groups like ACLU have threatened too many into thinking they cannot say what they believe.
I personally believe that as long as we aren't libeling someone with false statements, we should be able to say what we believe.
Let's look beyond the ACLU. Liberal Federal Judges are trying to set policy from the bench by making decisions based upon their belief and not on the Constitution. As an example… Look at the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka. They are permitted to slander our Nation, our soldiers, and Gays without any recourse. Liberal Judges have declared them innocent of wrong doing based upon a left wing liberal definition of our First Amendment Rights. But we have News agencies like CNN who fired Rick Sanchez and NPR who fired Juan Williams for expressing their opinions. Talk about both ends of the spectrum.
We have become a Nation who can't express opinions because someone will fire them for their conservative beliefs. But those same bigots who fire them will fight for the right of scumbags like the Westboro, so-called church group.
We also are being over run by Illegal Aliens. These are not the legal immigrants which founded this Great Nation. These are people who believe they can criminally enter and work here without paying any taxes, but who demand fair treatment and welfare. I will fight for their right to come here legally, but I will not stand for the criminal acts they do here and try to make us believe they are poor innocent victims. They falsify documents like SSA, driver's licenses, car registration, job applications, welfare applications etc.
I bet all the so called liberals who support these criminals, called illegal aliens, would be the first to demand tighter enforcement of our laws if these were Arabs coming across these same borders. They want protection from terrorists entering our Homeland, but look the other way if it's only Hispanics coming here to better themselves in the land of milk and honey.
It's time for the silent majority to stand up and say enough is enough. It’s the outspoken, arrogant left wingers who are ruining our Nation. STOP! I want my rights heard as well. It's not just your views or nothing. I WILL BE HEARD. What about you America? Are you also fed up with this Political Correctness on steroids? Speak out at the voting booth in Nov. Vote out the Liberals and those who won't support out true American Rights and beliefs.

"More people think PC is a problem than think there's too much of it. So, how then is it a problem?"

It is a problem because the 13% who approve of PC includes about 98% of the media, and the 74% who think it is a problem see that media virtually every day ridicule and disparage someone who failed to live up to that media's idea of PC. It's funny how they will be outraged at anything which they think "chills" their free speech rights while simultaneously causing people to fear their public wrath if they use a wrong word or express a view the media deems unacceptable.

It's bad enough when PC craziness reigns across the board, but what's even worse is when PC expectations vary according to gender, ethnicity, minority status, etc. Forget double standards. How about quadruple standards.

of all the lowliest, destructive, emasculating behavior I've been unfortunate enough to witness in my lifetime as an American, I have a particular disdain for PC and it's purveyors in the media. It's been part of the national lexicon now for almost 20 years, and it needs to die a horrible death. Want something incorrect? It's largely due to too many men acquiescing to female sensibilities...gasp! Grow a set of stones, speak the truth and stand your f*#king ground! I don't like flying w/ muslims either...idk, haven't had my coffee yet, maybe Andrew is being satirical...but this topic sends me off the handle.

When people are dieing on account of being too fearful to confront and speak the truth, as in the case of Nidal Malik Hasan, it's time to stop this nonsense, kick the women out of the room ( and metrosexual sneaker wearing men too ), and get down to the business of eliminating threats and protecting loved ones.

Not to nitpick, but....You can say there isn't too much but still think that it is a problem. Because a little of a bad thing can still be a problem. Like serial killers,
for instance. they certainly aren't the majority, but they are a problem nonetheless. You can believe that you don't encounter too much PC attitudes, but realize it's a problem when it interferes with reality or commonsense. Like Fort Hood, burying your head in the sand can make a small problem a major one.


The reason people believe being PC is a problem is because it cuts into our First Amendment rights.

Think about it... why is it ok for the Fulsom Street Fair to create a gay/sadism image that represents Christ at the Last Supper but American Molly Norris has to go into hiding because she called for a "Draw Mohammed Day"??

Either both are ok or neither are ok. I opt for the one that gives us the most freedom of expression.

So in essence, this column states that the majority of Americans are having a minority's position thrust upon them huh? When you consider other "minority dictating to the majority" social phenomenon like, churches banned from displaying Nativity scenes, atheists suing to have prayer removed from football games, etc, no law enforcement profiling, illegal immigration, nanny state payouts and entitlements, Christopher Columbus - bad/native American - noble, dead white men exploiters, America bad, Socialism for all, Section 8 housing, restrictions on charter/vocational schools, Union domination, gay marriage, American flag is offensive, all non-Democrat white people are racist, multiculturalist secular society, moral equivilency, et. al...

I don't know what you're talking about. Or am I just simply used to being used?

Political Correctness is a bunch of BS and is only applied to special groups. I am tired of it. Whoopi and Joy are only politically correct when it draws attention to them. How Joy ever got on tv is beyond me. Why Whoopi dresses like she is ready for a snow storm is anybody's guess. Barabra Walters should get people with brains on her show or retire. Elizabeth is the only real person on that show.

Funny that this report is made the same day that NPR fires Juan Williams, no right-wing nut job, he. In the US, freedom of speech has given way to temper tantrums that demand not to be offended.

And now Juan Williams has become a victim of NPR's political correctness for honestly expressing that he becomes fearful when flying on planes with overtly Muslim passengers.

The primary way that PC hurts us is that it shuts down open dialog and even stifles the free flow of ideas. That a brilliant, highly educated moderate like Juan Williams can't honestly discuss his fear when traveling without getting fired is a very sad state of affairs. Millions of people share his fear, rational or not, and failing to openly discuss it doesn't make this feelings go away. I'm a lifelong conservative, a foster parent, and have strongly considered getting a teaching certificate in order to give something back during my senior years. Sadly I am NOT PC, and fear that I'd never make it past the militant progressives that control higher education much less survive the leftist minefield currently present in the public schools. How many thousands of others are scared away from public minded education or jobs? Why are there whole segments of society where conservatives cannot work without fear of attack, redicule, or being thrown out on their ear, not for performance, but for not being a progressive. Sadly conservatives are one constantly maligned group not afforded ANY protection from bias.

Yes yes yes! It was even a problem back in the 90's! and people wonder why people are so cruel in the world of social media these days. It's a no brainer, the biggest public coward can feel like Superman when he's posting his true feelings anonymously.

It is time to immediately STOP all CONTRIBUTIONS to NPR

Free speech without any abridgment whatsoever is the life's blood of our democracy. We are not Europeans who have never embraced the full scope of free speech. This is America where anyone and every group has to withstand the full force of free speech.

I think if a poll were taken today and people were truly honest, most have had the same feelings as Juan. The events that have occured over the past 10 years with the mideast, 9/11, the killings at Ft Hood, the airline close calls, and the Time Square scare, one cannot help but have a little fear when they see Moslums. Do you have the same feelings when you see Chinese, Japanese, Mexicans, etc, etc. The answer is NO.

Forbidden speach (PC) is is really a prohibition to question the ideologies of the liberal political class. Most of it comes from the multi-cultural left where the common people are prohibited from criticizing other cultures but it is also centered in feminism and all of the other liberal ideologies. It is advertised by its practitioners as a means to enforce civility but it is actually a weapon used against anyone who threatens the liberal power structure.

You cannot criticize the ideology of the liberal power structure.

Mr. Malcom, a little bit of basic math will show you that it is perfectly valid to have a percentage of respondents who believe there is too much political correctness, and an even larger percentage who believe political correctness is a problem. The two questions are independent of one another.

The number of respondents who didn't think there was "too much" political correctness may still believe PC to be a problem. For example, a person may think that the crime rate in their particular neighborhood or city is not too high, yet still view crime as a social problem that needs addressing. Similarly, overt racism may be on a steady decline historically, but that does not mean that racism is not viewed as a problem. Or, you may not think that the nation grows too many Brussels sprouts, yet still hate eating them.

It was political correctness and the fact that our president is Muslim. Up to a few months ago, clips of news interviews that never made it on air were available on U Tube with the President confessing that he is a Muslim. These news clips were from every major news network (except FOX which wasn't given interviews), logos including - ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC all of these networks deny that there is any factual evidence of the President's Muslim leanings. They are all liars. If I had known how to download these clips from U Tube, I would send a copy to every black church who thinks they elected a Christian man. This isn't the only thing the President has been lying about. The only one out there telling the truth is FOX, which is why the President hates them.

Saying we are too PC hurts my feelings. I am going to sulk and pout until you apoligize and take it back.

The monumental irony is that Juan Williams' comment came as he was talking about the dangers of polical correctness run amok.

People are very sick of this and in fact it is having the reverse effect. Please don't come to me for a job.

I am deeply offended by this columnist's bigoted comments about Massachusetts and demand that he be fired immediately.

Political correctness begets hypersensitivity, which begets more political correctness.

I think your country is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

"More people think PC is a problem than think there's too much of it. So, how then is it a problem?"

Can't you do the math? 75% think PC is a problem. 57% think we get hung up on sensibilities. 75% minus 57% is 18%. This 18%, who does not get hung up on sensibilities, think PC is a problem. Is this so hard?

I think Bill O'Reilly fits in this category. He was lambasted by "The View" hags for his unPC comments. Wouldn't he feel that PC is a problem?

I'm sure you will argue that Bill O'Reilly is actually in the 57% category and not the 18%, but you will have to ignore that he does this all the time. Getting slammed hasn't stopped him yet. He does not care, thus he probably thinks we are not hung up on sensibilities. On the other hand, the 43% people can also comprise of the Leftists who live by PC sensibilities.

Of the 13% who do not think PC is a problem, you would have to think they are the one most in line with PC think, the PC adherents. They are the true Liberal Leftists, the MSNBC folks. PC isn't a problem with them since they enjoy their own point of view. They want to shame the detractors.

It's funny how these days, its the Liberals who are hung by their own principle of Political Correctness. Sweet Revenge.

PC creates genuine problems that were somewhat unforeseen when it became the norm. Most notably, it creates resentment instead of the respect or empathy sought. The affected speaker immediately feels like their rights of speech (paramount to democracy and freedom) are restricted in favor of another's right to not hear things they don't like (a right that may or may not be protected by the Constitution). Of course, the second right didn't exist before PC and the "we should all be friends movement."

Two very important and enumerated rights are speech and association. The purposes are simple. You can say what's on your mind, without filter and you can you hang out with whomever you'd like. PC has worked to undermine those by making putting a stigma on free speech that might offend as well as spending too much time in a homogeneous group. Thus, when people are forced to suppress what they feel and want to say for too long, it eventually boils over, which is sort what (I think) is happening now in America. People at all levels and views (right, left, center, religious, agnostic, white, brown, black...) are starting to look around and are feeling frustrated and excluded rather than included.

PC needs to go. We need to hear what people are really feeling and thinking. And, most importantly, even if we don't like it, we have to respect their right to say it and feel it. They need to understand that everyone doesn't have to listen or agree and, in turn, might not want to hang out with them.

 
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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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