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

October 21, 2010 |  2:28 am

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

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