Thank God being politically correct had no place on the front porches of my youth. Folks pretty much spoke their mind and teasing was viewed as a token of friendship and a way to show affection. Folks seldom took the time to tease those who were not important in their life. Hence, I’m finding it difficult to come up with politically correct words to express my frustration with political correctness. So be warned, this column may contain politically incorrect language.
I know that teasing can be misunderstood and distorted. I know that it is sometimes abused. I’ve even seen it used as a tool by bullies. On rare occasion, I have accidentally hurt or angered someone with my teasing the behavior. When this happens, I quickly offer my personal and sincere apologies. Nonetheless, I consider it more a positive than a negative
It isn’t realistic to expect folks to cater to every phobia or sensitivity by banning the public use of any topic, word or phrase that might offend. For example: I recently heard a couple of radio DJ’s commenting on the up coming Redneck Games that were to be played at the County Fair in their area. They were really hamming things up, speaking in exaggerated Southern drawls, using many of the Southern words and phrases that I grew up hearing. I loved every minute of their banter. Sadly, some folks were offended and the station received complaints. So the DJ’s were taken off the air.
As the granddaughter, daughter, and ex-wife of rednecks, I was offended that those who complained were allowed to disrupt my trip down memory lane. So how should I handle the situation? Perhaps, I should complain about the complainers. If I opted to do this would the station owners give a damn about my sensibilities, reprimand the complainers, reinstate the DJ’s and apologize to me? I doubt it – but, in the name of upholding political correctness, they should.
To my way of thinking political correctness is out of control. I long for the days when folks accepted each other’s quirks and could speak freely – with no fear of reprimand or reprisal. The world was less stressful before folks became so paranoid, before they took offense to almost everything and wasted time challenging each word or phrase that was uttered or printed.
Recently, a friend expertly summed up my thoughts about political correctness: “The struggle to be politically correct has made common people easily irritable and oversensitive to the words of others and their own words. It has created a society that walks on eggshells and that has difficulty being personal with each other because co-workers and potential friends can’t joke around for fear of offending the other.
I recall a time when teasing and being a little raunchy were not considered mortal sins. Once upon a time, an African-American friend (see, I can be politically correct) and I entertained folks at a sing-a-long bar with our duet of Me and My Shadow. The audience gave us rousing ovations and requested encores. Today, we would likely be kicked out or worse. Sadly, I will never feel comfortable doing that again.
Political correctness has made me more aware and cautious in my manner of speech and writing. But, I refuse to severely stifle my natural style and vocabulary or to be constantly on guard lest a politically incorrect word escape my lips.
Teasing requires the use of common sense about who and when to tease. But, I say it is time for folks to stop taking offence at every little thing and back off on these frivolous political correctness complaints.
Betty Freeman Haines, an author and award winning columnist, lives in Mesquite, NV. Her books/e-books, Reluctant Hero and Grieving Sucks or Does It, can be ordered from amazon.com. Share your thoughts and opinions with her at firstname.lastname@example.org