Have we become too politically correct? This is a question I am constantly asked. Many people say that they are tired of how “sensitive” people have become and that they are only “kidding”. And that people have “lost their sense of humor”. My mother used to say, “If it hurts someone, it is not funny”. And I think that sums it up nicely.
Is it really funny to say to a man who is considered short by our standards: “Stand up! Oh, you are standing up!” Is it really funny to say this in a room full of people? It depends on your motivation. If you are trying to create an environment that is inclusive and respectful of everyone, then no, it is not funny. It is an inappropriate and disrespectful comment. If you are trying to embarrass the person, then perhaps it is funny…to you. I’ll put money on the fact that the person you are humiliating does not find it funny.
I was in this position recently. The person in charge of the meeting was making these comments and some people were laughing and some were shaking their heads and rolling their eyes. I was part of the group that did not laugh. The leader was completely oblivious to his behavior. Since this meeting, I have heard many of the people at the meeting commenting on his unprofessional behavior and saying he has “rough edges” and “is unprofessional”. However, no one in authority has taken him aside and told him to stop. When I said something, his response was that I did not have a sense of humor.
So, to answer the question, no, I do not think we have become too politically correct. I think it is important to treat each other with dignity, courtesy and respect. When we can do that, perhaps we can learn to laugh with each other instead of at each other.