As students of a generally left-wing Southern California university, we are fortunate enough to form part of a culture that preaches tolerance and diversity. While I do not wish to decry the value of such ideals, I wish to point out that they are just what their name denotes — ideals. Let it be clear that the aim of my criticism is against the notion of political correctness, which I consider both aggressive and futile, not tolerant, which is of course a noble aspiration.
It is a well-known principle of optimism that we cannot change the world around us, only our response to it. If he is wise, the happy individual does not believe the world is flawless, but instead controls his reaction to the flaws all around. This is the crux of my argument against PC culture. Human beings are naturally hostile and limited in perspective; as such, racism, sexism and homophobia are unfortunate inevitabilities of life. Struggle as we might against them, there is no possible eradication of these ugly externalities. What is in our power, however, is the degree to which we allow them to affect our well-being. If we resolve to feel nothing at the hateful words of others, we walk through life with an impenetrable shield as a result of inner strength. Why allow such ignorance to affect us so? It is fruitless.
Advocates of political correctness harp on the importance of using the appropriate terminology. Womyn, LGBTQIA, and so on ad nauseam (there have probably been more letters added to this acronym as you read this; God lend us all the strength to keep up). As with money, political structures and a myriad of other convoluted things, language is a manmade construct that we have allowed to enslave us. The nature of linguistics is an arbitrary one; no word innately means anything other than what it has been assigned by society. This realization is empowering. Rather than fear slurs and obscenities, drain them of their power. Reclaim the words that offend you by using and repeating them until they are meaningless. Banning them from speech only reaffirms the strength and hatred behind them. Furthermore, forcibly altering someone’s words does not necessarily guarantee any change in their thoughts.
But perhaps all of this comes across as rather heavy handed and callous. Isn’t it our duty as tolerant people to illuminate the minds of others and serve as harbingers of progress? The Law of Aggression, a central tenet in Taoism, holds that force defeats itself — that inert objects, once tampered with, begin to resist. When PC culture is adamantly in my face, I feel so imposed upon that I want to hurl obscenities every which way, even though I’m a gay liberal atheist. Change comes from within. We cannot force tolerance. If you yourself are educated, that is enough. Rather than squandering time fixing the speech of everyone else, let us merely fix our own perspectives.
We live in a desolate world filled with boundless ignorance and hatred. It cannot be eradicated — only mitigated, slightly, through endless toil. And so I leave you with a piece of bleak but necessary advice, which may appear as nihilism but is in fact a resignation that will prove replenishing in the long term: Do not weary yourself. Abandon your ideals. In what pristine dimension will they materialize?
Navid Ebrahimzadeh is a fourth-year CCS literature major.
Views expressed on the Opinion page do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Nexus or UCSB. Opinions are submitted primarily by students.