Are We Too Politically Correct?


Warning: This post contains words that may be offensive to some people. 

Recently I read an article where the word “gypped” was used. A reader pointed out it’s not polite to say “gypped” just as it would be impolite to say “jewed”. Now I, for one, had never questioned where the word gypped had originated. And, if I’m honest, I actually thought it was spelt jipped. But, apparently, it is a reference to Gypsies being sneaky & thieving, hence the use of the word to mean ripped off.

I prefer not to offend people, if I can, and therefore I immediately took note of this handy fact and made a mental note not to say gypped again.

Then I thought about it and I realised, the list of words I can no longer say is quickly becoming longer. It wasn’t too long ago I described something as being retarded, and was told the r-word is a bad word and we can’t use it. This caught me by surprise a little as the context was not as slander, but as a description (e.g. That tree is retarded). And despite my arguing that the tree was, in fact, a tree that had experienced an abnormality in development and therefore it was retarded, I was corrected and informed it’s extremely offensive and again, I was happy to comply.

I am also happy to avoid describing things as “gay” lest it offend and avoiding the use of the word “cunt”, although apparently “dick” is still OK, despite both actually being words to refer to genitals. I also avoid “fat”, “skinny” and “old” as these words can come with bad connotations and therefore it’s safer to avoid them altogether.

It got me wondering, though. How politically correct is too politically correct? Will it not be long before someone tells me I am unable to use the word “lame” to describe something as it’s offensive to those who can’t walk? Will we ban calling something “rubbish” as it might be offensive to trash cans? (OK, that was silly, trash cans don’t have feelings… Sorry, Oscar) But seriously – how far should we go?

What is it that gives words this power? We obviously know not to use certain words, and I’m hesitant to even refer to let alone write the n-word in there (so I won’t write it) but words have become exceedingly powerful. Both for good, and for bad. Even when they mean exactly the same thing as something else, like ‘shit’ being more offensive than ‘poo’.

How far is too far? And could using them more often actually remove their power?

What do you think? Have we become too politically correct? 


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  • John James

    I think it’s all about context, intent and venue…

    There are words I would never use on social media…but I use those same words with abandon with close friends of mine because we know each other well enough to understand intent and context…

    Each of us has different standards when it comes to swearing…I’m pretty open to swearing and it’s difficult to offend me…but I know other people are different…if I know you don’t mind some choice words and don’t give a frak about being PC, I can hold my own with Brian Blessed when it comes to curdling milk with swear words… :)

  • Valentina B

    I agree with JJ. It is all about context, intent and venue. I think when you are around people you don’t know all that well, it’s wise to maybe refrain from saying things that can cause offense.

    What bothers me is the same as you Miss T, when something is actually correct but not politically correct, i.e. your “the tree is retarded” sentence, but you still can’t use it. Language evolves all the time and you can usually tell when someone is meaning to cause offense or simply using a word as an adjective.

    I don’t really use the word gypped but from my understanding from people who have encounted gypsys, they are sneaky and thieving so I don’t really understand the issue.

    One of the things I find most interesting is who is taking offense. I use the word “gay” to describe things that have either not gone my way, or whatever, around my gay friends and they don’t mind, yet some people who aren’t gay will take offense. Does that mean I’m still ok to use it because the people it’s actually referring to don’t find it offensive?

    It’s really quite interesting

    • John James

      Woah! Hang on…did you just racially vilify people who identify themselves as Gypsies?

      I think you need to rethink that attitude…you can’t generalise about a race of people like that!

      • Valentina B

        According to my own logic, I can if no gypsys are offended by my outrageous accusations!

        • Katherine

          I think you were correct when you said you don’t really understand the issue. Making generalisations about an entire group of people is racist. There are real people in the world who have suffered because of those generalisations. It doesn’t cost you anything to not be part of the problem.

          • betty dash

            I did not mean to thumbs up to you val. this cynical view point is an ugly look for you and i can tell without even meeting you.

  • rachel

    Ive seen.debates rage on about the use of the words lady and hysterical.

    Though I do think its a bit too far, I do now avoid those terms in certain online circles to avoid offense.

    The origin of the word hysterical though is pretty awful – ask wiki.

    But I draw the line at “baa baa rainbow sheep”

  • PC too much PC

    I do not know where to draw the line, but it would be sad (should be a movie made) of Police Officers not being able to do their job and go too far with PC where they can’t do their jobs.

  • PC too much PC

    I meant too far where they the victim remains a victim because the Police can’t do their jobs.

    And in the movie it is the person claiming racism.

  • PC too much PC

    Sorry, victim. Because of the PC environment where profiling is not allowed I did not catch the murderer and rapist in time to save your family. Sorry.

  • PC too much PC

    Sorry victim. I was unable to save your family because I was unable to follow up on any leads that would have saved them from being raped and beheaded because I could not question anyone because the police would be sued and harassed for asking their leads.