The one about free speech and political correctness
One day, I was having sushi with a few friends of mine. This was in the spring of 2022 when it was leaked that the Supreme Court was about to overturn Roe v. Wade and strike down the constitutional right to an abortion. My friends at lunch were all of the more liberal variety and I tried to interject that men should care about abortion rights too. It’s not just a women’s issue.
I was immediately swatted down, “it’s not just women, nonbinary people and trans men can get pregnant too”.
I wanted to say that without the safety net of abortion access, women will think twice before having non-procreative sex, something women and men often want. My thought process is if women know that an abortion is off the table, then they would be less likely to engage in sex with their spouses or boyfriends. This could be frustrating to men and lead some either to violence or sex workers. I thought it was progressive to get men to think about an aspect of society often considered “women’s rights” as something that effects them too
However, I wasn’t woke enough.
Another time, I was playing video games and three out of the six people on the headset chat were having a lively discussion about preferred pronoun usage in corporate culture. The main gripe was that one of the men was disgusted that it was now mandatory for all employees at his company to put their pronouns in their email signature.
“I don’t know where the rest of you stand, but I know where I stand and I’m sick of this political correctness bullshit. We need to get back to our roots”.
The other conservative gentlemen on the chat started making jokes about how he should put “Tree / Him” and how he identifies as a tree to troll the libs at his company. Another suggested that he identify as “super straight” so trans women know that he’s only into cisgender women. The final man suggested that he identify as an assault rifle to really own the libs.
I tried to interject in a reasonable manner, “I don’t get why using one’s preferred pronouns is so offensive. I work in Democratic politics and I can only think of two, maybe three, times that the social expectation was that I say my name is “Casey, He/him. Beyond that, I only know four trans people and while I don’t fully understand the preferred pronouns thing, is it that much of a burden on your daily lives?”
Suffice it to say, this was the wrong thing to say to these guys. I’m not going to get into what happened next. I know it wasn’t nice, but I also don’t remember what was said. It wasn’t important enough to remember.
A whopping 80% of Americans dislike PC culture. My stance has stayed the same, is this issue worth giving a fuck about? One of the most influential books I’ve read was “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***”. The goal of the book was not to get its readers to stop caring altogether, but to encourage them to focus in on what matters. You only have so many fucks to give in life, is it worth getting offended or resentful?
Conservatives argue that the “PC police” are too sensitive and get offended too easily, but they’re just as easily offended when someone makes a politically correct comment. Maybe offended isn’t the right word… entitled resentfulness? I still remember former President Trump complaining about how TIME magazine changed their “Man of the Year” Award to “Person of the Year”. Is it really that offensive to say that women can achieve enough to be on a print magazine cover? Back to my original point, isn’t that the same level of sensitivity that so-called “woke liberals” have for offensive comments?
Culture war issues like those related to political correctness feed into the toxicity of nostalgia politics. “Make America Great Again” is the perfect example of this. It’s impossible for us as a country to go back to a mythical past where things were better because that time never existed. We’ve always had problems in this country. When things don’t go back to the way they were, people get frustrated because it didn’t happen, making them want it more.
I think fondly of my childhood, but I don’t spend my time wishing I could go back to being a kid. It’s impossible, the same way it’s impossible to make America what it once was.
It’s also impossible to think that eventually everyone in America will accept everyone else and trying to force everyone to think your way will only frustrate the resentful even more.
I obviously didn’t like how any of my friends were acting. In general, I let these sorts of conversations roll off my back because I don’t really care. Even though nothing I said was meant as offensive, I interjected because I want people to think about their political views more deeply. Listening to those you disagree with is good. While you may not accept their premise, they will occasionally make a good point and improve your argument down the road.
It’s also not worth getting worked up over most issues. If it doesn’t matter a year from now then it likely doesn’t matter at all.