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Are words the problem? The debate over politically correctness rages on

Photo Illustration: Kayla Stroud/THE SPECTATOR

Written by Olivia Studdard, Staff Writer

Growing up as a child I was always taught not to call people names on the playground. I was always a rather quiet and soft-spoken child, so taunting and teasing was never really something that crossed my mind. However, the older I got, the more I learned that it wasn’t simply harmful words that my mother was trying to teach me to turn against; it was an entire way of living, an entire way of phrasing that seems to change every single day. But as I grow older and learn to think for myself, especially as I entered this “think for yourself” institution called college, I’ve learned that sometimes what you are saying is all in the context of how you say it.

Sure there are plenty of derogatory phrases and words and cruel and negative people who use them against others, but do I truly think that everyone who is deemed politically incorrect started their day with the intention of being such? It seems that each day there are more and more words being added to the growing list of things we see as offensive. I’m not sure how many people have to write to their citizen poll to make it a big deal, or how many angry people have to post about it on Facebook, but it must be a decent amount because the number of the offended is growing at an epidemic rate.

However, there are some who feel the outrage is justified, warranted even.

Just this week at Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, Arizona there was an  incident of  politically incorrect proportion when six senior girls decided to rearrange the innocent message of their High School’s t-shirt send off  into a racial slur and snapchat it to a friend. All it took was one screenshot for the picture to go viral and these girls to be shamed across the country for one bad decision. Valdosta State senior communications major, DeAunte Holloway, feels that people will get offended no matter what is said to them.

“As an African American, our culture gets offended by anything these days. If someone calls us ‘black’ we get offended. If a white guy says the ‘N’ word we get offended but it’s okay if we say it to another black person. I just don’t understand it,” Holloway said.

When did we as a society start caring so much about what everyone else labeled us as? We could trace it back farther than you or I’ve been around, but the true question we should be asking ourselves is: does it really matter?

“I think it started way back when my girl Eve bit the apple. This has been going around forever. But when did I start noticing? Probably around the 2008 Presidential election. That’s when people started making it a big deal because we had a President who was different than the others,” freshman Nick Taylor said.

It does seem that the “politically correct squad” shows up in defense of anyone who is different. Suddenly the words “handicapped” and “bum” and “fairy” have new meanings in conversations that will seemingly long outlive the old ones. So what are we to do? Keep tip-toeing around everyone’s feelings? That’s for you to decide. This battle has been taking place for a long time now. If we want anything done now, it’s time to put down our shields of offense and deal with the problem.

Just for the record and in the name of being honest, both of the students who I quoted in this article had to rephrase their statements many times in order not to offend anyone. How’s that for politically correct?

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