What is political correctness? Here's what it does — and doesn't — mean.

Showing others kindness and respect is a virtue, not a flaw.

Political correctness is running amok! Or something.

What is political correctness? You may have noticed that term floating around quite a bit these days. And if the way it's being used is any indication, it's a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad thing.



Death by P.C. culture! The most painful way to die! GIF from CNN.

From the sound of it, political correctness is responsible for the slow destruction of American culture, drug abuse, acts of terrorism, and even comedy!

Jerry Seinfeld is not having it, you guys. GIF from "Late Night with Seth Meyers."

But when you look at what the term "politically correct" actually means, it paints a much different picture.

This is a cliche way to start any argument, but bear with me. Merriam-Webster defines "politically correct" as "agreeing with the idea that people should be careful to not use language or behave in a way that could offend a particular group of people."

"I started imagining a world in which we replaced the phrase 'politically correct' wherever we could with 'treating other people with respect', and it made me smile." — Neil Gaiman

Other dictionaries give similar definitions, but what it basically comes down to is political correctness means not being a jerk to others. Political correctness is nothing more than treating others with respect. Being kind. Being a nice person.

And, yes, this means maybe not calling someone a racial slur and not making judgments or assumptions based on stereotypes.

It's nothing more than being a nice person. GIF from "Tangled."

To illustrate the true meaning of political correctness, just install this genius browser extension.

Byron Clark released PC2Respect, a Google Chrome extension that automatically replaces the term "political correctness" to "treating people with respect" on any web page.

Just a few samples of the greatness that is the PC2Respect extension.

Clark was inspired by a blog post that author Neil Gaiman wrote in 2013:

"I was reading a book (about interjections, oddly enough) yesterday which included the phrase 'In these days of political correctness…' talking about no longer making jokes that denigrated people for their culture or for the colour of their skin. And I thought, 'That’s not actually anything to do with "political correctness". That’s just treating other people with respect.'

Which made me oddly happy. I started imagining a world in which we replaced the phrase 'politically correct' wherever we could with 'treating other people with respect', and it made me smile."

Give it a try.

Take any quote using the term "political correctness" (or a variation on that), and replace it with "treating people with respect" or "being nice."

The result is both funny and eye-opening.

For example, during one of this election cycle's primary debates, Donald Trump said, "I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct." When you swap in the actual definition, what he's really saying is, "I think the big problem this country has is treating people with respect."

Or, for another example, New York Times opinion writer Ross Douthat wrote, "'The demands of political correctness' can indeed 'act like an acid.'" Now imagine that same sentence with the correct definition: "'The demands of being nice' can indeed 'act like an acid.'"

Kind of funny, right? And even when you question the most basic statements being made, the results are pretty obvious.

For example, is "being nice" killing people? No.

And when you think of it that way, political correctness isn't such a bad thing after all.

Political correctness is about respect and kindness, not life and death. The examples listed above ("the decline of American culture," drug abuse, terrorism, and "the death of comedy") aren't the results of political correctness. Laying blame at a concept of respect rather than underlying issues (such as poverty, the War on Drugs, our country's foreign policy decisions, and people simply not finding certain comedians funny anymore) is a major cop out.

GIF from American Bridge 21st Century.

Political correctness is actually just being nice. It's not censorship. It's not an infringement on your First Amendment rights (you can go on Twitter and tweet whatever "politically incorrect" thing you'd like, and I can pretty much guarantee you probably won't be arrested for it). It just means showing some basic respect for other human beings. The same kind of respect and kindness we expect others to give to us.

More
Facebook / Mikhail Galin

Putting your pet in cargo during a flight isn't always safe. In 2016, the Department of Transportation reported a total of 26 pet deaths and 22 injuries on flights. Because conditions in cargo can be uncomfortable for animals, the Humane Society recommends taking your pet aboard when you fly, or just leaving it at home.

It's not surprising that one Russian man didn't want to put his overweight cat in cargo during an eight-hour flight from Moscow to Vladivostok. What is surprising is the great lengths he took to fly with his four-legged friend.

Russian airline Aeroflot allows pets to fly inside the plane's cabin, as long as the cat weighs under 17.6 pounds and stays in its carrier during the flight. When Mikhail Galin went to check in, he was told he couldn't fly with his four-year old cat, Viktor. Viktor weighed in at 22 pounds and would have to be relegated to cargo.

But Viktor was sick from their earlier flight from Riga, Latvia to Moscow. And besides, Viktor had been allowed to fly inside the cabin during that flight. The airline staff didn't even bother to make Viktor sit on the scales. Galin was unable to persuade staff to bring his fur baby on board.

"To all attempts to explain that the cat won't survive there on an 8-hour flight with the baggage and would haunt her in her nightmares for the rest of her life, she (the Aeroflot staff member) replied that there are rules," Galin wrote in a Facebook post translated from Russian.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Photo by Kelvin Octa from Pexels

Newborn babies don't seem to do much beyond eating and pooping and, of course, hiccupping. A lot. Parenting advice on how to cure a baby's hiccups runs the whole gamut. It's recommended parents try everything from nursing to stop feeding the baby so much, from giving the baby gripe water to letting the hiccups play their course. But when your baby hiccups too much, you shouldn't freak out. There's a good reason why.

A new study published in Clinical Neurophysiology found that hiccups play an important role in a baby's development. Researchers from the University College London found 217 babies for their study, but only looked at 13 newborns with persistent hiccups. Ten of those babies hiccupped when they were awake, and three hiccupped during their "wriggly" sleep. We have no idea how the scientists got any work done with all that cuteness lying around.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon / YouTube

Actress Kristen Bell and "The Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon showed off their vocal and comedic chops on Tuesday night when the performed a medley of 17 Disney songs, spanning nine decades, in just five minutes.

The duo started with 1940's "When You Wish Upon a Star" and ended with 2013's "Let it Go" from "Frozen."

Bell will reprise her role as Anna in Disney's upcoming "Frozen 2."

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Ask almost any woman about a time a man said or did something sexually inappropriate to them, and she'll have a story or four to tell. According to a survey NPR published last year, 81% of women report having experienced sexual harassment, with verbal harassment being the most common. (By contrast, 43% of men report being sexually harassed. Naturally harassment toward anyone of any sex or gender is not okay, but women have been putting up with this ish unchecked for centuries.)

One form of verbal sexual harassment is the all too common sexist or sexual "joke." Ha ha ha, I'm going to say something explicit or demeaning about you and then we can all laugh about how hilarious it is. And I'll probably get away with it because you'll be too embarrassed to say anything, and if you do you'll be accused of being overly sensitive. Ha! Won't that be a hoot?

Keep Reading Show less
popular