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

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

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

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.

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
True

The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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As millions of Americans have raced to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, millions of others have held back. Vaccine hesitancy is nothing new, of course, especially with new vaccines, but the information people use to weigh their decisions matters greatly. When choices based on flat-out wrong information can literally kill people, it's vital that we fight disinformation every which way we can.

Researchers at the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a not-for-profit non-governmental organization dedicated to disrupting online hate and misinformation, and the group Anti-Vax Watch performed an analysis of social media posts that included false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines between February 1 and March 16, 2021. Of the disinformation content posted or shared more than 800,000 times, nearly two-thirds could be traced back to just 12 individuals. On Facebook alone, 73% of the false vaccine claims originated from those 12 people.

Dubbed the "Disinformation Dozen," these 12 anti-vaxxers have an outsized influence on social media. According to the CCDH, anti-vaccine accounts have a reach of more than 59 million people. And most of them have been spreading disinformation with impunity.

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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
True

The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

Keep Reading Show less