A number of people have been posting popular tweets about how the “civility” being asked for centrists and conservatives (and many liberals) is the same as the “political correctness” pushed for by the left.
I don’t entirely blame people for thinking the two are one and the same. On the surface, both terms are about showing respect. But dig a little deeper, and we find that not only are the two not the same, they are opposites.
The best way to show this is to go through some examples. Even proponents of political correctness should be able to agree that sometimes it can go too far and lead to bad results. Take the Rotterham child sexual exploitation scandal, where a sex abuse ring wasn’t addressed due to concerns of alleged racism and damaged community relations. Or the fact that we are encouraging gender dysphoric kids to transition before they hit puberty, despite evidence that these dysphoric feelings desist upon puberty in 60-90% of those who don’t transition, because presentation of such evidence is equivocated with transphobic bigotry. Or the encouraged minimization of sex differences in medical drug testing, which results in a deficit of testing in female subjects and thereby poses a real danger to women’s health.
A request for civility, then, is a request that we are able to debate such issues, issues that shape the world we live in and affect the core of many people’s lives. A request for political correctness (which usually comes in the form of more of a demand) is a request that we don’t engage with these complex topics because it’s deemed offensive to marginalized communities.
(As a personal gripe, it’s also done on behalf of members of marginalized communities, without consideration their individual opinions on the matter. That last tweet above by Matthew Chapman is one I find particularly annoying because I’m being told, by a white person, that the silencing effect I feel from political correctness is for my own benefit.)
In other words, when someone says “You ask for civility and yet you complain about political correctness, you hypocrite?”, I hear “You ask to be heard in conversations and yet you complain about being silenced in conversations, you hypocrite?”.