Culture Challenge of the Week: Politically Correct Speech
As our children head back to school, parents need to teach them this truth: Words matter.
Many public schools, whether purposely or not, promote the liberal agenda through curriculum choices, print and video materials, and guest speakers. As we head into election season, parents can expect to see the same thing happening on a magnified scale, as teachers and schools insist that students use only politically correct speech. The NEA and the leftist nonprofits swarming around public schools will see to that.
The words chosen by teachers and administrators to describe sensitive cultural issues shape students’ perceptions of those issues. Teachers know that. They have tremendous power to influence the children under their care — your children.
Teachers who buy into the liberal agenda eagerly foist the liberal worldview on their students by modeling politically correct language. When necessary, they will correct a student’s choice of non-politically correct words, all in the name of sensitivity and tolerance.
Even teachers who believe in biblical morality or perhaps lean conservative, may fall into the politically palatable word trap. They’ve been persuaded that using certain words and avoiding others is the right thing to do. Deviation from the approved script might offend someone or appear culturally insensitive.
Free speech becomes “favored speech.” Some words are preferable to others, and the use of the “unfavored” can spell social death.
Once the favored speech and word choices of liberal activists creep into a school and become part of the official lexicon, students can feel enormous social pressure to conform. As a result, students from religious or conservative backgrounds may find themselves using the language of the left, whether on purpose — to fit in and avoid ridicule — or unthinkingly.
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Encourage your children to use charitable, respectful language in all circumstances, but urge them to be strong and clear about the truth. Use the language of reality — God’s reality — to describe culturally sensitive issues. Provide a strong example yourself, too.
Ask your children to explain their understanding of politically correct words and phrases. Correct their perceptions as necessary. Consider the two examples below, but be alert for other phrases that demand explanation.
• “Hate speech” — For the liberal left, hate speech means language that suggests disapproval and nonacceptance of homosexuality, abortion or other immoral behavior.
Does your child understand that supporting traditional marriage is not hate speech? Neither is public disapproval of homosexual behavior. Speaking the truth about homosexual behavior — that it’s a disordered inclination and a sin in God’s eyes — is not hate speech. It is the truth, and must be spoken in love, as Scripture tells us, with compassion and sensitivity.
Speech doesn’t become “hateful” just because it makes others feel uncomfortable, sad or troubled. Sensitivity and prudence, however, require us to consider when to speak the truth and to whom.
• “Marriage equality” — This fall, Maryland voters will face a referendum on whether to approve the legislature’s attempts to create marriage equality for homosexuals.
How teachers frame the issue matters greatly. Will they describe the referendum as a vote on whether to support marriage equality or to deny lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-questioning people equal rights?
To impressionable students, the issue becomes simple: “Equality” is a red, white and blue American value, so gays should have it, too. But marriage equality is not only misleading, it puts students who support marriage as traditionally defined (between one man and one woman) in the uncomfortable position of being against that great American value, “equality.”
Does your child understand that attempts to redefine marriage to include homosexual relationships do not pivot on the question of equality? All of us are equal in dignity before God. All Americans possess equal human and civil rights.
Marriage, however, has a history (and a meaning) that is ancient from the first days of creation, and the practical reality is that only men and women create babies together through sexual intercourse. Marriage is designed to create families that bond mothers to fathers, creating the optimal home for rearing the child they created together.
Politically correct language can’t change reality, no matter how hard liberals try. Help your child distinguish truth from liberal talking points.
First appeared in the Washington Times on 8/19/2012
Rebecca Hagelin serves on Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk Board of Directors and is the author of "30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family." To purchase her book and reach her directly, visit HowToSaveYourFamily.com.