The Ongoing Battle of Political Correctness

By: Garrett Wymer Email
By: Garrett Wymer Email

Follow Garrett Wymer on Facebook and Twitter.

STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) -- There's a growing push to be politically correct, trying not to offend people unnecessarily; however, is it going too far?

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

That's in our Bill of Rights, but what about society's unwritten rules when it comes to words and symbols that some might find offensive?

The Cleveland Indians baseball team is phasing out its Indian logo, trading in the infamous Chief Wahoo for the inconspicuous block-letter "C."

Another team that raises the eyebrows of some, the Washington Redskins.

"It's an insult, a slur, no matter how benign the present-day intent. It's fair to say for a long time now - and certainly in 2013 - no offense has been intended. But if you take a step back, isn't it clear to see how offense might legitimately be taken?" said Bob Costas during a Sunday Night Football broadcast.

Where do we draw the line?

There is no one answer and it's a debate further fueled by perhaps an unlikely source, a profile in January's GQ magazine.

The article, "What The Duck?" put "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson in the cross-hairs.

"The world is changing. The country's changing. And even the state in which Mr. Robertson lives is changing. And he needs to get in line," said Wilson Cruz, a GLAAD spokesman.

A controversy and its consequences that sparked outrage on both sides and brought to the surface an underlying issue, the ability to say what we feel.

"We are labeled as intolerant, as bigots, as narrow-minded, as fundamental, as judgmental, when all we're doing is sharing our deeply-held beliefs," said Dr. John Sloop, a former pastor, who is now a member of the Valley Family Forum, a group that advocates for traditional values.

"Once you label somebody as a bigot, it's sort of a conversation stopper," said Rita Dunaway, an attorney as well as a member of the Valley Family Forum.

Both said they're concerned about the backlash when Christians express their beliefs, as they say Robertson did when he explained sin to the magazine, "Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men... it's not right," said Robertson in the interview.

He also paraphrased a passage from 1 Corinthians, "Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers - they won't inherit the kingdom of God."

"Should they be using the pulpit to hammer out a political agenda? I don't think so, but unfortunately that's what happens a lot," said Mary Stern, a clinical social worker, college professor and a volunteer with a local gay support group.

She says views like Robertson's in themselves are not bigoted or close-minded and don't need to be silenced; however, when some take steps to restrict people's rights, she said that's when attitudes need to change.

When asked if there is there room for another viewpoint, she responded, "Well, there are some things we shouldn't tolerate a compromise on, for instance, a person's right to live their life with all the benefits and liberties of society that any other citizen has."

Even if neither side will budge, both understand the value of debate.

"When you set aside the labels, and you say, 'OK, tell me what your argument is,' people will respond," said Dunaway.

"If you're only looking to listen, you don't even have to move from right or left. You just stay put. All you have to do is listen," said Stern.

Looking again at the First Amendment, Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech.

While Congress has not, our culture has.

So when it comes to controversy, who should we follow?

That's something only you can answer.


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