Many of you out there may not yet know of this story due to the fact that it comes from across the Atlantic in the home of our former Patron. The story, first reported by The Telegraph of London, details a policy move made by a local retail chain called Marks & Spencer. The policy put out by M&S management decreed that Muslims (who generally abstain from pork and alcohol) could choose not to serve customers wishing to purchase those products as a courtesy to those employees. The move drew immediate backlash from many local shoppers who felt the chain was placing political correctness above customer satisfaction. I understand that this story takes place in England where the rules are a bit different than they are for us, but it highlights a disturbing trend occurring here as well. That trend being the tendency of political correctness to get in the way of people living their lives.
This is something we see a lot of in America these days. Whether its atheist groups suing the government to take down monuments they deem offensive or Jesse Jackson demanding considerations from A&E over the remarks of some reality TV personality. All too often in America people are being told what they can and cannot say or do based on the notion that it might be offensive to someone, somewhere. Political correctness has indeed run amok in our great nation that used to be a bastion of free expression and thought. Now we are forced to censor ourselves for fear of offending some minority group or another; and by minority group I speak not only of racial or ethnic minorities but of all Minority groups. Religious minorities, social minorities, economic minorities, political minorities, all minority groups. With so many people in the world having so many differing points of view on just about every aspect of life, it is next to impossible for anyone to say something about anything without offending someone.
The First Amendment of the United States grants each of us the freedom to think, feel, pray and speak as we wish without fear of reprisal. Unfortunately that which grants us our freedom is now being used to take it away. People are using the First Amendment to attack people who say and do things they find offensive on the grounds that offensive speech somehow infringes on their own right to free speech. The First Amendment is not a shield that protects each of us from hearing and seeing things that offend us, in fact it is the opposite. It is a guarantee of our right to say and do things that might offend, that might rile feathers, that might upset the ruling class, that might contain a bit of painful truth.
The First Amendment does not grant you the freedom to silence me because my words offend you, but it does grant you the freedom to choose to ignore me. You do not have the freedom to upend your employer’s business because the product you sell offends you; but you do have the right to quit and find another job. You do not have the freedom to demand that a media outlet change their business practices because something you read in magazine upset you; but you do have the right to change the channel or read something else. The First Amendment does not grant you the right to bend society to your will. The First Amendment is there to protect the rest of us from being bent to the will of any one person or group.
At one time in our history we were a free country. Today we have been forced under the yolk of political correctness. We are forced to live our lives in placation to others. As our freedom to be who we are is annually diminished the question becomes, how much is enough? At what point does political correctness stop being “polite” and start being tyrannical?
photo credit: Thomas Hawk