Corrections on Political Correctness

 Word Nerd at work.

I’ve always called myself a grammar nazi, but I’ve decided to quit doing so because it’s just not politically correct. Speaking of political correctness, I’d like to discuss a remark made by Carol McKonkie in General Conference on Sunday.  It wouldn’t make sense to complain about “grammar” here anyway.  My issue is not with her talk (I liked it), but with her incorrect use of words; specifically the words politically and incorrect.

I must set the record straight on this issue. When we speak of politics, we are speaking of the way that we manage our affairs in public.  Politic is where we get the word polite from.  In adverb form, we use the term politically, to describe our behavior in public. This is a very commonly misused term.  The correct term is politicly, an adverb describing tactful and diplomatic behavior.  Either way, the terms have come to mean the same thing. 

In her General Conference talk on Sunday, Mckonkie said:

According to the world’s standards, following the prophet may be unpopular, politically incorrect, or socially unacceptable. But following the prophet is always right.

When she uses the term politically incorrect, McKonkie is implying that it is okay to offend people when religion is involved. It’s a simple misunderstanding of the term, but implicit in that misunderstanding is permission to cause discomfort for others.  Political incorrectness can also be applied to so what? and it’s what I believe, just deal with it attitudes.  We share the gospel with others because it makes us happy and we want others to share in our happiness.  How can we make others happy or convince them that they want our happiness when we begin by making them feel uncomfortable around us?

I believe in, and support Thomas S. Monson as a living prophet.  Being a free-agent gives me the right to do so.  That same agency affords my neighbor the right to reject a living prophet, and even to reject Jesus Christ as her savior, but it doesn’t give me the right to reject my neighbor or to behave in an offensive manner towards her.  My belief in a living prophet may not be popular or even socially acceptable, but as long as I am not pushing my beliefs on others, my belief in a living prophet is politically correct.

Purposeful political incorrectness is damaging to the first precept of the church’s mission “to proclaim the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. (Spencer W. Kimball, Ensign, May 1981 pg. 5)” No one will be interested in hearing more about the Gospel if we are busy offending everyone.

If I could, I would ammend Mckonkie’s statement:

According to the world’s standards, following the prophet may be unpopular, politically incorrect, or socially unacceptable. But following the prophet is always right.

And then I would be able to agree with her.

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