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.