Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Political Correctness, How Much Is Too Much?


Let me make it clear now, I do not hate ANYONE, especially not based on superficial reasons such as skin color, straight/bi/gay, religion, or language spoken. Hate, to me, is a waste of energy and time. I have better things to do than hate people. This is just one of many opinions of an opinionated person.

This morning I read a blog that dealt, in part, with representation of races/sexual orientations in writing. And that got me thinking, how much is too much when it comes to political correctness?

I have no problem with putting diversity into our writing, none at all. But when writers do so just to reduce that risk of insulting someone, that's when I start to wonder if people have gotten too sensitive. I mean, why should we be insulted if what we are isn't represented by a particular movie/book/television show? If we require the books we read and the shows we watch to tells us that we're important or what we think/do/look like is okay, maybe we need to work on our self-esteems. Or reevaluate ourselves.

But going back to the original topic, if we let the possibility of insult dictate how we write, what's next? Will we have to put in an equal number of people of every race and sexual orientation, just so someone somewhere out there doesn't get mad because that one particular book doesn't have what they are represented? What about religions? Should we have to include a character of every belief system out there too, even if it has absolutely nothing to do with the story? To be honest, I more often identify people, both real and my characters, through personalities, dreams, interests, and actions. Not whether they are a specific religion, race, gender, disability, or straight/bi/gay.

I believe the tendency to lean toward being over-politically-correct in an attempt to avoid insulting someone just increases hate. I know that isn't the intention behind it, but I think that is what it accomplishes, by continuously focusing on the differences between us, instead of the similarities. Believe me, growing up as the 'white kid' on a native reservation with my white mother after she divorced my native/black father, I learned the hard way what focusing on differences does.

Admittedly, I've not put much thought of racial, etc diversity in what I'm currently writing, since my characters are part of an entirely imaginary world. So far as anyone knows, the majority of the people could speak in a language made up of hiccups or have chartreuse skin with neon pink polka-dots. Not that they do, but they could, and unless I made it an important detail, it really wouldn't make a lick of difference to the actual story... I think I just gave myself a headache picturing someone that looked like that, but you get the idea.

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