When Did Political Correctness Go Mad?

Political Correctness is, as you might expect, a contentious issue. The phrase means different things to different people. Trying to summarise it succinctly is no doubt going to exclude the psychological angle, or the socio-political angle, or is going to be far too shallow for linguists.

It’s one of those subjects that can involve experts from very different fields who all see it through different prisms.

Further Reading:

George HW Bush On Political Correctness (Part 1 Of 3):

Alan Whicker On Duvalier:

Political Correctness Gone Mad – Psychology Today

Political correctness: how the right invented a phantom enemy – The Guardian


  1. I dislike the concept of political correctness because, to me, it is shorthand for "the left engages in censorship and the right champions free speech." It is a quick and easy way of propogating a narrative, and ironically for the people who love to use the term disparagingly, the term itself stifles discussion of actual issues.

    I guess my stance on political correctness is "I don't really care, can we talk about something that actually matters."

  2. 8:22 Kathy Gtiffith! I remember that whole press conference. She was very upset because a lot of people kept personally attacking and criticizing her after personally attacking and criticizing Trump. The whole thing was a circus. She didn't deserve to be bashed so harshly, but she did reproduce the decapited head of someone for a photograph so I guess she was looking for a response… not that kind of response I guess.

  3. That's a fair summary 🙂 At its core, "Political Correctness" is a well-intentioned attempt to encourage people to be a bit more sensitive and not be dicks to other people quite so much, particularly disadvantaged groups. I'm a child of 1980s, which was probably the last generation before Political Correctness went mainstream. When I was a schoolkid it was common to call other kids a "spaz" or a "Joey" if they fell over or f**ked up. That's reprehensibly insensitive language by modern standards, but – even back then – people would've thought twice about knowingly using such insults within earshot of a person with an actual disability.

    We only really use the term "Political Correctness" to refer to the aspects that we personally think take the concept too far – and we reserve "Political Correctness gone mad" to refer to the aspects that we think are particularly over-the-top. The aspects that we don't have any problem with are simply accepted without comment as reasonable.

    IMHO, the "gone mad" variety is usually the result of overzealous people over-thinking things, identifying and eliminating potential points of offence on behalf of some minority or other – who, if they had actually bothered to poll that group's opinions, probably weren't bothered at all. Was any "person of colour" ever truly offended by a blackboard and demanded that it be called a chalkboard instead? It seems unlikely.

  4. You explained this so well for both sides so much better than fully funded TED ED did when they baisedly described Populism in comparison to their praise of other ideologies.