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Political Correctness Is Evil

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Sometimes works consider political correctness to be taken too far, possibly presented through a Straw Feminist, Granola Girl or Soapbox Sadie who embodies the negative aspects of the PC movement. It may also involve Moral Guardians attempting to Bowdlerize a work in order to remove anything, no matter how trivial, that might be considered "offensive".

Often, those responsible are not only being overly cautious, they're actually oppressing the group that is the target of their actions, and are shocked should their targets explain that a patronizing, paternalistic attitude can be just as offensive as the perceived slight.

Usually, a range of urban myths are presented as examples of political correctness being taken too far, such as ...

  • Blackboards in school being renamed "chalkboards" to avoid offending black people. note 
  • Some schools having a "holiday tree" every "Winter Holiday Season", or even more drastic...
  • City councils banning Christmas to avoid offending Jews, Muslims, neopagans, and other non-Christian folknote 
  • Manholes being renamed "Personnel Access Units" to avoid offending women.
  • American public schools in California and other Western states banning clothing depicting the American flag in order to avoid inflaming students who identify as Mexican nationals. note 

There is occasionally an element of truth to these stories, in that something vaguely similar happened at least once somewhere, but it's the reaction that is truly "gone mad". More often, such stories are outright fabrications or Insane Troll Logic extrapolations of something relatively innocuous, such as wrongly assuming Everything Is Racist. Ironically, many current PC taboos are the unintended offspring of anti-PC hysteria, as mass media attention on these fictions leave ordinary people under the impression that such laws really exist, and should be obeyed.

See also Political Overcorrectness, where political correctness is parodied within a work.

In-Universe Examples Only

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    Anime & Manga 
  • There's an episode of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei about prejudice. Near the end of the episode, Nozomu is about to have sex with a gay man because he thought that turning down his advances would be offensive. He did not enjoy it.

  • One of George Carlin's last performances includes a rant about how the search for political correctness has masked the true nature of the things that are being renamed. He highlights this with the evolution of the term "Shell Shock" to what it's now usually called, "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder".
    • Earlier, he'd criticized feminists for going too far with certain concepts. He agreed with renaming policemen "police officers" and firemen "fire fighters", but drew the line at "person-hole covers".
      • "What do you call a ladies' man, a persons' person?"
    • The real evolution of "soldier's heart" (The American Civil War) to "shell shock" to "battle shock" to "combat stress" to PTSD is more complex and less about political correctness than about trying to accurately describe an experience. It started out in the 17th century as "nostalgia"!
  • Stewart Lee is actually in favour of political correctness and likes to lampshade the fact that right-wing newspapers routinely describe his act as "Tediously politically correct". His website contains a huge archive of press reviews of his work, including all the negative reviews.
    "David Cameron never mentions it, but the Conservative Party won a by-election in Birmingham, and they sent out little kids with leaflets that said, 'If you want a nigger for a neighbour, vote Liberal or Labour.' And if political correctness has achieved one thing, it's to make the Conservative Party cloak its inherent racism behind more creative language."
  • Ralphie May's stand-up routine, Just Correct. The theme of the act is that he thinks America is trying too hard to be politically correct, while his goal is not to be politically correct, but instead, just correct.
  • Frankie Boyle sometimes complains about political correctness, or as it was known in his day, spastic gay talk.

    Comic Books 
  • Superman's denouncing of his U.S. citizenship had people raving that an American hero was being taken from them for the sake of being PC. In reality, however, Superman's reasons make a lot of sense, he's a hero to everybody, not just the States, and he doesn't want to feel like he has to be loyal to just one country, when the whole world needs his help. Also a mistake, deliberate or otherwise, on the part of the author about looking into the matter of Superman's citizenship, because at one time it was stated that he held honorary citizenship in pretty much every single country in the world, already making him a citizen of Earth. Combined with this, his decision to renounce his American citizenship and only his American citizenship is why it's interpreted as a deliberate snub.
    • Incidentally, in the post-The Man of Steel/pre-Superman: Birthright continuity, he's technically a legal American citizen. Krypton, as depicted at that time, had their children raised in birthing matrices; Jor-El built a hyperdrive into it to save his unborn son, by the time it landed on Earth Kal-El is a natural-born American. One possible future in Armageddon 2001 shows he's eligible to run for President of the United States.

    Comic Strips 
  • Garfield also did this in a 2010 strip with the title character watching on TV cowboys in The Wild West dueling... with a lively game of tag. As expected, this ended up being perceived as a parody.
  • Retail:
    • One November story arc centered around Christmas trees being labeled as 'holiday trees' in the ad paper. Marla freaks out over this, knowing she was going to get complaints about it from irate customers. Sure enough, Grumbel's gets picketed, the local news ran a story on it, and the 'holiday trees' only sold about half as well as 'Christmas trees'. The worst part? It wasn't even on purpose. It was a proofreading error.
    • They can't win when it comes to greetings. If they say "Merry Christmas" someone gets offended.. If they say "Happy Holidays" someone gets offended. If they say nothing at all, someone gets offended.
    • This gets Played for Laughs in one strip, when Stuart greets a customer with "Merry Christmas", then when she expresses bafflement, changes it to "Happy Holidays". He then grumbles in his head about this trope, while she's baffled because it was the second day of October.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The David Zucker film An American Carol points out many of the fallacies, ill-logic and over the top rhetoric used by those who approve political correctness.
  • Christmas with a Capital C is a Christian film made against the "War on Christmas":
    • The main conflict is about the controversy of religious Christmas displays on the town's public property.
    • Dan's brother, Greg, goes on a tirade (that goes viral online) saying how he won't be forced to capitulate into wishing "Happy Holidays" and proudly states "Merry Christmas".
    • Dan himself outright complains of now being forced to wish "Happy Hanukah" or "Joyous Kwanza".
  • The film Uncommon, which was made as propaganda by the right-wing group Liberty Counsel, deals with a public high school that under the guise of "Political Correctness" bans all forms of religious expression and threatens the student's Bible-based play.

  • In the book version of Layer Cake, one chapter shows the protagonist at a barbershop with his con artist friend, who is pretending to be plummy aristocrat "Lord Hugo". In this persona, he expresses some very "Mailesque" views (reinstating national service, complaining about giving Hong Kong back to the "slope heads", etc.) and hearty endorsement from both the other patrons and the staff. At the same time, the protagonist is pretending to be a South American footballer who doesn't speak English and is addressed to his face as a dago and similar ethnic slurs.
  • Harry Flashman is an interesting case. He subverts Politically Correct History through being a man of views unremarkable in his time: extremely racist and politically incorrect, speaking of what we would consider unambiguously good individuals like anti-slavery activists as crazy liberals. However, the author increasingly uses him to point out the follies of the above as the series progresses.
  • Granted, he lived before political correctness existed, but Hugh "Bulldog" Drummond is definitely one of the most reactionary heroes in Edwardian mystery/suspense, even though he was written in an already pretty reactionary time. Drummond was fond of flogging communist villains to an inch of their lives and these villains tended to be Jewish intellectuals. In one encyclopedia of mystery fiction, the editor posits that were Drummond an actual person he would likely have become a committed Black Shirt during the 1930s and 40s.
  • Discworld:
    • The books feature a few jokes depicting people who object to the increasing numbers of non-humans in Ankh-Morpork as ill-informed buffoons at best.
    • Played for Drama in Jingo where, as part of a concerted effort to believe that Klatchians can be something other than ruthless, scheming criminals, Vimes appears to forget that it's still possible for one of them to actually be a ruthless, scheming criminal.
      71-Hour Ahmed: Be generous, Sir Samuel. Truly treat all men equally. Allow Klatchians the right to be scheming bastards.

    Live-Action TV 
  • DCI Gene Hunt from Life on Mars is highly politically incorrect and rather popular with the viewing public because of it. One of his more printable quotes is:
    Gene: Dealers are so scared, we're more likely to get Helen Keller to talk. The Paki's in a coma, the evidence is about as hard as Liberace's dick when he's looking at a naked woman, and all in all, this case is going about as fast as a bunch of spastics in a magnet factory! (Beat) What?
    Sam: I think you left out the Jews....
  • One subplot on The Sopranos involved the fiercely Italian guys from Tony's crew butting heads with a Native American group protesting their town's Columbus Day parade. note 
  • In one episode of Jonathan Creek, a police officer who rails against the death penalty being abolished turns out to have been the murderer and becomes the subject of a rather dark version of Hypocritical Humor. Subverted when Adam gets interested in endurance stunts, and has himself crucified in the park. Exactly zero people care.
  • A season two episode of Rescue Me Kenny insults Laura, the only female firefighter in the house. After her complaint to HQ, the firehouse is subjected to sensitivity training, complete with condescending instructor and even-more condescending video. On the instructor's question of "So what did we learn today?" Gavin's first answer is "only white people can be racist?" The fire crew then launch into a mockery of the entire sensitivity program.
  • From Doctor Who, when Martha meets William Shakespeare in the episode "The Shakespeare Code", she gets offended by the terms he uses to describe her. However, the Doctor points out afterward that none of the terms Shakespeare was using were intended as insults, indeed, he was trying to be polite and complimentary:
    Shakespeare: Who are you, exactly, and, more to the point, who is this gorgeous blackamoor lady?
    Martha: (British, of Ghanaian and Iranian descent) What did you say?
    Shakespeare: (apologizing) Oops. Isn't that a word we use nowadays? An Ethiop girl, a swarth, a Queen of Afric?
    Martha: (angry) I can't believe I'm hearing this.
    The Doctor: It's political correctness gone mad.
  • An entire episode of Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle is an extensive deconstruction of this phrase, defending political correctness.
  • The entire series of Love Thy Neighbour. Interestingly, it was made during a time when political correctness extended as far as not using the "N" word (at least not in public), but it seems to make a mockery of racism and intolerance as a whole despite the liberal use of derogatives.
  • Jeff Dunham:
    • His Very Special Christmas Special lampshades this trope at least twice:
      Jeff: Well, Walter, you look very festive. Happy Holidays!
      Walter: You know, there's something I've been wanting to say for a while: Screw you, it's Merry Christmas!
    • And later, with Achmed the Dead Terrorist, who has donned a Santa Claus hat for the occasion:
      Jeff: I like your Christmas hat.
      Achmed: Oh, don't say "Christmas"; it's a Holiday Hat.
      Jeff: Why can't I say Christmas?
      Achmed: It offends the other infidels.
      Jeff: You're afraid of offending people? But you're a terrorist; you kill people.
      Achmed: That's different. Killing folk is easy; being Politically Correct is a pain in the ass!
  • In the '60s Red Skelton gave a monologue on his television show in which he went over the Pledge of Allegiance, explaining the meaning of each line, and expressing his concern that the inclusion of the phrase "under God" would cause the Pledge to be labeled as a prayer and banned from public schools.
  • In the TV version of Pretty Little Liars, Emily's swim teammate's father accuses the team of giving Emily the spot over his daughter Paige because she's a... you know. The irony is that Paige is a lesbian, although one that is not out of the closet yet.
  • In The George Lopez Show, George mentions Max's school's multi-faith holiday play that had Abraham, Jesus, Muhammad and Buddha all celebrating Kwanzaa.
  • In Peep Show, Mark hates 'Political Correctness Gone Mad'. However this attitude is then parodied when Mark has an uncomfortable experience when he makes friends with Darryl, who also hates Political Correctness but turns out to be a racist.
  • JAG:
    • The very first appearance of Admiral Chegwidden on the show, in "Smoked", has him ranting a lengthy tirade about the state of political correctness imposed on the Navy in the wake of the Tailhook Scandal.
    • The same topic is furthermore alluded to many times by other characters in the first and second seasons, in less explicit terms.
  • In The West Wing President Bartlet, a devout Catholic, is given an almost 300-year old hand-drawn map of the Holy Land that he plans to frame and hang up in the White House, only to be told not to by his press-secretary, since some visitors might be offended by the map not recognizing the state of Israel.
    CJ: You can't put it up in the West Wing.
    Bartlet: CJ!
    CJ: It doesn't recognize Israel.
    Bartlet: There was no Israel in 1709.
    CJ: That's right.
    Bartlet: So, it's not on the map.
    CJ: Which is what some people are going to find offensive.
    Bartlet: That is ridiculous!
    CJ: You know what would be great?
    Bartlet: Me hanging it somewhere else? You know Leo has — in what used to be his house when he was married — a map of the United States. The first third of it is the 13 original colonies. The second third of it is the French territory of Louisiana. And the third third is Mexico. In this map of the United States, there is not a single state. That's because when this map was made there was no United States. I am the President of the United States and I am not offended by it.
    CJ: Well you're bigger than ten men, sir. What do you say we put it away?
    Bartlet: I'm having it enlarged and bolting it to the hood of my limo!
  • An episode of Murphy Brown had the news anchors forced to attend a "Cultural Sensitivity" seminar after an on-air discussion on acceptable terminology included seemingly-innocuous phrases that offended various groups. Murphy actually complained that "Cultural Sensitivity" was merely a euphemism for "Political Correctness". That's right, folks — the phrase "Political Correctness" is no longer politically correct.
  • In one episode of An Idiot Abroad, Ricky tells Karl that the term "Inuit" is preferable to "Eskimo", which leads Karl into a rant.
    Karl: Who's come up with that little problem for them? I've never heard an Eskimo moan about that. Why are they gonna be bothered? These people make little rules. You can't call a midget a "midget", they prefer "dwarf". Leprechauns don't like it--
    Ricky: [laughing] Leprechauns don't exist!
    Karl: It's the same thing, though. If they did, they'd go, "Don't call 'em that—"
    Steve: What do leprechauns prefer to be called?
    Karl: [beat] Gnomes, or... [Ricky and Steve burst out laughing]
  • One episode of Criminal Minds deals with this trope. The protagonist realize the serial killer who's been killing black women in the city is black himself and was using his race to avoid suspicion with his victims and the police. However, the Mayor refuses to allow the FBI to revealed this to the media as he's been accused of being a racist by the public for allowing black women to be killed while the killer(who the public thinks is white) has yet to be caught and this new information would only make things worse.
  • Last Man Standing frequently mocks this. In one episode, when Mandy asks Mike to give a speech at her college's graduation ceremony, free speech advocate Mike gets angry when they tell him it has to be free of "micro-aggressions" such as saying America is "a place where anyone can succeed" (because not everyone who lives in the country is successful and it might make the audience members feel bad). Mike refuses to speak and beats the college at their own game by having a colleague of his who shares his views speak instead. Since she's a female Islamic immigrant from Pakistan, the school won't silence her out of fear of being accused of discriminating against women, Muslims, and Middle Eastern people.

    Print Media 

  • Brad Paisley and the Buckaroos released the "Cowboy Christmas Song", with the word Christmas getting bleeped, then the word White, finally leading them to sing the original version, ignoring the bleeps.
  • The USAF fighter pilot band Dos Gringos has a song called You Gotta Be In The Guard, which decries the increasing restrictions on fighter pilot behavior. The Air National Guard, according to them, is more lenient on conduct than the Air Force.

    News and Other Media 

  • In 1776, the revisions of the Declaration of Independence soon fall into this, with the more loyalist members dickering over the harshness of the language. The delegates force Jefferson to omit mention of the British Parliament and the war itself. He eventually draws the line when Dickinson tries to remove the word tyrant in reference to King George and orders the secretary, who has already scratched it out, to "scratch it back in."

    Web Original 
  • In an episode of You Know Whats Bullshit, James Rolfe explains how people used to say "Merry Christmas", then someone decided the phrase was offensive to people who did not celebrate Christmas and pushed to replace it with "Happy Holidays", then people complained that not being able to say "Merry Christmas" was offensive to them... in conclusion, James suggested to replace all those phrases with "Happy Shut The Fuck Up".
  • Seanbaby enlisted Frosty the Snowman to combat the War on Christmas in this comic from Cracked. What Frosty learns in his quest is A: the people whining about how offensive and exclusionary the word "Christmas" is are doing so on behalf of people who don't exist, and B: just let them whine, because Christmas is the most unkillable cultural achievement since pornography and it's not going anywhere.
    • Also from Cracked is this Quick Fix about "racist" incidents that weren't actually racist. Although, to be fair, #3 on that list involves a word that is rarely used anymore, so the confusion caused by that one makes sense.
  • This is inverted by Moviebob in his Big Picture video "Correctitude", where he claims that it's political incorrectness that's gone mad. More specifically, he feels that "PC" has been turned into a strawman by people trying to defend their sexism and bigotry.
  • SF Debris: Chuck's review of the Star Trek: Discovery episode "Through the Valley of Shadows", he discusses how a number of fans had taken offense to Pike's horrified reaction to seeing his future (with the incident that left him fully paralyzed in his iconic chair), claiming that it represents an overly negative view of people with disabilities. Chuck points out that there is nothing remotely ableist about showing a character traumatized by a traumatic event.note 
  • Tumblr blog Plebcomics focuses a lot of its content on this. And on starting flame wars.
  • Deconstructed in a blog post by Neil Gaiman, in which he observes that the more accurate term for declining to insult people for their culture or skin color is not "Political Correctness" but simply "Treating Other People With Respect." He proposed that replacing the phrase in your head would be "peculiarly enlightening."
    "I know what you’re thinking now. You’re thinking 'Oh my god, that’s treating other people with respect gone mad!'"
    • Internet users promptly created browser extensions to do just that, transforming headlines into howlers such as "The real danger of treating people with respect", "Treating people with respect is fueling homegrown extremism," and "NC senator compares treating people with respect to Nazi book burnings."

    Western Animation 
  • In one later season King of the Hill episode, a "diversity expert" was brought in to Tom Landry Middle School by the school board to make sure all the different minorities were "cooperating". He singled out Bobby's carnival committee to do a few experiments and eventually just heaped racial guilt on each member for things their respective cultures were responsible for. When Bobby insisted the students get back to work on the carnival, the expert made a comparison to the Nazi Holocaust, and given that Bobby's grandpa Cotton is a WWII veteran, it really got to him. Instead of a carnival, the kids decided to just announce their "guilt" of various global atrocities until a riot almost started because they didn't finish the carnival. Hank, Peggy, and the other parents finished putting together the carnival, and the diversity expert weaseled out of any punishment by claiming it was his idea.
    • In one Halloween episode, a overly religious woman complains about the celebration of Halloween, making it out to be offensive and satanic. As the whole neighborhood gets swept up by her nonsense, it ends up falling to the Halloween-loving Hank to step in and try to be the voice of reason.
  • In one episode of The Simpsons, Ned Flanders is shown watching EVERY TV show and finds something "offensive" or just something to complain about on all he sees, except for two shows. If that's not Political Correctness literally Gone Mad... It doesn't stop there; even his sons tell him, in their own way, that he's gone off the deep end.
    • Grampa Simpson once typed a letter in a similar vein, requesting certain vulgar terms aren't put on air, including one that was said in an earlier scene in the same episode.
    • The episode "The Man Who Came To Be Dinner" had a Bland-Name Product version of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride get altered "after two people complained," resulting in a "Don't Objectify Your Conquest" sign, imprisoned pirates recycling, a ship's figurehead reading Our Bodies, Ourselves, and a condemned criminal on the gallows being executed for bias.
  • Family Guy has an episode where Brian posts a mildly offensive joke on Twitter that goes viral and results in the Griffins becoming social pariahs. It gets to the point where they can't even leave the house without being harassed so Brian attempts to make a public apology, which leads to this:
    Brian: Ladies and gentlemen, I'm here today to apologize-
    Man: Why did you say "Ladies" first? That's sexist.
    Brian: It's just, it's just a-a standard greeting. Let-let me start over. Gentlemen and ladies-
    Woman: Ooh, says the man.
    Brian: Okay, sorry, I-I... Um, humans in the audience-
    Man 2: I identify as a basketball.
    Brian: Humans and basketballs-
    Man 3: I'm a parrot who mimics words but doesn't comprehend them.
    Brian: Humans, basketballs, talking parrots, and-and whatever else is out there...
    Woman 2: "Whatever"? It's whoever.
    Woman 3: Actually, it's whomever.
    Woman 2: No one likes you, Mary.
    Brian: All right, all right, just-just calm down, okay?
    Woman 4: Now you're tone policing us!
    Man 4: That makes me uncomfortable. Anything that makes me uncomfortable in 2017 should be illegal.

Alternative Title(s): Political Correctness Is Bad