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HAT Forum - Alternatives to Political Correctness

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Political Correctness (PC) is about changing the ways we communicate to better reflect many of the realities within a society and not just the dominant ones. PC rests on the premise that language usage constrains and shapes thoughts and actions as well as expressing them and so it is very important to speak “correctly”.

In the School of Life Video (, they propose an Alternative to Political Correctness: Politeness.

1.     How do you feel about PC as a value to guide interactions:

a)     Between government and citizens?

b)     In the workplace?

c)     In statements made by all public figures (actors, athletes, business leaders, community leaders etc.)? In advertising, media, journalism?

d)     Between individuals in social settings or interactions between strangers?

2.     The video points out reasons why PC has upset a large cross section of society (and maybe fed the worldwide rise of popularist politcians)

a)     PC invites uncomfortable self-examination and change

b)     PC makes us feel guilty for our part in oppression that we never even knew existed let alone thought we were complicit in.

c)     PC makes us feel guilty for our very thoughts, not just our actions

Do you agree with these points? Do they go too far or not far enough?

3.     One of the stated differences between PC and the stated alternative, Politeness, is that Politeness is universal versus zeroing in on the distress of particular groups. Can this limit the effectiveness of Politeness especially when biases are not even recognized?

4.     Are some of the advantages of politeness over PC simply about how either way is put into practise? Cannot PC be “gently taught”? Can politeness not be wielded like a cudgel for power in the same way PC has been at times?

5.     Politeness can look like a way forward for interpersonal interactions but can it be scaled up to be used for societal or institutional guidance?

Later Event: August 12
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