College PC Culture: It’s Not About Offending But Respecting | WABE 90.1 FM

College PC Culture: It’s Not About Offending But Respecting

Oct 19, 2015

Merriam-Webster defines the term politically correct as “agreeing with the idea that people should be careful to not use language or behave in a way that could offend a particular group of people.”

UGA Professor Peter Smagorinsky explains the growing politically correct culture on college campuses and what it really means. ''I wouldn’t say it’s not to offend, but to be respectful.''
Credit Alison Guillory / WABE

Adhering to a so-called politically correct ideology might make it difficult for some comedians to practice their craft.

“I don’t play colleges, but I hear a lot of people tell me, ‘Don’t go near colleges, they’re so PC,' ” comedian Jerry Seinfeld said during an interview with ESPN last summer.

Even President Barack Obama recently weighed in on the growing trend of political correctness at colleges and universities.

“I don’t agree that you, when you become students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of view,” the president said during a town hall meeting in Iowa last month.

College campuses have traditionally offered an environment for students to question the norm and to ask questions about all kinds of sensitive topics and issues.

University of Georgia College of Education professor Peter Smagorinsky said during a discussion on “Closer Look” that some believe political correctness has evolved into a form of policing offensive speech.

But Smagorinsky also acknowledged that there’s actually very little agreement on what the term PC actually means, although he said it does have something to do with consideration for others.

“What we call political correctness is designed to counter the idea that you can just say whatever you want about another group of people,” he explained.

“I think there’s so much embedded in language that we have to think about so that we’re careful, I wouldn’t say it’s not to offend, but to be respectful,” Smagorinsky added.

For more on the professor’s view on political correctness and more, listen to ‘Closer Look.”

WABE's Mary Claire Kelly, Rose Scott and Denis O'Hayer contributed to this report.