Thursday, May 23Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

The Paradox of Militant Liberalism

Does the rise of political correctness have the potential to be just as oppressive as intolerance?

The internet has given young people a larger platform than ever before to air their views on the world and make their voices heard. No corner of the internet is more demonstrative of this than the popular blogging website Tumblr. Its users are outspoken on issues such as race and gender; it isn’t easy to scroll down your dashboard without encountering some sort of social commentary. Whilst it can only be a good thing that society is far more accepting of difference these days, what happens when it starts to go too far in the other direction – when social justice fighters police freedom of speech? Should I really be wracked with guilt every time I catch myself dancing to Blurred Lines on a night out? Does it mean I am a bad feminist who hates women, as many keyboard warriors would have me believe, or are we allowed some small flaws?

Extreme political correctness is just as censoring as intolerance. The readiness of the professionally offended to jump down the throat of anyone who makes any tiny assumption has created a pressure that stifles conversation and debate. I am not talking about open minded and accepting people who aren’t afraid to pull bigots up on their outdated views, but the raging, humourless PC brigade that make people fear positive change. Frankly, it is exhausting trying to be completely PC at all times – and believe me, I have tried. It also tends to turn people into tiresome bores whose minds are so occupied with social justice that no fun is to be had anymore; no conversation can be about anything but their unwavering views on society.

These militant idealists are just as bad as bigots at closing their minds to the views of others, and it is difficult to have a proper debate with them without feeling attacked. There is a way to encourage acceptance and diversity, and denouncing anyone who is not perfectly versed in political correctness at all times as evil is not the way to do it. Yes, pull people up on ignorant and outdated views – but allow yourself, and others, some slack. It is ok to put down your weapons for one night and just be.