In our last meeting, we were able to narrow down the essay questions to one : Is political correctness compatible with freedom of speech? We’ve found that this question is best understood through the use of case studies. It should be noted that our group will only address cases that have occurred within a liberal democracy. Therefore, our methodology will mainly focus on case studies. We want to look at two distinct cases; one case will be a political speech, while the other will be an advertisement. As such, in our next meeting, each person will bring their own cases and we will collectively choose the best two cases that fit our argument.
We will be looking at the legality of it. How do states and corporations address offensive language? What can be considered as ‘offensive’ and how can we measure it? Even if it were possible to measure it, how can it be enforced? And should this type of rhetoric be viewed as a criminal offense. Obviously, we can see how contested this topic is. However, the aforementioned questions just highlight how difficult it is to actually enforce political correctness.
Another way of looking at the case studies is through the morality lens. Is it morally acceptable to restrict people’s use of language? I personally think that this is the most important sub-question, because of the implications that come from policing language. It could be a dangerous tool and, to some extent, a totalitarian instrument.
‘Should political correctness be more valued than freedom of expression, or vice versa,’ is another normative question that may be considered in the research.
Finally, there seems to be a paradox. Liberal democracies claim to be free and tend promote freedom of expression/speech. However, enforcing political correctness and policing language appears to infringe on those rights. Our research ultimately falls on this; it does not seem possible to have both freedom of speech and political correctness, while also maintain the ‘liberal’ democracy status. There are many examples in Canada and the UK, which show that people can be prosecuted for the words that they say.