Neil Gaiman made a rather good observation about the meaning of the phrase "political correctness" a few days ago, which you may have seen shared around. I think it's important, because complaints about political correctness invariably seem to boil down to feeling that one's own ability to express oneself is being limited by other people's unfair claims of being offended by what you're saying about them – which, at the end of the day, boils down to wanting to say something even though it offends people.
I have no objection (as my regular readers may have noticed) to offending people, but when I do it, I like to do it on purpose,
and at great and detailed length.
Or put another way: If I say something not knowing that it'll offend someone, that's one thing. If they've already made it clear that what I'm saying is offensive, then if I say it anyway it's quite reasonable for anyone to assume that I'm saying it on purpose, and quite definitely mean to offend them. To claim that their claim of being offended is invalid is nonsense; anyone has the right to be offended by anything, and it's simply up to others to take that into account in their own behavior. Not randomly offending people for the sake of doing so would, in fact, be a good definition of "treating people with respect."
And yet, people refer to "political correctness" as though it were an imposition upon them, a creeping danger that we will all be forced to... well, given the context of the above, treat other people with respect, even if that means not saying the first thing that comes into our head. This would be why I treat complaints about "political correctness" with a certain degree of suspicion.
shared the output of a little browser extension to apply the Neil Gaiman Transform to everything online. The results say something rather interesting about how that phrase gets (mis)used in the press.
h/t +John Arrington Woodward
for the link to the latter.