Posted on August 20, 2022

Is Political Correctness and Language Policing Weaponized to Exploit Minority Groups?

Nakary Williams, Blavity, August 18, 2022

In 1989, Michigan University became the first institution of higher learning to pass legislation prohibiting offensive language. The policing of language aims to influence the way a person speaks, especially if that person has considerable influence and their words have the capacity to insight discrimination or violence against marginalized groups. Most proponents of political correctness believe that the policing of language is a necessity that saves lives.

In a live online discussion via Zoom, Joel, a graduate student said, “No one is being deprived of free speech. Freedom of speech is a statutory right. However, we should be held accountable for what we say. People’s lives can be affected. Words harm.”

In theory, his rationale is valid. In practice, it poses several concerns. Who decides what constitutes harmful speech? Is it hate speech if my views offend you? Is it truly a progressive and democratic society if expressing one’s genuine feelings or thoughts is punishable? Who determines the punishment and the severity of such an offense?

To fully comprehend the potential danger of policing language, we must examine its role in history. In a public address made in December 1860, former slave Frederick Douglass said, “Liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist. To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.”


Political correctness and language policing have been weaponized to exploit minorities. It enables bigots to hide their ill-intent behind the use of politically correct language or action in performative ways in order to gain positive publicity and a larger fan base among minorities, despite having bigoted personal views on members of those groups. Additionally, in the event of being exposed for their bigotry, they utilize politically correct apologies to gain the public’s forgiveness and remain in a position of power.


The excessive use of political correctness and language policing has amplified intolerance towards minority groups. In a 2019 report published by GLAAD — the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization — their research revealed a further decline in LGBTQ acceptance among younger Americans.