These days it's becoming common for people to say they are opposed to political correctness. They are so fed up with stupid legislation, stupid rules, an apparent obsession with controlling people's behaviour, that they refuse to allow the free expression of their views to be curtailed just because someone might think them politically incorrect.
Any viewpoint which can be labelled as politically incorrect acquires a kind of rogue currency, the cry of the rebel, the refusal to be kept quiet. Anyone who tries to limit the expression of those views is regarded as the enemy, someone to be campaigned against, fought against.
What gets lost in this grass-roots rejection of control is any consideration of the content of the views. So the expression of any and every viewpoint, however odious or prejudiced, is regarded as a fight for freedom. And any criticism of those views is assumed to be on the side of the politically correct. This is a remarkably effective smoke-screen for extreme right wing views, racist prejudice, and anti-democratic campaigning.
As a result of the highlighting of prejudiced attitudes, and various items of legislation to outlaw discrimination, those people who feel their views are under attack have used the term political correctness to imply that they are being forced to shut up. But in fact, what has happened is that a lot of people are so fed up with the xenophobic and racist prejudices, the little-England mentality, the scaremongering about people from other countries, that they want to live in a country that doesn't support those views.
As cultures mingle and international influences are seen in the arts and literature, film and TV, those people who are open to outside influence, find the closed and suspicious attitude of nationalists quite offensive. Unfortunately, many of those people are so accommodating that they typically avoid confrontation. Instead of defending their viewpoint, their internationalism and open cultural attitudes, they keep quiet.
The xenophobes spout their racist nonsense insisting that they are defending their right to speak and the liberals, who of course defend free speech, don't object. But what we need are clear arguments which oppose racist views, those snide prejudiced comments that the Brits often produce whenever they talk about immigration and foreigners.
Anyone who opposes the arguments against immigration are dismissed as politically correct and the arguments are never addressed. Many newspapers love to pander to prejudice and dismiss any contrary views with the simple epithet.
Sure, we can all be irritated by excessive legislation and silly restrictions, but there are some fundamental principles at stake. Why should someone's right to express racist views force foreign people in the UK to be subjected to prejudiced treatment? Why should someone have to experience discrimination so that some bigot can have free rein in expressing their views? Expressing views which encourage discrimination and prejudice is illegal for good reason, because doing do injures the rights of others. Expressing views implies some responsibilities too and that's why the law balances them.
Unfortunately, with so many people objecting to political correctness without thinking through the consequences, the racists and xenophobes have found a comfortable cover behind which to hide, whilst continuing to spout their odious views. We can and should expose racism and xenophobia for what it is and challenge anyone who tries to hide behind some fight against political correctness.
It is becoming too easy for odious views to find an acceptable justification behind a simplistic campaign against regulation. Racism is not politically correct because such views are prejudiced, ill-informed, and discriminatory. That's why they should be opposed.