(Written 7 May 2016. Corrigendum below)
One often reads the following definition of political correctness. "Someone who is politically correct believes that language and actions that could be offensive to others, especially those relating to sex and race, should be avoided." Here. Merriam-Webster, Wikipedia, and other sources offer similar definitions.
This is not at all what 'political correctness' means when used by people in the know. The above definition conflates being politically correct with being polite, civil, and respectful of others and it conflates being politically incorrect with being rude, offensive, and disrespectful of others. For example, Donald Trump was not being politically incorrect when he made his vile comments about Megan Kelly and Carly Fiorina. He was being rude and offensive in a politically foolish display of misogyny.
It is worth noting that in some cases rude and offensive speech is justified as a response to same. Justified or not, the politically incorrect and the rude/offensive/disrespectful are separate categories. A Venn diagram may help where the A region below contains politically incorrect statements and behaviors, the B region contains rude/offensive/disrespectful statements and behaviors, and the intersection of the two classes contains statements and behaviors that are both.
For example, suppose someone says, 'Broads do not belong in the Navy SEALs or the Army Rangers.' This statement is both rude/offensive/disrespectful and politically incorrect while 'Women do not belong in Navy SEALs or the Army Rangers' is politically incorrect but not (objectively) offensive. Of course, one might take inappropriate offense at the second statement, but that is his or her problem. People, cry bullies and liberals especially, take offense at the damndest things!
One way to define a term is extensionally by giving a list of the items to which it applies. These are the items that fall within the extension of the term. I will now provide a list of some politically incorrect statements and then ask what they have in common. This will allow us to pin down the intension of the term 'politically incorrect,' and from there the intension of 'politically correct.' Here then are some politically incorrect statements:
- Blacks are incarcerated in proportionally greater numbers than whites because they commit proportionally more crimes.
- Not only do black lives matter; all lives matter including the lives of law enforcement agents and the lives of the unborn.
- While Muslims qua Muslims ought not be barred from political office, Sharia-supporting Muslims ought to be.
- The killing of innocent human beings is a grave moral evil, and this includes the killing of pre-natal human beings.
- At the present time, the majority of terrorists in the world derive their ideological support from one religion, Islam.
- The Crusades were defensive wars.
- The purpose of taxation is to raise monies to cover the costs of governance, not to redistribute wealth.
- Free market economies under the rule of law are more likely to lead to human flourishing than socialist economies.
- There was no moral equivalence between the USA and the USSR.
- Women are 'underrepresented' in philosophy, not because of 'sexism' or a male conspiracy to exclude them, but because of the following factors: women as a group are not as interested in philosophy as men are; the feminine nature is averse to the argumentative and occasionally 'blood sport' aspect of philosophy; women as a group are just not as good at philosophy as men, where exceptions such as Elizabeth Anscombe prove the rule.
- Apart from the STEM disciplines, the universities of the land have become leftist seminaries, hotbeds of leftist indoctrination. They have lost touch with their noble ideals and traditions.
- Equality of opportunity is no guarantee of equality of outcome, and it is fallacious to argue from inequality of outcome to sexism or racism as the cause.
- Political correctness is a major threat to the values of the West including the West's commitment to open debate, toleration, and free inquiry.
So there you have a baker's dozen of politically incorrect statements. There are plenty more where those came from. I would say that each is true, though I will grant that some are rationally debatable. But whether true or false, rationally defensible or indefensible, they are all clear examples of politically incorrect statements.
Now what do they have in common in virtue of which they are all instances of political incorrectness? The most important common feature is that each opposes the contemporary liberal or leftist or 'progressive' worldview. To be politically correct, then, is to support the leftist worldview and the leftist agenda. It follows that a conservative cannot be politically correct.
P.C. comes from the C.P. The P. C. mentality is a successor form of the Communist mentality. To be politically correct is to toe the party line. It is to support leftist positions and tactics, including the suppression of the free speech rights of opponents. Essential to leftism is the double standard. So while the politically correct insist on their own free speech rights, they deny them to their opponents, which is why they routinely shout them down.
While many leftists employ double standards, the characteristically hard-Left tactic is Alinskyite in nature as explained here.