In fact, it doesn't necessarily denote “incorrectness”at all.
It is true that, as used, politically correct language often is ineffective and even counterproductive. And, yes, it also is used to promote causes with which some people disagree and is used by people with whom partisan adversaries differ. But none of the above disqualifies or credibly challenges its validity or its intent.
The Merriam-Webster online Dictionary defines “Politically Correct” as, “conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities (as in matters of sex or race) should be eliminated.”
Why would anyone “offend the political sensibilities” of anyone if such offense could be avoided by a simple, easy shift in vocabulary? Of course, in our belligerently partisan culture there are some who are offended that anyone would dare disagree with them. By extension, I suppose they would consider it politically incorrect to do so.
Wikipedia, the online free dictionary, says political correctness “is a term that refers to language, ideas, or policies that address perceived or actual discrimination against or alienation of politically, socially or economically disadvantaged groups. … These groups most prominently include those defined by gender, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation and disability.”
The emphasis is on “political, social or economic disadvantage.” In my personal observation, most of those who scorn political correctness also believe social or economic disadvantage is purely and solely the result of personal choice and laziness. Thus, I suppose the logical extension is that political correctness gives credence to poor choices and laziness.
But Wikipedia goes a step further:
“Historically, the term was a colloquialism used in the early-to-mid 20th century by Communists and Socialists in political debates, referring pejoratively to the Communist "party line", which provided for "correct" positions on many matters of politics. The term was adopted in the later 20th century by the New Left, applied with a certain humor to condemn sexist or racist conduct as "not politically correct". By the early 1990s, the term was adopted by US conservatives as a pejorative term for all manner of attempts to promote multiculturalism and identity politics, particularly, attempts to introduce new terms that sought to leave behind discriminatory baggage attached to older ones, and conversely, to try to make older ones taboo..”
Aha! I had no idea that political correctness had such a long history, nor that it seems to have emerged out of communist rhetoric. But at least now I can understand why some people hold political correctness in disdain! “Guilt-by-association” has some limited validity; but to assign a whole category of language to the discard pile because of its origins is a bit over the top.
The Judeo/Christian lexicon is jam-packed with verbiage straight out of pagan worship and ritual! If we were to eliminate all words, phrases and verbal imagery that emerged from questionable sources, our language would be emaciated.
But “conversion” is at the heart of Christianity; thus the Judeo/Christian approach was to take language and verbal imagery from one reality and convert it (redefine it) into specific applications within Judeo/Christian ideology. As political correctness emerged out of Communist and Socialist (or “New Left”) ideologies, the correctness assumed the “party line.” It seems quite plausible that within another socio/political environment it could be converted to that environment’s ideological position.
For example, in the USA, political correctness thus would refer, at least in part, to the American ideals outlined in the preamble to the Constitution: “…to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…” In my estimation, any language or vocabulary that promotes those values is politically correct.
A side trip (hopefully to come back around to the main route): throughout the history of religions, virtually every creed and doctrine was established to eliminate heresy. In other words, historic creeds and doctrines generally are “exclusive.”
As I understand the teachings of Jesus, God’s Grace is “inclusive”—open to all who will receive it—and, by definition, without prerequisite qualifications. Thus, Grace precedes conversion or change; indeed, it is the only source and power by which one can be converted or transformed (cf. Romans 12:2) and is extended to the most undeserving of humanity!
I who have received Grace dare not—DARE NOT—approach another human ungraciously (though I confess to overwhelming failure in that intent! Thus, I stand condemned apart from God’s grace.)
I prefer the term, “inclusive” to “politically correct”. If I am to be a faithful witness to the Grace I have received, I will be careful to use language that does not exclude or overlook anyone. That effort sometimes is a pain in the neck, because we have not derived a suitable personal pronoun to replace “he” or “she”. Most people have resorted to using the plural, “they”, even when the subject is a singular person. The Grammar Nazi in me just won’t allow me to do that! I will intentionally type “he or she” or “he/she” instead. I understand that language progresses, and that my use of language will become (may already be) a relic archived alongside the King James Bible with its Elizabethan, Shakespearean language. I can live with that.
And, while I appreciate the value of traditions, and am not the least offended, for example, by the masculine references in the traditional Doxology (e.g., “Praise Him above, ye Heavenly Hosts!”), what could possibly by offensive about a more inclusive version:
“Praise God, from whom all blessings flow!
Praise God, all creatures here below!
Praise God above, ye heavenly Hosts!
Creator, Christ and Holy Ghost!”
Together in the Walk,