Political Correctness Gone Viral

In Carl Fox & Joe Saunders (eds.), Media Ethics, Free Speech, and the Requirements of Democracy. London: pp. 125-143 (2019)
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Communicative practices in online and social media sometimes seem to amplify political conflict, and result in significant harms to people who become the targets of collective outrage. Many complaints that have been made about political correctness in the past, we argue, amount to little more than a veiled expression of resentment over the increasing influence enjoyed by progressive activists. But some complaints about political correctness take on a different complexion, in light of the technologically-driven changes to our communicative practices and political discourse. Given the ways in which they are entangled in these new forms of online communication, well-meaning attempts to police the norms of political correctness may end up contributing to individual wrongs, or to destructive social patterns. In this paper we examine these worries, situate them in a broader sociological context, and offer some tentative proposals about how they might be addressed.
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