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Political incorrectness can be problematic or useful

My family says I am sometimes too politically incorrect. If so, it is mostly unintentional, unless I want to humor someone who will return my irreverence in kind.

An unplanned illustration of political incorrectness occurred during the past Thanksgiving holiday when the three generations of my family attended the musical production of "Scrooge" at a community playhouse. Trying to be polite, I followed everyone else as we made our way down the playhouse aisle to our seats.

Two long-haired and rather large persons occupied the seats nearest the aisle. They hoisted themselves upright to allow us to squeeze past them toward our seats in the middle of the row. As the last family member to squirm past them, I voiced, "Thank you ladies."

Suddenly I realized one of the long-haired persons was a man as he squished into his seat next to me. My face reddened in embarrassment.

"Oh boy, what to do now!" I thought about saying "Sorry," but I caught myself before the word came out. I realized it would only compound the problem I had created.

"Maybe he'll turn to face me so I can apologize," I thought as I settled into my seat, but he looked straight ahead and assumed a stoic gaze for the entire performance.

"I really insulted him," I surmised. I pondered options throughout the entire play until the thought emerged: "What if I say nothing?"

Bingo! Was my determination right?

My decision didn't spare me from a merciless barrage of guffaws by family members who heard the whole episode and repeatedly pointed out my unintentional inappropriateness as they replayed the scenario on our way home in our vehicle. I thought about mentioning some people purposefully behave politically incorrectly, and get away with it, but I chose to not raise that specter and took my lumps with a sigh.

What does political incorrectness mean? The definition needs to be updated in some dictionaries. An online dictionary says, "Political incorrectness is the practice, often taken to extremes, of forms of expression or actions that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people so as to cause them to be disadvantaged or discriminated against."

Should the term, political incorrectness, be avoided entirely because it is meant to derogate others with whom we might disagree? Do we even need the term, for it doesn't seem to improve civil discourse among people?

Maybe we should avoid proclaiming our opinions unless we are asked for them? Opinions are not facts.

We need logically and scientifically verified facts, fair appraisals of information, and consideration of a broad range of information to form reasonable determinations about almost everything. Politically incorrect insults inflame anger and avoidance rather than cooperation and reasonable solution-finding. Furthermore, replying with insults after receiving insults does little to resolve differences in opinions.

An article I read said: "Political incorrectness is politically incorrect." The label "fake news" is an example of political incorrectness because it is an opinion, the author said, and meant to demean others who are entitled to their opinions.

Asking what others think gets us further toward reaching an understanding and agreement than proclaiming personal opinions and hurling insults.

Some people employ political incorrectness to make their points, such as many contemporary comedians, and the well-known authors, Mark Twain and Will Rogers. Two of our former presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, are accomplished users of their own political incorrectness. Both persons often joke about their shortcomings to bring a measure of humor and tension-reduction into discussions.

Political incorrectness in its full display is purposeful rather than unintended. Purposeful insults are the epitome of political incorrectness.

To many people, President Donald Trump regularly behaves politically incorrectly. His supporters often consider his behaviors as necessary corrections to political, business and moral practices, while his detractors may view his behaviors as self-important, inconsiderate and incorrect.

However, he is superbly adept at using scientifically-established principles, such as poking fun at politicians who disagree with him and his use of repetitive messaging to derogate views and people he disagrees with. College students in an Introduction to Psychology 101 course learn that observers tend to agree with messages that begin with an affirmation they like, especially if it offers them a sense of protection, success and acceptance.

This tendency is called confirmation bias. When the message is repeated often, observers are more likely to agree with it. This is called the repetition principle.

Marketers employ these principles in television, radio and print media advertisements. Trump is a foremost expert in marketing. His style upsets some people and encourages others to defend him and his interpersonal and business practices.

Everyone needs to know how political incorrectness can be used to pursue objectives, whether we agree or disagree with them. I'm not taking a political stand in this article. I'm offering information so readers can form opinions with appropriate knowledge.

Mike Rosmann is a Harlan, Iowa, psychologist and farmer. To contact Rosmann go online to: www.agbehavioralhealth.com.