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Fox: I’m too thankful to worry about political correctness

dfox • Nov 26, 2015 at 6:00 PM

Three or four minutes can make a world of difference when you’re that young. But it happened. The umbilical cord wrapped around my neck, and I couldn’t breathe. Needless to say, it sucked.

Even close to a half-century later, there are a few repercussions. My motor skills, especially on my left side, aren’t the greatest. I’ll shake when my blood pressure goes way up. But by and large, I really don’t think about it and really don’t care. People who meet me in person probably don’t immediately notice.

In fact, the only reason I even bring up the fact I have mild cerebral palsy because of this notion about “politically correctness” or “political incorrectness,” whatever your wont is at a particular time.

It’s been a big part of social media lately because there’s a sign in southern Georgia put up by a local sheriff that reads: “Welcome to Harris County, Georgia! WARNING: Harris County is politically incorrect. We say: Merry Christmas, God Bless America and In God We Trust; we salute our troops and our flag. If this offends you … LEAVE!”

I’m a guy who’s fairly liberal and has friends of all political stripes and I’ll be honest: I don’t know of anyone who thinks that “Merry Christmas,” “God Bless America” or “In God We Trust” is even remotely offensive. Even my friends and family members who are so liberal they make me feel like Ted Cruz hold our military members and flag in high regard. In fact, some of those people are veterans themselves.

So what gives? I guess it goes back to the notion of “political correctness” — whatever you think it means.

I think back to growing up in the 1970s, when I was young, my body hadn’t filled out and my disability was much more pronounced than it is today. I was called “retard” an awful lot back in those days. To this day, I feel a sting when I hear that word. It’s a sting most of my friends do not.

One day, I objected to that word during a Facebook conversation with a close friend of mine.

“Dude! Don’t be so politically correct!” replied my friend.

Then I relayed my struggles with cerebral palsy when I was younger. And my friend understood. He apologized, but he didn’t need to do so. I just wanted him to understand where I was coming from.

I guess “political correctness” comes down to context, and context comes down to individual frames of reference. And because all 300 million of us are coming at situations with 300 million slightly different frames of reference, it’s hard to know which things actually strike nerves, which things induce false outrage and which things are easily laughed off.

In other words, most people probably don’t mind the word “retard,” but very few of them would use it to describe Special Olympians.

Back to that sheriff in Harris County: Part of me thinks I understand where he’s coming from. There are some people in the world who don’t like “Merry Christmas,” but frankly, I’m just happy when anyone takes time to wish me happiness. I have lots of friends who have differing views on God and about our country, and I disagree with some of them, but at the end of the day, I’m glad they’re my friends.

I don’t know: will some people read that last paragraph and deem me too politically correct to say that?

I don’t care. I’m too thankful to worry about that.

Dean Fox was born on a Saturday morning, hours before Vanderbilt lost its football opener that season to Michigan, sparking a too-long sordid love affair with Commodore football. Email him at dfox@lebanondemocrat.com or follow him on Twitter @wilsoncoreports.

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