This morning whilst driving, the local talk show was working on the Christmas Tree/Holiday Tree issue bubbling here in Madison. A caller got on and claimed to be agnostic and therefore, able to offer a non-religious opinion. The host asked her what she meant by agnostic to which she replied, I don't believe in God. The host said. "So, you are an atheist?" No came the reply, "I have beliefs, just not about God."
Now, as an agnostic, I can be pretty clear in saying that the caller was an atheist. Not believing in God is pretty much the qualifier. Her belief in the Easter Bunny or in cow reincarnation does not make her an agnostic.
Now all of this leads up to this: am I being a purist? If she wants to call herself an agnostic, for whatever reason, even a wrong one...who am I to question her? Well, I'm an agnostic and I should be able to say that someone that does not believe in God (and those definitions can be pretty broad) is not an agnostic. I believe the Universe was created, that act was done by something, most people call that something God and as such, I can agree with them. Any further discussion about the nature or character of that something is beyond human understanding - and may forever be so. Back to the question, am I being a purist. Am I imposing a politically correct response to her claim? Is that what politically correct is, an attempt at some sense of purity?
Maybe political correctness is about offensiveness. How can we not offend someone yet still get across our meaning? The caller seemed to be offended that someone would call her an atheist. "I have beliefs." was pretty strongly stated. But isn't free speech specifically about offensive speech? We do not need someone to call our speech into question when we are being nice...it is when we are being offensive that we need protection.
I am sure many wonderful writers have made this point before so excuse my 4th grade verbiage but political correctness is an affront to free speech.
Many people have complained that American's are sloppy speakers, or the language is sloppy. Walking down the street smiling at people and saying Ho Ho Ho is likely to get you slapped by someone.
More than a few of my posts have probably offended someone, yet no one has complained to me. Still, is my response to the caller a symptom that I too seek some sense of political correctness in others? I hope not, but I will still correct someone that is obviously wrong, even if it is just an opinion.....and the caller, she was an atheist....