The Playbook For The Modern Man

Study Reveals What Australians Really Think About Political Correctness

“More than two-thirds of Australians believe political correctness has gone too far.”

From Malcolm Turnbull critiquing Australian conservatives to Tony Walker writing an impassioned defence of free speech, Australia’s “culture wars” have trended this week.

The ABC also recently released a report, which revealed what Australians think about political correctness.

Characterised by conservatives as a left-wing ‘madness’ and by liberals as a trite right-wing catchphrase, political correctness is possibly the most overused term of the 21st century. But what the hell is it?


Essentially: saying something that would disadvantage your career if you were a politician.

Most of us agree with this on some level: even the most hardened free speech ‘warriors’ are loathe to use certain words. Eminem may get away with it, but from the rest of us, it’s juvenile or cruel.

However, when it’s less “rude” and more “microaggression,” people start to roll their eyes and say things like “you can’t communicate without generalising” and “every single culture is a constantly evolving ‘appropriation’ of some other one.”

To some extent, they’d be right. But the age-old question is: how far is too far? Eschewing ‘gendered’ language? Chastising Brooklyn Beckham for getting a Native American tattoo? Telling western women not to wear bindis to festivals and white dudes not to grow dreadlocks?

What about listening to ’90s rap? Or singing along (live) with Kendrick Lamar? No one can agree on these issues – or so everyone thought. However, a recent ABC report has finally cut through the waffle, showing people aren’t as divided as the radio shock jocks would have you believe.

Here’s what the ABC survey found.

More than two-thirds of Australians believe political correctness has gone too far

The same two thirds also believe that their fellow citizens are too easily offended. And this is consistent across all age groups and income brackets, as well as across both men and women, white and non-white Australians and all states and territories.

The older, whiter, poorer, lesser educated and maler you are, the more likely you are to feel strongly about ‘political correctness’

According to the survey, this stereotype is true.


Recent immigrants are less concerned with political correctness, more established ones are very much concerned with it

“Among recent immigrants… frustration is only felt by a slender majority — 53 per cent — while among immigrants who arrived more than 10 years ago, it’s the strongest, at 69 per cent. Among people born in this country, 68 per cent agree that political correctness has gone too far,” the ABC wrote.

Politically active citizens have predictable views

98% of One Nation voters believe political correctness has gone too far, while just 29% of Greens voters felt the same. In terms of the two big parties, the anti PC sentiment has the support of a narrow majority: 52 per cent of Labor voters, and 88 per cent of those who voted LNP at the last election.

However, overall, Australians have more nuanced views than the above results suggest

“When asked other questions around freedom of speech and discrimination, respondents showed a much more nuanced set of opinions,” the ABC reported.

“A clear majority of Australians – 67 per cent – agreed that “Freedom of speech is often used to justify discrimination against minority groups.”

However, exactly the same proportion also agreed that “Accusations of discrimination against minority groups are often used to try to silence legitimate debate.”

“When asked to pick a lane – “Should people be able to say what they want, even if offends others?” – the nation couldn’t make up its mind. “Forty-five per cent think yes, 45 per cent think no, and the other 10 per cent don’t know.”

“Our views do not appear to share the conviction and clarity of the loudest voices at either end of the spectrum. For many, the answer is: ‘It’s complicated.'”

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