Why do we even need to defend civility?

“…(I)nstances where I don’t immediately agree that a word is harmful are the true test of my conviction (as a writer): It’s not up to me to ‘agree,’ but to listen.”

– Lilly Dancyger, from “The writer’s argument for political correctness,” June 2019 issue of The Writer magazine

Dancyger’s article talks about how writers need to be sensitive to a word’s meaning, not only in the context of their writing – for example, we want to share with our reader just the right nuance of description of a key scene – but how a word might have a certain negative connotation that, while we don’t necessarily see or agree with it, the reader or listener might.

While I found myself nodding and agreeing with what Dancyger was saying, at the same time, I found myself thinking, “Wait a minute: When did it become necessary to defend common decency and everyday civility from being sneered at as ‘political correctness,’ as if that had somehow become a dirty word?”