The American presidential election debates have made political correctness an issue.

Though, I have never liked the term “political correctness.” It implies that whatever you are saying is not really correct, and you are only saying it to look good. Donald Trump is saying we should stop being politically correct but unfortunately he means we should start saying all those things that are not politically correct. What we need to understand is that being respectful is just plain correct.  

We used to have mandatory classes that were called “sensitivity training.” Perhaps many offices still do. The classes are based on the presumption that if people understand why certain comments are hurtful then they won’t make them anymore. I can’t say if it actually changed anybody’s thinking, but it did make it clear that they should not speak their disrespectful thoughts. And that those of us that find it offensive should speak up and respectfully challenge misconceptions.

In elections it is important to be respectful of everyone’s voice and ensure they all get a fair chance. The Democrats seemed to think that they could say one thing in public and then have different discussions behind their firewall.

I sincerely hope that as a result of the election leak people will become more security conscious and invest in proper precautions but not so they can have disrespectful conversations. There is information that must remain secure for safety and privacy reasons, and it is a fact of our connected world that someone will be trying to get to that data. As Information Technology leaders we must make them understand that only very extreme measures can come close to keeping information entirely secure. It has become harder and harder to find a space where things can stay hidden.

In this sense, as we get more connected the world has become more like a small town. Our mothers always used to say “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” This was just a fact of life in a small town.

Now that our technology has connected everyone, we need to work out how we can give each other space and still keep our information factual. My previous blog discusses the concerns I have about these information leaks and that I consider it a case of “two wrongs don’t make a right” when we encourage the hackers that do this. I also do not want people to have to use false names on their accounts just to keep their privacy. But I don’t want to make space for people to continue to be comfortable being racist, chauvinistic or bigoted.

As IT professionals, we want to be ethical and truthful, but we don’t have to say things that are offensive to others. And maybe I’ve stepped over that line with some of what I’ve said about our American neighbours.

Being Canadian, I’ll just apologise for that now.

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