I have a confession. I think that the right wing media has managed to manipulate even my loony left mind. Over the last year or so I have found myself, in all seriousness, saying: “Political correctness gone mad!”

This was always a statement I mocked. Bigoted ignoramus-type humans would say it in response to, say, a woman asking to not be sexually objectified, or a gay person asking not to be called a puff. And these things still happen and still deserve to be mocked and to be challenged. However, there has been an unfortunate shift recently – in certain aspects of political discourse, political correctness really has gone mad. And it is damaging the left’s credibility massively.

Free speech. A lot of this began only recently, as in the last couple of years, in US universities. Once places in which anything could be challenged and debated – in which these things were actively encouraged – it is becoming increasingly common for people to be shut out of a debate, even sued, with accusations of hate speech. Free speech is a basic human right and it is somehow being suppressed by the liberals who would have been fighting for it when we didn’t have it. And it will be often for the kinds of opinions that I will go into below, rather than anything actually hateful and violence inciting.

Islamophobia. Most Muslims are not terrorists and many choose to ignore the most violent and outdated parts of the Quran, as Christians do about the Bible. However, it does not mean that you should be painted as a bigot if you legitimately ask why the religion is producing so much extremism (and I don’t just mean terrorism here) or point out how misogynistic burqas are. Seeing Trevor Noah nodding along and not challenging Dalia Mogahed on The Daily Show last year after she said, in defence of burqas (and apparently in all seriousness), that they “privatise women’s sexuality” and are an “act of devotion to God” was a bad lose for the left. As I have previously argued in my France Versus Muslims article, the burqa is the most unchallenged act of anti-feminism in today’s society. Why? Because the left are terrified of being seen as Islamophobic. So much so, that they don’t even know they are getting so confused themselves. The left need to start being honest about how a belief system based on 1500-year-old teachings is dangerous to the moral and scientific progress that liberalism has fought so hard for in that time.

Rotherham child abuse. Nowhere was misplaced political correctness so blatantly damaging as with the child abuse case in Rotherham, in which an estimated 1400 children were sexually abused in the town between 1997-2013, mostly by gangs of British-Pakistani men. This could have been stopped much sooner than it eventually was – some council members had been nervous about identifying the ethnic origins of the perpetrators for fear of being thought racist; others had even claim to have had clear direction from their managers to not to make such identification. A Home Office researcher, after bringing their concerns to the police in 2002, was suspended, told not to refer to it again and booked on a two-day ethnicity and diversity course to raise awareness of ethnic issues. Actually unbelievable, really, and with horrific consequences.

Oscars whitewash. There are very real gender equality issues in Hollywood and plenty of race ones in America and the world, but to get so angry about a lack of black nominees at a film awards held in a country in which approximately 77% of the population are White and 13% Black, is insane. Also, black-centred films did well at 2017’s awards; as they have certain other years. I am not suggesting there are absolutely no issues with race in film, but it is a great example of political correctness gone mad, because people seem to be expecting an even split in race nominations, regardless of the quality of the said films/performances/whatever. I can see why striving for a near-50% split in gender should be a thing (and there are very real issues with that in Hollywood), but not race.

Non-binary labels. I am all for gender fluidity being the eventual goal of humankind and I am all for transgender tolerance and inclusion. However, the language used for non-binary humans is getting out of hand. There are tens of manufactured pronouns for genders now which are changed and added to frequently. This is not at all helpful to anyone – it actually drives people into a dead end in which they cannot help but offend the transgender community. Referring to a transgender person as he/she, with no issue, but then being told by someone else that it is offensive and I should be calling them they…or hir…or per….or ze, is not at all useful and it is not how language should be used.

I hate to criticise the left and liberals – we’re up against it enough as it is. But this actually mad political correctness is damaging to our credibility and, quite simply, a waste of our time. It is also helping the far right gain popularity because, although completely disgusting in their views, they are the only ones addressing these kind of issues with any honesty – an exaggerated and vicious honesty with the wrong solutions – but honest all the same; and people are responding to that, because they’re not getting it from the left.

Nothing is black and white. Certain subjects particularly need us to pause, take a step back, and actually think about it on an individual basis with a clear and rational mind, rather than with some kind of blanket philosophy.