In theory, being politically correct is pretty straightforward: treat people the way they want to be treated, do your best to not be a dick, use a convoluted system of needlessly cromulent terminology, and bam! You get a little badge that says you completed the hardest challenge of all: being a decent human being.
Here are a few very public entities still working on unlocking that achievement ...
#6. Xbox User Suspended for Being from a Place
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In 2010, 26-year-old Xbox user Josh Moore signed up for Xbox Live, entered his contact information, and was immediately banned. Why? Because he listed his hometown as Fort Gay, West Virginia.
In historic Wayne County, along the rivers Tug Fork and Big Sandy.
Now, to be perfectly clear, Fort Gay is a real place, and there is likely no more or less than the usual amount of homosexual activity occurring there. Microsoft just had some automatic filter in place to prevent homophobic bullshit, and Moore's hometown accidentally triggered it. Easy problem, simple fix, right?
Not quite: When Moore contacted Microsoft customer service and attempted to explain that Fort Gay was a real town and not a biting criticism of his little brother's sofa cushion hideout, they straight-up called him a liar and adamantly refused to look it up. They wouldn't so much as Google the zip code. They told him that, if he stuck to his story, his account would be cancelled and he'd forfeit the two years of service he'd already paid for. No refunds, obviously -- because homophobe money spends just as nice as any other.
Besides, Josh would probably just spend the refund on more hate speech.
Microsoft wouldn't even budge after Moore got the mayor of Fort Gay (again, a real official position, not what you call the guy camping the spawn point with an MP-40) to back him up. The company insisted that the word "gay" isn't appropriate under "any circumstances," which apparently means that MS had never actually spoken to a gay person, since it's considered a completely acceptable term in most contexts, in addition to the entire other meaning of the word.
Microsoft eventually recanted, gave Moore his account, and apologized, saying that "In this very, very specific case, a mistake was made" and "We're going to make it right."
Reportedly, Moore felt positively gay after hearing the news.
#5. Life Cereal Says: "Because They're Brown!"
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Quaker Oats, like most companies, just wants to appeal to as broad a demographic as possible, so they make an effort to keep the models on their packages diverse, like so:
They both cost three bucks, so at least they're equal.
Did you spot the problem? Congratulations! You're more observant than literally every single employee of a massive multinational corporation. Maybe the box designers were really OCD about color coordination and wanted to match skin tone to background, maybe only African-American kids showed up on shoot day for the new product ... or maybe the folks in charge just saw the word "brown" on there and thought "I know some brown folks!" Regardless of intention, the implications are a bit disconcerting: Are those kids supposed to be "sweet as brown sugar"? Because we've got to say, Mick Jagger pretty much ruined any innocent connotations of that phrase. Why is "normal" Life represented by white folks? Also -- and maybe we're reading too much into this -- but doesn't anybody find it a little odd that the black kids have absentee parents?
Clearly, it wasn't just us: After the inevitable controversy, Quaker Oats decided that depicting people at all was just too risky, and they mercilessly culled all humans from the covers of their boxes. Well, all but the cold, calculating, psychotic visage of Mr. Quaker, anyway.
Chad Baker/Jason Reed/Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images
Oats are skin shavings from his victims.
#4. The First Black RNC Chair Goes "Urban"
In 2009, the Republican Party was feeling a bit insecure about their shaky record on race relations. So, in an attempt to lighten the mood, one of their members released a feel-good parody song titled "Barack the Magic Negro." Shockingly, that didn't help at all. Clearly, the RNC were in need of some rebranding, so they elected Michael Steele as the first black chair, hoping to wash away a bit of the "racist old white guy" stink (think Ricola and stale farts filtered through expensive leather).
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Or he got the job automatically for inventing "Drill, baby, drill."
But it wasn't enough to just elevate a black man to a position of power -- Steele had an entire campaign mapped out in which he planned to apply Republican principles to an "urban-suburban hip-hop setting" in a way that was both "off the hook" and "avant-garde, technically." Because he felt this would appeal to "everyone, including one-armed midgets."
Those are not terrible parody quotes. Those are actual, from his mouth quotes. The first black man in the premier position of power within the RNC, and they immediately started in with the rapping-grandma routine.
He should have done the "rapping little white girl" shtick. That's still funny.
Then, in 2009, it got worse. Here are some publicity stills of the esteemed chair "chilling down" with his "homebound boys" in the "neighboring hoods." (See, those were terrible parody quotes.)
"Is this what your crowd refers to as 'sassiness,' chairman?"