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  • Writer's pictureSam Wilks

The Role of PC Culture in Shaping Public Perception of Crime and Safety



In recent years, the interplay between political correctness (PC) culture and public discourse on crime and safety has significantly influenced perceptions and policies, particularly in regions such as the Northern Territory of Australia. This shift in narrative, while often well-intentioned, masks the complexities of criminal behaviour, its root causes, and the implications for those most vulnerable in society.


PC culture, with its emphasis on language and the avoidance of potentially offensive terms, has led to a situation where discussions on crime and safety are often sanitized. This is not without consequences. By prioritising linguistic delicacy over stark reality, we risk not only misunderstanding the nature of crime but also failing those it affects most.


Consider the case of the Northern Territory, a region with a crime rate that significantly exceeds the national and international average. Here, issues such as youth crime, substance abuse, and domestic violence are prevalent. Yet, the discourse surrounding these issues is frequently mired in euphemisms and generalities, aimed more at avoiding offence than addressing the heart of the problem.


The philosophical underpinnings of this phenomenon can be traced back to a reluctance to confront uncomfortable truths. A society that cannot openly discuss the factors contributing to crime—be it socio-economic disadvantage, educational failures, or family breakdown—is ill-equipped to tackle them. This silence, often justified in the name of sensitivity, does a disservice to those who live with the daily reality of these challenges.


From an economic perspective, the implications of this are profound. Investment in security measures, whether through public policing or private security, becomes a priority for those who can afford it, widening the gap between the haves and have-nots. The market for security, while beneficial to some, underscores the disparities in safety and the perception thereof across different societal strata.


The psychological impact of this scenario cannot be overstated. When communities are taught to tiptoe around the issues of crime and safety, a sense of helplessness pervades. The narrative that emerges—one that often places the onus on victims to avoid becoming targets rather than on society to address criminal behaviour—can exacerbate feelings of fear and anxiety. The level of neuroticism in the NT is palpable.


The lack of transparency and open dialogue leads to a vacuum filled by fear and speculation. The case of Alice Springs, a town in the Northern Territory, serves as a poignant example. Here, the intersection of high crime rates and a politically correct approach to discussing these issues has led to an environment where residents are simultaneously aware of the dangers but constrained in their ability to speak openly about them. When residents held a town hall with stakeholders the ABC publicly slandered the residents and attendees, who were predominantly of aboriginal descent, as racist. This further reduced trust in government organisations and the credibility of the ABC.


The role of PC culture in shaping public perceptions of crime and safety is also evident in policy responses. Initiatives aimed at reducing crime are often critiqued not for their effectiveness but for their adherence to the principles of political correctness. This has led to policies that are more performative than practical, prioritising appearances over outcomes. The catch and release policy.


This is not to say that sensitivity and respect are unwarranted in discussions on crime and safety. However, a balance must be struck between avoiding unnecessary offences and confronting the realities of criminal behaviour head-on. Only through honest, open discourse can effective strategies for improving public safety be developed and implemented.


The true harm of this dynamic is most acutely felt by the most vulnerable members of society. For those living in high-crime areas, the consequences of crime are not abstract debates but daily realities. By shrouding these issues in layers of political correctness, we alienate the very individuals and communities most in need of support and, I dare to say it, intervention.


While PC culture may have emerged from a desire to create a more inclusive and respectful society, its application to the discourse on crime and safety has had unintended consequences. By prioritising linguistic sensitivity over clarity and candour, we obscure the realities of crime and its impact on the community. For the sake of those most affected by crime, particularly in regions like the Northern Territory, it is imperative that we find a way to speak openly and honestly about these issues. Only then can we hope to develop effective strategies for improving safety and security for all members of society.  From the author.


The opinions and statements are those of Sam Wilks and do not necessarily represent whom Sam Consults or contracts to. Sam Wilks is a skilled and experienced Security Consultant with almost 3 decades of expertise in the fields of Real estate, Security, and the hospitality/gaming industry. His knowledge and practical experience have made him a valuable asset to many organizations looking to enhance their security measures and provide a safe and secure environment for their clients and staff.


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