Thoughts? Growing problem in society or non-issue?
I think it's a largely overblown issue. For example, take the "war on Christmas", and the assumption that big box retail is more concerned with virtue signaling than widening the targeted demographics in their marketing to make more holiday money. That's a bit of a silly assumption to make. But that's simply one angle on it, obviously there are many directions this conversation can go.
When we ask "is political correctness a problem?" we have already answered the question by using the term "political correctness"
is "a term used to describe language, policies, or measures that are intended to avoid offense or disadvantage to members of particular groups in society. In public discourse and the media, the term is generally used as a pejorative with an implication that these policies are excessive or unwarranted"
That is, the term "political correctness" generally implies critique, so you've pre-loaded your question with an answer. I think a less loaded variation might be, "do Americans enjoy less free speech now then [insert time frame, I generally a generational period like 20-30 yrs] and the answer to that is that I think Americans enjoy about the same or more free speech now than 30 years ago.
In a very general sense, most use of the political correctness critique (or in the FOX news doublespeak of the week, cancel culture) is a sort of non-response response to criticisms of offensive speech. So when people say, "hey, the Washington Redskins in an offensive team name that should change" a commonplace defense is to merely damn political correctness. Few take the time to investigate the nature and extent of the offense or the cost and consequence of a namechange, most are just satisfied with tossing epithets and declaring victory in place of rational discourse.
Therefore much of the argument around political correctness is just a continuation of political perspective.
A crazy recent example of liberal PC run amok took place in England last month.
- On July 22nd, 3 white men deliberately ran over a black 21 year healthcare worker in front of a Bristol hospital while shouting the racial epithet "nigger."
- On July 29th, a BBC presenter deliberately repeated the epithet during an interview regarding the event. She warned her listeners that she was about to speak a racial epithet immediately prior to correctly reporting the use of the word.
- In response, the BBC received some 20,000 complaints regarding the word's use and a black BBC presenter resigned from his job in protest of the word's use.
- The BBC stood by its usage for 10 days but finally relented to political pressure and apologized for the use. The presenter also apologized personally.
To me, this is totally nuts. Obviously, the offensive use of the word was committed by young racists on July 22. I don't see how accurately reporting the offense could be seen as offensive or how anybody could persist in claiming offense after the presenter offered fair warning. I guess the core rationale is that the word should always be censored in every context and never spoken aloud even when carefully contextualized to prevent offense and perhaps that's a question of journalistic integrity worth exploring but I don't think any person can reasonably claim to have been offended by the BBC's usage and I call phony bullshit on all those fake liberals who demanded an apology.
A crazy recent example of conservative PC run amok took place at Lafayette Square in DC on June 1. A crowd of law abiding US citizens protesting the murder of George Floyd by police were dispersed by soldiers in full battle gear using tear gas, pepper spray, sting grenades, flash-bang grenades, smoke bombs, rubber bullets and batons. I don't think Trump or his acolytes would accept the critique of political correctness in this case but I don't see how it can be avoided. Officially, the POTUS is required to tolerate any degree of peaceful criticism of the government and his administration of that government and his misuse of the US military to enforce his political perspective is far less acceptable than the intolerance of ordinary citizens without armies.