Fox News has been posing some heavy questions as of late. How can Americans continue to buy into elitist liberal media propaganda after Brian Williams’ fall from grace? Since when is President Obama so obsessed with beer? And why are the Koch Brothers only willing to contribute $889 million dollars to the Republican Party in 2016? Okay, I am embellishing a little with that last one, but the rule of three is just too enticing, especially while criticizing the blatant partisanship of a source of a so-called objective news.

On the other hand, Fox anchors have recurrently explored the answer to a question that is entirely legitimate—why have some people been so unpleasantly nasty about "American Sniper"’s story and success? Indeed, while the movie and its depiction of America’s most lethal sniper Chris Kyle has achieved national acclaim from audiences and critics alike, a vocal minority has spoken out against both the movie and the man.

Matt Taibbi wrote a review in Rolling Stone entitled “American Sniper is Almost Too Dumb to Criticize.” The Guardian published a piece in which author Lindy West asserted, “The real American Sniper was a hate-filled killer.” Most infamously, Michael Moore tweeted, “[Snipers] will shoot u in the back. Snipers aren’t heroes. And invaders r worse.”

Each of these public figures has been widely condemned, by an ostensible vast majority of Americans. With popular support, Texas Governor Abbott even established “Chris Kyle Day” just two years after the veteran’s death. Fox News anchor Sean Hannity has been especially vocal in his support of Kyle, devoting many segments to defending Kyle and interviewing his family members. In a recent interview he lamented to a political analyst, “But yet people still pile on... what is it about people that just have total contempt and a lack of understanding for... those brave men and women?”

Hannity’s implications—that many critics of Kyle either misdirect their political anger or lack a true understanding of his story—are sound. I consider Chris Kyle a selfless hero who made immense personal sacrifices to serve his country and the people within it. Those who condemn him for his anecdotes and his kill count lack empathy for the psychological, emotional and physical burdens that soldiers are forced to face. They use the movie as a vehicle through which to condemn what they view as a terrible war while simultaneously assaulting the legacy of one man who does not deserve their targeting.

Yet despite my unusual agreement with Hannity, something about his words bothers me. Here is a man known by many as a bastion of conservative ideology, lecturing liberals about the importance of sensitivity. Here is a man who has made a career out of critiques of “political correctness”—also known by social conservatives as “hypersensitivity”—surrounding dialogue regarding race, gender and socioeconomic status. Here is a man who now considers himself a proxy to a heroic victim of offensive and inappropriate discourse.

Hannity’s frustration with criticisms of Chris Kyle’s service overseas comes strikingly close to what he denounces as political correctness. Just as “hypersensitive” Americans caution others to consider the effects and implications of their word selection, Hannity expresses discomfort with Michael Moore’s poorly formed judgments about Americans in uniform. The justifications for the discomfort are perhaps different—while a typical advocate of politically correct language will suggest certain words and phrases might be unnecessarily harmful to others, Hannity would likely argue that, sentimental feelings aside, nothing can excuse disrespect of our armed forces, even after they are gone. While the justifications are different, the implications are the same—we should be thoughtful and careful about our word choice.

Regardless, I might be giving that justification too much credit. More likely, Hannity opposes contemptuous language about Chris Kyle most centrally because of his partisanship. Criticism of an American sniper thrust into combat in Iraq can easily be conflated with President Bush’s perhaps-rushed decision calculus in deciding to invade in the first place. Indeed, his sensitivity to partisan attacks is what strengthens his appeal to more fruitful dialogue about the movie.

This is because different groups have disparate levels of understanding about how certain words can affect them. A gay person will likely have a more visceral reaction to a hateful use of “fag” just like a woman will likely feel more targeted by the phrase, “you hit like a girl.” To nail this point down, one only needs to look at the approval demographic breakdown of the “Like a Girl” commercial, which aired during the Super Bowl. According to USA Today’s polling, there is more than a 10 percent difference in the approval rating of the commercial between men and women. Perhaps this signals that one group just needs to get over it, as Hannity might suggest, or perhaps it shows that certain groups naturally have a better understanding of the way words affect them.

“Hypersensitivity” is not a trait exhibited solely by liberals, and it should not be framed to be. The characteristic sounds like a weakness, but with deeper scrutiny it parallels one’s empathy for others’ unfamiliar experiences. Whether for the woman who might be triggered by a casual use of the word “rape” or for the soldier who might face psychological duress from accusations of cowardice, we should be thoughtful about the unnecessary weight that we can so easily drop from our dialogue.

Brendan McCartney is a Trinity junior. His column runs every other Tuesday.