I wasn't around then, of course, but I've done some reading, and I think in SOME ways the 1980s were even more politically correct than today, and really marked the start of political correctness in this country.
You had the hysteria over games like Dungeons & Dragons, with religious groups claiming it was corrupting the very souls of the youth; You had furor over movies like Conan the Barbarian and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom which led to the PG-13 rating coming out (prior to 1985 there was just G, PG, R and X); you had Tipper Gore and her cadre of Washington Moms making the case against free expression in the form of music--Almost a McCarthy-esque witch hunt about the dangerous evils of Rock and Heavy Metal music, with claims it drove teens to suicide and murder.
This was the whole "there's Satanic messages on songs if you play them backwards" era. You had some minor public hysteria in the mid-late 80s over the idea of Satanic cults and teens becoming Satanists and the idea that such cults would overcome and consume the youth and wreck havoc across the country. You had serial killers roving around the nation. And around this same time, you had the real birth of day time talk shows like Oprah and the like which daily questioned perceived social injustices and social issues in what seems today to have been kind of dramatic. You had the whole nutty Acid Rain hysteria as well as the nightmare of AIDs; Even sex became controversial and and dangerous, something to be feared. It just seems in retrospect like the mid 1980s were the era of the Moral Outcry (tm), and the birth of modern political correctness.
From what it seems, this era only lasted from around 1983-1987 or so...By the late '80s and the beginning of the '90s it seems to have tapered off and while we've had political correctness ever since, it was never quite as powerful, or openly powerful, a force as it was then IMO. I mean the '70s were pretty much an "Anything Goes" decade; Disco, Rock N' Roll, Punk, Dirty Harry, Blaxploitation films, Deep Throat; John Wayne and Westerns, Jaws and Star Wars--The '70s were the decade of decadence.