RE: Political Correctness (Was Re: Master/Slave)

Subject: RE: Political Correctness (Was Re: Master/Slave)
From: Tom Eagles <teagles -at- DERIVION -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L (E-mail)" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 11:35:06 -0400

Subject: Re: Political Correctness (Was Re: Master/Slave)

Someone else wrote:

> > Plainly and simplely, writers have to use the standard
> > language of a field, no matter how "offensive" it may
> > be outside of that field.

Within reason. There are limits to everything.

Tracy Boyington <tracy_boyington -at- okvotech -dot- org>

> I agree. However, I thought the post you appear to be
> disagreeing with actually said the same thing -- as
> TWs, it is our responsibility to examine the terminology
> we use and determine how our readers will be affected by
> it.

As tech writers, IMHO, it is our job to inform our readers about the
product. Period. Style guides, language sensitivity and such are the means,
not the message: "do this to make that happen." That's what they pay us
for, folks. However, I would say that it is indeed a poor excuse for a tech
writer who is careless with language. The method is still important, but it
is always the message that is primary, and the method that is subordinate.
Poor grammar and diction, however, may result in a failure in getting the
message across. And it's quite often unnecessary.

> This does not mean changing it on our own because we
> consider it "offensive" or refusing to follow everyone
> else's change because we consider it "PC." If an
> industry has stopped using a particular term, we should
> also stop using it.

We all need to use our judgement in these matters, consult with peers (as
this thread is certainly doing), and try to "do the right thing." However,
on the matter of terminology such as "master/slave", I think it's (again,
IMHO) political correctness of the WORST sort to stop using that sort of
terminology in the same way the threading of certain hardware being "male"
and "female" makes some people blush. C'mon folks. Let's be adults. If the
concern is how Black folks will be offended by "master/slave" let me tell
you that slavery in America was preceded by several thousand years by
slavery in other parts of the world, and even amongst native tribes in
various parts of the world. Insects enslave each other. The perfunctory
description of the relationship between hard drives that this terminology
captures is the point, not the PC crap that people who have too much time on
their hands attribute to it.

> The fact that "master/slave" is still
> in use doesn't mean it's a bad thing to check every once
> in a while.

Check for what? That hard drives still have dominant/submissive tendencies?

.. grumble grumble grumble...

Tom Eagles,
Documentation Manager
Derivion Corporation
100-65 Allstate Parkway
Markham, Ontario L3R-9X1
905-947-9730 ext.252
FAX: 905-947-9744
MAILTO:teagles -at- derivion -dot- com

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