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

Subject: RE: Political Correctness (Was Re: Master/Slave)
From: Mike Stockman <stockman -at- jagunet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 17 May 2000 14:10:36 -0400

On 5/17/00 12:00 PM, Hager, Harry (US - East Brunswick) (hhager -at- dc -dot- com)

>We've already started down this slippery slope of PC. The only real question
>left is how far will we go?

You know, I've seen this sentiment before... that if we take our
audience's reaction to words into account as we write (which is the sum
total of what so-called "political correctness" suggests), we'll end up
writing everything in language no more sophisticated than a first-grader
could understand.

That, of course is nonsense. Why? Because:

1) There is no "political correctness" movement. Nobody says "Here's my
Political Correctness Union card" at parties. That's only a label made up
by people who feel they're being told how to write (speak, think,
whatever) and get defensive about it.

2) Avoiding terms that a large portion of your audience might find
unpleasant, whether it's a supposed-standard or not, is just common
sense. If your audience stops reading, you're not communicating. Just
because the industry has always called something a "Lovely Nicotine High
Socket," doesn't mean your audience for "Kicking the Habit for Dummies"
will appreciate the reference. Use your head.

3) There's no "slippery slope" here. A stupid change in your writing
(say, calling a "comma" a "suggested place to take a breath" to allow
free self-esteem boosting choices while reading) will *always* be a
stupid change, whether we've always been taking audience reaction into
account or not.

Anyone can come up with ludicrous examples of where the attempt to write
"sensitively" could take us. That doesn't justify using your
"traditional" terms in your writing when your audience has moved on from
that tradition, or changed its makeup enough that your tradition no
longer applies.

Write effectively. Period. If a term doesn't further your writing goals,
don't cling to it... change the term and move on.


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