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Subject:Re: PC or Not PC? That is the Question From:"Arlen P. Walker" <Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- COM> Date:Mon, 5 Jun 1995 08:53:00 -0600
1. As was noted on another list, "The value of a posting is usually
inversely proportional to the number of times the charge of "PC" is
In a word, Bull. It's a cute saying, that much is true, but its resemblance to
reality is purely coincidental. The most valuable posts I've read on this list
have had no charges of PC-ness levelled against them. Likewise the least
valuable. The truth is that charges of PC-ness have no bearing on the relative
worth of the message, and the only message property they reliably indicate is
what some people thought of the political slant of its content.
Just as there are folks who shout "PC" at the drop of an adjective, there are
those who find offense and discrimination where there is none. We need both, if
only to help the rest of us see where the truth actually lies (usually nowhere
near either group).
2. If you think it's a fine thing to talk about people's appearance and
make conjectures about it then say so. Simply shouting "PC" is a real
weak argument to make.
So is pointing to attitudes of people not involved in the conversation, such as
using attitudes of commercial makers and advertising writers to criticize the
words someone posted to the list.
3. Rather than a concession to any sort of "PC-ism" I would think that
technical communicators might make it a point of pride not to use
language that listeners/readers may find needlessly offensive.
I used to think that. Now I've amended that sentiment to include the word
"reasonable" before "listeners/readers." There are too many crazed fanatics out
there searching for ways to be offended for any other course to be practical. I
cannot and will not be held responsible for the tortured interpretations some
people bring to all written words.
Becoming sensitized to what some people may find offensive can be a*very*
interesting process--why, it sometimes even requires thinking of those
unlike yourself as *people* of worth and deserving of the same respect
and consideration that you want for yourself--which can be real tough
depending on how much unlearning of previous conditioning you have to do.
Becoming sensitive to what some people find offensive is good. But like all
things, it can be taken too far. "Avoid offending people" is good advice. But
it's not always possible. And even when possible it isn't always desirable. It
depends upon the aim of your writing.
If I can communicate what I have to say without offending anyone, and still
achieve the aim, I will. But it is the aim which should come first, not the
inoffensiveness. After all, the amount of effort made to avoid offending one
group of readers sometimes is itself an offense to another group.
Chief Managing Director In Charge, Department of Redundancy Department
Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- Com
In God we trust; all others must provide data.