"Pantywaist" writing?

Subject: "Pantywaist" writing?
From: John Gear <catalyst -at- PACIFIER -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 7 Nov 1996 12:32:34 -0800

The witty and hilarious Lisa Higgins writes (in part)

>I don't think so at all. I've worked at companies that had policies
>against using terminology such as "hit a key," "abort a procedure,"
>"disable something," and so forth, and frankly, this sort of pantywaist
>writing is not only irritating, but tends toward the incomprehensible.

and goes on to give lots of marvellous Orwellian-inspired "translations" of
some computer phrases.

I take a backseat to none in my hostility to newspeak or, as the National
Council of Teachers of English calls it, "Doublespeak." (I have several
times recommended the "Quarterly Review of Doublespeak" on this list as a
terrific booster shot against infection by the doublespeak virus -- send $10
to NCTE, 1111 W. Kenyon Rd., Urbana, IL, 61801-1096 for a one-year
subscription..)

But, nonetheless, one has to wonder about the use of "pantywaist" above.
There are thousands of ways to describe sludgy and incomprehensible
writing--why use a term that gets its power from homophobia? Oscar Wilde, a
real "pantywaist," certainly wrote with uncommon grace, wit and clarity.
Tennessee Williams--now *there* was a pantywaist--was his writing irritating
or incomprehensible? Gore Vidal, one of the best writers in the
English-speaking world--wups! Another pantywaist!

Maybe we should all take macho writing lessons--wouldn't want to be
"pantywaisted," would we?

John Gear (catalyst -at- pacifier -dot- com)
The Bill of Rights -- The ORIGINAL Contract with America
Beware of Imitations. Accept No Substitutes. Insist on the Genuine Articles.
(t shirts with the above saying available, send e-mail for info)


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