Offensive language scorecard (long)

Subject: Offensive language scorecard (long)
From: Chris Hamilton <chamilton -at- GR -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 19 Nov 1996 12:42:13 -0600

For those of you scoring at home, in private and public posts related to
these the following terms have been termed offensive with some degree of
seriousness or another:

-- male/female --> when referring to sockets, anything inanimate, humans
only (without realizing that animals have sexes, too)
-- screw
-- Redskins, Bullets, Braves (and I would assume Indians and Warriors,
as well)
-- slave
-- master
-- man/men (as a suffix Question: even if the person or group is
question is actually male?)
-- he or she/him or her
-- pantywaist
-- abort
-- hit
-- kill
-- terminate
-- motherboard/daughterboard
-- she (when referring to a ship)
-- penetrate the market
-- busy (in a system message, too terse)
-- gay
-- aides
-- sex (a person posting seemed to be apologizing for using the word)
-- miscarry
-- nuke
-- abandon
-- blow up
-- strike

That's quite a list. As a result of this list and the tendency for
people to take offense where none was intended, I wonder when we hit the
point of enough's enough. I submit that any word can be offensive to
someone somewhere. At what point do we make ourselves go through such
contortions to communicate without possibly offending anyone ever that
we lose the message.

We're all adults. "Abort" has certain connotations and some people are
uncomfortable with it, but others are not. No one put "abort" in a
document with the expressed intent of offending someone. I'm offended
when someone says "Jesus Christ" or "Goddammit", but I let it go.

I'm not saying that concerns of offending people are not without merit,
but we seem to be in the business in these posts of saying that "all
technical writers everywhere should always avoid these terms because
they might offend someone". This is being done without any quanititative
proof and in such a way that it's almost impossible to refute the claims
of possible offense. The instances being discussed now seem to be, for
the most part, reasonable, but the list is long and getting longer.
Where do we stop it?

Respectfully submitted,

Chris Hamilton

Chris Hamilton, Technical Writer
Greenbrier & Russel

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