Monday, November 9, 2009

Beware of political correctness


Jewish date:  22 Marḥeshwan 5770 (Parashath Ḥayye-Sarah).

Today’s quasi-holidays:  World Orphans Day

Worthy causes of the day:  “Support Innovative Humanitarian Assistance in Ethiopia - The Petition Site” and “End Overfishing -- A Chance to Save 10 Species - The Petition Site”.

Today’s news and commentary:
Today’s weird thing is a slightly humorous but accurate definition submitted by Malcom NC-17, included below.  Enjoy and share the weirdness.


politically correct |pəˌlɪtək(ə)li kəˌrɛkt|, adj.

Regarding language or ideas, one or more of the following:

1) Specifically designed or chosen to be more accurate, more neutral, or less offensive than previously used terms.  E.g., using “women” instead of “girls” for adult female humans, or “Native American” instead of “Indian” for people inhabiting the Americas before European contact and their descendants.  This usage is rare and probably obsolete.

2) Not liked by the speaker.  This usage is dismissive and typically used in place of a real argument.  E.g., “Why the hell do I have to say ‘African-American’?  That’s just political-correctness!”  This particular example would indicate the speaker would rather use the “n”-word.

3) Popular, especially with regards to thinking.  E.g., “You can’t say terrorism is connected with Islam!  That’s not politically correct!”  An unstated notion often connected with this usage is that there are only two groups of people capable of evil and who are responsible for all the ills of the world:  White Christian heterosexual men and Jews.  One is only allowed to overtly speak badly of the former, but indirect disparagement of the latter is fine.  Cf. Newspeak goodthink.

4) Superficially inclusive.  E.g., It is often considered politically correct to say “Happy holidays!” instead of “Merry Christmas!”  Late December is the “holiday season” for Christians but not necessarily others.  The occurrence of the minor holiday Hanukkah around this time is coincidental, the real “holiday season” for Judaism being earlier in the year at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  In Islam, the holidays follow a lunar calendar with no leap month and thus wander in relation to the solar year.  And so forth.  Thus acknowledging the “holiday season” is at best well intentioned and at worst facetious.

5) Silly.  Such language may be an attempt to be more accurate, more neutral, or less offensive than previously used terms but has suffered a disconnect from reality.  E.g., “I don’t keep houseplants.  That would be indentured servitude of our fellow creatures.  The politically correct term is ‘herbaceous companions’.”  When such usage is not intentionally humorous, it may be a good indication that the speaker should seek the help of a qualified psychologist.
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