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Oops, speaking of politically incorrect

Posted by Lotg on January 21, 2004

In Reply to: Oops, speaking of politically incorrect posted by Bruce Kahl on January 21, 2004

: : : : : : : : : According to this article, a principal, who is white, has been reassigned for saying (I assume) the N-word while lecturing students about name-calling.

: : : : : : : : :

: : : : : : : :
: : : : : : : : :::: This is one on a number of examples of the increasing political correctness in the US which has the effect of chilling expression and removing the ability to even discuss certain issues. There is now a lack of tolerance from segments of the society, where, as a country, we made our greatest strides by increasing tolerance, and open discussion. Hopefully this is just a passing phase, and good sense will finally prevail. I'm an optimist, and hope it happens.

: : : : : : : "Stupidity", that is. :)

: : : : : : all those words could cause offence. However, I can't see how it could be offensive to explain to children - who soak up unacceptable words quicker than permissible ones - that some words are deeply offensive. I'm pale skinned, as Celts often are, but I can see that 'nigger' is particularly offensive because it is a de-personalised word coming from 'negro' which was used by English-speaking white folks to denote a slave. Even though some of my ancestors were probably slaves under thrall to the Romans, then the Danes and finally the Normans - there is no word that is used exclusively of white people to remind them of their past as subservient and owned beings.

: : : : : : However, it is up to Afro-origin people to determine whether 'nigger' and 'negro' are offensive - they can choose to re-claim the words, especially 'negro' which is simply latinate for 'black'. '[N-word]' would be more difficult, as I don't think it was ever used in a positive way.

: : : : : : Offensive or not, words exist and cannot be unmade, so it is better to tell the children that using 'nigger' causes offence and will not be tolerated than to pretend such words don't exist.

: : : : : : In Britain, we have the 'Paki' debate - is 'Paki' offensive or simply descriptive?

: : : : : : After all, 'Paki' is only a shortened word for 'Pakistani' and if used accurately should not be any more offensive than 'Brummie. However, it has acquired a dismissive tone, so it is generally thought offensive.

: : : : : : Ever since school, I have had Chinese friends, yet I often called having a Chinese take-away a 'chinkie', never associating the word 'chinkie' with a person, only a type of meal.
: : : : : : I got told off by somebody (not any of my Chinese friends) for calling the take-away 'a chinkie'. Thinking about it, if the expression were used about a person of Chinese background that too would probably be construed as offensive - yet it does not carry any negative connotations, so far as I am aware. So far as I am concerned 'chinkie' is restricted to take-aways.

: : : : : : If I go to a restaurant, I might choose between Indian, Chinese (not 'chinkie'), Thai, French or Italian cuisine - yet 'Indian' is inaccurate as to be truthful more 'Indian' restaurants are run by Bengalis than Indians - and quite a few by Pakistanis. We use the generic description 'Indian' to cover the cuisine of a whole region without offence being taken, yet offence is taken over what appear to be lesser errors.

: : : : : : I suppose accurate use of language is the answer.

: : : : : Hi ESC, a similar N-word discussion occurred back around Jan 5. That thread was instigated by you as well. You must be having some problems with this issue?

: : : :
: : : : huh?

: : : The issue of having to substitute words or terms for other words in order to be politically correct. ie. saying 'N-word' instead of actually saying 'nigger'. I figure for this general topic to be raised by ESC twice, that he must be having problems in his line of work, which I'm assuming (please correct me if I'm wrong) involves teaching and students.

: : Sorry ESC, in my last comment I said 'he', cos I made that assumption. My apologies if you're not a 'he' but a 'she'. Your pen name doesn't really tell me.

: I do not think that ESC is "having problems" at all. ESC is an extremely hard working volunteer at this board and will "instigate" issues because they are language oriented, not because of "problems at work".
: We should be grateful for the dedication ESC has shown to this group in helping you all with your posts.
: If you feel that you need to post negative comments about the work that ESC puts up here for you all then you all should be ashamed of yourselves.

OK, I was so astounded at your reaction, that I re-read what I wrote and I think I can now see how you could have misinterpreted my meaning. Thus proving the power, and also the possible tragic consequences of poor communication, which is obviously what I provided.

I'm assuming the sentence where I said "...must be having problems in his line of work" is the offending sentence. What I meant was that the problems were in the work itself, not in the person carrying it out. That's what was happening in my head, but clearly I didn't read it through after typing it, or I would have seen how it could have been otherwise interpreted.

Clearly I don't know ESC, as I don't even know what sex he/she is, and don't really know his/her line of work. So what I was trying to ascertain was, why this seems to be an important issue in his/her case. eg. If ESC is a teacher, is this a topic raised by students, is this a topic that raises it's head in ESC's teachings, etc. etc.? ie. Why has this been raised, what has brought this on? It's just a question. A curiosity on my part.

This is of particular interest to me, because it's not such a big deal here in all parts of Australia. So I'm just trying to understand these cultural differences and the degree of difference.

I will say that there are some Australian ways of speech that sometimes get me into strife. I'm sure that's not confined to Aussies. But I think Aussies do tend to speak more openly, more lazily and more ironically than people of many other nations.

So perhaps we should all be mindful that there are people from many parts of the globe who access this site (which is wonderful), and there will always be a risk of misunderstanding.

Bruce, it's clear you don't know me either. I can assure you that I do not attack people for no reason. I do not insult people I don't know except perhaps if they've had a go at me, and even then, I'm pretty slow on the uptake. ESC has done absolutely nothing to me except kept me entertained, so please understand that you've misunderstood. Although I'm sure ESC will be grateful that you've leapt to his/her defence. And my apologies if I offended anyone. It was totally unintentional, and never entered my head.