A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Words Matter

It's something my mom taught me many years ago-- how you say something is important. In a civilized society it is important to express oneself as succinctly as possible, with as much clarity as possible, and without causing unnecessary offense.

That said, I find the ongoing rejection of over-the-top Political Correctness to be unsurprising and, frankly, quite welcome. There comes a point in the parsing and analyzing of words that you are no longer just alerting people to the offensive, you are actively hunting for things to be offended by-- things that 98.84352534% of the population would never even think of as even remotely controversial. For one such case, please go here (tc, you can skip this if reading Lileks actively makes your head explode).

As a counter-example, the Women's Center here at UW-Parkside offers a number of services and programs for women that are both helpful and effective-- but when I first arrived here 5+ years ago, it was called the Womyn's Center. Presumably because you don't want to have that nasty three letter combination m-e-n messing up such a fine female organization. Except that only 1.15647466% of the people on campus actually gave a crap about those three little letters strung together in that particular way. So, they changed it two years ago.

Bravo, I say. There are plenty of true cases of discrimination, abuse and injustice happening every day-- let's focus on those instead of wasting time and energy and money on stupid crap that the vast majority of people couldn't care less about.

In other words-- Don't sweat the petty things, and don't pet the sweaty things.

Or something.

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