Friday, June 27, 2008

Political correctness wins again

As a newspaper editor, the Associated Press stylebook is my bible. It offers guidance on a wide range of grammar and usage issues. And in the new edition, it's bowing to political correctness. According to the new and "improved" stylebook, individual newspapers can now decide whether to refer to a black person as black or African-American. Is there some compelling reason why we need to refer to somebody as African-American when, in most cases, they've never set foot on the continent, and their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were all born right here? And what if a white person who was born and raised in Africa comes here to live? Is he an African-American? And, by the way, not all black people in our country hail from Africa. How do we differentiate them? We hear talk all the time about how we need to break down racial barriers and come together as one America. To me, when you refer to yourself by your continent of origin, you're putting up a barrier and setting yourself apart from your fellow Americans. And the AP is now perpetuating that. The new stylebook also advises us newspaper people that "mentally retarded" is no longer acceptable. Those folks whom we previously referred to as retarded are now to be called "mentally disabled," the AP has decreed. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the old term. It was descriptive. Those folks have been mentally slowed, or retarded, by their conditions. And some activists go nuts when you use the word "disabled." They like to say "differently abled." Where does this stuff stop? I'm sure it's just a matter of time before the AP bans "black" and "disabled" totally. When that happens, I would like to be referred to as a "Scots-Irish-Swiss-German-English American." And, please, don't offend me by saying I'm fat (even though I am, it's my own fault and I'm well aware of it). I will henceforth be known as "calorically challenged."

The fat white guy



Anonymous Anonymous said...

White? White like Johnny and Edgar Winter? Sorta peach colored like Barbie? Or Caucasian? of, pertaining to, or characteristic of one of the traditional racial divisions of humankind, marked by fair to dark skin, straight to tightly curled hair, and light to very dark eyes, and originally inhabiting Europe, parts of North Africa, western Asia, and India

I love the range of skin and eye colors and hair types in that definition. I'm surprised it didn't include "extremely short to pretty stinkin' tall."

Does AP still hyphenate "teen-ager?" And why are "backseat" and "backyard" one word?

June 27, 2008 at 1:49 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

On the hyphen question...


June 27, 2008 at 1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice article, ...

I hate "teen-ager." Although I usually like to keep hyphens to a minimum, I don't care for backseat and backyard. I don't know why. All three just look wrong. Hyphens have their purposes, including avoiding confusion. For example, I used to see signs along the road that read NEW GUN CABINETS." Were they cabinets for new guns? Or new cabinets for guns? AP used to use the example of something like "small businessman" as the appropriate place for hyphenation. Is it a meeting of owners of small businesses, or a meeting of businessmen who are only 4'8"?

Perhaps the Supreme Court can settle this one, too.

June 27, 2008 at 2:10 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

Ooooh... unverified irony anecdote:

In the region around the Caucas Mountains in Russia, the native people, from whom we get the term "caucasian", have pale skin and jet-black (hyphenated only because of the subject matter) hair... It is because of their hair color that the other people (less homogenized in appearance) refer to them as "blacks."

Scarlett Johansson is my favorite African American...

Egypt is in Africa... But Egyptians are often classified as caucasian.


June 27, 2008 at 10:14 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

Scarlett Johansson = Charlize Therone... Those south africans all look alike anyway...


June 28, 2008 at 10:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a George Carlin rant to me

June 28, 2008 at 11:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come one, wait a minute...........George Carlin was white, I think.

June 28, 2008 at 3:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is very annoying what political correctness has turned into. What started with making things appropriate has turned into eliminating all possibly offensive words. Give it enough time and we'll all be speaking newspeak...good and not good...abled and not as abled...etc

July 10, 2008 at 1:09 PM  

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