Monday, May 25, 2009

Politically Correct Censorship

Interesting article on the problems of santizing the English language. My favorite:

My personal favorite is the use of the term “passing,” instead of calling death what it is. Why must it be labeled as a social faux pas to say an elderly person in a convalescent home recently died? After all, that’s what humans do: die. Why must we refer to death in such euphemistic terms as “passing?” Once again, it seems excessive and untruthful.

Death is uncomfortable, but pretending people don't die, but merely "pass" is ridiculous and, in a sense, dishonorable.

As a journalist, I was taught early on to use simple and direct language to describe things. Always use "said." Not "discussed," "retorted," "responded," "laughed," or any of the other hundreds of ways of saying "said." Why? Because said is the most direct and objective way of describing verbalization.

The same can be said of "dying." Let's face it, all the flowery language doesn't change the facts when a loved one dies. And, as someone with plenty of experience in this area, I can assure you that saying someone "passed" doesn't make their death less painful.

The problem with the whitewashing of our language (in an effort to spare feelings) is that it makes it less precise and less meaningful. It lumps in the simply offensive with the truly reprehensible. So, "disabled" is lumped in with "nigger." There is (and should be) a distinction between them.