You must log in or register to comment.

snoman18x t1_jasbfox wrote

I couldn't finish the article because of a pay wall, so it may say this.

I wish I could find the article, but I've read another article that says that words are only symbols to which meaning is assigned. And that banning offensive words or language for the replacement of new "ok" words only cause those words to have the offensive connotation attached to them or for new words to be created.

And that changing the language does nothing to stop the hate surrounding them.


LadnavIV t1_jat1pnp wrote

This is the meaning of the phrase euphemism treadmill


sysaphiswaits t1_jatw6jx wrote

I’ve never heard that phrase before, but it’s terrific.


Seismech t1_jauxph0 wrote

According to the etymology at ttps:// Steven Pinker coined the term in 1994. With my emphasis

>1994 April 5, Steven Pinker, “The Game of the Name”, in The New York Times‎[1], ISSN 0362-4331, page A21:

The euphemism treadmill shows that concepts, not words, are in charge: give a concept a new name, and the name becomes colored by the concept; the concept does not become freshened by the name. (We will know we have achieved equality and mutual respect when names for minorities stay put.)


ReadyClayerOne t1_jatfas5 wrote

Someone posted an archive link below and they argue instead that so called forced inclusive language is bad because it doesn't help anyone, a prisoner suffers no matter what you call them, and people are reactionary, citing the extremely mixed acceptance of latinx and similar terms among Spanish speaking groups. Nothing really about the euphemism treadmill.

I don't know. I was skimming shortly into it, but it seemed like a lot of words to say, "I'm upset that some people get upset about language and are FORCING others to accept their language by... writing guidelines." Like, I get the whole toxic positivity argument. I agree with him on the notion that "saying X is blind to Y is insensitive to actual blind people" is one that I don't particularly care for. Not because I want to be a dick to blind people, but because the meaning isn't pointing out a deficiency in blind people. It's used in a sense of being the opposite of seeing something. I digress.

My big issue is that in order to engage with his argument I first have to accept that this is a widespread and pervasive problem in the first place and, honestly, I don't think it is. Conservatives have been complaining about PC language basically since they coined the term and probably before that as well. He seems to have an allergy to engaging with any of the actual arguments though. For example, I don't remember him mentioning this part about prisoners: The point of naming prisoners with person first language isn't to lessen their suffering, as if anyone advocating for it thought the change would do that; it's to humanize them to hopefully get others to empathize with them and support reform that would hopefully benefit people in prison and the general public. Turns out, a lot of people equate "prisoners" with "criminals" and those are loaded words. They make people more likely to view them as an other by discounting their personhood. By providing his strawman "calling them a person in an incarcerated facility doesn't lessen their suffering" argument in place of an actual advocate position, he shows that he only wants to argue with the blanket concept and not engage with why some groups advocate for these changes.

He also rewrote part of a 2012 non-fiction piece with what he imagines the inclusive version would look like and it's very clunky and uses more words you see. So in this imaginary world where he was forced to rewrite it, the prose is not as brief or elegant because he was forced to reword "...had Hindu parents" as "...whose parents were of Hindu descent..." CheckMATE, language police!

What's his evidence besides? Who's rounding up writers and speakers, throwing them into the vocabu-gulags? Style guides and guidelines. Guides that, by and large, say something about how some people are sensitive to certain language and to be mindful of that.

So he's an asshole ranting about inclusive language but doing it in a way that's slightly more intellectual than your standard 14 year old on the Internet by dressing it up with contemporary references and about 3000 words too many.¹ However he's still forgotten to include any actual opposing positions, instead substituting his own easier to counter arguments. If only there was a word for that.

¹ I'm not word counting it.


madmari t1_jauicm1 wrote

There is close to zero acceptance of Latinx


VitaminPb t1_jausku0 wrote

Except amongst the leftist intelligentsia who insist that it be used and if you don’t you are a racist and sexist and probably a neo-Nazi.


EristicTrick t1_jatl9v8 wrote

"Strawman" is offensive to scarecrows


zigfoyer t1_jav20hd wrote

I think the issue isn't language policing in itself, but more that we don't do anything but that. Black-white wealth gap hasn't improved since the 60s, but we have phased out most slurs, at least in polite conversation, and we have better representation in movies and whatnot. Language should be a stepping stone to real change, not the goal in itself.


john_wb t1_jawo1rj wrote

Changing language is easier than changing society. It allows some people to feel better that they are "making a difference" without having to actually make any effort.


ReadyClayerOne t1_jazbs7n wrote

To add to the other commenter's point about inclusive language itself being cheap, here's an MLK quote:

>It didn’t cost the nation anything to integrate hotels and motels. It didn’t cost the nation a penny to guarantee the right to vote. Now we are in a period where it will cost the nation billions of dollars to get rid of poverty, to get rid of slums, to make quality integrated education a reality

Change is easy when it doesn't require fundamentally restructuring our institutions or reconfiguring the way we distribute our wealth. We can't even get people to accept the cheap change, let alone the real change.


No_Industry9653 t1_jav6n0n wrote

Yeah, this isn't exactly Orwellianism, and it's not like professional writing isn't constrained and somewhat confusing to begin with. If they want to try have codified ways to not make Twitter mad, why not.


Meteorologie t1_javbpdh wrote

I think he’s arguing against the idea that if you are not fully on board with constant and mutually-conflicting revisions of words and phrases in everyday use, decided behind closed doors by unknown and unaccountable figures and handed down with no debate or dissent permitted, you must be an asshole, bigot, or some other type of Bad Person.

I think you sort of proved his point.


davowankenobi t1_jaygftg wrote

You keep saying unknown and unaccountable people, which leads me to believe that you don’t know have meaningful relationships with anyone that is affected by racist, ableist, homophobic, transphobic language.

Just because you don’t know how equitable language came/comes about, does not make it what you think it is. You’re making it sound like there is some cabal that want to use language that is more equitable and inclusive.


ReadyClayerOne t1_jazl1cq wrote

> decided behind closed doors by unknown and unaccountable figures

I'm sorry. Who is this shadowy cabal deciding inclusive language? Do they decide all the modern no-no words or are there sub-committees for different minority groups?

>and handed down with no debate or dissent permitted,

They have enforcers!? Wow. They must be pretty powerful. I can imagine it now, "Hey, Tony, we don't use the g-word anymore. Yeah, last Tuesday. You mean yous didn't get the new list? Sorry, no excuses. I have to bust ya kneecaps. Oh, I guess I gotta call you a Nazi or racist or something too. Yeah, thanks for being so understanding, Tony."

Now, I wrote a lot of words so maybe you missed the important point that he missed and one of the main issues I have with accepting his argument. So let me spell it out:

The way we describe people absolutely colors how we engage with them. Advocates for inclusive or person-first language often do so with the intention of humanizing individuals within a group.

How much they succeed and whether or not they're ignoring the people with the most skin in the game, so to speak, is up for debate, especially as more people from within these minority and marginalized groups are able to be heard. It can be hard when there are advocates outside a group trying to be mindful or helpful so they use terms that conflict with the preferred terms of people within that group, doubly so if advocates within the group aren't even completely decided. And that's not even getting into the in-group people who are not as engaged and may not accept any of the most popular terms.

For example, I used latinx in a setting with some younger people from Cuba and the Dominican Republic a few years ago, mostly because I heard it and thought maybe it was slightly more inclusive. They were upset at most and indifferent at best, but all very vocal about it. So I asked their opinions, listened, then asked, "What would you, right now, as a group prefer?" They debated latino, but then came to a consensus of either that or latin@, an alternative a few had seen that combines the -a and -o pronounced like latinay, for its inclusivity to the girls. So that's what I went with. When I was with other groups, if they had a problem when said it, I'd usually laugh a bit and apologize, explain my experience with the first group then ask the new group their preference.

We seem to have this aversion to being wrong. I don't know if I can blame people for where it comes from. I know I'm not immune to it. Part of it's natural: it hurts to be wrong. It hurts to have someone disagree with us. Research shows that our worldview is fundamentally tied to our ego. So when our opinions or beliefs are challenged, our body feels threatened. But part of this aversion is learned too. We get so full of ourselves. Look at the people I listen to, how intelligent I am, how many people I know, the success I have in work and home, the breadth and depth of my knowledge as proven by my peers, teachers, and institutions! Surely there is no fault in my logic, foundation, or reasoning! Maybe that's just as much the ego talking.

Perhaps I'm rambling. Point being that we hear a lot about scientific or mathematical reasoning. These are fields wherein answers are often clear cut. Barring rare or unusual cases that don't affect nor appear in most peoples' daily lives, 2+2=4; ice freezes; fire burns.

When it comes to people, our societies, our cultures, our languages and so on, things are not so clear cut. The language today is not the language we grew up with. There is no higher authority that can dictate nor forcefully direct the change of such. Rationality can only predict so much because not every person is rational nor are they rational in the same ways as, even with the same information, two people may come to opposite conclusions. In that way, we may write or say something and someone will disagree. It may be one person. It may be an entire group. We may be able to defend what we said and how we said it wholly and flawlessly. We may realize that what we said or how we said it was, in fact, poorly delivered. The best we can do is understand and learn. It's no good engaging with people who have good intentions if we don't even try to understand and faithfully represent why they do what they do.

If you've stuck with me this long, thanks. You didn't have to, especially after my snark at the beginning. I've been writing this comment longer than I wanted, same as my original comment honestly, partially because it's gotten more introspective than I was intending. I'm tired. Tired of a lot of things. I'm tired of endless niggling that assumes such and such is a monolith, taking advantage of our gullible brains' inability to distinguish a few examples from a genuine trend. I'm tired of endless pontificators huffing their own farts in intellectually masturbatory editorials. I'm tired of the people that continue to publish that rubbish as it's often inflammatory "hot takes" designed to attract clicks.

Anyways, here's Douglas Adams being far more concise than I'll ever care to be on the general subject:

>Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty- five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.


davowankenobi t1_jatorg7 wrote

100% agree with this. I read it in full and I was confused by that excerpt he rewrote. It encapsulates the whole spirit of the article: "being purposively obtuse about language change".

It just reeks of right wing propaganda, because I have read several fiction books recently with topics that have content warnings and more equity language and the impact of the horrible actions is not lessened by the language use, because the authors are good writers and not relying their plot on lazy stereotypes/language.


iamleeg t1_jat9p4j wrote

It doesn’t, but that’s a great point that it should also say. It says that text written in inclusive English says way less than text written in English, and ironically alienates the reader from the very characters it is trying to include.


RanCestor t1_javvwus wrote

Yep you can test this in action by saying "Horse!!!" angrily as if you were cursing.


jesse-taylor t1_jasdo3m wrote

It's a seriously harmful symptom of toxic positivity, a modern disease that is destroying much of our ability to honestly communicate with one another especially in the USA.


First-Fantasy t1_jatfkkj wrote

I'm 40 and can't think of a single national conversation that I would describe as honest or good faith.


jesse-taylor t1_jatpnod wrote

The only time I remember the country being united was one of the worst days in our history. Isn't that the saddest thing ever????


ViscountessKeller t1_javqjmu wrote

yeah, and given that we then proceeded to destabilize an entire region, blow trillions of dollars, kill untold thousands of people, and accomplish jack shit, maybe it's for the best that the United States isn't particularly unified.


jesse-taylor t1_jawqs07 wrote

Unified or not, the powers that be will always find a greedy way to go f&^* up someone else's country and economy and stability. What a mess we've made of Central America, and now "we" want to prevent them from escaping the mess we made when they come here for sanctuary.


Bridalhat t1_jaxn8uz wrote

That was also a really bad day for Muslim-Americans. A whole new level of racism dropped.

Also I don’t particularly feel the need to be on the same side as people who foment coups. Fuck them.


TheRecognized t1_jauqwnf wrote

Could you explain why you would call this toxic positivity? It’s not a concretely defined term so obviously it might just be that we have different ideas of the term but I wouldn’t really classify this kind of censorship as toxic positivity so I’m genuinely curious why you would.


jesse-taylor t1_jauw6rl wrote

Oh, it is absolutely toxic positivity to ban all words that may possibly be construed as hurtful, mean, ugly, or uncharitable in any way regardless of how important they are/were to the telling of our history and most important stories. And controlling the language of literature, social media, news media publications, live broadcasts, entertainment, and especially textbooks is blatantly ridiculous. There is a misplaced desire in many people to make some kind of self-serving statement to underline the fact that they are a "good" person and a kind person, above all other things. To feed a need for a sort of sham moral superiority. A need to not have any single person or animal ever suffer regardless of the overall realistic picture or natural progression of events in the world. The overwhelmingly naïve point of view that erasure of "mean" language can change the world for the better is inane, childish, unintelligent, moronic, and potentially quite destructive. This behavior IS toxic, and I see it everywhere. For example, I may criticize a post on a food presentation, or a room redesign, or a sewing project, or a video production, posted on reddit subs that are pretty much invitations for honest critique. And I am not ugly or mean, just honest. I get hit like a tornado for being "mean" and "negative." People tell me I should just move on if I don't like something, saying that something less than blind positivity is unwelcome. I will not live like that, nor accept that behavior without a counter-stance.


broadenandbuild t1_jatd3q2 wrote

I would attribute this partly to a rise in toxic femininity and the tendency to infantilize adults.


AtLeastThisIsntImgur t1_jatktdd wrote

You wanna define that phrase?


BeeBee_ThatsMe t1_jatnm8o wrote

People shifting all the blame on men.

Which is funny, because people will blame everything on how women are socialized to be different from men. Well who does all the child rearing? Apparently women. So Women, more than men, are socializing men and women to be different way more.

So how is it that toxic traits arise from socializing, and aren't women's fault? Are we finally ready to admit that men and women are different, and it's not from socializing?


spotted-cat t1_jatnevn wrote

Toxic femininity is the MRA way of saying internalized misogyny — women slut shaming each other or being classist, ableist, or racist, etc. But the worst offenders are TERFs, SWERFs, and tradwives — and before someone jumps down my throat about the tradwive thing:

  1. There’s a difference between a SAHM, homemaker, and tradwife

  2. The tradwife ideology was originally popularized by white supremacists. Google it.

  3. If you don’t believe in the TERF to Nazi pipeline, you may wanna go take a look at J.K. Rowling’s twitter account. Or google the names of any diverse character in Harry Potter — IE the only Irish kid is only good at blowing things up (that’s a reference to the IRA) and the one major Black character is named Kingsley Shacklebolt which translates to, “King of the jail,” or “King of shackles.” Again, google it.


Hinoto-no-Ryuji t1_jauazv8 wrote

I’m not here to defend Rowling and her TERF views - she’s awful, and her getting validation for her politics from the popularity of her books is reason enough for anyone to put them aside.

But her actions have led to an honestly fairly disingenuous effort to make the books seem far worse (morally) than they actually are. Are some of her naming conventions suspect? Sure. She’s pretty incurious when it comes to anything outside her British milieu, and therefore kinda shit at accurately portraying any of it. But characters like Kingsley and even Cho are only really problematic in their names alone, and as characters lack literally any other stereotypical hallmarks, which would be more concerning. Seamus, meanwhile, only blows things up in the movies, so that’s a total non-starter. It’s fine to critique and dislike the books (The house elf liberation subplot raises far more eyebrows than a few lazy names), but they aren’t the racist Nazi shit Twitter seems to want to paint them as.

(And before it gets brought up: the goblins, at least in the books, lack anything that would cause someone to associate them with Jews. The characteristics they share are characteristics shared by most fantasy goblins; if they were actually meant to be antisemitic, they’d be using their position in wizarding society to subvert and/or control it. They’d need to “complete the metaphor,” as it were. At worst, they’re just another example of Rowling not picking up on the implication of the tropes she’s incorporating.)


Avhumboldt-pup0902 t1_jaudhx2 wrote

Other people have written on Cho playing into the stereotype of the tragic and sad Asian girl who loses, through death or other circumstances, her white love interest (Miss Saigon, Madame Butterfly). So there is that to contend with as far as her actual character.


Hinoto-no-Ryuji t1_jaunts9 wrote

An interesting avenue to explore, for sure.

On the one hand: narratively, Cho serves primarily an avenue to create a complex romantic entanglement for Harry. In Book 4, her being involved with someone objectively pretty great forces Harry to contend with unfair, jealous dislike of a decent guy; in Book 5, the fallout and trauma that his death inflicts on her creates a wrinkle that put an ironic twist on things. None of this narrative purpose leans even a little bit on Cho being Asian, and the narrative never plays up her being so (her physical description is exclusively in realm of "black hair" and "freckles" and - especially - "good looking"). Indeed, Cho could be any other race, save for her name - a trend that extends to all of the few PoC (Patil twins) in the books. This lack of leaning into racial caricature when it comes to other PoC could lead one to giving her the benefit of the doubt: Cho being Asian is incidental to her role in the narrative and therefore any associations with "Pining Oriental Beauty" are unfortunate coincidence born (as so many in the books and especially their expanded universe are) of ignorance of those tropes in the first place. Rowling is many things, but she's rarely (never?) been actively racist, even in terms of narrative stereotype; I don't think it's unbelievable that she just didn't think of the optics.

On the other hand, given the rather distinct lack of PoC in the books at all (IIRC, the only other explicit ones *are the Patil twins*, and I think also a minor Slytherin?), one could argue that Cho being even passively Asian is enough to raise eyebrows. Why is this character, of all of them, explicitly PoC? Maybe balanced out by the totally benign Patils, but food for thought, nonetheless.


Avhumboldt-pup0902 t1_jaup49r wrote

Yea, it's been a very long time since I've last re-read them. The slam poem "an angry letter to JK Rowling from Cho Chang" is my primary source for the critique. Which, maybe in Harry Potter is passable but looking at it from the perspective of western writers writing Asian characters is a bit different.

I also think in the grand scheme of her digging her heels into transphobia and aligning herself with right-wingers to that end, who generally are very racist, it's hard to uncouple.

But I agree, it's certainly good food for thought!


AtLeastThisIsntImgur t1_jau2cyd wrote

I think you're giving MRAs too much credit. When I see them talking about TF they normally mean 'making fun of men' or 'getting all my stuff in the divorce'


lingonn t1_jav4f2u wrote

Internalized misogyny is honestly the most hilarious concept of modern times. Not only are men responsible for all the woes of the world, anytime a woman does something wrong it's only because they have been brainwashed by men. Zero agency.


ChalanaWrites t1_jaubgyg wrote

It will be a beautiful world when everyone speaks like an HR memo.

These language guides are always broken into four ridiculous categories of phrases.

  1. Don’t call people racial slurs like ***** or **** or even **** with a **** and cheese. Because professors at Stanford need to be reminded of this.

  2. Instead of this word used by an in-group to define themselves, use this other word a cabal of business moguls created. I’m disabled and the revolving door of sanitized euphemisms for disability is ridiculous. No, I am not and never will be handicapable.

  3. Words that you really need to strain to find problems with. No, that’s not the etymology of picnic. Crowbar and buck don’t have origins in slavery either. Brown bag refers to brown paper bags (surprise) and the racism connection is tenuous. Though I’m maybe other people have stronger feelings about this.

  4. Sanitized euphemisms for things which are bad. Don’t whitewash homelessness or poverty. By turning it into ‘unhoused’ or ‘living without a house’ makes it clean when this is a condition that there needs to be real societal change on. Changing it to something cute and sweet is disgusting and sweeps the real systemic issues under the rug. Also they should not be called ‘The Forsaken.’

Finally, I think it’s funny and a little pretentious that these inclusive language guides are so focused on prescriptive language when so many marginalized groups (Underserved? Groups of marginalization?) have separate dialects and modes of speech. Which one do you want, sanitized language or to get out and start telling oppressed groups what to say?


fairsnowe t1_jaur2k7 wrote

This is so perfectly phrased, especially 3-4. I’ve thought the same thing.


JhymnMusic t1_jas7zkz wrote

I am completely convinced it's all advertising tactics.


Trips-Over-Tail t1_jatd70d wrote

Imagine a marketing campaign that gets everyone talking about your product, engaged with it on an emotional level, gets airtime even on strict non-advertisers like the BBC, and it does not cost you a penny in advertisement costs.


GaimanitePkat t1_jat6r9v wrote

It honestly makes me nauseous that "unalive" has made it into people's regular rhetoric outside of TikTok, where it apparently originated.


water-on-ink t1_jax6bsx wrote

I'm not a big fan of advertiser appeasement influencing language, either. It's pretty disgusting, and frankly makes me want to communicate in an increasingly more formal- and possibly archaic- manner.


FKAFigs t1_jaw0p4g wrote

I think this is a totally different situation. “Unalive” isn’t specifically prescribed as a word to sugar-coat death. It was used on tiktok in a tongue-in-cheek manner to talk about killings or suicides without those words triggering your account to be banned for discussing violence. Everyone knew how silly it sounded, so now they use it ironically in real life. It’s just jokey slang, like “kicked the bucket.”


GaimanitePkat t1_jaw2feb wrote

I disagree. I've seen plenty of posts on other social media which use "unalive" in a completely serious and unironic way, just because they have become so used to changing their speech for TikTok's algorithm.

Whether or not it was "specifically prescribed," using a "tongue-in-cheek" jokey word to legitimately discuss the topic of death is by nature sugarcoating it and downplaying it.

It's why I get similarly annoyed when people say things like "sending nudes to minors is uncomfy" or "don't lewd the lolis". Using cutesy and euphemistic language to describe serious topics makes light of those topics.


FKAFigs t1_jaw4gyw wrote

I mean do I find it obnoxious and immature sometimes? Sure. But that’s more youth being youth, and also I’m guessing it’s a way to try to make their very scary reality a bit less intimidating. My generation said “knocked up” to refer to somebody getting pregnant when we were young. Also immature and disrespectful which is like… what young people do best. They’ll grow up, and more confident, and most will experience enough life that they’ll want to use more serious language. You know when I stopped using “knocked up”? The first time I had friends that had fertility problems or unwanted pregnancies. Those experiences made me grow up and start being more respectful.


AtLeastThisIsntImgur t1_jatkzra wrote

Maybe go to a doctor if words cause physical distress. Also do you know why that language evolved on tiktok?


NicNicNicHS t1_jatmv5s wrote

people think that some words, including the words kill, suicide, murder, etc make them get hidden in the algorithm

there's also other common ones like sex being s3x or seggs, for the same reason

I don't know if anyone actually knows it those words hurt your discoverability or if it was just a hoax and people follow it because the algorithm is our almighty lord and we must follow its commands or else we will be forsaken by its light.


GaimanitePkat t1_jatqbg3 wrote

>I don't know if anyone actually knows it those words hurt your discoverability or if it was just a hoax and people follow it because the algorithm is our almighty lord and we must follow its commands or else we will be forsaken by its light.

Either way, it's shit. Let's downplay impactful terms like "Kill" because otherwise maybe you won't get a lot of views on TikTok!! O noooo, where will we be if people can't see our TikToks?! Might as well be dead! I mean, unalived!


NicNicNicHS t1_jauz2vn wrote

Welcome to corporate, we are all office everywhere now


GaimanitePkat t1_jatqom7 wrote

>Maybe go to a doctor if words cause physical distress

Thanks for the snark. Have you bothered to consider the implication of how we're deliberately making light of serious topics, just so we can entrench ourselves in spyware?


earsofdoom t1_jatr987 wrote

Bold of you to assume terminally online people ever leave the house.


AnarkittenSurprise t1_jask6gg wrote

Banning words is foolish.

Being thoughtful about how our words are interpreted by others, and building a culture around colloquialisms, slang, or new expressions that accurately reflect our message AND is recieved accurately by the person on the other end, is important though.

Language can upset, exclude, or make others feel dehumanized. If that's not our intent, it's worth investing in making sure that's not our impact.

If harming, exclusion, dehumanization, etc. is someone's intent, then I support them communicating that way all they want. That helps me and others understand what we're dealing with.

Lastly, people who hide behind "that's not what I meant" when they either know that it's how they are being understood, or don't care about how they're being understood, have a very poor and short-timed excuse imo.


Headless_Grammarian t1_jasnxt6 wrote

It's trying to make codes for what words can be used in order to separate us (the good people) from them (the bad people). And it will have classist effects - the people who are educated at higher institutions will be able to sneer at the uneducated who still use words like urban and the poor.


vaikrunta OP t1_jauhyww wrote

To nullify the classist effects you would have to let people speak the way they want to and then we are back to square one.


Headless_Grammarian t1_javbaqr wrote

Right. My problem is that there are words I think shouldn't be used in polite company, like the n-word (except by black people). So I'm inconsistent in this. It's a knot I haven't figured out how to untangle.


dontsheeple t1_jatx4b4 wrote

The goal isn't to make the world more just. It's to make the world dumber and more compliant so that they are easier to take advantage of.


earsofdoom t1_jatr4om wrote

Banning words is so pointless, within a year the word you replace it with will become offensive to people. Ends up its not the words but rather the concepts behind them, there is no way to spin things like mental illness or disabilities in a good way and we need to just accept people are going to use the terms in derogatory way no matter how many times you rename them.


LordofdeKeems t1_jasknc2 wrote

Banning words is foolish. It's editing out the bad to hopefully just picture the good.

We don't learn and progress by closing our eyes and ears to the bad. You would think we would have learned that over the last few thousand years.


EristicTrick t1_jatob1w wrote

These style guides appear to be written by people who eschew etymology, and may have read some George Lakoff without comprehension. While we should absolutely reflect on the metaphors and power dynamics intrinsic to our vocabulary, if we can no longer use "stand together" or decry "blind avarice" because not everyone has working legs and eyes... we may as well give up and go back to pointing and grunting.


winter_limelight t1_jatvo8r wrote

I'll admit to feeling a bit lost trying to follow the argument through the middle, but I thought the final paragraph was a most excellent conclusion, particularly:

>​ [The equity language guides] belong to a fractured culture in which symbolic gestures are preferable to concrete actions, argument is no longer desirable, each viewpoint has its own impenetrable dialect, and only the most fluent insiders possess the power to say what is real.

Which leads me to wonder: How does one resolve differences and/or generate solutions when different parties don't speak the same language?


10_Virtues t1_jat51b4 wrote

Censorship, Forced inclusion and political correctness often meets more retaliation than simply leaving them be. Over time people change and usually for the better when they can decide for themselves rather than being told what a terrible person you are for having different views.

I know a few ex racist because they made that conclusion on their own and realized it wasn’t what they felt but was lead to think.


pointguard22 t1_jauf8o2 wrote

George Packer is an accomplished journalist and author. So it strikes me as exceedingly strange and bordering on disingenuous that he conflates journalism, long-form non-fiction, fiction and the types of writing and communications covered by non-profit style guides (i.e., white papers and the like). The idea that style guides seeking to promote respectful language will somehow chill the free expression or quality of all these different genres is close to incomprehensible.


durntaur t1_jav4xeu wrote

I was literally having this conversation with my wife at dinner tonight.

It's becoming double plus ungood.

She provided some really good examples and all I could think of is how tech filters are causing people to use words like "unalive". Seriously, we're building the future dystopians that were written as fiction (and warnings) decades ago.


splopps t1_jawoi1t wrote

Pay attention to the word “perfect”. It is well on Its way to losing all meaning. People say it for so many responses.

Waiter: what can I get you today?

Me: I’ll have a BLT and a cup of soup

Waiter: perfect!

Me: no it’s not! It was a choice from the menu, and bastardization of very important words like “Perfect” take all meaning of it away until nothing is perfect anymore, and we all talk New Speak.

My wife: 🤦‍♀️


davowankenobi t1_jatprr6 wrote

it's really weird how in a sub about books, people are equating this to 1984 and it saddens me that people don't know (don't seem to want to?) how to critically read a source. Despite the incendiary tactics of the article, this IS NOT 1984 for many many reasons.


AardvarkusMaximus t1_jav51rq wrote

Something occurs to me when reading most comments. The main concern in my opinion isn't voiced (or I missed it).

Changing old books to match todays standard of correctness means we yearn for a world where ideas are shown to exist and be present far earlier... which means we will show some of today's struggle as "old news" or "already addressed". Changing a book for instance to make it more acceteptive toward LGBT+ means that the issues they faced wasn't that broad and evident.

We should keep older books as they are BECAUSE they can be insensitive. It also should shock us to read some parts, some can be boycotted, but in no way should we change a discourse to match other standards.


Kuro_mi t1_jau8quj wrote

"There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all"


take5b t1_jaujd2y wrote

Since this is the Atlantic, a periodical whose editorial writing has largely devolved to a that of a youtube comment thread with better punctuation, I’m just going to guess they are complaining about political correctness and the typical whiny cancel culture faux-victimhood.

And I’m gonna further guess they’re ignoring or downplaying that Connecticut is literally trying to ban the word Latinx.


durgadas t1_jatja7h wrote

Reclaiming words back is what is needed. Black people did that with the N-Word, for example, so it can be done.

It's just that we're all so damn passive and apathetic that it takes a long time to even notice that the angry and the motivated with agendas have reworked words in a negative manner that we suddenly go "wait, now I don't want the language to evolve!" which it inevitably does and you can't stop it. But, you CAN become more aware of how language is evolving and adopt and evolve yourself.

Having guides like this helps us to evolve into people who are concerned with equity and inclusion instead of mean-spirited bullies treating people poorly who have already been treated poorly so we don't have to change.

Ignorance and ego are the primary problems of human life, and they always have been. Combined, they form a conservative impulse that doesn't help anyone and is too easily manipulated by those same people with negative agendas.

It's sad that a move toward compassionate inclusive language results in a conservative anti-change approach that is based on a fearful thought too often based, sadly, on a projection of one's own outlook.

But it IS true that language is the first principle from which archetypes and mythology are created, and those who seek to stifle change so they don't have to feel uncomfortable are always engaged in a kind of warfare because fear cannot see outside the framework it has constructed for itself.

The War On Sensemaking has gone too far, now. Being sensitive, open, AND strong is all possible when you live with integrity instead of fear. Indeed, it is us who are inclusive you will turn to in order to alleviate your pervasive and intrusive fear, once you grow a little.

Claiming morality when speaking immorality is a good way to hide your weasel words, but won't fool everyone, unless that group is trained to only ever extract an anecdote from a story, and reduce all discourse to such bad faith tactics.

In a story, things have an arc, and they don't always end up where you think, and too often we consider writing and discourse now to be merely a large collection of anecdotes, and refuse to be changed by anything; which is, again the conservative impulse.


DragonSlave49 t1_jauq3k0 wrote

I wrote as much in three essays five years ago but not a single person I shared them with agreed with me. Goes to show how unaware we are of our real reasons for holding the opinions which we have.


CLE-Mosh t1_javo94c wrote

Read some Farrell and your head will explode


sloan2001 t1_javvsss wrote

Like banning guns stops gun deaths and murder. Like banning theft stops theft. Like trying to control anything results in control of that thing.

read with scathing sarcasm


MamaMiaPizzaFina t1_jaw07bp wrote

it is just me, or this is the dumbest issue,

Publishers want to sell books that they fear have not aged well. so they proactively "edit" them. causing controversy. Publishers have to sell books, so sitting on the rights of a half a century old books does nothing for them.

Real solution, dont have a copyright system that last longer than a lifetime.

Those books should be in the public domain already. available for free to everyone, want a modernized version? sure, someone would have edited it, but why?

I think at best it is an annoying BS, like in the chocolate factory, they removed the word "fat" but he is still getting punished for gluttony and being fat, so, it did nothing.
and at worst it sugar coats the past.

All the extremely misogynistic attitudes of James Bond will be washed away, rather than accepting that in the recent past, those attitudes are not only normal, but expected and respected.


vaikrunta OP t1_jaw1ydw wrote

If what you claim about publishers want to sell is true, Its profiteering. It's not like they are sitting on the huge inventory that they can't do away with and it's costing them to hold on to that inventory (even if they did, old inventory without changes means nothing to them).

They have rights, they could always print and sell with a positive preface saying, look which ideas were normal when the book was first published in the year xyz and see how far we have come etc. With the controversial content, arguably, the books would sell more.

If anyone changes a book content without the explicit permission of author (if he or she is dead, then no permission by default) then they should not sell that stuff in author's name. It should be that simple. They can repackge it and call it a sanitized version of xyz by abc and then see how many people want to read that. (There could still be a pull for this, I am thinking Stephen Fry telling us about Mythos, that's essentially retelling, publishers need to have guts to do that rather than tampering already existing works of other authors)


MamaMiaPizzaFina t1_jawt4sx wrote

publishers cannot have guts, it is just a corporation with a marketing team and executives.
If a book is edited then they have no right to sell it without putting it in big letters in the title. the same wat that when a book is translated, the translator name should be stated. it should be obvious that the translated work is not the original.
You are right, the best option to publish things that have aged poorly (or just perceived to have aged poorly) is to include a preface.

"This book was written in ___, some behaviours and attitudes present in this book are unacceptable now but were considered normal then. they are not a reflection of peepeepoopoo publishing, but are presented in it's original form here as the author wrote it."

Otherwise it is sugar coating history.

But a book that is old enought to have "aged" should be in the public domain, this life + 70 years is utter BS.


SnowySky17 t1_jaxjyk8 wrote

Banning words is stupid you can’t change my mind


tomwrussell t1_jatcyvz wrote

Mini-Truth anyone?

Double Plus un-Good.


davowankenobi t1_jatp5r7 wrote

You really missed the point of that book


lingonn t1_jav77rz wrote

Oh right the point was that Winston was wrong and newspeak and twisting the truth was actually good.


davowankenobi t1_jav98gh wrote

Lol ok the point was about fascism, surveillance, and oppression. Asking people to use language that respects others is neither of those things


Meteorologie t1_javdyuq wrote

Merely asking people to use specific language created by distant, unknown, and unaccountable figures is not fascism, but I am not sure what compelling them to use it by threats of social or economic punishment is.

The consequences are key.


davowankenobi t1_javr7px wrote

distant, unknown, and unaccountable figures? You mean, women, queer people, disabled people, who ask you to not use a word like the R word or hysterical to describe a woman? Which then got picked up by style guides to inform writing and reporting?

This sounds like you believe in the fallacy of cancel culture


Meteorologie t1_javwv9h wrote

Please don’t suggest that women, LGBT, or disabled people form distinct monolithic groups with shared and internally consistent views on what language is acceptable and not acceptable - that is a dehumanising concept that denies their individuality.


Dearden t1_javxo5v wrote

It’s America I’ll say whatever I want


phoez12 t1_jatkcoh wrote

Ever read 1984 by George Orwell?


davowankenobi t1_jatpet3 wrote

So you think a style guide to writing and using language that is preferred by some groups, is equal to the structural hegemonic oppression of by a fascist surveillance state? I think you missed some of the points of the book. Ever read Gramsci?


lingonn t1_jav7d4k wrote

When the end result is the same, the perpetrator hardly matters.


FKAFigs t1_jaw3m5e wrote

The irony is Orwell himself wrote a suggested style guide for writers that included telling writers to “never use” foreign phrases or technical jargon. Hasn’t he read 1984?!!!!


Legitimate-Record951 t1_jatl0tm wrote

So, someone talking about which words they prefer to use now equals "BANNING WORDS"?


lt_dan_zsu t1_jattazt wrote

That's what I can't get over with these types of articles. Conservative media got worked up over some internal use words to avoid list for use by Stanford's IT department a couple months ago as if it was some banned word list at the college. Just like this guide here. Is this a banned words list? Not really. Some nonprofit put out an internal use language guide for official communications. Do I think some of their recommendations are goofy? Yeah, but I don't know why I should care. This guide has no material effect on my life and no words are "being banned." I would agree with the thesis of article on the Atlantic if you they were criticizing something that was actually happening, but it isn't. It's just another trite "free speech" that seems more in line with the standards of the New York post.


sje46 t1_jau4tmc wrote

No, but plenty of organizations (which can be anything from a school or business to a subreddit) forbid people from using certain words^1 in either official or internal communication and you will receive significant social censure if you are in certain fields to the point where you will have projects canceled.

Perhaps the latter can't be called banning even though this sort of chilling effect has the same consequences of it, but the former definitely is.

Thankfully there isn't a serious movement to ban words legally by my federal government, despite the shocking amount of support I see for this on reddit.

^1 I dont' mean slurs and sexual slang but a significant increase of words that were very recently not considered offensive, such as the word "lame" to refer to something not being entertaining.


davowankenobi t1_jau5ek6 wrote

Give an example of a social org forbidding words


sje46 t1_jau7dda wrote

Do you want me to link discord servers....?

There are plenty of social-justice oriented subreddits which ban specific words...hell, reddit as a whole I'm pretty sure has banned the N word at a minimum.


FKAFigs t1_jaw2y5u wrote

You also can’t say “fuck” while working in a church without being fired. No accusations of Orwell there though. People seem to understand that different places have different standards of acceptable speech when it comes to protecting their own traditions, yet when it comes to the new standards inevitably rising up as society values inclusion more, they balk. Recent generations are more offended by racial slurs than words like “fuck,” and I think that’s a positive thing. They find dehumanization of marginalized people more offensive than slang for sex. I agree with them.

I’m not saying every rewording is helpful or has to be adhered to or you go to social jail, but I understand the (sometimes clumsy) attempts to make people think about the impact of their speech and how to speak about difficult subjects with respect and professionalism. Will there be missteps, especially in media and corporations, as they consider these issues? Sure. But I appreciate the thoughtfulness of working towards rethinking language that reinforces harmful biases for marginalized groups.


sje46 t1_jaw5bp0 wrote

> You also can’t say “fuck” while working in a church without being fired. No accusations of Orwell there though. People seem to understand that different places have different standards of acceptable speech when it comes to protecting their own traditions, yet when it comes to the new standards inevitably rising up as society values inclusion more, they balk. Recent generations are more offended by racial slurs than words like “fuck,” and I think that’s a positive thing. They find dehumanization of marginalized people more offensive than slang for sex. I agree with them.

I agree with literally every single word you said here. The problem is that you think someone saying "Sometimes words are banned sometimes" means they are over-the-top assholes who just want to shout out racial slurs whenever they feel like it.

It doesn't really make any sense. Indicates that people are itching for a fight that isn't there. Sometimes words are banned. Depending on the context, that's usually good. But it's just plain wrong to say that words aren't ever banned. That's all I was saying.


FKAFigs t1_jaw6cd5 wrote

I actually don’t think that. I think that most people who bristle at style guides that suggest inclusive language are genuinely buying into a slippery slope fallacy: they think that making strong language suggestions in a professional setting will eventually lead to a complete loss of free speech. I’m disagreeing.

There’s always been expectations for language in organized settings, and those expectations have always changed as society has new values. We didn’t notice the ones we grew up with because, well, they were “normal” to us. But they started somewhere. So yeah, I don’t think style guides suggesting inclusive language is a sign of societal decline. I think it’s just another new way of thinking about how we speak.


sje46 t1_jawbd95 wrote

> I think that most people

"most people". Not all people. So why are you responding to me as if I'm definitely one of those people, with no charity? I highly, highly doubt that banning words in, say, college classrooms will result in universal banning of entire topics or words etc. The first amendment in the US is pretty strong.

>are genuinely buying into a slippery slope fallacy

...the slippery slope isn't a fallacy, you know. It's either an effect which is happening, or isn't happening, in given societal context. I could very well envision a place in which a particular society becomes very repressive in speech because hte taboo against restricting speech has been slowly eroded. This is not saying that I believe this same thing will happen where I live, or where you live.

It does happen in places like certain "loony" liberal social organizations, but isn't likely to happen society wide in the US (where I live) just let, because there are very good constitutional lawyers to protect against things like that, and the people are generally for the first amendment (besides on reddit for some insane reason). I am a bit concerned about some restrictions on speech I've seen coming out of Germany and the UK and Canada, not because I disagree that the things they're restricting are indeed shitty (you're a huge fucking asshole if you deny the holocaust, for example), but because I'm worried that conservatives will take this weakening of standards to make it illegal to be openly, say, socialist.

This was a pretty generic leftist (not lib, leftist) take only ten years ago but now people are so uncharitable that they assume anyone arguing in defense of the first amendment defending even shitty speech means they must support the shitty speech as well, when it's usually hte opposite. It's why the ACLU has supported (legally) the KKK in the past. The hyperpoliticialization of our times.

In regards to these silly radlib groups who try to shame people for using the word "lame" or whatever...that shit is probably cyclical, and hopefully they'll realize that they're being counterproductive to their own causes soon enough.


davowankenobi t1_jauf9r0 wrote

You said orgs, I asked orgs. You said Reddit.

You are complaining that subreddits that have moderation ban certain words. Subs have mods who moderate/create/curate a sub which you accept to follow when you join. If you wanna say the N word so badly and not be censored, go to 4chan or something


lingonn t1_jav751y wrote

Took one post to go from "it doesn't exist" to "yeah it does exist and it's good".


sje46 t1_javreaw wrote

>You are complaining that subreddits that have moderation ban certain words

I am not complaining. It's easier to win arguments when you make up what the other person's point of view is, right?


davowankenobi t1_javt1os wrote

I’m just following you’re logic after I asked a question that was not related to Reddit, and you brought up Reddit. You even brought up the N word shrugs