Thursday, October 26, 2006

Trisha Hsiao's article, 'The Word Police'

The Word Police

In the heart of many controversies lies the usage of political correct language and different views as to its validity. As the notion of feminism and minority arouses, people start to reform the neutrality of bias-free, gender-free language which was discarded by the language users in past patriarchical society. In order to erase the sense of humiliating, unequal, and mocking, people tend to use “a more decent” choice of words to describe controversy issues or terms. That is the birthplace of political correctness.

For the beggars and the disabled we call them minority; for the niggers we call them the black. The use of political correctness does alleviate tenseness in the society. It offers comforts to the victims and it helps cure the scars in their minds. By using appropriate word police, people will create an equal, harmonious and a world of euphoria.

However, overemphasizing on defects bears a resemblance to adding salt to injury, which will call people’s attention to things they did not pay attention on and hurt the victims for the second time. The opponents of political correctness argue that instead of playing on words, we should put those problems into practice. Actions speak louder than words. By the same token, Michiko Kakutani, the leading daily book reviewer to The New York Times, points out in her essay, choosing words to refer to problems with politically correct terms does nothing to fix the problems. “Calling the homeless the ‘underhoused’ doesn’t give them a place to live”. The fuss should be made over the problem of the homeless people instead of what they should be called. Other examples are the euphemisms coined by various governments worldwide, for instance, the propaganda during the Soviet Union period, or the truthful lies during the Vietnam War and Watergate, the recent response towards the bribery issues given by the Green Party in Taiwan.

Those languages indeed have tremendous influence on people. In spite of those appealing words, innocent people remain suffering. Choosing of words only compensate others’ sympathy, it will never solve the problem. We should put more emphasis on solving problems instead of covering problems with euphemism. Political Correctness Movement is a meaningful and helpful reform, but when those advocates go too far, it will become a hypocrisy movement

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