[Milton-L] Political and Correct

gilliaca at jmu.edu gilliaca at jmu.edu
Mon May 26 16:20:37 EDT 2008

.In particular, I would like to know whether the history of 
>"politically correct" is analogous to that of "Puritan", which began 
>(according to contemporary sources cited in the OED) as a term used, without 
>irony, to describe one's own position, and was then successfully purloined 
>by the other side, who used it with irony to bring the (originally 
>self-styled) Puritans down a peg or two. 

I would like to hear that also. My undergraduate students [and other people as well] seem to use it to turn aside criticism of their use of offensive or inaccurate language.
Here's an example, from, as we say, Real Life: I objected to a student writing about women as 'females.' I said it sounded clinical, and perhaps dismissive, especially since he used it in tandem with 'men' rather than 'males,' which I would have also found objectionable. 

I only meant to suggest he had a tin ear, but he took exception and wrote an email in which he said he was tired of 'politically correct uber-feminists.' This was a few years ago.

Cynthia A. Gilliatt
English Department, JMU
JMU Safe Zones participant
"You have made God in your own image when God hates the same people you hate." Fr. John Weston

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