[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.

C
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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