I don’t like hearing about political correctness. Whenever I hear this expression in the media it’s usually as a result of someone deciding that a word or song that has been used for decades is suddenly offensive to a minority group and must be banned. The complaint about the “offensive” expression usually doesn’t even come from the minority group.
Examples of such political incorrectness are:
1. “Merry Christmas” should be expressed as “Seasons’ Greetings”.
2. “Fairy Penguins” are now known as “Little Penguins” (in order not to offend the gay community).
3. The children’s nursery rhyme “Baa Baa Black sheep” has been changed to “Baa Baa Rainbow sheep”.
4. “Manholes” have become “person holes”.
5. “Brainstorming” should be known as “thought showers” in order not to offend persons who have epilepsy.
6. A word from the classic Australian children’s song “Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree” which says, “How gay your life must be”, is changed to “How fun your life must be”.
Today, I just read another phrase that can be added to that list of examples. Fat. According to today’s newspaper, Weight Watchers Australia don’t like the use of the word fat, as it may offend.
Members of the Weight Watchers community forum see this message when they try and post on the site using the word fat:
“Sorry, but your message contains language that we consider to be inappropriate for WeightWatchers.com.au message boards and violates our community standards and conduct guidelines, which are part of our terms and conditions.
“The following word is not permissible on our site: FAT.
“If you would still like to send your message, go back and delete the word.”
What annoys me about banning words is that I don’t think it reduces the harm that may be caused by the use of such words (that’s assuming the word is offensive to begin with). Similar to diet deprivation, where people start obsessing about the banned food, banning phrases may entice those who want to use these words to create offense, to use them more frequently or up the ante with their offensiveness. Furthermore, none of these words are offensive per se, it’s the context and manner in which the phrase is spoken that makes them offensive. It’s also people’s perceptions and beliefs about words that make them offensive or not. Some people don’t have a problem with using the word fat to describe themselves. They don’t consider the word to be derogatory in any way. To them, the word is morally neutral. Not so with others.
Fat is essential for the body (hence, the term essential fatty acids). Fat is something you cook with, eat and it has many health benefits. Personally, I will continue to use this word as I do not believe it to be offensive if used appropriately.
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