Monday, January 04, 2010


I came across this article, which I wrote in 1994, and thought it's still a lot of fun, so I'm sharing it with you!

Are you vertically enhanced? Visually challenged? Vocationally displaced? If you even
understand these questions, you must be politically correct.

The language of political correctness--oops, cultural sensitivity--is a rich and varied one. In fact, there's even a Politically Correct Dictionary. My husband bought this as a joke for a friend, but boy--oops, youth--I wish we had kept it. I could write a whole series of articles with words from it. Of course, that would be plagiarism. Well, not in the 90s--what's PC/CS for "plagiarism?" Surely Congress has come up with one. Man--oops, Humyn--I really need that dictionary...

Why PC/CS? Well, "cultural sensitivity" might imply an allergy to yogurt and I wouldn't want to alienate any yogurt lovers; plus being correct is usually a good thing. However, being political often isn't good, but sensitivity is... I'm just covering all bases. "CYA" is always good PC/CS.

Here in the United States (Land of the Free, Home of the Brave, Place of Really Good Mexican Food--oops!), we've come across some great examples of PC/CS vocabulary. It started on our flight home. Remember the "Airsickness bags" of old? Now, they are "for your travel discomfort." (Actually, larger seats and more legroom would do a lot more for my travel discomfort.) Can you imagine this scenario between the flight attendant and a passenger?

(Wait! What's PC/CS for "flight attendant?" "Airborne Services Coordinator" comes to mind, but that may be the company clerk for the Screaming Eagles. How about In-Flight Quality Assurance Executive? Further, we can't call the passenger "Sir" or "Ma'am" or "Miss." Too gender-insensitive. Comrade? Or is that too Former-Soviet? Let's just omit it.)

PASSENGER: Yes, I seem to have experienced some travel discomfort. Could you deal
with this? (Hands her a bag.)
IFQAE: (Nose turned up.) I am an executive. I don't "deal;" I manage.
PASSENGER: Oh, good. Manage this bag, too.

We encountered our favorite PC/CS word in Seattle on National Public Radio in a story about a recycling convention, all quite fitting, somehow. The story featured a woman--oops, Fellow Earth Inhabitant--who made belts and purses out of post consumer products. (Does this include bags of travel discomfort as well?)

Post-consumer products. Isn't it nice to know Americans no longer generate millions of tons of trash? Now, we "reallocate post-consumer products." Trashmen are a thing of the past; we have Post-Consumer Product Reallocation Technicians. Remember the phrase "talking trash?" Now, it's just post-consumer eloquence.

PC/CS has invaded our homes. The change from "housewife" to "homemaker" is welcome; I'd never marry a house (though none has ever asked), though "homemaker" makes me feel like I'm in construction. Now, however, this new vocabulary is invading our appliances! One game show prize offered for second place contestants --i.e., the victory challenged--was a Home Nutrition Preparation System. A title like that, and I expected the Frugal Gourmet artificial intelligence kitchen, or at least a food processor. No such luck. The Home Nutrition Preparation System was pots and pans. Now, you, too, own a Home Nutrition Preparation System. Amaze your friends!

A lot of the old--oops, temporally challenged--sayings have changed. No one "does a good deed" anymore; that's too passe', too square--oops, rectangularly inclined. (No, wait. That's a trapezoid, and since zoids are on the endangered species--when's the last time you saw wild zoid running free through your neighborhood?--it'd be politically incorrect to encourage trapping one. Rectangularly oriented--that's it!) Now, we "commit random acts of senseless kindness." Sounds RASKy to me.

Can you imagine when PC/CS really hits the military? No longer called anything as violent or archaic as "military" or "armed forces," it will take on the title "Cooperative of Conflict Resolution Specialists (CRSs)." How does this affect the individual services? In the Navy, seamen (A title which probably ought to be changed, anyway. Why, if we have seamen and airmen, don't we have groundmen and beachmen?) would be known as "Aquatically-Oriented CRSs," and marines "Post-Aquatic CRSs." (In Navy-ese, one would say "AqOrConResSpec" and "PosAqConResSpec." Don't bite your tongue on that.) Airmen, of course, take the title, "Altitudinally-Inclined CRSs." (Or is "altitudinally-inclined" another PC/CS for tall? Nah,that's "vertically inclined;" unless you're lying down, in which case, it's "horizontally inclined," or does that mean...? Ah, never mind.) Soldiers would take the official name of "Ground-Related CRSs," although in informal circles, they'd be called "Ground-Related Undesirables Negation Technicians," or the applicable acronym.

Don't know about you, but all this PC/CS post-consumer eloquence is making me want to fill my travel discomfort bag with post-consumer products. Where's the In-Flight Quality Assurance Executive to commit a random act of senseless kindness and reallocate it?

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