The Instigator
brian_eggleston
Pro (for)
Losing
16 Points
The Contender
Kierkegaard
Con (against)
Winning
30 Points

The use of politically incorrect language should be avoided.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/7/2008 Category: Society
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 6,811 times Debate No: 5671
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (20)
Votes (8)

 

brian_eggleston

Pro

Not so long ago, my teenage cousins, Cody and Jake, and I were walking through the park when Cody spotted a disabled man sitting unattended in a wheelchair, and he turned to his brother and said:

"Jake, I dare you to go and tip that spastic out of his chair."

Needless to say, I was horrified and appalled and I turned to him reprovingly and said:

"Cody, we don't say ‘spastic', we say ‘disabled person'. Calling someone with disabilities a ‘spastic' can be very hurtful."

Mind you, the disabled man was using some pretty colourful language himself, but when his carer returned and helped him back into his wheelchair, we could see that Jake had tipped him into a steaming pile of canine faeces, so we forgave him his indiscretions.

Interestingly, not so long ago, the term "spastic" was a perfectly respectable one. Not until 1994 did the charity "The Spastics Society" change its name to "Scope". (1) Although a medically correct term, by that time the word had become politically incorrect in everyday usage.

Similarly, only a few generations ago, the word "moron" was a perfectly acceptable term to describe someone with mild mental health issues. (2) However, over time, was more commonly used as a term of abuse and so it was eventually considered vulgar and offensive to use the word in polite society.

A comparable history is attached to other terms used to describe people with physical or mental disabilities such as: cretin (3); lunatic (4); retard (5) and cripple (6).

Etymologically speaking, someone might be perfectly correct in referring to a person with learning difficulties who had just been glassed in a pub fight as "a bloody retard", but they would not be politically correct. That's because the term is liable to cause offence.

Similarly, you could go up to someone who was born out of wedlock with a severe congenital disorder and perfectly accurately call them "a cretinous bastard", but that would usually be deemed insensitive.

The same principle can apply to race. For example, people of South Asian ethnic origins are sometimes called "Pakis", which is merely short for "Pakistanis". However, this is considered to be a highly offensive term of racial abuse (although, unaccountably the word "Brits" as a short form of "British people" isn't.) Some people think that using the rhyming slang term "Hami-Ackies" (from the Scottish football club Hamilton Academicals) is somehow less offensive, but it isn't. The only acceptable way to refer to people from that part of the world is "Pakistanis" or "Asians".

Likewise, we should avoid using gender-specific words that may belittle the place of women in society. Often they can be easily replaced with non-offensive alternatives. Here are some examples:

Replace "mankind" with "humanity";
"man-made" with "synthetic";
"man-hours" with "employee hours";
"stewardess" with "flight attendant";
"housewife" with "homemaker";
"wench" with "server";
"skivvy" with "cleaner";
"whore" with "sex worker"; and
"hag" with "aesthetically-challenged female of a certain age".

Equally, it is important not to offend homosexual men by using offensive language.

For example, while it is acceptable to say: "I see George Michael has been arrested for having gay sex in public toilets again" it is not acceptable to say "That Manchester United midfielder, Christiano Ronaldo, looks like one of those gays to me." (even though he might do).

Also euphemisms such as "queer"; "bender"; "shirt-lifter" or "uphill-gardener" are likely to cause offence, just as to describe an effeminate man as "good with colours" is unacceptable.

Of course, freedom of speech is important, but in polite society, it is very important to moderate one's language so as not to offend other people's sensibilities.

(1) http://www.scope.org.uk...
(2) http://www.merriam-webster.com...
(3) http://www.merriam-webster.com...
(4) http://www.merriam-webster.com...
(5) http://www.merriam-webster.com...
(6) http://www.merriam-webster.com...
Kierkegaard

Con

The contention is "The use of politically incorrect language should be avoided." Your entire round you argued how different types of talk could be considered politically incorrect (albeit you fail terribly there, but we'll get there later). Not once did you say how or more importantly *why* it should be avoided, which is in the contention. Sadly, you only have one more round to do this, and thus will not be able to sufficiently counter my arguments. Fail points for you.

However, I'll go ahead and counter what little you said, in context to your contention.

Who *cares* if the term "spastic" is respectable or not? Not to mention the fact that it *is*, but...yeah. Just because an organization changes its name doesn't mean it's no longer respectable anyways. I have a spastic teacher at my high school, and I call her a spastic. Mostly because she is one, but also because she is one.

And yes, "moron" is usually used as a term of abuse, or a term of bonding between male teenagers. But just because it may be considered vulgar and offensive to some old conservative ladies who aren't connected with the real world, why should I not use the word as much as I want to?

Speaking of using words that used to have other meanings, I'm sure at some point in time you've either heard or used the term "dork". As of now, it means something as a "nerd", and is often a term used when "teasing" "someone". In my family, and most of society, the word is used in jest. However, at one point in time, the term actually meant "whale penis". The point is, words can change main meanings over time, and just because they change for good or bad (which depends on your point of view) doesn't mean that use of them should be automatically abolished.

Congratulations for defining the term "a bloody retard" as politically incorrect, but just because it causes offence doesn't mean it shouldn't be used. This is a moral debate, not a linguistic one.

My "whale penis" point can be applied to racial slurs as well. For example, take the word "nigger". Native Americans have turned the word around to have a more positive meaning and to make it more acceptable in society today between Native Americans. Society can get past injustice and "political incorrectness" by changing definitions.

Your proposal to replace words that have to do with men or women specifically is just...absurd. Those are words that are commonly accepted in society as "politically correct". "Mankind", "manmade", "stewardess", and "housewife" are jsut...words. Only the creepily radical sexists would take any offense whatsoever from such words. If there's a male steward, then they're called a "steward". If someone's a stay-at-home dad, then they're a "househusband". These are commonly used terms that you don't seem to be acquainted with. And unless you've been living in the 16 and 1700s, the terms "wench" and "skivvy" aren't commonly used whatsoever. And the term "whore" is commonly used to describe men just as much as women. In fact, you're being sexist yourself by assuming that the term only refers to women.

Why would I care what gay men think any more than what any other man or woman thinks? I have a right to say whatever I want to, and I accept the miniscule consequences that comes with it.

According to your "politically correct language", your first quote is *not* acceptable to say. It's more along the lines of "I see George Michael has been taken into custory for participating in such activities including homosexual intercourse in basins open to everyone that may want to use them again."

For the 20th time, just because they may cause offence doesn't mean they shouldn't necessarily be said. You have made no argument.

"Of course, freedom of speech is important, but in polite society, it is very important to moderate one's language so as not to offend other people's sensibilities."

a) We don't live in a polite society.

b) It's not necessarily important to "moderate one's languange" in order not to offend other people. I would refute an argument, but you sadly haven't made one yet.

I await an actual point that has to do with your contention.
Debate Round No. 1
brian_eggleston

Pro

Many thanks to my opponent, Kierkegaard (the student who calls his teacher a spastic), for his most impressive response!

I am sorry if I didn't make my contentions explicit, I hoped that they were implicit through the examples I gave. Nevertheless, I shall spell them out.

Whilst we all have the legal right to say pretty much what we like to anyone we please, we should avoid politically incorrect language because it may cause offence to others (which is immoral) and also because it may damage our own social standing (assuming that is important to us).

Please allow me to illustrate my second point. Imagine my opponent is invited to a right posh dinner party for toffs and snobs and after a slap-up feast; the guests retire to the drawing room…

.

Sir Montmorency de St. Leger – I say, wouldn't it be spiffing fun to sing comic songs around the piano?

Lady Jemima Fortnum-Mason – Oh, what a jolly wheeze, Monty, yes, let's! I propose young Kierkegaard goes first.

Kierkegaard – Well, as it happens, I was watching Sunderland play Manchester United recently and some of the supporters' chants were frightfully amusing. I particularly liked this little ditty…

(Singing)

He's queer,
He's bent,
His arse is up for rent!
Christiano Ronaldo,
Christiano Ronaldo.

Lady Jemima Fortnum-Mason – Oh, how perfectly dreadful!

Cecil Civil-Ceremony – Yes, we are gay men and we are deeply offended, aren't we Quentin?

Quentin Civil-Ceremony – Yes, and Christiano Ronaldo happens to be a very close personal friend of ours.

Sir Montmorency de St. Leger – I think we've had just about enough of Kierkegaard's charming wit for one evening, don't you everyone? I say, Bentley, fetch this young gentleman's hat and cloak, there's a good chap.

.

At this juncture, the butler returns with my opponent's puffa jacket and escorts him off the premises, thus depriving him of the opportunity to seduce luscious teen lovely (and notorious nymphomaniac) Helena Carter-Farque.

Notice how I used the romantic term "nymphomaniac" rather than "slapper", "tart". "slut" or "slag", which are derogatory to women in general.

But don't get me wrong. There are people who don't know where to stop when it comes to political correctness.

For example, there have been calls for the type of chest of drawers known as a "tallboy" (1) to be renamed "tallchild" when the "boy" in tallboy is actually a corruption of "bois", the French word for wood.

Others have suggested replacing words such as manipulate with non gender-specific terms when the word does not derive not from the English word for adult male, rather from the Latin "manipulus", meaning to handle.

Certainly some (usually self-appointed) "experts" go too far. For example, workforce diversity specialist and performance improvement consultant, Lenora Billings-Harris, CSP, (2) advises her clients not to use the term "gifted child" but say: "advanced leaner" instead. Sorry, but I don't imagine many parents would be too upset if someone told them they had a gifted child!

Her bizarre advice continues when she suggests the following:

Replace "No culture (when referring to parts of the U.S. where the opera and the theater are scarce or nonexistent)" with "Lacking European culture"

Replace "White lie" with "Lie (Calling it white does not make it okay)"

Replace "Don't go postal on me!" with "No alternative; someone in your audience may have relatives who are postal workers"

I'm not saying people should go to extremes like frothing nutjobs such as Lenora Billings-Harris suggest. Essentially, my argument is just that by avoiding overtly offensive language, you are demonstrating a delicacy of feeling for other people, which is all about good manners and nothing at all to do with suppressing your freedom of expression.

Thank you.

.

(1) http://www.antiques.tv...
(2) http://www.sideroad.com...
Kierkegaard

Con

Why, thank you!

We have not only the legal right to say whatever we want, but also the moral right. Why should I not say something that's "politically incorrect" simply because it's going to offend someone? Why should I care?

As for our social standing, it probably wouldn't effect it as much as you seem to assume. First, if someone is causing offense to another being, then they don't care about their social standing with that person in the first place. Take your example. Your teenage cousins obviously didn't care about their social standing with that person or the people around them, or else they wouldn't have offended him in the first place.

Also, it's important to realize that the degradation of others can also help your social standing among others. Say, for example, there's a group of bullies beating on a little boy. When the leader of the bullies throws the first punch, it increases his social standing with his buddies, rather than decreasing it.

The word "slut" or "whore" are only degrading to women if you use them to describe a woman. These terms, and others of the sort, can be used to describe men as well.

Regardless of whether or not you want to take it to the extremes or not, you're not actually arguing what your contention states. Your contention is whether or not politically incorrect language should be avoided. You have provided no evidence as to *why* it should be avoided, just different ways we could avoid it. You say that you might insult someone, but provide no evidence or reasoning as to WHY this should be avoided.

So, for all these reasons, I suggest a negative vote in this debate.
Debate Round No. 2
20 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Meganrihanne1992x 8 years ago
Meganrihanne1992x
incorrect terms and statements today are inflicted by modern and evaluated words for example
"retard" was respectivaly Ok to use nowadays it has been diveretd into an insult to make.

Its not the language that has changed its the term that has changed.
Posted by brian_eggleston 8 years ago
brian_eggleston
Aha! SexyLatina has rumbled my game! Yes, it was just an excuse to tell a funny story! Thanks for your complients.
Posted by SexyLatina 8 years ago
SexyLatina
And woops! I can't vote!

Oh well. Whatever.
Posted by SexyLatina 8 years ago
SexyLatina
Brian Eggleston, you are interesting. Looking at your other debates, it seems like you mostly just like telling funny stories. I myself am not so different in character.

In this particular debate, however, I do believe that Kierkegaard wins, because you don't provide much reason for using politically correct language, other than avoiding offense, which is too low a reward for diminished freedom. I take no offense at insults to my person, and I expect others to do the same. It seems like an easier way than monitoring what I say just in case there are people likely to be offended in the vicinity of earshot.

Funny story though, and keep up the good work. At the very least, this debate was entertaining.
Posted by Kierkegaard 8 years ago
Kierkegaard
Why thank you!

:D
Posted by KRFournier 8 years ago
KRFournier
Kierkegaard, I am always open to correction. You're right, the point of the resources vote is really to judge who had the most appropriate resources, their reliability, and how much they pertain to the debate. Looking back, again, I realized that (1) resources aren't necessary (as you pointed out) and (2) they really didn't add anything to the proponent's arguments. They were merely examples and some definitions.

I amended my vote on reliable sources to a tie.
Posted by Kierkegaard 8 years ago
Kierkegaard
In a moral debate, no resources are required. Your debating against two different...moralities.

And if the instigator doesn't include an actual side of the debate, I technically do not need to say *why* you should say them (besides, that wasn't technically the contention anyways. I just needed to say why they shouldn't be avoided, not that you should say politically incorrect things).
Posted by KRFournier 8 years ago
KRFournier
My Vote:

I voted Pro for better conduct and most reliable resources. The resources were mostly definitions, but Con provided no resources at all. So, Pro got it on a technicality. Also, I thought Con talked down a lot more. Phrases like "fail points for you" are unnecessary in a debate.

I voted Con for the most convincing arguments. The resolution is taking a moral position, and Pro really didn't argue morally. At best, he showed how someone concerned about their social standing could benefit from political correct language, but he did not convince my why I *ought* to use it. While I wasn't thoroughly convinced by Con's argument (hence my tie votes on who I agree with), he did clearly point out this lack of argument.
Posted by aaronr8684 8 years ago
aaronr8684
and finally

mean*

stupid misspelled words that make other words. Ok I'm done.
Posted by aaronr8684 8 years ago
aaronr8684
shouldn't*

I almost sounded like a douche bag...haha. Wait is that PC? Would it be "Female genitalia cleansing packaging"
8 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Vote Placed by Grape 6 years ago
Grape
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Vote Placed by SexyLatina 8 years ago
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Vote Placed by Killer542 8 years ago
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Vote Placed by KRFournier 8 years ago
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Vote Placed by Wayne 8 years ago
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Vote Placed by Kierkegaard 8 years ago
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Vote Placed by holyyakker 8 years ago
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