Part 1: Where Did “Politically Correct” Come From?

"Politically correct" is designed to be a slur, not a positive phrase. Full description of pic below.

Check it out: “politically correct” came into common usage in the United States in the 1940s and ’50s, when Socialists and Communists clashed over Stalin’s alliance with Hitler. Communist party doctrine was called the “correct” party line.

Jewish educator, author, and activist Herbert Kohl explains:

“The term ‘politically correct’ was used disparagingly to refer to someone whose loyalty to the [Communist party] line overrode compassion and led to bad politics. … [It] was meant to separate out Socialists who believed in equalitarian moral ideas from dogmatic Communists who would advocate and defend party positions regardless of their moral substance.”

People who were “politically correct” were people who said racism and genocide didn’t matter; people who claimed the party line was more important than actual people’s lives.

Who does that sound like to you? Continue reading “Part 1: Where Did “Politically Correct” Come From?”

“Correctness” Is Not the Goal, Liberation Is: Why We Need to Stop Saying “Politically Correct”

Flowchart for whether to use the term "politically correct." Full text description at bottom of page.

“Politically correct.” It’s a term used widely by everyone from right-wing pundits to preachers to diversity trainers, and pops up in myriad scenarios. It’s every bit as loaded as a baked potato, but nowhere near as delicious.

I’m here with a message about “politically correct” for folks like me who want to use language in ways that increase respect, rather than deepen divides. To quote the great Inigo Montoya, I do not think it means what you think it means. Continue reading ““Correctness” Is Not the Goal, Liberation Is: Why We Need to Stop Saying “Politically Correct””

The Spectrum of Language

spectrum of language rev
Full image description

United States mainstream culture promotes the idea that language is either “correct” or “incorrect” (in terms of grammar, spelling or pronunciation, word choice, and content). But language—along with everything else in this world—is so much more complex.

As a radical copyeditor and as someone who believes that words have incredible power for destruction, oppression, healing, liberation, and more, I understand language to exist on a spectrum from actively hateful to profoundly loving—and I strive to help people use language in the most life-affirming ways possible. Continue reading “The Spectrum of Language”