Disparaging Terms

Date: 22 Oct 94 00:21:50 EDT
From: Paul Woodford <72772.2633@compuserve.com>
To: Subgenius Digest 
Subject: (Long) Your Tax Dollars at Work
Message-ID: <941022042150_72772.2633_FHM55-1@CompuServe.COM>
I had to share this with you while it's still hot from the press -- yesterday the Social Actions office here at Hickam Air Force Base published and distributed hundreds of copies of a "Human Relations Disparaging Terms" pamphlet. God knows how many man-hours (or wymyn-hours) went into its production, but it's obviously the product of extensive research. Social Actions cites Webster's Third International Dictionary (1986) as the source, and they thoughtfully offer the following caution on the cover: "Contains terms which may be used or taken offensively." The list itself is entitled "Slurs." Without further ado, I give you the list in its entirety, leaving out only the definitions (the truly motivated will beat a quick path to the nearest Webster's).

By the way, this is not the first "Human Relations Disparaging Terms" pamphlet Social Actions has published -- last year's Table of Taboo Terms included slurs inexplicably absent this time around: e.g., Dutch, Dutch courage, going Dutch, fem, femme, female, four-eyes, and yellow (the adjective, as opposed to the noun "yellowbelly").

"Say, didn't they omit a few Disparaging Terms?" you ask. Yes, even the most casual slinger of slurs will note some gaps, and I won't bore you by trying to list them. But take "raghead," for example -- why isn't it here? After careful consideration, I've come to the following conclusion: becoming an official Disparaging Term is akin to attaining sainthood. An offensive term has to have a long history, a pedigree as it were, before the scholars at Social Actions will put it on The List. Consider "conventicler," if you will: a religious heretic who attends conventicles, or secret meetings. This word was last uttered in normal conversation sometime in the 17th Century. "Campbellite," a follower of Alexander Campbell, founder of the Disciples of Christ, is by contrast one of the newer slurs on The List, and it is at least a hundred years old. So you see, these things take time. Just as the Vatican beatifies candidates before granting them sainthood, I imagine that Social Actions maintains a list of Semi-Slurs, containing words which may someday attain full Disparaging Termhood. I fully expect to see "raghead" (not to mention "camel jockey" and "sand monkey") hit the Big Time by, say, 2015.

"So what about 'bastard' or 'slut?'" you ask -- Anglo-Saxon words that have been around since the opposable thumb -- why aren't they on The List? And if you can't call someone a "whoreson," is it okay to call someone a "whore?" Hey, these Social Actions people have college degrees! I'm certainly not going to argue with them. But YOU can! Call or write and ask them why YOUR favorite slurs aren't on the list -- their number is (808) 449-1701, and the address is 15 ABW/SL, Hickam AFB HI 96853.

To Slack in Human Relations,
Paul Woodford