P.C. PCs


Last week Reuters picked up the story about Los Angeles County's disapproval of "Master/Slave" labels, and versions of it have appeared in newspapers around the world. At first this was funny, but I have to admit it's a little embarrassing when media outlets in Pakistan, Singapore, and China start mocking political correctness in the U.S.

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  1. Aren’t primary and secondary also hierarchical, and thus liable to hurt the feelings of the components so labelled just as master and slave did?

  2. Now, my computer lists a primary master, primary slave, secondary master, and secondary slave (my DVD-ROM, CD burner, and two IDE hard drives) — under this, would I have to have a “primary primary” drive?

  3. Dagny – no, barring a flash upgrade the CMOS likely won’t change, just the labeling of the attached devices. So if the computer displays the POST discovery text as “Master” and “Slave” etc., it will continue to do so. But the Offended Person Whose Ancestors Might Have Been Slaves can rest easy knowing that inside, the labels are different.

  4. Whoever suggested changing the labels to Politician/Citizen was brilliant.

  5. I wonder if black executives go to S&M parlors and ask their mistresses, “excuse me, could you call me something else besides ‘slave’? It’s offensive. Maybe I can call you Ike and you can call me Tina…”

  6. hmmm … seems like we ought to consult Julian Bond for an authoritative answer.

    Personally I am offend by the blatant acts the male and female connectors are doing behind the computer where we can’t see them.

    And as for Master & slave – if you haven’t tried it don’t knock it.

  7. As I said elsewhere lately, every automobile on earth (that I know of) has master and slave brake cylinders. Do these dipsticks propose inventing an entire new lexicon for automobile parts that have been around a hundred years?

    “Uh, yeah…Pep Boys? I need one of those stopper cylinder doodads?”

    Can’t imagine how some people are so easily peeved by such mundane matters.


  8. Jacob, you’re wrong. It makes it even MORE funny.

  9. It is indeed funny, but the sad thing is that the individual who wrote that absurd memo describing the even more absurd practice is probably in an environment where the practice of political correctness is so pervasive that he won’t even know to be ashamed. It’s a lot like watching a small child behaving in an embarrassing way in public; you can’t help but feel ashamed because the child doesn’t know enough to feel that way for himself.

  10. I especially like how Master and Slave are being changed to Primary and Secondary, whose meanings at least in the computer sense are not the same. Although the chance of such mislabeling causing significant crisis is slim, that such inconvenience and cost will be incurred for this trivial, nonsensical non-event makes me long for a system-wide failure brought about because somebody thought Secondary = Slave.

  11. the US created this PC scourge, so why is mocking so bad?

    No no no, no no no no NO NO no. Certain lame-brained Americans created the PC scourge. The kind who write memos about the labels on the backs of drive devices. The kind who think that Master and Slave devices function together in the same manner that Primary and Secondary devices do. The kind who think that a word has the power to be anathema to a tolerant society. Unfortunately we have many such slight of mind, and an inordinate number of them are in the position to make policy.

  12. Well, as far as I can tell, the US created this PC scourge, so why is mocking so bad?

  13. Maybe they could use Pimp/Whore?

  14. Very street, you know…

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