Hit & Run

New App for Politically Correcting Your Language

Never again be heteronormative, cissexist, racist, sexist, etc.

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PoliticallyCorrect
sodahead

A new JavaScript tool, Alex, scans your texts, emails, blogposts, and articles before you send them out to alert you to various forms of oppression, including microagressions, that may inadvertently lurk in them. The app makes helpful suggestions for how to edit your texts with the goal of helping you to offend no one.

I put in a couple of my recent Reason articles into the Alex demo to check how unPC I might be. Not so much, as it turns out. The main thing that Alex wanted me to change was the use of the pronoun "he," though in every case I was referring to a specific male person like, say, President Obama and economist David Autor. The suggested change was "they" or "it." Referring to President Obama as "it" somehow doesn't seem right. I also got dinged for the title "chairman" when referring to the head of a committee evaluating technological unemployment in the 1960s. Suggested Alex changes included "chair, chairperson, coordinator." Can you say "anachronism"?

An article over at Bustle argues:

Being politically correct just means being considerate of perspectives other than your own. When we diss political correctness, we're basically dissing people's right to feel respected. Political correctness is not about being condescending or superior; it's about making sure nobody is harmed by damaging language. And I happen to think that someone's right to not be hurt is more important than someone else's right to hurt them.

No one has a "right" not to be hurt by someone else's words. I am all in favor of and try hard to practice the arts of civility and tolerance and strongly urge everyone else to do so. True tolerance and civility are much better than adhering to some rote rules of PC speech that can be implemented by a computer program. Nevertheless, as I have pointed out, "No one has a right to a world in which he is never despised." And while I despise racist, sexist, anti-gay, anti-religious, and other forms of hateful speech, I also insist that "hate speech is free speech."

Let's face it, truly bigoted folks are not going use this new app. On the other hand, those timorous souls who fear that they may run afoul of the ever-changing standards of what is deemed offensive by the self-appointed racial, gender, persons with physical handicaps (just checked with Alex which informed me that "handicapped" may be offensive and made the suggested change in the text) thought police may want to use it.

Hat tip to B Pat.