Monday, January 15, 2018

Late Chicago Tribune Columnist Mike Royko On Political Correctness

A Nose Rub Of Sorts For Ditzy Word Jocks


June 01, 1990|By Mike Royko.

Maybe it's time to wave the white flag. The age of super-sensitivity is crushing me.

I started to feel like a beaten man while reading a list of words that I shouldn't use because they might offend someone.

The bad-word dictionary was put together by a panel of news people on something called the Multicultural Management Program at the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

The introduction to their bad-word dictionary says:

"As newspapers move into the 1990s, there will be more emphasis on including minorities in daily stories-accurately, succinctly and in good taste. Language usage that has been acceptable in the past may no longer be acceptable.

"The following is a checklist of words, many objectionable, that reporters and editors must be aware of in order to avoid offending and perpetuating stereotypes."

Some of the words on the list are obviously offensive: nigger, chink, faggot. So you don`t see them in newspapers.

But "Dutch treat?" "Airhead?" And how about such shockers as barracuda, burly, buxom, dear, dingbat, ditz, dizzy, fried chicken, gorgeous, gyp, housewife, illegal alien, Ivan, jock, johns, lazy, pert, petite, rubbing noses, shiftless, stunning, sweetie, and ugh.

That's right, "ugh." The dictionary says: "A gutteral word used to mimic American Indian speech. Highly offensive."

Why not "Dutch treat?" They say: "To share the cost, as in a date. Implies that Dutch people are cheap."

Shall I go on? It depresses me, but why not?

- Barracuda: "A negative generalization of persons without morals and/or ethical standards or judgments. Many times directed at forceful women."

- Airhead: "Term is an objectionable description, generally aimed at women."

- Burly: "An adjective too often associated with large black men, implying ignorance, and considered offensive in this context."

- Buxom: "Offensive reference to a woman`s chest."

- Dear: "A term of endearment objectionable to some. Usage such as 'He was a dear man,' or 'she is a dear,' should be avoided."

- Dingbat: "Objectionable term that describes women as intellectually inferior."

- Ditz: "Objectionable term meaning stupid."

- Dizzy: "Avoid as an adjective for women."

- Fried chicken: "A loaded phrase when used carelessly and as a stereotype, referring to the cuisine of black people. Also applies to watermelon."

- Gorgeous: "An adjective that describes female physical attributes. Use carefully."

- Gyp: "An offensive term, meaning to cheat, derived from Gypsy."

- Illegal alien: "Often used to refer to Mexicans and Latin Americans believed to be in the United States without visas; the preferred term is undocumented worker or undocumented resident."

- Ivan: "A common and offensive substitute for a Soviet person."

- Jock: "A term applied to both men and women who participate in sports. Can be offensive to some."

- Johns: "Men who frequent prostitutes, but not a proper generic term for men or bathrooms."

- Lazy: "Use advisedly, especially when describing non-whites."

- Pert: "An adjective describing a female characteristic. Avoid usage."

- Petite: "Reference to a woman`s body size. Can be offensive."

- Rubbing noses: "Allegedly an Eskimo kiss. However, Eskimos don`t rub noses and object to the characterization."

- Senior citizens: "Do not use for anyone under 65. . . . Do not describe people as elderly, senile, matronly or well-preserved. . . . Do not use dirty old man, codger, coot, geezer, silver fox, old-timers, Pop, old buzzard."

- Shiftless: "As a description for blacks, highly objectionable."

- Stunning: "Avoid physical descriptions."

- Sweetie: "Objectionable term of endearment. Do not use."

I've changed my mind. I refuse to knuckle down to the dizzy new-age journalistic airheads in this ditzy Multicultural Management Program.

These dingbats appear to be bigots themselves. They list dozens of words- including fried chicken-that they say offend blacks, gays or women.

But they don`t include "honky," which many blacks call whites, or dago, wop, heeb, kike, mick, herring-choker, frog, kraut, bohunk or polack. Ain't us honkies got feelings too?

Whether or not they like it, Ivan Boesky is a Wall Street barracuda. William Perry, who used to be a fat slob, is now merely burly. My wife is petite and a gorgeous sweetie.

If some geezer unzips in a schoolyard, I reserve my constitutional right to call him a dirty old man.

The damn Rooskies have aimed missiles at me for 40 years, so maybe I'll refer to a Soviet as an Ivan. I've been called worse.

I'll continue to go have Dutch-treat lunches with my friends and check the bill to make sure the waiter didn't gyp me.

Why not "illegal alien?" It`s specific. It means an alien who is here in violation of our immigration laws. But what's an "undocumented worker?"

If I come to work without my wallet, I don't have any documents with me, so I`m an undocumented worker. Will I be deported?

If I decide to say "I hit the john," instead of "I visited the room where one disposes of bodily wastes," I'll do so.

When I put together a softball team, I'll recruit real jocks, not a bunch of wimps, nerds, dweebs or weenies.

And little kids have been rubbing noses and calling it an "Eskimo kiss" as long as I can remember. And that's a long time, since I border on being a geezer, a coot or a codger.

Fried chicken, fried chicken, fried chicken. I said it and I'm glad. Sue me.

In conclusion, your dictionary is a stunning example of lazy, shiftless thinking.


The Politically Smug Offer To Correct My Many Flaws By Mike Royko


November 5, 1993

AS hard as I try to be sensitive and politically correct, I can't avoid bumbling my way into boorish opinions, thus offending those who are truly enlightened.

And it seems to be getting worse all the time. Before noon today, I heard from four members of four groups who bawled me out for insulting them in recent columns.

It began with Erin Gallob, of Crawford, Colo., who didn't like something I wrote about politically correct choices of Halloween costumes for children.

She says: "You ask why should we be sensitive to the feelings of witches?

"My reply: Witchcraft or Wicce is a legitimate, nature-based religion practiced by many people both in America and abroad, and should be accorded the same respect as Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, etc.

"The witch portrayed today at Halloween is the Goddess in her crone aspect. She signifies the dying year and the wisdom that comes with age.

"It was only after the onset of Christianity that the Pagan Wisewoman became a figure of fear and hatred.

"So there is, as you can see, a very good reason to be sensitive to the feelings of witches like myself."

OK, from now on I will be sensitive to the feelings of Ms. Gallob and other witches.

But not vampires. Terrible drinkers. Don't like 'em, don't trust 'em; never have, never will, and I don't want them living next door to me. And I will continue to speak out against them. Werewolves, too. Keep you awake all night with their damn howling.

Next, I managed to anger Edward L. Koven, of Highland Park, Ill., by recounting anecdotes about John Kruk, the wise-cracking Philadelphia baseball player.

One was when a female fan saw Kruk smoking and berated him, saying that an athlete should not use tobacco. Kruk responded, "Lady, I'm not an athlete, I'm a baseball player."

This prompted Mr. Koven to say that my "concept of a hero, John Kruk, is quite warped."

"Since tobacco is a drug containing at least 43 carcinogens and toxins, it should be added to the list of other drugs banned in baseball. Tobacco kills. Kruk and other ballplayers should spread that message - not poisonous tobacco smoke.

"Perhaps you could find other heroes, such as the physicians, nurses and family members who care for and treat the millions of victims of tobacco smoke."

OK, I vow to never again be so warped as to write favorably about Kruk, that despicable spewer of carcinogens and toxins. And to think I cheered for him and his team in the World Series. I am so ashamed.

The third rebuke came from Frank De Avila, of Chicago, who was offended by a column I wrote about Mexico's refusal to extradite Mexicans who commit crimes in the United States, then flee back to their homeland.

De Avila said that I am a known racist and have "single-handedly managed to humiliate millions of honest and law-abiding Mexicans and Mexican-Americans," and that I "implied that they are child abusers, rapists, murderers and drug smugglers."

Well, the last thing I want to do is insult "millions" of law-abiding people. And it was insensitive of me not to realize that when I wrote about specific fugitives, such as the man who raped and almost murdered a 5-year-old girl, millions of law-abiding Mexicans and Mexican-Americans would assume that I was accusing them of being rapists.

Nor will I ever write about any criminals of Polish, Scandinavian, Italian, Greek, German or Asian ancestry, or those who are Catholic or Protestant, and those who are bald, tall, short, medium-height, nearsighted or red-haired, because I wouldn't want to insult the hundreds of millions, or even billions of people who make up those groups.

Besides my being insensitive, our switchboard and mail room couldn't handle all the cries of anguish.

So I apologize to anyone who is of the same ethnic background as serial killer John Gacy, whatever it is. When I said Gacy is a creep, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings.

Finally, there is a Mrs. Johnson, who said she lives in the University of Chicago neighborhood, but did not tell me her first name. However, she did say that I am a hopeless white bigot because I disagreed with the jury's rather mild verdict in the Reginald Denny case.

"What does a racist like you know about what those two boys have been through?" she shouted into the phone. "What do you know about how they grew up being deprived and being disrespected? All you know about is that stupid videotape. What do you know about the social conditions and the economics that forced these boys to do what they did? If you weren't so racist and ignorant, you'd know about those things and you wouldn't write the way you did."

She made a compelling argument. Yes, it is true that social and economic conditions contribute to crime. And they surely were a factor in the attack on truck driver Reginald Denny.

So I must concede that if Damian Williams had been born in a wealthy and privileged environment, he would not have picked up that brick and bashed Reginald Denny in the head.

Maybe he would have used a polo mallet.

(Copyright, 1993, The Chicago Tribune)

Mike Royko's column appears Friday on editorial pages of The Times.

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