Friday, November 12, 2010


I know this sounds kind of petty, but I have been irritated by the ways people have been using language lately. I don't know if I'm more sensitive to this kind of usage or if it's been getting worse, but here it is anyway.

"They" are not "the gays."
Nor are "they" "the poor."

these are people we're talking about...people who are gay, people who are poor, people who are homeless, people who are hungry, people who are straight, people who are rich, people who are in debt, etc.

Unless I'm going to start hearing about "the straights" on NPR, I don't want to hear about "the gays" either. (can you tell I was listening to a story about DADT on the radio this afternoon?)
Ditto for "the poor" or "the needy" or "the homeless." Those are not descriptors of WHO they are, they are descriptors of the situation they are in. That is not the same thing.

Please, people, use language in a way that does not devalue human beings. Because that is what we all are, regardless of any other way we might find ourselves described--we are people, children of God, part of a community, and worth the extra effort to avoid de-humanising.



  1. "Please, people, use language in a way that does not devalue human beings."

    Like this, for instance?

    "And, in case you're wondering, the moral of the story is that we ALL know, even teenagers, why you drive that huge truck and why you're acting like an a** on the freeway. Your ...ahem... compensating... is obvious to all."

  2. Notice I didn't label that person, I described his behavior. An equivalent would have been if I called him "small ***** man" repeatedly, as happens regularly when talking about "the gays" or "the poor" in news stories or conversations.