Ive heard from several people who told me I was being wishy-washy or politically correct (a term Im not fond of) with my column today on the concept of People First Langage.
By DEREK DONOVAN
The Kansas City Star
In a nutshell, People First suggests that you focus on the person, not his or her disability, in referring to them. Hence, woman with mental illness instead of mentally ill woman or child with autism, not autistic child.
Ive heard those suggestions many times, and there are many who believe those constructions are meaningful and empowering. But on the other hand, there are also lots of people who disagree vehemently.
My overall point wasnt as clear as it should have been, perhaps. I dont think one can make many blanket statements on behalf of any community of people.
True, I doubt youll find almost anyone arguing for once commonly-used terms that are clearly archaic and now considered offensive. Retarded or colored are two obvious examples.
But theres a lot of dissent among people within groups about terminology, and journalists simply need to tread carefully and discuss that language with the people it applies to. I know people who prefer either African-American or black to describe themselves, and theres nothing wrong with that.
You just cant make overall statements about rules when it comes to something so inherently variable and subjective.