For current political commentary, see the daily political notes.
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These are some terms I avoid using, with explanations of why I reject them.
There is another similar list in gnu.org containing software-related terms that we should avoid using.
Detained: I am frequently detained on the street, in train stations, and in airports. The people that detain me typically ask, "Are you Richard Stallman?" They appreciate my work though often they are misinformed about the Free Software Movement.
Being thus detained is not a painful experience. When people call the GNU system "Linux" and think I advocate "open source", that disappoints me, but there is a positive side: it gives me a chance to educate them about those differences, and ask them to help the cause.
By contrast, being taken away by thugs who might hold you prisoner for a short time or a long time is a big nuisance, or worse. It can be harmful, stressful, and even dangerous.
To describe that occurence by a passionless word such as "detained", which is used for events far less grave, is to deny the essence of what is happening. For those occurences, I say "arrested" instead.
Honor killing: Patriarchal murder.
Obamacare: I don't use this term because it treats Obama's medical insurance law with a certain amount of derision. While that system doesn't do enough — the main flaw being that it is based on private insurance companies — it was a substantial advance. I decline to speak of it with derision merely because others do.
People of color: The term "people of color" endorses a racist outlook towards humanity by treating "color" as as a matter of essence, of the substance a person is made of, rather than as a superficial detail.
The distinctions we call "racial" are grab-bags of various details, which may correlate more or less with certain ancestral groups. They are real differences, but not particularly important unless people make them so. So let's avoid using essentialist language to refer to them.
Sexual assault: this term is so broad that using it is misleading. The term includes rape, groping, sexual harassment, and other acts.
These acts are not merely different in degree. They are different in kind. Rape is a grave crime. Being groped is unpleasant but not as grave as robbery. Sexual harassment is a not an action at all, but rather a pattern of actions that constitutes economic unfairness. How can it make sense to group these actions together?
It can't make sense. It never makes sense. News articles, studies, and laws should avoid that term.
Sex trafficking: This term is gravely ambiguous. It usually means trafficking people for sex (enslavement of people as prostitutes), but I've seen it apparently used to mean trafficking in sex (all prostitution, including voluntary prostitution). Using such an amiguous term is a recipe for fallacy.
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