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December 06, 2005



Interesting analysis, though it contains the common misconception that "The term 'politically correct' itself was, like most great catchphrases of the past few decades, a creation of the Right, to lampoon the hypersensitivity of the Left."

I first heard the term in a poltical theory seminar when I was a grad student at Berkeley in the mid-1980s, uttered straightfacedly by a fellow grad student and self-described radical feminist. I can't remember the exact context, but I do remember that she used it to refer to some fact or theory that, while true, should be suppressed because it was not politically correct.

That the term, at least in its modern usage, originated on the Left is confirmed by the defintion given in the OED2:

"a body of liberal or radical opinion, esp. on social matters, characterized by the advocacy of approved causes or views, and often by the rejection of language, behaviour, etc. considered discriminatory or offensive."

The OED cites sources such as the 1984 Women's Studies International Forum, the Village Voice, and the Utne Reader, all of which used the term without irony. It was only later that conservatives seized upon the Left's use of "politically correct" as a way to deride liberals, at which point the Left abandoned it as a sincere locution.

R.J. Lehmann

I'll take your word for it, and you certainly were in the right place to know. The first time I can remember hearing the term was on Rush Limbaugh's show, probably around 1991. I've never heard anyone self-apply it, unless it's with some sense of irony.

Wild Pegasus

*crushes out his coffee cigarette*


- Josh

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