So some guy on twitter was complaining about people trying to "take control of our language" by discouraging use of racially insensitive terminology and I replied (perhaps foolishly) with a parable.
Pardon a brief digression. A health inspector visits a guy and tells him his outhouse is too close to his well and the guy tells him off: his water tastes fine. So the inspector dumps a 5lb bag of salt in the well. A month later, the guy's furious: "You've ruined my well!"
— Steven D. BREWER; Author (@author_sdbrewer) December 1, 2021
You could be forgiven if you didn't notice that I got the story wrong. The inspector dumped the salt in the guy's outhouse -- not in his well. But I actually liked it that way too. Can you imagine the health inspector thinking, "Well, you're not going to listen to me, huh? How about I just dump a huge bag of salt in your well and see you how like it." And if you did dump a big bag of salt in someone's well, well it would be totally reasonable to say they ruined it.
And if you use racially insensitive language, you should also not be surprised if someone dumps salt in your well.
Or if you foolishly try to tell parables to the willfully ignorant.
- Steven D. Brewer's blog
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