default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
Logout|My Dashboard

Some tips on writing without giving offense

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Tuesday, July 25, 2006 10:00 pm

How would you like to write in a way that does not offend anyone? Well, do what I did, and take a class in "Cosmopolitan Composition," a new course for writers, who want to avoid conflict and controversy, offered at New Age University.

Professor Char Bookburner, who has lectured at most major universities, is teaching a carefully collected cornucopia of creative approaches to non-controversial composition. She begins her course with a review of American law and the U.S. Constitution. "You will find the right to be free from offensive written material located somewhere in the back of the Bill of Rights," she says. "In the future, it is expected that courts will elaborate more fully on this basic right, much as they have done with the 'right of privacy,' also located somewhere in the back," she explains to her eager students.

Professor Bookburner proceeds with a program of "dos" and "don'ts" for the modern non-offensive writer. There are too many to list in this brief column, but here are two examples in which to test your own knowledge as to what is offensive and not offensive in today's emotionally sensitive world.

Find the offensive errors in the following statements:

Example I: "In a grueling contest, Nick Nascar just won the race in the Charlotte 300."

Answer: One must be careful not to use the word "race," as this can be offensive to some and taken out of context. The words "contest" and "won" should also be avoided, as this implies competition, and may be offensive to those who have never been first at anything. Also, Charlotte, a former Confederate city, may bring up memories of unpleasant ethnic divisiveness from the past, and should be avoided as well. Therefore, the following would be a more appropriate approach: "Nick Nascar, automobile speed enthusiast, was the first to cross the finish line, among a group of equally qualified drivers, at a recent event in a historical city in North America."

Example II: "Female marksman, Carrie Firearms, is the first woman to break eight clay pigeons with a single burst from a 12 gauge shotgun."

Answer: This one should be obvious, as no story should ever be written about a shooting contest. But, there are more subtle errors that may not be noticed at first glance. For example, the words "female," "marksman," and "woman" imply extensions of the words "male" and "man," which are simply unacceptable in today's world of equality.

For people negotiating the pitfalls of political correctness, Professor Bookburner's course is a "must" for those who want to avoid offensive, degrading and inappropriate material. It could even protect one's job and career, and obviously, I highly recommend her. By the way, I also might mention that she is a pretty foxy-looking babe, as well.

Steve Hansen is a Lodi writer and humorist.

First published: Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don’t pretend you’re someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don’t threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don’t insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the ‘Report’ link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.
  • 9 Don’t be a troll.
  • 10 Don’t reveal personal information about other commenters. You may reveal your own personal information, but we advise you not to do so.
  • 11 We reserve the right, at our discretion, to monitor, delete or choose not to post any comment. This may include removing or monitoring posts that we believe violate the spirit or letter of these rules, or that we otherwise determine at our discretion needs to be monitored, not posted, or deleted.

Welcome to the discussion.

Recent Comments

Posted 13 hours ago by Jien Kaur.

article: Letter: Ron Portal’s letters repeat the…

So very much the truth Mr Adams - but you forgot to make the mention of the man who spend the millions and finally discover that the Mr Oba…


Posted 13 hours ago by Michael Fiske.

article: Letter: Suggestions for committee appoi…

Ed, everybody knows JoAnne hates Bob. If you don't know that than you don't know squat! Open your eyes. She campaigned against two candidat…


Posted 13 hours ago by Jien Kaur.

article: Letter: Our leaders need to be better r…

The Mr Kindseth wrote that 'America’s attitude toward Royal Emperor Obama changed when he went from “We the People” to “Screw the People”' …


Posted 14 hours ago by Thomas Heuer.

article: Steve Hansen: Funding, researcher bias …

Skepticism is a smart way of saying "I DON'T KNOW." No more no less. It is not a lofty intellectual endeavor. It is used by the …


Posted 14 hours ago by Mike Adams.

article: Letter: Ron Portal’s letters repeat the…

A correct assumption instead: Mr. Portal, like most conservatives, utilize information that is not true and when they do use the correct …



Popular Stories



Your News

News for the community, by the community.

Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists