Writer Asking For Trouble

“People who do not belong to certain groups are asked to defer in their use of certain words to those who do (the practice is known in some quarters as ‘privilege-checking’). Words and phrases are ring-fenced in order to strip them of their ‘stereotypical’ and ‘clichéd’ implications. Recently the use of such terms as ‘mental’ or ‘Brazilian transsexuals’ was said to feed into a stereotype. Of course it does: language is a work in progress and an accumulation of conscious and unconscious usage. It’s not surprising that metaphors and analogies tend towards stereotypes; clichés are ways of using language that have proved useful over time. The words we use every day have developed their various meanings over centuries, and often by making leaps as well as obvious connections. The best writers play with and use stereotypes and clichés to renew thought, not to shut it down.”