LINGUIST List 7.734

Wed May 22 1996

Disc: Linguistic Society of America & Political Correctness

Editor for this issue: Anthony Rodrigues Aristar <>


  1. Michael Covington, LSA and political correctness

Message 1: LSA and political correctness

Date: Mon, 20 May 1996 23:07:46 EDT
From: Michael Covington <>
Subject: LSA and political correctness

Since many members of the Linguistic Society of America read this list,
I hope it won't be considered off-topic to discuss LSA business here.

What do the readers of LINGUIST think of the LSA's criteria of "political
correctness" that meeting sites must pass?

The criteria have changed over the years. First, meetings could only
be held in states that had passed the Equal Rights Amendment. Later,
meeting sites were required to toe the line on gay rights (which almost
kept us from meeting in New Orleans, but a special dispensation was made).
According to the LSA Bulletin, if I remember right, the latest addition
is that meeting sites must have an anti-age-discrimination statute.

However worthy these causes might be on their own merits, I am concerned
about the LSA's use of political criteria for several reasons:

- The LSA's mission is to promote linguistics throughout the country, not
 just parts of it. The gay rights criterion alone excluded more than
 25 states from eligibility to host a meeting.

- Because the criteria are a moving target, their effect is to confine
 meetings to those parts of the country where legislative change proceeds
 fastest. New York and California may be able to keep up, but it's
 unreasonable to demand that all 50 states do everything in unison.
 Before Georgia catches up, the criteria will have changed again.

- Political activism unrelated to linguistics impairs the LSA's ability
 to speak with authority when a political issue comes up that *does*
 involve linguistic expertise, such as bilingual education.

Am I way out in right field, or do other members or prospective
members feel the same way I do? As a resident of a state that has
always been _civitas non grata_ to the LSA, I've had this grating on
my nerves for a long time. Comments welcome.

Michael A. Covington
Artificial Intelligence Center <><
The University of Georgia Unless specifically indicated, I am
Athens, GA 30602-7415 U.S.A. not speaking for the University.
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