LINGUIST List 7.814

Mon Jun 3 1996

Disc: LSA & Political Correctness

Editor for this issue: Anthony Rodrigues Aristar <>


  1. Michael Covington, LSA: Political Correctness
  2. "M. Lynne Murphy", lsa and politics
  3. Dave Harris, comment on political correctness
  4. "Victoria A. Fromkin", Re: 7.811, Disc: Lg & dreams, -y, LSA

Message 1: LSA: Political Correctness

Date: Sun, 02 Jun 1996 20:05:54 EDT
From: Michael Covington <>
Subject: LSA: Political Correctness
I seem to have started a thread that won't end, and maybe it's time to
bring it to a conclusion. I was gratified to learn that I am not the
only person who is concerned about the LSA's political criteria for
meeting sites; in fact, many objected much more vehemently than I did.
The basic problem is that too much of the country is ruled out.

Recently, the LSA agreed to apply the tests to cities rather than
states; this probably makes Atlanta eligible. I would encourage them
go to further in this direction. Actual discrimination that would
interfere with an LSA meeting is one thing; the mere existence of some
obsolete laws on the books is quite another, and a site shouldn't be
accused of discrimination without careful examination of what the
local policies and practices actually are.

There is, after all, such a thing as regional prejudice too. Some
Americans make unjustified assumptions about unfamiliar parts of their
nation. (One colleague told me Georgia was "retrograde," which means
"moving backward" and is about as unlike Georgia as any description
can be.) In seeking to combat other prejudices the LSA should guard
against inadvertently condoning this one.

I want to thank all of you for your input, both public and private.
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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Message 2: lsa and politics

Date: Mon, 03 Jun 1996 14:40:45 GMT
From: "M. Lynne Murphy" <>
Subject: lsa and politics

Date: Sun, 02 Jun 1996 13:32:39 CDT
From: (John Turing)
Subject: LSA Policies

2. People who deny that LSA's meeting policy is political, e.g. Lynne


i did not deny that the meeting policy is political. what i said
was that there are two ways of looking at it--as being
inappropriately political or as being a service to its members. i
didn't say that one or the other position was wrong, but i did say
that i feel that it's a service. unlike many people engaging in this
discussion, i was not claiming that other opinions are not viable,
but trying to acknowledge that others exist.

this poster also claims:

Because of these policies, LSA meets (almost) exclusively
in (1) the Northeast (2) Chicago (3) California.

this is just plain incorrect. since i've been a member (1988) the
lsa has met in new orleans twice--exactly as many times as it's met
in chicago (actually, that's only if we count the upcoming one this
year, otherwise n.o. wins), california, and the northeast (with the
other location, washington d.c. not fitting into any of these
classifications). i'm not sure which year the policy started--i
think it came up in or after the 1988 new orleans meeting. looking
at the locations since then, one cannot conclude that the
distribution of places is particularly limited. as noted before, the
locations of conferences _are_ limited by facilities and
concentration of linguists (and, i hope, cost).

lynne murphy

- -------------------------------------------------------------------
M. Lynne Murphy
Department of Linguistics phone: 27(11)716-2340
University of the Witwatersrand fax: 27(11)716-8030
Johannesburg 2050
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Message 3: comment on political correctness

Date: Mon, 03 Jun 1996 14:31:02 EDT
From: Dave Harris <>
Subject: comment on political correctness
/What about LSA's policy on ageism and sexual equality? For
/that matter, what about states where sodomy laws remain on
/the books because of ancient history but are never, ever enforced
/any more? We can't say that our colleagues are likely to suffer
/damage from visiting such states. LSA here is making a
/statement which has nothing to do with linguistics or
/protecting our members. This part of LSA's policy is
/clearly 'political.'

 I agree. It strikes me as a bit absurd that this would even come up. If it
were really such a huge problem, members who wish to engage in practices
that are, admittedly, stupidly prohibited in certain areas could simply
abstain from these practices for the two or three days they are there.
What's next? Shall we stipulate that conferences must be held outside the
United States so that members who happen to be smokers can fly there without
having to abstain from cigarettes for a few hours? (For those that don't
know, smoking is prohibited on U.S. domestic flights.)
 I'm as much against primitive restrictions on certain sex practices as much
as anyone else, but I don't think it should be a part of an academic
organization whose members may have different opinions about such things to
be involved in politicizing something that has nothing to do with its
general mandate (namely linguistics.) And, frankly, if the PC crowd would
stop forming every issue in terms of their moral superiority perhaps we
could get the equally propoganda-bound rightwing to start listening and
compromising a little. Those two groups are, in my opinion, the main cause
of so much divisiveness and so little in the way of constructive
accomplishments in our government and our society.

David Harris
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Message 4: Re: 7.811, Disc: Lg & dreams, -y, LSA

Date: Sun, 02 Jun 1996 14:52:14 PDT
From: "Victoria A. Fromkin" <>
Subject: Re: 7.811, Disc: Lg & dreams, -y, LSA
I would like to second Karl Teeter's remarks re "political correctness". If
one uses this expression, and I wish noone would, he/she should be aware of
its connotations. It has been and, as Karl points out, continues to be a
pejorative term used against those who are outspokenly in favor of, for
example, affirmative action, or are openly feminist, anti-racist, etc. 

And as I said in a previous message, I applaud the LSA leadership for taking
what is clearly the only legal position, since discrimination is certainly

Vicki Fromkin
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