Kakutani's "Word Police".

Essay by LikwydSylvrElementary School, 3rd gradeA, June 2003

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An Analysis of "The Word Police"

In Michiko Kakutani's essay, "The Word Police," the author uses examples, illustrations and definitions to support the claim that our language is on the brink of absurdity because we hide our true identities and inequalities with euphemisms. In regard to euphemisms, Kakutani states that they "tend to distract attention from the real problems of prejudice and injustice in society" (423). Although the essay is persuasive and supported well, the author falls short of persuading her unbiased audience because of repetitive and tedious criticisms of the politically correct movements. Her argument lacks absolution in her failure to provide her audience with an alternative solution.

Kakutani opens with the claim the political correctness is prevalent in society today. For support she uses several examples of icons that are being redeveloped to appease the growing demand for P.C. These include Little Miss Coppertone, who will soon have a male equivalent, and Superman, who will come in four new flavors.

In using these familiar, mainstream products, Kakutani sways the audience in her direction while consolidating her claim. She also makes us aware of her aversion to politically correct movements with the use of her sarcasm in renovating the words "Miss" and "Superman." The author then discusses a more considerable issue, that of the controversy over our language.

"Political correctness" defined by Kakutani as "a vision of a more just, inclusive society in which racism, sexism and prejudice of all sorts have been erased," (421) has good intent, but the methods used by politically correct activists to achieve their goals are too extreme. This, in turn, will just lead to the "scorn of conservative opponents and the mockery of cartoonists and late-night television hosts" (421). To validate her claim, Kakutani uses the example of a woman changing "testimony"...