An Ill-Defined Petition

In last Saturday’s Takimag column, Theodore Dalrymple lampoons the recent petition—signed by 30,000 miseducated snowflakes—to remove the word bitch from the Oxford English Dictionary.

A dictionary is not a manual of etiquette, any more than a textbook of tropical diseases is a paean of praise to tropical sunsets. A dictionary definition of the word slag or slut is not a recommendation that you approach the first person to whom it might plausibly be applied and apply it to her face.


All this is so obvious that I would hesitate to mention it were it not for the fact that 30,000 people appear not to understand it. What is most disturbing about this is that the 30,000 are probably above average, possibly well above average, in their level of education, or at least in the number of years spent at an institution of supposed learning.

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