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Sunday, July 25, 2010

My Racist Computer

Political Correctness Steps into the Twilight Zone

I knew political correctness had gotten out of hand, but I didn't know just how bad it was.  I got a note last night from an editor. I had to read it a couple of times before I was able to comprehend the instructions I'd been given.

The article I was writing was about how to enable a CD burner in Windows XP.  I described the process of installing and setting up a new CD burner in a PC.  One type of CD burner is an IDE drive.  And IDE drive works on the same sort of connector that and IDE hard drive uses.  In fact, to save space, instead of hooking up an extra cable, you can chain the new CD drive to the same IDE ribbon cable that you have your primary hard drive connected to.

But to do so, you have to set jumpers on the CD burner to the "slave" setting, so that the the hard drive is the "master" drive.  I described how to set up the master/slave relationship between the hard drive and CD burner.  Easy peasy - no problem.  Then I got a rewrite request from the editor it said:

  • "Not sure about the technical terms and it may be correctly used, but can you write around the "slave the drive" and the "master/slave" references. That's the only change but I didn't want to make the change myself and mess up the set up process by choosing the wrong words."  -Editor
When it finally struck me that the editor was asking me to remove the "racist" terminology from my article. I've done a couple of articles on hooking up CD's and DVD drives in the past using the same "master/slave" terminology because that's what it's called.  If you've ever installed hard drives, you're familiar with master/slave drive settings. Apparently, the D.S. editor found these terms offensive and wanted me to "write around" the terms - meaning find another way to say the same thing without actually saying "master/slave". 

When I stopped laughing, I revised my article and I sent this explanation to the editor.
  • I tried to clarify the whole Master/slave thing for you. The problem is that these are the correct terms. Computer people do not find them racially insensitive. The slave is a secondary or subordinate drive, but no one calls them that or would understand what your were talking about if you called them that. The installation instructions clearly label where the jumper pins go for the "master" or "slave" positions.

    I really can't eliminate the words without inventing new terminology which would sound a little ridiculous. I tried to clarify the article a little in case the problem was understanding what a "slave" drive was.

    Anyway, until Bill Gates signs an Emancipation Proclamation for CD burners, we'll just have to make do with the terms as they are.........   ;-)
 I put the little winking smiley face in there to let her know I was joking. I doubt it will help.


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