An article in The Times newspaper this week highlighted the importance of keeping up with changing attitudes. A leprosy charity has criticised the Church of Scotland’s official magazine over a crossword clue that it claims fuels “archaic, derogatory and harmful” attitudes.
Readers were asked to solve “Outcast (5)” for the puzzle in the Church’s Life and Work magazine. The answer was revealed to be “leper”.
Linda Todd, chief executive of the Leprosy Mission Scotland, said in a letter to the publication that she was dismayed by the clue. She argued that use of “the L word” should be banned: “In fact, we have a campaign entitled ‘Delete the L word’. Can I ask you in future to use the terms ‘people affected by leprosy’ and a ‘leprosy village or colony’?”
She added that the “stigma, isolation and discrimination” of leprosy was one of the most damaging aspects of the illness, explaining: “The use of the word ‘leper’ to describe someone affected by leprosy is archaic, derogatory and harmful. People affected by leprosy have asked that it not be used – surely that should be reason enough to stop.”
What do you think?
I must admit in the past, I’ve used the word ‘leper’ to mean outcast. As a copywriter, I understand the importance of words so will be adapting my language to avoid unintentionally causing offence.
Do you believe using sensitive language to reflect changing attitudes is important or think this is “political correctness gone mad”? Get in touch – I’d be interested to hear your views!