In the '90s, speaking in a "politically correct" vernacular ("African American" instead of "black," "gay" instead of "fag," "differently abled" instead of "crippled") was a social necessity. However, in the somewhat less p.c. 2000s, it seems that more and more people are reverting back to a pre-'90s style. Is this an acceptable relaxation of social mores? Or are you hurting peoples' feelings without even knowing it? Let's find out!

"That is Soooooo Gay"

Fil is a gay man. What does he think about everyone running around exclaiming, "that is soooooo gay?"

"I think the offense value of the expression definitely depends on its context--but even then, in this day and age, I don't think it carries enough weight to be patently offensive. It isn't uncommon to hear it used as a term of endearment ('Those Obey jeans are SO GAY! I must have them!'). Sure, the expression can still carry a degree of moral judgement ('I can't believe you just forked over $75 for those jeans! That is SO GAY!'), but it gets tossed around so much that I doubt anyone above the age of nine can take it seriously as a put-down.

"Now, I suppose if my car were to break down in, say, Clackamas or Wyoming, and I heard someone say 'Hey! You in the new jeans with the ripped-out pockets! You are SO GAY!' I'd probably find it a little unsettling.

"However, as far as 'offending my gayness' goes? I'd have to say I've never been more offended than the time a woman on the bus called me a 'no-pussy-eating faggot.' I mean, I certainly couldn't argue with her because those four words describe me to a tee--but I thought it was kind of presumptuous."

CONCLUSION: Saying "that is soooooo gay" is okay--except when in Clackamas.

"Young Parents are Sluts in Disguise"

Lisa Bogan is a 23-year-old mother of twin boys. People often annoy and offend her because she had children at such a young age.

"I'm a young, unmarried, low-income parent of twins. No one can know how hard it is to have kids until it actually happens, so I don't expect childless people to understand. However, I am constantly amazed by people's insensitivity. My partner and I keep hearing people complain about 'finances' or lack of 'free time.' We don't want to be unsympathetic to other people's problems, but when we hear those who have only themselves to support complain about moneyÉ it's pretty annoying. As a low-income parent who can't afford daycare or a fulltime nanny, I barely have any free timeÉ and there's no such thing as a day off. One day off a week would be a total luxury.

"Another thing that's very offensive is when people assume I got pregnant because I was being irresponsible. I think it's frequently assumed that young parents ended up with kids because they were careless. People forget that no birth control method is 100% effective.

"Also, a lot of people don't think they have to respect young parents. We're constantly spoken down to, as if we're clueless and have no idea what we're doing. Our parenting decisions are constantly questioned and criticized. This has mainly been a problem with health professionals and family members. Most significantly is when my partner's aunt told us we were her 'poster children.' In other words, we were held up as examples to her teenagers that you have to 'be careful.' She made this comment in front of a room full of people--including my children, my mother, and her son. "

CONCLUSION: It's not okay to infer that young parents are careless sluts.

"Big Truck = Small Dick"

Richard drives a BIG truck. Here's what he thinks when player haters say, "Guys who drive big trucks are just making up for their small dicks."

"I never really thought my truck was that big, or my dick was that small. The truth is my truck is stock from the factory; the only thing I've done is put more aggressive tires on it--but maybe that was a subconscious effort to compensate for my baby-smooth ass. Anyway, that's not the point. I don't like it when people think that just because my truck is big, my dick is small. Actually I don't give a shit what they think. After I cut someone off on I-5, it's not like my crotch is going to catch on fire if they say, 'That asshole drives a big truck because he's making up for his little dick.' Chances are I won't even know or care if I've offended them, because I'm probably muttering some politically incorrect blanket statement about how old people, or women, or '(your demographic group here)' are bad drivers. I know I feel better when I let out a little bit of rage.

"So as long as the people making the 'little dick' comment aren't the same assholes who call me when they need help moving, and they're not the same assholes who want me to pull them out of the ditch when they slide off the road on the way up to Hood; no offense intended, none taken."

CONCLUSION: Drivers of big trucks have little dicks.

"Short Bald

Jewish."

Will is 5'5", a relatively short, bald Jewish guy.

Will, how would you feel if you overheard a woman saying, "I don't date short guys?"

"I generally assume that my personality is keeping the girls away, so height's not really an issue. And anyway, I wouldn't want to date someone who can't see my true inner beauty. Seriously though, if I heard that, it would hurt me. I wouldn't cry, but I would never ever forget it. I would carry it with me for my whole life."

Jeez. So what else is offensive to short people?

"I think it's unfair they don't make pants for short people. I am offended. I've never had a pair of pants that fitÉ that I didn't have to roll up. For example, someone had to hem the pants I'm wearing. And I'm offended I have to ask other people to hem my pants 'cause I can't do it, and no one is ever willing to."

What about Jew jokes?

"It's alright if my friends are doing it; I'm pretty used to it by now. There's graffiti that bothers me, and international anti-Semitism bothers me a lot."

CONCLUSION: Short jokes, no. Jewish jokes, only if you're friends with the Jew. International anti-Semitism, never.

"Here's Your Tip. . . Don't Spit Into the Wind"

Judy's worked in the service industry for five years. Here are her top five ways people offend and belittle their "servers" without even realizing it.

1) "When you ask someone, 'What can I get for you?' and they say, 'A smile!'"

2) "Sometimes people ask you your name--you know, 'cause they're being friendly--but then there are those who ask because they want you to be their servant, and call your name from across the restaurant whenever they need mustard."

3) "There are the people who flag you down when you're really busy, and then you go over and they're like, 'UhhhhÉ what do I want? What should I have to drink?' They don't seem to have any respect for my time."

4) "What I wish people wouldn't do is when you go to a table and one person is done with their drink and everyone else has one sip left, and the person who's done orders another beer, and then you say, 'Does anybody else need anything?' And everybody's like, 'No, I'm fine.' But by the time I get back, you'll have already taken that sip, you're gonna want another drink, and it's going to take you another five minutes to get it--and you're gonna be pissed. I don't want to take 18 trips."

5) "One time I was working at a bar and this guy said, 'I really respect you because you took the high road and became a waitress, and you could've taken the low road and become a stripper.'"

CONCLUSION: Don't ask for your server's name, don't waste their time, order your drinks in "rounds," and don't imply that your waitress would make more money if she were a stripper.

The "N" Word

Keith is a black man... I MEAN, "African American." And what does he think about people using the "N" word?

"Honestly, as far as I'm concerned, I don't personally care who uses the word, because now--between media, music, and celebrities--the meaning of the word has totally changed. Obviously, just like with anything, the context in which it's used is what makes it positive or negativeÉ although I won't call it a positive word. It's become a term of endearment among some people. I'll just call them ghetto youth, because it doesn't matter if they're white, Asian, black, HispanicÉ people are using the word for their friends and the people in their social circle who they're very close with. If President Bush were to use the word, I would consider that out of context. But if it's just a kid on a street corner throwing the word around with his friends, even if they were white, that's something that's sorta alright. Although I won't say I agree with it. I am offended by the businessman--whether he's black, white, or Asian--who's upscale and looking down on the culture the word came from, and then uses it. Those are the people who bother me.

"It's hard though, 'cause things aren't cut and dry anymore. I've got friends who say it who are white and Asian, and I know it's a joke and they're playing around. But somebody who I don't know who's going to call me that? Well, then we have a problem."

CONCLUSION: We don't care what he says... we're not saying it.