I hear the complaint all the time. “Political correctness is destroying the country!” or some variation. It’s usually the complaint of people who want to use slurs without any repercussion. They’re miffed they’re called out on them.

I don’t have a problem with *some* of the political correctness corrections in our language. They’re proper and long past due, like referring to elected leaders in non-gender terms. “Council member” is better than “councilman.” Language should reflect the reality that women are equal parts of our society.

But there are other terms that are not about political correctness at all. Instead, they obscure reality. Some reporters have adopted an absolute howler — “Officer-involved shooting.” So clean and polite. It’s a phrase designed to soften what happened behind a facade of pleasanter language. A more accurate reading would be, “An officer shot someone.” “Officer-involved shooting” sounds like the officer didn’t do any shooting at all. He just happened to be standing there when a shooting happened.

“Unhoused” is a similar attempt to cloud reality. Am I “unhoused” if I’m outside? “Unhoused” sounds almost pleasant, rather than the reality which is harsher: “Homeless.”

Reporters should be wary of these obfuscations. Most are mealy-mouthed, weak words that don’t cut through and don’t inform.