Thursday, August 30, 2007

No Better Name for Idiots

Mary Penner writes today of the Defective, Dependent and Delinquent census schedules of 1880.

The 3-D forms had seven different categories: insane, idiots, deaf-mutes, blind, homeless children, paupers and prisoners.

Even back in the 19th century, the sting of political correctness vexed the special agent in charge of the 3-D schedules. Defending the labels attached to the various 3-D classes, he noted in his final report that he would have gladly used less offensive and more judicious classifications, but he couldn't think of any better terms and no one had suggested any better ones. [Link]

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