PC Font

From The Wall Street Journal:

The Polite Type has been developed in close collaboration with a diverse team with wide-ranging backgrounds in anti-racism work, gender research and D&I consulting. Additionally, the initial vocabulary for the font have been co-created with high-school-aged teenagers and youth from diverse backgrounds in Finland, together with The Children and Youth Foundation. . . . The font is an OpenType font file (OTF) that recognises a number of either discriminative and/or offensive English-language words. After typing the word, the font substitutes it with a more neutral, inoffensive word. . . .

The blur is an integrated part of the design for the words that have no literal translation, or their meaning is too broad to replace with just one word or their purpose is only that of hurting someone. Blurring is commonly used as a way to censor or to hide something offensive, but it has never before been used as a symbol in a font. . . .

The library of words deemed hurtful has been put together in collaboration with people from different origins, religions, world views and sexual orientations. Naturally, the library is always changing with the language itself.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Sorry if you encounter a paywall)

8 thoughts on “PC Font”

  1. Automatic censorship…who’d of thunk?
    The biggest problem with this is that the censored words are those that a chosen group believe to be offensive. While this might hold for many things they’ve chosen, their bias will affect things that others consider inoffensive.
    So, I cannot write the N word or other ethnic slurs (which is fine) but it’s OK to write ‘honkey redneck’ (I tested it)? Why is one offensive and the other not? Yes, I understand why ethnic and racial slurs are offensive but why would you not think that of the other one?”
    If you’re writing using this ‘font’, how would you write a character who embodies these bad traits? You couldn’t even give examples of how horrible this person is to show why he’s the bad guy. Everyone will be written the same bland way, no difference between the way the good guy and the bad guy speak.
    A word as common as ‘stupid’ is autoreplaced with silly – WTF. And don’t even try to write the F word, so much for erotica. You can’t even write something like ‘homophobic’ which isn’t an offensive word because the moment it sees the first four letters, it assumes a homophobic slur.
    If you fear words, you’ll never survive in the real world. Words do have power but you can choose to rise above them, counter them with intelligent rebuttal, or simply cease reading the offending material.
    This is a misguided attempt to save people from themselves. Teach people to respect the feelings of others and think before they write, don’t take away their ability to express themselves, that way leads to more problems than the thing you’re trying to fix.

  2. Is there an interface that allows users to customize? Could I rig it so
    “diversity” is turned into “exhibitionism” if my social justice weather vane pointed that way?

  3. Any writer granting any automatic functions to writing software is, by definition, asking for trouble.

    Autocorrect, autofill, and even the nice function on my iPhone that completes my words, tempts away from the path of being responsible as a writer for every choice I make.

    So – leave it to the non-writers, and they can agree to be responsible for the consequences of being lazy. There are many sites online that showcase the hilarious/offensive/weird results.

    • Probably meant for the high school kiddies and the office types. Those who don’t have the chops to, you know, do it on their own.

      WSJ makes it impossible to casually go read to see what they meant.

      I don’t really care – no one has the power to tell me what to write or how to write it. Not yet, at least.

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