He Is Not Amused

Ah, P.J. O’Rourke. If you are old enough you might remember him as a contributor to (in fact the managing editor of) The National Lampoon, way back in the seventies. I hadn’t read anything of his since I read Parliament of Whores some years ago, but while I was absorbing a post of Bill Vallicella’s on the topic of “gender-neutral language” earlier this evening I found, in a comment, a link to a review by O’Rourke of an academic volume called Guidelines for Bias-Free Writing, by Marilyn Schwartz and the Task Force on Bias-Free Language of the Association of American University Presses.

If you are familiar with O’Rourke’s political stance – libertarian conservative, with distilled spirits and cigar – and his rebarbative writing style, which might be described as Dave Barry meets Mark Twain meets Don Rickles, then you can imagine what a O’Rourke review of an instruction manual for politically correct academic discourse (a topic I briefly touched upon here) might look like, and you won’t be disappointed. Here’s an excerpt from the opening paragraph:

The pharisaical, malefic, and incogitant Guidelines for Bias-Free Writing is a product of the pointy-headed wowsers at the Association of American University Presses, who in 1987 established a “Task Force on Bias-Free Language” filled with cranks, pokenoses, blow-hards, four-flushers, and pettifogs. The foolish and contemptible product of this seven years wasted in mining the shafts of indignation has been published by that cowbesieged, basketball-sotted sleep-away camp for hick bourgeois offspring, Indiana University, under the aegis of its University Press–a traditional dumping ground for academic deadwood so bereft of talent, intelligence, and endeavor as to be useless even in the dull precincts of Midwestern state college classrooms.

Here it is. Pour yourself a few fingers of Dalwhinnie 29-year-old, fire up an Arturo Fuente, and enjoy.

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  1. Tim says


    Glad you liked it! I remember reading it years ago, and I was fortunate to find the link, even if there are some typos in this version. Make a copy for your archives in case it disappears.

    Posted July 30, 2006 at 8:59 pm | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    Hi Tim, and thanks for dropping by. It was a most enjoyable diversion, and I’m grateful to you for digging it up.

    Posted July 30, 2006 at 10:13 pm | Permalink
  3. MikeZ says

    Were you aware that the craving you get for beer when you get behind the wheel of a pickup truck is Jimmy Carter’s fault? Yup! Google for “The High Speed Performance Characteristics of Pickup Trucks” for more entertainment from P.J. O’Rourke.

    – M

    Posted July 31, 2006 at 11:32 am | Permalink
  4. Malcolm says

    Hi Mike,

    Thanks! Readers can find it here.

    Posted July 31, 2006 at 12:48 pm | Permalink