This post makes several good points.
Sometimes, bad words are bad. Language can be extremely offensive. For instance, unless you’ve been paying no attention at all to the last few decades or so of Western culture, you’ll be aware that there are some things you don’t generally call black people in public.
And there are times when it’s simply a matter of basic courtesy and compassion to moderate our language in other ways, choosing phrases that avoid certain connotations with the potential to wound. Richard Littlejohn might object even to this measure of “political correctness”, but it’s often just basic human sensitivity.
But sometimes it does go too far, and language policing can intrude on and obstruct useful dialogue.
It reminds me a little of the more tiresome aspects of the Don’t Be A Dick kerfuffle still going on among the skeptical community. The people arguing for impeccable civility when interacting with outsiders can often be the ones with the most obnoxious and infuriating tone when dealing with fellow skeptics.
And, similarly, people most actively clamouring for a sensitive use of inclusive language often seem to find the most tactless and judgmental way of making their point.
If somebody has written a lengthy treatise on some topic of interest, and your first or only response to is to point out that they used a term you consider unacceptable or discriminatory, condemn them for being prejudiced or insensitive, and act as if this shuts down the rest of the discussion, then we’re going to waste a lot of time before we have a chance to actually talk about any worthwhile issues.
You can still point out the objectionable term, but don’t automatically assume that it came from a place of spite or malice, and don’t act as if it renders insignificant any points the person was trying to make.
Maybe they just don’t give transsexual issues much attention in their everyday lives and so didn’t think to include that factor specifically in their phrasing. It doesn’t make someone a terrible person for working under a passive assumption that male/female is a simple binary system, if they’re writing about something entirely unconnected to gender issues.
Maybe they haven’t heard it used as a term of abuse and harmlessly assumed that “Paki” was simply a diminutive of “Pakistani”. Most of them will be eager to amend their language if they learn that it’s widely interpreted in a hostile way. That doesn’t need to be the most important thing about the geopolitical analysis in which they inadvertently used the slur.
Maybe they get a bit lazily heteronormative from time to time. We’ve all done it. It’s worth watching out for, but it’s not the end of the world.
I suspect that most such instances where the language police are called in aren’t due to genuine racism, or sexism, or anything so actively unjust. It’s just people slipping up and getting things a bit wrong. And they deserve the benefit of the doubt more often than not.
(Hat-tip to Broadsnark, if memory serves.)