Kevin Drum provides two examples (from the same day) of what he considers to be knee-jerk cultural sensitivity:
In the previous post, I called Marco Rubio the next human piñata in the Republican primary. On Twitter I got called out for this: “I think we can all agree that describing Hispanics as ‘pinatas’ is offensive.”
Ralph Nader is mad at Janet Yellen for keeping interest rates low, so he wrote her an open letter suggesting that she sit down with her “Nobel Prize winning husband, economist George Akerlof, who is known to be consumer-sensitive.” Jordan Weissman called out Nader: “Yes, Ralph Nader just told the most powerful woman in the world to take more tips from her husband.” (post)
His point is that reactions to such phrases and words when those phrases and words are absent any real offense is counter-productive. Pinata is a common term applied to capture the beating top tier primary candidates face from lower ranked competitors. Yellen is not being asked to sit down with her husband because she is a woman — rather Nader’s point is is that she is already aware of these issues by virtue of her many-year partnership with Akerlof.
Is there harm in such actions? Does the culture of nit-picking tend to devalue calling out phraseology that is truly problematic?
Such reactions aren’t really coordinated, but there does seem a relation here to Tactical Twitter.
One argument against over-reaction is that if we don’t distinguish between minor and major crimes people may stop policing their actions altogether. See Penalty Compression