(Note – some of the language here may be offensive.) Your sensitivity to semantics has merit. Humans, by nature and nurture, are social creatures. All of us have the need for acceptance, a sense of belonging. We understand our level of acceptance through our language – the terms people use to describe us. We put stock in semantics because it is central to our understanding of ourselves and our relationship to our community.
The idea of political correctness comes from this sensitivity. Housewives became homemakers. Janitors became environmental engineers. Computer Programmers became nerds. Christians became fanatics – to some of us. The terms evolve – Negroes became ‘niggers,’ then ‘colored,’ then ‘Black,’ now ‘African-American’ all in the interest of social justice and clarity. A ninety-five year-old Negro might be very happy to be called ‘colored’ – he might see that as an improvement. A sixty-year-old Negro is perfectly happy with ‘Black,’ they would likely be offended by ‘colored.’ The term of endearment of Negro youth today might be ‘nigga,’ used affectionately as a term of inclusion. What is that old saying – ‘…in the eyes of the beholder…’?
One question is: How do we lump people into a category without offending them? Another question is: Should we lump people into categories? Another question: How do we not lump people into categories?