Now for a break from politics to carp about a columnist’s misuse of gender neutral pronouns in an article about education. It is a misuse of the English language that is increasing in use and it drives me crazy.

Under discussion here is the lamentable inclusion of both sexes when discussing people generically. We are talking about the idiotic use of “his or her,” or “he and she,” or the even more absurd the “men and/or women.”

I’m telling you right now, don’t do it!

This comes to mind today when reading a piece by the Chicago Tribune’s Clarence Page. His article headlined, “Has College Become too Easy?,” is an otherwise good article marred by the paean to PCism right in the first darn sentence.

Let me say right away that I like Page’s piece, agree with its central premise, and would like to see more of this type of discussion. But I am not worried about his point here, but his commission of what I think is a grammatical faux pas.

Here is how Page begins his piece (my emphasis):

You can lead a student to knowledge, according to an old academic saying, but you can’t make him or her think.

“Him or her”? This is a big bugaboo of mine. It drives me nuts to see people adding “him or her” all the time for fear of being called a sexist.

The proper way to have written that would have simply been, “…but you can’t make him think.”

There was absolutely no reason to add the “or her” to that sentence. It is clumsy, for one thing, unnecessary of course, and just a stupid paean to political correctness because using the male pronoun in this instance is gender neutral already.

You see, whenever you use the generic words him, his, or he, you are saying “people.” You are NOT limiting your scope to males. “Him” in the case of Page’s opening sentence would have simply meant all students, not just males.

I wish people would drop this idiotic attempt to avoid being called a sexist. It is ridiculous.