Eighteen members of New York’s City Council have sponsored a resolution to ban the use of bitch and ho as “hateful language [that] creates for all women a paradigm of shame and indignity.”

Dennis Baron at the Web of Language (link may require academic affiliation authorization — borrow a friend’s, or maybe use bugmenot if you need to) has some thoughts on this:

Language works much like a free market, defying regulation but responding to consumer whims, and just as English dictionaries will continue to define words the way that people use them, not the way some expert thinks they should be used, the music industry will continue to peddle nigga, bitch and ho as long as the music-buying public wants to hear them.

Instead of manipulating words through laws and reference works, activists interested in changing offensive language have had more success taking negative terms and flipping them. Flipping can stop the vicious cycle whereby a taboo word is replaced by a euphemism which then itself becomes taboo.