Haskins’ article—and this entire style of discourse—mostly ignores this fact. Some colonies are bad, so the use of “colony” is inherently bad, is what the argument boils down to. It’s similar to how the term “biological sex” is increasingly frowned upon in some lefty communities. Despite the fact that, unusual edge cases aside, everyone knows what “biological sex” means and the male/female divide is an obviously useful and important concept, it can also be used to harass or ridicule transgender people by jerks who say “You’re not really a (wo)man because of your biological sex!” The term itself, therefore, has to go. Or take the thankfully fringe but common-on-Twitter position that calling something “stupid” is offensive. Again, even though everyone knows that stupid simply means something like “Not thought out intelligently,” the thinking goes that because it could also be used to describe people with developmental disabilities, the term itself is offensive.

Now, at heart, “This term, used in a totally different context, could be offensive” isn’t an actual argument for not using a term in a non-offensive way. If it were, we’d be banning thousands of words. But generally speaking, overzealous language cops either don’t bother to make any other coherent argument as to why a given term in question is offensive, or make one that is so gloopy with academic-speak that the average person likely won’t grok it. So it goes in Haskins’ article. Only twice does she offer true causal arguments as to what concrete harm is done by using certain types of language to talk about space exploration, and in both cases it’s simply difficult to understand or buy what she’s selling.