Is "Jew couple" a racial slur?

The bill was a shocker, and not because of the amount. After eating at a Jersey shore restaurant, Elliott Stein and his girlfriend were handed a bill that said "Jew Couple" near the bottom, as a table identifier used by the waitstaff. The slur also turned up on Stein's credit card statement weeks later.

It may be inappropriate or rude to identify someone by their religion or race (as if the bill had said "black couple" or "white couple"), but does such usage really count as a "slur"? Noted Jew and law professor Eugene Volokh doesn't think so.

Why do some people think that it's more polite to say "Jewish people" than "Jews"? I've heard some people say that "Jews" is somehow considered rude, and "Jewish people" is better, but I just don't see why.

Does anyone know the story here? People don't generally say "black people," "Catholic people," or "female people." Why should they call us "Jewish people" rather than just "Jews"? I don't quite get it.

(I'm not saying that "Jewish people" is wrong -- if you want to say that, it's fine with me, though it will sound affected to me and people who think like me, at least until we're persuaded that "Jews" is somehow bad.)

Professor Volokh has emailed me to clarify that (as Xrlq also says in the comments) "Jewish people" is not generally seen as an insult, but "Jew people" usually is.



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