This is one of those issues that is catnip to the adolescent language-lover but which a sensible person grows out of. I too used to enjoy tormenting people with the "truth" about the phrase, but I eventually realized that, whatever its origins in philosophy and petitio principii, I had never seen or heard the phrase used "correctly" except by people making a point of doing so (cf. "hoi polloi"); in current English usage, "beg the question" means 'raise the question,' and that's that. I got over it, and so should Safire. (An anguished appraisal by the earnest Michael Quinion of World Wide Words ends by saying the phrase is "better avoided altogether"; like Fowler's similar recommendation concerning "hoi polloi," this counsel of despair is a sign that the language has sailed on, leaving wistful archaists treading water and clutching at the stern.)
As a philosopher by profession, I can confirm that begging the question is very much in active use as a technical term, and also that we get very annoyed when people [mis]appropriate it.
Like many other terms in logic, as also in rhetoric, it has a winding and obscure trajectory through ancient and mediaeval times to the present day. In my opinion the use of such ill-bred terms renders needlessly difficult the teaching of informal logic (or critical reasoning as it gets called - as if there were any other sort of reasoning). Begging the question deserves to be misused, because it is a stupidly misleading term in the first place.
My approach is never to use it in ordinary discourse, and in fact hardly ever to use it in technical contexts either, because it refers to a theoretically problematic notion anyway. In ordinary discourse I prefer to speak of raising a question; and in technical contexts I prefer to speak of circular arguments.
But just in case Stanley didn't kill the humor entirely, let me finish the job by pointing out that truthiness wouldn't necessarily offend the Word Police either, since it actually appears in the Oxford English Dictionary. The OED has an entry for truthy, marked "rare or dialectal" and defined as "characterized by truth; truthful, true." The derived form truthiness (meaning "truthfulness, faithfulness") follows, supported by this citation:
1824 J. J. GURNEY in Braithwaite Mem. (1854) I. 242 Everyone who knows her is aware of her truthiness.
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