Wednesday, August 7, 2013

THE SPEECH POLICE



         The City of Seattle’s Office of Civil Rights in its infinite wisdom decided that the words “brown bag” and “citizen” needed to be purged from public records and private discourse.  How come?  Apparently, “brown bag” has a racist etymology.  The expression will be replaced with “Sack Lunch.”
         But I don’t think “sack lunch” is a good idea.  For one thing, the 2000 members of the NookSACK Indian tribe, living only 90 miles north of Seattle, might be offended.  Also, “sack lunch” could upset those who put their lunches in backpacks.  These folks might want to change “brown bag” to “Back Snack,” and what about people on diets, who don’t bring any lunch?  Will they feel discriminated against and decide not to come to whatever?
The word “citizen” is being exorcized from the lexicon because it’s been deemed “exclusionary” and, therefore, injurious to the feelings of “illegals.”  But rather than encourage illegals to take the path to citizenship, the City has decided to lexically ”un-citizenize” its citizens.  Well, that might make the illegals feel better about themselves -- after they’ve stopped laughing -- but will the use-to-be-citizens not be offended? And what all-inclusive word will the geniuses in Seattle choose to bring severyone together into one great kumbaya? Seattle Settlers?  Inhabitants of? Residents?  And once that’s settled, will the City Fathers (that needs to be changed) begin editing book and movie titles they find offensive? Will Citizen Kane become Resident Kane?  These are important considerations.
            Eggheads in the Seattle government have also purged “Easter eggs” from usage because some people find the word “Easter” offensive.  So what are these odious eggs to be called in the future?  “Spring spheres.” I kid you not.  If this wasn’t so sick, it would be funny.

The State of Washington (like the City of Seattle) has little or no serious business to conduct; otherwise, it would not have spent the last six years expunging thousands of words and phrases – many written centuries ago – from the public records.  Want some examples?  Penmanship has been zapped and is now called “handwriting.”  “Freshmen are now “first year students.”  But what about “sophomores?”  Surely they’ll want to change their nomenclature, knowing that “sophomore” comes from the word “sophomoric,” which means “insipid” and slightly stupid.  Maybe they should be called “second year students.”  And juniors?  Who wants to be “junior,” a word that puts you forever in the shadow of your father?  Better they should be renamed “third year students,” and in the name of parallelism and equality, seniors should henceforth be known as fourth year students.
On and on it goes. Where it stops, nobody knows.   
Proponents of these egalitarian language changes think they’re righting past wrongs – especially to women – but if they really wanted to make amends, they would follow the precedent set by Affirmative Action programs.  Rather than neutralize previously sexist language to asexual forms, the female form should become the new frame of reference for, let’s say, the next 50 to 100 years.  Under my rules, mankind would become womankind, penmanship -penwomanship, manpower – womanpower, woman, wo-wo…so on and so forth.  Such language changes would, hopefully, elevate women to positions of leadership, previously held by men. 
  
The Language Police have also infiltrated school districts.  An elementary school principal in Portland, Oregon recently decided that peanut butter sandwiches in the school cafeteria were an offense to children from other cultures.  (If you understand this, please explain it to me.)    
And the City of New York’s Department of Education has womandated (that used to be mandated) teachers and administrators to avoid all words that might “evoke unpleasant emotions” in their students.  (Are NYC schoolteachers psychic?)   Words to be avoided include (but are not limited to) “dinosaur” and “birthday.”  Do these educators know what K-12 children view at local movie theaters on a weekly basis?  Ghosts, goblins, zombies, killer robots, knife-slashing psychopaths, murderous extraterrestrials, and end of world themes. If anything, these kids thrive on “unpleasant emotions.”  As for “birthday” being a word that elicits horror in the minds of small children  -- NO!  That doesn’t happen until age 55. 
            The Speech  Police have also taken up residence in the State Department.  Its Chief of Diversity, John Robinson, recently published a warning to all State Department employees to cease and desist using the expressions “rule of thumb”and “hold down the fort” and to find alternative verbiage.  According to Robinson, “rule of thumb” refers to the maximum thickness of a stick a man could use to beat his wife.  As for “hold down the fort,” the forts in question were used by Colonial soldiers in wars with Native American tribes.
Hopefully, Robinson’s acumen is not indicative of the entire Department of State; if it is, we’re all in big, big trouble.  First of all, “Hold down the fort” originated in Roman times, and “Rule of thumb” was used to approximate measurements of various kinds.  Furthermore, even if Robinson knew what he was talking about, the notion that one can (and should) attempt to rewrite history by purging personally distasteful words is anti-intellectual, anti-educational, and total madness.     
It’s bad enough when Government tries to legislate our lives by dictating language use and trashing our right to free speech, but it’s downright dangerous when this PC insanity infects and affects national security.   Think Ft. Hood, 2009, when Major Nidal Hasan, the self-proclaimed “soldier of Allah,” opened fire on soldiers, killing 13 and wounding 32, while repeatedly yelling “Allah Akbar.”  Instead of calling Hasan’s actions what they are -- Islamic terrorism -- the Army has labeled it “workplace violence.”   To this day, Hasan is handled with kid gloves, while the former judge on the case was removed because -- in accordance with Army regulations prohibiting facial hair --  he ordered Hasan to be shaven. 
If the Army had not turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to Hasan’s behavior, the murder of 13 American soldiers and maiming of another 32 would never have happened.  Base officers knew Hasan was receiving “spiritual guidance” from a Yemen-based al Qaeda cleric, but because he was Muslim, instructions were “don’t offend.”  On the other hand, if you’re an Evangelical Christian or a Catholic, you’re fair game for defamation.   
Earlier this year the Pentagon released a briefing document which identified  Catholics and Evangelicals as extremists, putting them in the same category as Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, and other terrorist organizations.  (Note: the Pentagon later corrected this document and blamed its release on someone “outside the chain of command.”)  
But who can blame the worker bees when the Queens drone on and on in twisted tongue about “undocumented aliens,” “workplace violence,” and the President of the United States obfuscates reality by calling war a “time-limited military action”?   
If I had my say (but I don’t because I’m not on any Government payroll), there are a few words I’d like to see zapped from the English language, beginning with the expression “gypping” someone.  “Gyp” comes from Gypsy, and as an admirer of the Rom people, their music and culture, I am deeply offended by its usage. Then there’s the expression “killing two birds with one stone,” which really makes me seethe.  It’s cruel enough to kill one innocent bird but two at the same time?  I’m surprised PETA and the Audubon Society haven’t mounted an attack.
            And what about renaming the game of Hop Scotch?  I’m sure the Scots are offended as are a number of other groups who resent the words “blacktop,” “Redwood Forest,” and “whitewall tires.”  As for the prohibition against wishing someone a “Merry Christmas…
… I’m redoubling my greetings this year.

The Bottom Whine:  Reasonable people do not use offensive words when talking to and about others; if they do, no amount of legislation is going to stop them. 





Whiningly yours, Carol





6 comments:

  1. Womandated might be offensive to older women. That should be expunged from the English language as well!!!

    Loved this post. It reminded me of when I first arrived in C-U back in 1991, and was invited by the office of overseas students to a lecture on how to relate to US Americans without offending them... It was a lesson on liberal PC-ness.

    All I wanted to do was to tell the lecturer how incredibly attractive she was and that I would love to take her out on a date, but there I sat listening to that cockamamie nonsense that strongly discouraged me from such discourse, lest I'd be taken for some sort of a sick pervert!!!

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    1. Fortunately, Eli, you did not ask out that woman or it is possible that we wouldn't have wonderful Rosi in our lives. Thanks for the positive feedback on the Speech Police. Let me know if you have any whines for me.

      Thought about you guys.... the goats were on show at the Fairgrounds. Love ya

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  2. Carol, I'm SO with you on this one! You covered all the bases. Especially love any and all references to Hasan as workplace violence! UGH!

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  3. Carol, once again you had me laughing because if I don't laugh, I'll fume. The Hassan thing, though, let me correct you. He killed 14! One woman was 8 months pregnant. I don't care WHAT the PC police or PP say, that is a baby in there! Also, until last month I worked on FT Hood for over 23 years. When that terror attack happened, all phones were out due to the high volume of calls (thank God for cells). The loud speakers all over post (the largest in the free world) said the following in a woman's computer toned voice: Attention! Attention! Get inside the buildings! Turn off the A/C and heating units. This is not a test. Attention! Attention! Do not leave your building until further notice!

    This was because there was fear of a chemical attack. We didn't get released until 7:30 that night. Over 50,000 people were held hostage on Ft Hood until Hassan was subdued. Now the trial has finally begun, a farce indeed.

    I thank you for then going back to the fun but annoying part of your post. Yes, we are all prisoners of the PC police. How in the world did the word 'illegal' warrant protection? Doesn't it still mean 'not legal'? Oh my, yes, I agree with you on the stones and gyp and scotch.

    Keep making my day, Carol, I love the Bottom Whine!! Have a blessed and joyous day! (Yes, I'm Christian, I can and will say that!)

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    1. I had no idea, of course, that you had worked at Ft. Hood. What a horrible experience that was -- and to see that murderer handled with kid gloves now -- in the courtroom.

      What more can I say?

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  4. Carol...you are wonderful! I am so sick of things being PC. I love how these political groups take it upon themselves to speak for a whole group of people when making these decisions. Did anyone ask these groups if they are offended? Or did one person complain, thus eliciting some mass paranoia that the entire population of that group would be offended. Personally, I think the term "lazy Susan" should never be allowed, instead using only "turntable" or "that thing that spins around so things are easier to reach"; pimps and bathrooms should no longer be referred to as "johns" because that is my husband's name. As for a "Dear John" letter, well that needs to be redefined as a letter expressing love and support to one's spouse. My son is named Richard--need I say more? And finally, I want all forms I fill out to drop the white/caucasian option. I am a German/Austrian/French/Irish/Scottish/English American, thank you very much! But be careful, I may be this annoyed because I belong to that extremist group--Catholic!

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