REALLY Give Me the Redass
As a proponent of equal-opportunity intolerance, I wonder about the eradication of common, non derogatory terms that were, until recently, perfectly acceptable. When I was a kid, nobody played cowboys and Native Americans. When and why did we have to stop calling them Indians? Recently, a High School in Ohio cancelled, a week prior to opening, its production of Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians after eight weeks of rehearsals because, according to NAACP, the title contained a “racially charged word.” I don’t know whether to be outraged or entertained. Whining and hand-wringing over the word “Indian” in the title of an American classic is stupid and serves only to further marginalize this once-respected, worthwhile organization that did so much for so many. It seems now that every time NAACP makes the news, it’s because they’ve shot themselves in the foot. I shake my head and chuckle at its silliness, but whoever on the school board or district administration capitulated to these loonies is no laughing matter, and they deserve to be fired. What does an episode like this teach our kids?
The looniness gets worse. The Speech Police have recently announced that now they don’t want us referring to Indians as Native Americans. Of late, the only officially sanctioned moniker is First Americans. Universities are flopping like mackerels as they change their program and course catalogs from Native American Studies to First American Studies. Can anybody help me understand what was wrong with "Native?"
Not long ago, a common term in referring to persons of far Eastern extraction was Oriental. Now, we all must say Asian. I am bewildered by the same line of unanswerable questioning. Who first decided this, how did they get the word out (no pun intended), and most importantly, why? Again, I’ll call anybody whatever they want to be called, not to avoid offending, (unless Oriental is derogatory or insulting for some reason unknown to me) but to avoid the looks and disapproval of others when using the “O” word. But please, somebody tell me why.
To me, “bum” was a perfectly appropriate descriptive when referring to a guy who chose not to be a productive member of society. I say “guy” because women were never called bums. A woman bum was called a beggar. Then, along came the Speech Police to enforce the use of “homeless” when referring to either. Even more troubling, the term homeless now has less meaning, insofar as it is applied equally to well-intentioned, upstanding individuals who may have, through no fault of their own, fallen on hard times, as it is to shiftless parasites who’d rather live in a box and dive in a dumpster than carry their share of the load and take up the cloak of self-responsibility. Talk about being offended! If I were a REAL homeless person, I’d get the redass being lumped in the same category with bums.
It is clear to me that the bums weren’t the originators of this particular word-banishment campaign. They had neither the ambition nor the organizational skills to mobilize a coordinated change management effort. Bums would make lousy Speech Police. So if not the bums, who was it that re-wrote the lexicon, and why did they do it?
I don’t mind calling people whatever they want to be called. What bothers me is that I can’t understand why and how this all happened, so the fact that it did happen and now I should feel pressured to conform to a ludicrous set of speech rules gives me the redass. If someone would only explain it to my satisfaction, that particular strain of redass will go away.
The situation has recently reached new lows now that the Speech Police have infiltrated the Obama White House. Some idiot has banned the term "war on terror," "enemy combatants," and apparently even the word "terrorism," which Janet Napolitano, our new Secretary of Homeland Security, prefers to call "man-caused disaster." This is so stupid it's scary. Let's say you catch some guy in a group of Taliban with AK-47s and RPGs ambushing a platoon of Marines. There's a thirty-minute firefight until the air support arrives. Sure looks and sounds like "combat" to me. And the guy with the AK? Seems like "enemy" might fit the bill, if only for the reason that he and his pals were trying to kill all our guys. And all these self-proclaimed jihadists who strap on a boom-vest or drive a carload of C-4 into a market or fly 767s into buildings--seems pretty well aligned with Webster's definition of terrorism. And if it's not a war, I know a bunch of military intelligence people who will tell you it sure acts like one.
Madam Secretary thinks she can pick up a turd by the clean end. Somebody needs to take her aside and explain it to her.
I could go on killing trees with more examples of Speech Police brutality, but you get the idea. Avoidance or even prohibition of insulting and derogatory speech, a racial or ethnic slur for example, is noble and needs no explanation. Prohibition of innocuous or honest, accurate descriptive language is not only stupid, but frightening. It has ominous First Amendment implications. The whole concept of being afraid to offend without reason or cause is likely to get worse. It’s a certainty that none of the speech rules will ever be challenged, like a bad football call that can be reviewed and rescinded for being wrong or stupid. I’m afraid that we are stuck with the rules presently in place, and that more bad calls lie ahead.
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