Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I Can't Say What?


It's happened again. You'd think that by this point, we'd be past this sort of thing. But apparently we're not. Well, we are. They are not. And by 'they' I mean those who are self appointed members of the Politically Correct Word Police. 'Pinheads' would be another acceptable term.

It would seem that some folks over in the UK are extremely concerned about things that 'might' happen. Now, there are lots of things that 'might' happen. That does not mean anything as far as how likely they are to actually happen. For example, monkeys might fly out of my arse. That does not mean it's going to happen. But it might! (In case you're wondering, I'm guessing it would have to involve some sort of a mishap with some Sea Monkeys, but that's all I've got.)

One of the things that a bunch of "taxpayer funded organizations" are concerned that might happen is that some folks may be offended by words or terms or sayings that have the potential to offend. Now, I'm not real big on the notion of 'potential'. (Obviously!) And especially when it comes to banning speech due to the "potential" for "offense". From what I can tell, there are very few things that actually offend others. There are people who like to claim that they're offended, but they're really just being a pain in the ass under the guise of offense. That's why I'd like to recommend that before folks run off and start creating this mythical Utopian society that they have in mind, they really stop and think about what it is that they're suggesting happen.

As far as the words or terms that might be offensive, some examples of this, according to the Times Online, would be "The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has advised staff to replace the phrase “black day” with “miserable day." Oh, for cryin' out loud. What?

They claim that "...certain words carry with them a “hierarchical valuation of skin colour”." The term "black day" is one of those words? Allegedly? Why, yees! And..."The commission even urges employees to be mindful of the term “ethnic minority” because it can imply “something smaller and less important”. " Um, what now?
It can imply? Under what circumstances can it imply that something is smaller and "less important"? I find that almost laughable as in the United States, the term "ethnic minority" often connotates exactly the opposite of something "smaller and less important". But I digress. Back to the Word Police.

Terms believed to be offensive to those over at The National Gallery in London include “gentleman’s agreement” (potentially offensive to women) and “right-hand man” (again, potentially offensive to women). Those softheads suggest replacing the potentially offensive terms (that may not have offended anyone ever since the beginning of time) with “unwritten agreement” or “an agreement based on trust” for the former and “second in command” being deemed more suitable for the latter. :::: sigh ::::

For some reason the Word Police is extremely fixated on any word that might have any connection to any sort of slavery. For example, the Learning and Skills Council "...wants staff to “perfect” their brief rather than “master” it." Right. Because that would be offensive to....who? Slaves? I don't think there are any slaves these days. If to "master ones brief" was to be offensive, it would have to denote that the person was making the brief itself do the work. Actually, it's the other way around. It's the anti-master is what it is! What about the game Master Mind? Are we supposed to change that to "Perfect Mind"? I don't think we are. I know I'm not!

div align="justify">Over at the South West Regional Development Agency, they are able to admit that the terms that are "potentially offensive" have nothing to do with the part that would be offensive (if anyone were actually offended by it, which I doubt they are). They say “Terms such as ‘black sheep of the family’, ‘black looks’ and ‘black mark’ have no direct link to skin colour but potentially serve to reinforce a negative view of all things black." So what should we use in their place? Dark? The dark sheep of the family? Dark mark? (Oh, please. No politically correct rhyming or I might just have to hang myself.)

I almost went over the edge when I read that "Newcastle University has singled out the phrase “master bedroom” as being problematic." ::: blink::: :::: blink :::: That is the perfect example of someone just out to be an ass. And doing a fine job of it as well, might I add.

Over there at AOL News in an article on the same subject, a one Anthony Horowitz tries to talk some sense into people by explaining, "...our modern language is based on traditions which have now gone but it would be silly — and extremely inconvenient — to replace them all. We know what these phrases mean....Banning them is just unnecessary." Yes! It would be silly to replace them all! Who can argue with that?! Anyone?! Oh, crap. This chick can. And does.

A one Rosalie Maggio argues that she "...sees nothing wrong with finding alternatives to these troublesome phrases." And I agree with that. But I don't agree that the phrase "gentleman's agreement" is troublesome in the least bit! This woman is the author of something called 'The Dictionary of Bias-Free Usage' and 'The Nonsexist Word Finder,' just in case you were wondering where she was coming from. Her identity is the Word Police! She says "A 'fireman' could be a guy on a train. 'Firefighter' tells you -- it's an action verb. ... It tells you what they do. A mail carrier carries mail. A firefighter fights fires." What now?

A fireman could be a guy on a train? What the heck is that supposed to mean? Does it mean he's any less of a firefighter? Or is she talking about the guy on the train being literally on fire? Man, this chick must be a blast at parties! Are you kidding me?! But wait! She's not going to tell you what you should be saying. She claims that, "People can use whatever words they choose, but there's no reason to fall back on ones that carry "unintended baggage." Like what? Bellhop?

Ms. Maggio also mentioned that in the United States during the 1980s, folks "... argued over words such as "snowperson" and "personhole"." OK, stop. Stop. Stop. STOP!!! What. The. Hell?!?!

Personhole? WTF is a personhole? (If I was in charge of this, Ms. Maggio would be my definition of personhole. Nice job, personhole!) Seriously? Like...as a replacement for manhole?? You have got to be kidding. First of all, if I ever hear anyone use the term 'personhole', I might have to punch them. No, I will have to punch them. Second, I cannot think of one woman I have ever met in my entire life (and there have been several!) who would have been offended by the word manhole.

I feel the need to make a suggestion to all involved in the Word Policing of societies. I'm going to strongly suggest that you take up a hobby. Perhaps get yourself a pocketknife and learn to whittle. Buy a banjo and pluck out some of the classics. Anything. Anything to keep you from nitpicking the English language to death.

But here's the perfect example of just how stupid (yes, stupid) this whole thing is and how there is the potential for everyone to be offended by everything and you can't go around banning certain words for fear of offending one soft-headed moron. (Why can't they just toughen up is my question.)
A one Christopher Cerf recalled "...a Long Island feminist in the 1970s who tried to change her name from Ellen Donna Cooperman to Ellen Donna Cooperperson." (I'm assuming Ellen Donna Imadumbass was taken?) "...she's a better person for it. Except that she forgot that 'person' has the word 'son' in it." Bravo, sir. Bra-VO.
What other words can we get rid of because they might offend people? Let's not limit it to just gender, for cryin' out loud!

What about 'handsome'? Could be offensive to amputees.

What are we supposed to do about the 'best man'? Best person? I don't think so.

Therapist? Offensive to rapists?

Manslaughter? You folks really want to go with 'personslaughter'? I don't think you do. Besides that, it could be offensive to depressed people. Mans laughter? Ahhhh...see?

Calling someone "a chicken"? Offensive to poultry.

Oooh...Headmaster! Offensive to both slaves and people without heads!
Sightseeing? Offensive to blind people.

See how silly the whole thing is? Well, it's silly all right, but I'm about to make it sillier. One of the nitpicky language usage books that Ms. Maggio has authored is titled "How to Say It" and it does just that; instructs the reader of the most acceptable (according to her) ways of composing various types of letters (ie, acceptance, complaints, responses, etc.). She goes very far out of her way to include every sort of name possibly imaginable, presumably so that there is no ethnic stereotyping or gender stereotyping in the responses. But this woman takes it to the extreme. Behold! Extreme political correctness. Or something.

Mr. and Mrs. Masterson Finbury
Chang Ch'un Meditation Center
Anders
Selina
Vickers
Shreve
Penrod
Dr. Cheesewright (wtf?)
Mr. Van Druten
William Portlaw and Alida Ascott
Marion and Leopold
Nguyen Van Troy and Tran Houng Lang
Edna Bunthorne
Gabriel Bagradian
Leon Gonsalez
Chuzzlewit, Ltd.
Uncle Thorkell (what?)
Rabbi Wasserman
Mr. Brimblecombe

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