Joanne Jacobs wrote about
families in Claremont, California who "raised arms" (metaphorically) on
both sides of whether dressing up as a "Thanksgiving character" demeans
anyone. It's worth a read.
This is Political Correctness Gone Wild. It's in schools, the workplace, the community, it's everywhere.
Is a blind person blind or visually-impaired? Is a fat person fat or heavy? Is a tall person tall or vertically-empowered? Is a black person black or African American? Is a toilet a toilet or a restroom? If I utter the words "gosh darn it" or "freaking" with emphasis, does anyone (even my 11-year old) not know what I really meant to say?
I'm Canadian, but was born in Tanzania. If I were American, I would literally be "African American", but am not allowed to use that adjective to describe myself. Why?
Are we doing this in the interest of politeness? If so, what is the level of politeness that a Western person feels today toward a person of Muslim faith? We, our media, and our political leaders routinely use phrases like "Islamic terrorists", "Jihadists", etc.. This has caused a pretty universal (and I hope unintended) antipathy towards all Muslims. There have been many examples of Christian Terrorism, but this hasn't resulted in the same kind of broadly-felt antipathy towards people who practice that faith. Why? Because these people are simply described terrorists, not "Christian terrorists." A cynic might conclude that this is another intended choice of words...
It seems these euphemisms are in themselves a reflection of bias and discrimination. Or better said, we're only interested in the right kind of political correctness <-- it seems awfully Stepford doesn't it?
There's another side to this discussion. The meaning of certain words can be felt to be sacrosanct. For example, David Wiley wrote about how the Latter Day Saints support Proposition 8 principally because "marriage" has a very specific meaning to them and its sanctity (forgiving the pun) must be preserved.
I really appreciate David's viewpoint and his willingness to share it.
I empathize with his perspective.
aren't there other words that carry the same weight and import to people who share David's faith, or people of other faiths? Words like "God" or "Faith" or
"Church" or "Temple." All of these words have distinct legal, social,
and personal meanings. And each of the three is different.
was "marriage" singled out? The legal definition of "marriage" in no way
shapes or alters the religious or personal definition of marriage. What about "divorce"? In some faiths, divorce is not permitted. Should we then erase this word from our Code of Law? No - we simply understand that they (religion and law) are distinct, and recognize the need for both worlds to coexist. Marriage in the case of Proposition 8 speaks simply to a legal definition within our Code of Law. It in no way comments on the social or religious or personal. Just as divorce doesn't.
The laws of our society ought to be and hopefully are completely a-religious. Legal terms are used to describe specific concepts and rules that govern the rules of our society; for example, "battery" has a totally different meaning in a court of law than it does at Toys R Us.
So I don't agree with David. Nor do I agree with either side in the Claremont Thanksgiving debacle. Nor do I agree with the profusion of politically-correct phrases are becoming vernacular.
Words have meaning and implication to the speaker and the listener. Changing the first to accommodate the second makes us liars and delusional. Attempting to use one definition or context to further an agenda based on a different definition or context demeans our integrity.
Let's all stop this before it goes too far, and the Thought Police takes over our entire society.