Thursday, July 30, 2015

I Feel Marginalized, What About You?

According to a Blaze article, which there's no way this pathetic excuse for a computer would ever be able to open, words like "American," "mothering," and "healthy" make some people in these United States feel marginalized, and they're claiming that that's a form of violence.

This web site is American. And this web site thinks these would-be censors need some mothering. Specifically, they need some motherly-type people to lock them in their rooms and let them kick and scream and hold their breath until they get tired of it, and not let them out until they've written one thousand lines of "I was wrong to disrespect the freedom of speech of others. I apologize. I must never open my mouth in public." This web site thinks that would be healthy, and also wholesome.

Actually, the mere idea that a university in any of these United States would allow a speaker to claim that using words like "American" is a form of violence...makes me feel...marginalized. Doesn't it you? Where's my fee for telling the students which words offend me, as a non-wealthy, biracial woman? What do you want to bet that this idiot who feels violated by the word "American" draws more money, in return for less honest work, in a month than I do in a year? I feel not only marginalized, but discriminated against.

What are some things people say to you that make you feel marginalized, or even discriminated against, Gentle Readers? Hmm. Start with that "Amazon Contextual Ad" that may be showing up on the sidebar at the right of the screen about now. Amazon has had a real problem getting things that don't seem to marginalize this web site right on to our margins. I feed them context for good, successful, highly marketable books, and of course at the moment they're just frantically flogging garbage that doesn't seem likely to fit into anybody's context at all, but they never pick up on references to authors like Ben Carson, Rand Paul, Sarah Palin. Remember the dreck they've slapped into their ad space whenever this web site has mentioned those authors or their books? If you're not seeing a list of five books by respected fiscally conservative authors on the right side of this page, Amazon is not just failing to do their job. That's an act of violence!

And what are some words you'd like to banish from the language? People have been nominating words for sociolinguistic exile forever, usually on the grounds of being cliches and/or being used in ways that cloud their meaning.

As in the old joke: English teacher tells students, "There are two words I want you never to use in this class. One is 'swell' and the other is 'lousy.'"

Student says blankly, "What are the two words?"

And y'know, even though at my school the words that were overworked to the point of meaninglessness were "neat" (as in "The crucifixion of Christ is just sooo neat") and "grotty," "swell" and "lousy" are still widely understood.

But maybe we just haven't gone far enough in ranting about how certain words don't just annoy us, or turn us off, or identify their users as active members of groups to which we don't want to belong. Maybe the existence of groups to which we don't want to belong is an act of violence. Maybe we like being female (or being male) and never wanted to be Boy Scouts (or Girl Scouts), but maybe even our not wanting to join those groups was an act of violence. Maybe we should all make little lists of words whose use in any context is a subtle form of violence against us. Consider these:

1. "Gay" (except when it's part of some unfortunate person's legal name): This word was obnoxious enough when, as a near-synonym for "cheerful" that rhymed with "play" and "day" and "May," it was dragged into every bad rhymed poem in the English language. Publishing poetry that's worse even than mine is definitely a violent act, but as we all know, recently the situation has become even worse. In phrases like "gay-friendly" I never know any more whether it's identifying the speaker as a male homosexual who thinks everybody would feel good about his sexual behavior (and his indiscretion) if they just called it something different from "homosexual," or as a male homophobic who thinks people won't notice his inadequacy so much if he just taunts other males with their real or alleged...In short, there is no way this word can be used that I don't find annoying. Er, um, violent.

2. "Feel": Any suggestion that women "feel" rather than think is, of course, offensive. Therefore, any mention of "feeling" in any group that includes women is offensive. Any group that does not include women is offensive. Er, um, violent.

3. "Public-private partnership": The proper name for this concept is "fascism." In a democracy organizations can be public or private but not both. Basically, if decisions are made by people who weren't elected by a popular vote, the organization should be 100% private. Weasel organizations that receive public funding, but are not accountable to the public, are offensive. Er, um, violent.

4. "Health care": This one wouldn't be offensive if people used it to refer to their taking care of their own health. If it's used as a nasty Orwellian substitute for "medical treatment," or worse yet "medical insurance," it's very, very offensive. Er, um, violent.

5. "Zoning": "Zone," originally meaning a belt, then a climatological "belt" drawn around the globe, then an area between such "belts," doesn't bother, I mean violate, me. The idea of individual humans drawing "zones" on a city map in order to tell other people they can't do something that is otherwise normal, reasonable, and inoffensive, without paying somebody some sort of fee, is extremely offensive. Er, um, violent.

Over to you, Gentle Readers. What are the words you'd like to ban from the English language? In any context, or only in some?

(Somebody out there is saying, "But it is offensive when citizens of the United States talk as if being 'American' meant not being Mexican, usually, or Canadian or Peruvian or Brazilian." Humbug. It's careless and inaccurate, and citizens of the other nations on the American continents are entitled to correct us. Blogspot automatically counts the number of readers we have in different countries, and we don't have a lot of non-U.S.-American readers, so this web site has never needed to worry about making it clear whether any particular use of "American" does or does not include Brazilians. But seriously, I'm sure regular readers understand, it's the idea of censorship by appealing to absurdly oversensitive emotional reactions that some tiny minority of people might have that this web site really considers violent.)