SAFE LANGUAGE By Jim Redwine

first_img Gavel GamutBy Jim Redwinewww.jamesmredwine.com (Week of 06 February 2017)SAFE LANGUAGE“Love” and “hate” have become meaningless. Not too long ago, say before the pervasiveness of cable TV, most humans, especially male humans, reserved “I love you/it/them, etc.” for those few special people and things we actually did love. “I hate you/it/them, etc.” was only applied to those rare persons and things we had a personal reason to hate.Now everyone “loves” everything from certain soft drinks to ball teams and “hates” everything else. Love and hate are applied like a coat of paint to everything that we used to “like” or “dislike”.And when it comes to commenting on the words or actions of others, say public officials, the national news media no longer takes the effort to produce facts which might prove a statement careless or incorrect, now the shortcut is to assert all statements are “false” or “lies”.This deterioration in communication is probably due to our human need to keep others in those places we believe they should stay. And since we may no longer beat down our opponents with ad hominem appellations, i.e., politically incorrect terms, we just say they speak with forked tongues. This development was an unintended consequence of the p.c. movement.No one may be publicly denigrated or even described by gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, physical attributes or age without exposing the speaker to a cacophony of boos from the political correctness police. I say good! As one who grew up in a legally segregated state at a period in history when only Anglo-Saxon males were judged worthy, I say America has taken several steps forward since World War II. It is instructive that our notions of acceptable speech now make it unwise to set out, even in a newspaper column condemning prejudicial slang, examples of such hurtful words as …. Well, you may supply your own.However, we humans appear to be incapable of not ascribing bad motives to those with whom we disagree. And now, since we cannot rely upon demeaning terms as short-hand for those we despise or even just disagree with, we have turned to saying we hate them, they are liars, their premises are false and their motives are suspect. For some sociologically implausible rationale, it is reprehensible to refer to persons by catch phrases but perfectly fine to assert they are motivated by avarice and evil designs or have the morals of Wylie Coyote.The national news media of today would never use politically incorrect terms for public officials but also seldom report what the officials say without gratuitously stating it is false. Setting out the facts and leaving it to the viewer or listener to come to her/his own conclusions does not seem to occur to the national media. One need only turn on the nightly news on any given evening to see how we have progressed in politically correct speech and regressed in consideration for differences in opinions.Another interesting phenomenon has been the gradual merging of male and female speech. Until social pressure forced men to speak less paternalistically and chauvinistically, women were rarely heard, at least publicly, engaging in demeaning terminology. However, if one observes the plethora of female news anchors on today’s airwaves, venomous attacks, often factually unsupported ones, pour out without regard to the gender of the anchors.And it is not just the media. Many of us, at least it seems to me, are now so bereft of acceptable demeaning terms for those unlike ourselves, we must seek to bring them down to our level by other means. We are uncomfortable not being able to differentiate “us” from “them”.This phenomenon has been years in the making and is not the province of just one sociological group or political party. I recall when Congressman Joe Wilson, who still represents South Carolina, during President Obama’s speech to a Joint Session of Congress in September 2009 publicly yelled at the president, “You lie!” And I find it difficult to watch CNN anymore as they assert virtually every statement by President Trump is, “False!”, without giving any supporting data for their accusations.I do not wish for a return to those Jim Crow days when any group one claimed to be a part of felt comfortable denigrating any other group. However, perhaps we have exchanged politically incorrect speech for terms every bit as demeaning to individuals and perhaps even more dangerous to our democracy.For more Gavel Gamut articles go to:www.jamesmredwine.comFacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailSharelast_img