Date: Wed, 19 Oct 1994 13:12:25 -0700 From: Birrell Walsh Subject: Re: offending idioms On Wed, 19 Oct 1994, David Muschell wrote: >... I, who am French, Indian, German, Swedish, > Scotch-Irish, may grin at the latest excess in lingualaundering, but I > certainly understand the "why" of it. > CJ, the plaque should have been removed, just as offensive graffiti > is washed from the walls, not because the original intent may have seemed > harmless to the "insiders" who knew its story, but because we really do > need to be wary of the inadvertant hurt caused by terms that are (how do I > underline in e-mail?) racist and carry the weight of years. > So, I'm preaching and you're offended...the neat thing about these > billboards on the superhighway is that, unlike plaques hung on distant > dams, you can delete this with one keystroke. > > > David > David - This is the best defence of the PC mindset I have seen in a long time. You are moderate, kind and reasoned. Well done. On the other hand (Knew that was coming, eh?), we have the odd situation that people who ARE NOT MEMBERS of a group decide they will defend the group, whether asked or not. Dangerous, not unlike Boy Scouts dragging unconsenting old ladies accross intersections. One curious and really pernicious result is that people with cruel hearts and tongues, who relish hurting with epithets, are getting to occupy the defender-of-freedom role. Another odd thing is the almost certain backfire. Rules are created by which it is unacceptable to say something bad about any group. Intended to protect minorities from harm, these rules nevertheless have a universal applicability. They can therefore, in the humorless arena of the courts, be used to stifle criticism of the majority. And they will. There are other - maybe the word should be something neutral - "reactive byproducts" to enforced goodness. But the country's experiment with Prohibition still stands as an archetype, and a warning. Where would the Mafia be today, without the Women's Christian Termperance Union? Birrell