The Word Police
Have you ever been arrested by the word police?
Where did the word police come from and who put them in charge? This may seem like a bit of an illogical question. On the surface I may be inclined to agree with that myself, but upon closer examination, is this question really that obtuse? The question about the word police and the effectiveness that the word police seem to have in our current society, one may be inclined to ponder why this question has not been raised long ago.
To set a precedent, one may be able to gain consensus that “word police” has been around as long as written history. We see time and again words that were considered inappropriate, or generated from a certain social class that were frowned upon or in some cases considered not acceptable to say in certain settings. We still see that today in acceptable words that can or can not be used on television or in front of children. That is not the word police I am referencing, however. What I am inquisitive about dives much deeper, it is how in less than one generation, a word , group of words or an expressed philosophical belief can go from social norm to social pariah.
Let us start with an easy one, Merry Christmas, it seemed like over night, these two simple words went from a friendly greeting to words one must not say in some places or words that one must then apologize for saying. How did we get here? If one is to give the false argument of inclusion, can we not see the folly and possible hidden agenda behind this claim? Let us remember that Christmas is one of 10 federal Holidays mandated by Congress. Does anyone feel compelled to say Happy Holidays on other 9? Why then was Christmas targeted? Why in less than a generation did a seemly pleasant greeting, get tethered to political agendas? Why, as a populace do we let that happen?
When does the insensitive moniker sprout wings and fly? Specifically when and who decides that certain phrases and words are now insensitive? Why do we allow this? Why do we fall for it? If you know hate is not in your heart, are we as a society so concerned with dancing with the stars, or re-tweeting our favorite reality stars point of view that we stop thinking on our own? I do not know the answer but I think the question has merit. Personally I find it humorous when that high school student or college freshmen under the false premise of being open-minded swallows whole the viewpoint of the teacher without allowing real discourse. The same professor who may shake her or his fist at greedy capitalists, who then force and mandate that you by the book they wrote for if you don’t you may and most often will fail their course. Or the professor who waxes poetic about equal rights and fairness for all, who uses their tenure to block the hiring of someone else that may be more qualified and knowledgeable in the field the tenured professor teaches.
What does that example have to do with “word police”? Why, everything really, because we are quick to comply to what they say or how they say rather than taking the time to “check the facts”. We are told to “think outside the box” but it seems to me, we are then asked to do that thinking, from a smaller box selected by those who seem in charge of the words we are allowed to use or give merit to.
Try this at home if you get a chance. Think about 10 words that 10 years ago you would use on a regular basis to respond to family and friends, how many of those words are now considered hateful, or hurtful? Who decided this? Who makes these decisions? You know what is in your heart, who put the word test together and why did they do it? What is the real motive? We live in a world were you are trained not to talk about politics, religion or social issues at the table, I sincerely never heard a more illogical idea. If you can not “break bread” with family and friends and talk about topics that concern each of those in attendance when can you? Who then does the informing? Are you starting to get the possible picture?
I will follow-up some of the points brought forth in this essay in my future writings, because my thought at the present time is that they need a closer examination. Why are we here and how did we get here? Why do we have “hate crimes” by definition are not all crimes hateful? Who makes this distinction and why? As a proponent of Free Speech, I know and respect the power of words, so I am amazed that Universities have “free speech zones” and so few ask why would this be OK to only have free speech is certain zones? I find the subject of language and words interesting, stay tuned.