Friday, May 24, 2013

Political Correctness

I don't believe in Political Correctness, but I do believe in respecting your fellow person. I'm sorry, should I have written "fellow man"? Does "person" offend your anti-PC senses? Bite me. I'm not PC, but I am inclusive. I try to be respectful. I try to understand other people's perspective.

Language evolves as our society and culture evolves. Some people are nostalgic for those archaic words that have "suddenly" because offensive. News flash: it wasn't sudden. It was after years of that word being steeped in racism and/or sexism that it began to carry that context with it. If you want to use that word anyway, then you should be aware of the connotations that your words carry.

The reason that certain people can use certain words is that those words carry different connotations when used by different people. Sure, I can see why that kind of double standard can be frustrating. That's life, though. You can bitch about it or you can accept it. Sorry, you can't change it.

If someone is offended by the words you use you have two choices. You can blow them off as too sensitive and ignore their feelings or you can try to understand where they're coming from and try to be more empathetic and less offensive in your language. As long as you understand that intentionally being offensive will only reflect on your own lack of regard for others, go ahead. If you're okay with sounding ignorant and disrespectful, then be as racist and sexist as you want. But if you want people to show you the respect that you think you deserve, then you might want to think about what you're saying.


Okay, enough vaguery. Let's take an example. I'll skip over the obvious and look at the word "colored". Honestly, it makes me cringe when my boyfriend talks about laundry and says something like "I'm doing coloreds." I know it's stupid, but I can't help my reaction.

I have that kind of reaction, silly as it is, because the word carries a strong negative context. There was a point in time when it wasn't anything. It was normal. But that was during a period of oppression of the very people to whom the word referred. When you say "colored" you sound like you're out of a Civil Rights documentary - and not the part where the modern historians reflect on the past. No, you sound like the oppressive white people.

On that note, let's look at the other side of the coin and reflect on the word "white" (at least as it refers to humans). It hasn't changed in forever. White people (as a whole) have never been specifically targeted for oppression. There has been no period of time that has steeped that word in some negative context. "Whitey" might be a bit controversial in a sort of Black Panther kind of way, but it's generally not a big deal. It's used more as a joke than as an offense.

Ok, I'll come back to the obvious and briefly mention the n-word. Everyone has heard some white person bitch about the double standard that says that black people can use the n-word but white people can't. I've heard (and thought about) a few explanations. One of them is that black people have earned the right to use the word. "Fuck you, we earned it." Another is that black people have intentionally evolved the word to take the sting out of it. The one I come back to is what I mentioned before: words carry with them a different context when they're used by different people and around different people. Words aren't just words. Words have meaning. If you're white you can't use that word because when you say it you bring only your experience and your history. You have no idea what experiences lie on the other side of that word.

And seriously? Why is it that big of a deal? Why do you want to use that word? The only reason I can think of that you would want to use that word is hate. And that word carries nothing but hate. So if you are full of hate, go for it. But don't expect me to maintain any semblance of respect for you if you do.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It is not that difficult.

I’m generally a very laid-back person, with few real pet peeves, but there’s one thing that gets on my nerves like nails on a chalkboard: poor grammar. My father was ruthless when it came to speaking properly. When he’d ask how I was, if I said I was “good” he would, without fail, tell me “I didn’t ask about your moral state of being, I asked how you’re doing.”
“I’m doing well, Dad.”
Having had that upbringing, it is infuriating that so much of the population, it seems, has either never been taught how to speak and write properly or just doesn’t care. If the former is the case, then I am greatly saddened and disappointed in our education system today. If the latter is the case, then that portion of the population is not one that I particularly desire to associate with.
It’s not difficult, I promise.
Some rules are subtle and confusing (and often without explanation), such as whether the comma should be placed inside or outside of the quotes (it goes inside). But such details as the difference between “your” and “you’re” are not negotiable. Possessives and contractions are very different and make absolutely no sense. Apostrophes should only be used with possessive proper nouns. I understand that in today’s fast-paced world we sometimes speak or write before considering prepositions or dangling modifiers, but the difference between “its” (possessive of “it”) and “it’s” (contraction of “it is”) or the difference between “there,” (“that thing there”) “they’re,” (“they are) or “their” (possessive of “they”) should be straightforward and simple.
I’ve noticed even more gross violations in speech, listening to people butcher basic tenses. Past perfect is not the same as past tense. The word “had” does not go with the word “went.” Conjunctions take the subjective case. He is not “taller than me” but rather “taller than I.” Conversely, prepositions take the objective case. She did not go “with she and I” but rather “with me and her.” Multiple subjects are still subjects. “Me and her” did not go to the store. “She and I” went to the store. If you separate them you’ll hear the difference. Did “me” go to the store and “her” went to the store? No, “she” went to the store and “I” went to the store.
These objections are not subjective. Although I have been called obnoxious and OCD and even anal retentive, I am simply one of the few who notice. If you think that no one cares, you’re wrong. Proper grammar is not usually noticed, but poor grammar is frequently noticed by those who use it. They simply do not have the time or patience to correct it, and grammarians are not exactly well-liked. Listen to people who are considered well-spoken and intelligent. Listen to people who are in positions of respect and authority. You won’t hear them violate the most basic rules of the English language.
If you’re writing a blog or an email, or even just filling out an online profile, all it takes is a quick once-over to check for the most obvious mistakes. Your friends might not care about your grammar one way or another, but if your writing is intended to give others a good first impression then you will have a much more positive impact when you exhibit a solid grasp of (and enough interest to care about) the English language. If you learn it and at least attempt to make it a habit, proper grammar will become natural. Regardless of your documented level of education, others will perceive you to be intelligent and your education will become far less important in their opinion of you. This small effort will change the way people listen to you and could very well change your life.

P.S. If you aren’t 100% sure how to spell a word look it up. In fact, invest in a dictionary. It will serve you well.

Guide to Grammar and Style:
National Grammar Day!:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Whole New World!

It's been awhile, I thought I'd bring it back. I've become much less actively political and now I've finally resigned myself to listening to NPR in the morning while I'm getting ready for work.

I've become more of a feminist and more open to new ideas. And much more optimistic! Things are going really great right now. I have a couple fantastic friends, and my cats are just as loveable as ever. Ha, god I sound like a crazy cat lady now...

Wow... there's absolutely nothing exciting going on in my life right now....

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Subject: Inauguration (um... duh!)

So I've been plugged into NPR this morning and the only thing I've been hearing about why this event is so momentous is because Obama is black. The first black president. YES, this is a really big deal. No one thought this would ever happen, and frankly, I am VERY excited about the progress this country has made since I started paying attention to politics.

All this is well and good, don't get me wrong, but seriously, there is so much more to this man than his race. He is the youngest president since JFK. He is popular among Republicans as well as Democrats (though obviously not as many Republicans). Colin Powell endorsed him, and many other Republicans have vouched for his skill at working across the aisle. He may not have much experience, but that is a good thing. He is not jaded by the political battle that so many politicians are accustomed to. He is also one of the most popular presidents in history upon entering office.

I have high hopes, but I am encouraged by what I've heard about the general attitude about the next year in the life of this country. The majority of Americans report being patient with Obama, accepting that he can't do everything at once, that he can't please everyone every day. My high hopes are not unrealistic. I know that his first task will be the economy, which is high on everyone's priority list. But what will his next task be, once he's gotten the ball rolling on that one? Health care? The environment? One of the dozens of other issues that he was voted in for? I'm curious about the future, as I'm sure we all are.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Keeping the faith.

"For the first time in my life, I'm proud of my country."

Like a parent loves their child, I love my country. But I don't always like it. I love my country, but I've been disappointed so many times, in so many ways, to such an extent that it's really hard to be completely proud of it. I am proud of all of the things we've accomplished in the 232 years that this country has existed (and more). I'm proud of the Revolutionary War (guerilla warfare? C'mon, that was pretty clever at the time), the Constitution, the Emancipation Proclamation. I'm not proud of slavery or the Civil War or Jim Crow. I'm not proud of the assassination of Kennedy or King. But do you have any clue how many amazing inventions came from Americans? The cotton gin! The light bulb! The automobile! Peanut butter! America is absolutely amazing, in all its history and glory! I'm really proud and excited to live in a country with such a rich (albeit short) history. Democracy, industry, economy. I could say that there are lots of things that I'm really proud of.

In the more recent years - more specifically that last 10 years - things have happened that have worried, and ultimately disappointed, me. The Iraq War, most specifically. I'm proud of the American people's unity and strength on September 12, 2001. I'm proud of the rebuilding and the pure love of country and fellow man that I saw in the aftermath of the events of the previous day. But I'm sorely disappointed in the government's response. I'm disappointed, not in the war in Afghanistan, but in the war in Iraq. I'm not going to argue why here. But I'm disappointed in George Bush. I was very unhappy with the outcome of the 2000 election, but I hoped for the best. I hoped that the new Republican president wouldn't do anything to screw up what Bill Clinton had accomplished. I was young and in high school at the time and mostly oblivious to politics, but I counted on the President to do the right thing. I was disappointed in the President for shunning diplomacy. I was disappointed in Congress for giving him the big red button. And I was disappointed in the American people for letting it happen. And then, a year later, I was disappointed in the American people for coming back for more. We got screwed over and we bent over and said "Please sir, I'd like another."

But for the first time in as long as I can remember I'm so proud of my country that I want to go out and scoop up the first American flag magnet I see and stick it on my bumper. I don't put things on my bumper. Ever.

For a long time I was so disillusioned with the government that I rolled my eyes at images of the flag. To me it seemed trite and unenlightened to display the flag - a symbol of pride - when the government was so corrupt from the top to the bottom. I felt like so many people blindly followed the course of events because they didn't want to be unAmerican. But unlike Bush and the Republicans - and many others - I don't see dissent as unpatriotic. Just the opposite, the most patriotic thing that you can do for your country is to make your voice heard, even if it's the polar opposite of everyone else's.

But now I'm excited. Now I feel like the tables are turning. Yes, I do believe in that now-cliche word, "Change." I don't believe that Obama is our savior. I don't believe that he's going to bring world peace. But what I do believe is that he has a new, fresh vision for this country, a vision untainted by the Vietnam War and the Black Panthers and the dirty-hippies movement. I believe that the New Democratic Party has finally figured out that politics-as-usual isn't going to work. And that's what I'm proud of. And to me, the flag (in part) represents our government, so today I'm really proud of the political system. I know that we, as a people, can really rise above the corruption and I know that we are really a lot more intelligent (biased, I know) and hopeful than I and the world thought.

One problem that I'm truly afraid of is the idea that people voted for (or against) Obama because of his skin color. He garnered the support of more than 90% of the black population, more than any other Democrat. But why? Are all dark-skinned Americans also Democrats? Are they all liberal? Are they all seeking the same kind of change? Do they all think the same way??

My powers of logic tell me that this is highly improbable. So why else would over 90% of the black population vote for one candidate? I really detest the idea that white people vote for the white guy and black people vote for the black guy. I don't care who says it to whom, that's race. In whatever form it takes. And I can't push this nagging fear out of my head. The fear that as much talk as there is about the progressive nature of this epic election , racism hasn't changed. The state of racism in this country is no better than it was two days ago. It is no better than it was two years ago. Yes, it is truly awesome that a black man will be our next President. Yes, I am so excited and proud that I am here to see it happen. And I will probably watch his Inaugural Address alone at home in the dark with no pants (because I seem to cream myself every time he speaks... wadafxup with that?). But what got him there?

I may be fooling myself (god i hope not) but I like the idea that Barack Obama is the President-Elect regardless of his race, not because of it. He overcame racism in this country - against the odds - and proved the doubters wrong. He is a good person and so effective a politician that he was able to make people look past his skin color to see the good man that he is. I know that there are many people out there who made their decision - conscious or not - based on race, but I truly believe that the majority of the American people made their decision based on his vision, his politics, and his hope for the future.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Welcome to the New World Order

I still can't accurately express how I feel today. I don't know if it's really hit me. I don't know if it will really sink in until after inauguration.Republicans make fun of Democrats for their rock-star worship of Barack---... President-Elect Barack Obama. But I think there's something more.

Sarah Palin was promoted as an every-woman, as a soccer mom and Joe Six-Pack. But the real every-man is Obama. He didn't grow up in power. He didn't have a silver spoon in his mouth. He grew up from virtual poverty. He had to work, blood sweat and tears, to get where he is. He really does know the American people, because he has been one from the start. When I see him I see a man that I could know. I don't mean that I could see myself having a beer with him. I mean I feel like I've already met him. I feel like he has shunned the pedestal and walked amongst the people he serves. I see a man who wants to talk to the American people, who wants to listen to us and let us tell him what's best for the American people. He answers to us, We The People. He knows how important everyone is to the welfare of this country. And he may not have all the answers, but for once I feel like he will listen to his advisors, to the experts - Democrat or Republican - and to the people. No, he doesn't have the experience that McCain has, but leading the country isn't a closed-book final exam. He's got the resources and the judgement he needs. He wasn't in Vietnam, he doesn't have that baggage. He's not looking toward the past for the answers, he's looking to the future.That's why I am an Obamaniac. And that's why I am happier than I have been in a long time. I'm in awe that this country has finally come through. We've finally done something that, in my opinion, really is the best thing for this country. Forget black and white, I want change.

Friday, September 12, 2008

What is this society coming to when we have to debate, not the issues, and not the candidates' answers to our questions, but what questions are appropriate to ask the candidates?!

I don't care that Palin is a woman. This isn't about her duties as a mother. I don't want a hockey mom as a VP. I wouldn't want a hockey dad as a VP either. She claims that her daughter had a choice in what would happen to her and her baby, but she doesn't want to let anyone else have that choice. So either she's a liar (her daughter really didn't have a choice and she's saying it to save face) or she's a hypocrite. Either way, I don't want her in the office.