Saturday, May 03, 2014

Old habits die hard.

My desire to be a nice person bumps up against my inner Mean Girl a lot. If I say something is "gay", do I mean it's brave, smart, and funny, like my friend the GayCynic? If I say someone is "retarded", do I mean that they're sweet and shy like the adult child of one of my regular customers back in Knoxville?

Internet etymology has already evolved an out for the former, with the gradual evolution of the word "ghey".

It's a lot easier for me to be flippant. I dunno... I'm not usually this introspective on a sunny spring afternoon. Probably this awful pollen headache stirred up from the lawn-mowin' yesterday.

20 comments:

mikee said...

Shorthand for insults like "gay" or "retarded" is useful, as long as everyone agrees on the interpretations of the words used.

We need some modern day Samuel Johnson, or maybe of those Duke Word Police Students, to catalog accepted insults and their meanings so we are all communicating accurately.

Perhaps they could also come up with some new words that are specifically designed as insults, without the social PC baggage carried by existing insults.

Until then, I'm calling the guy who cuts me off in traffic a "mooncalf" because although obsolete as an insult it seems to fit.

Will said...

Tam,
for yardwork, try it using the 3M #8210 dust mask. Hint: they can be used multiple times.

Mattexian said...

Under dEar Leader, it's the brave new world of Next Tuesday, so feel free to replace those old, worn out phrases with the official NewSpeak, so you too can be all doubleplusgood bellyfeel!

Tam said...

Since when did being uncouth become the badge of Proud Conservatism?

Since your mom, that's when.

John Richardson said...

Remember it is coming from Duke whose students and other assorted hangers-on are called Dookies. You know as in what dogs leave on the carpet for you to step in at the worst possible time.

These are the same students and faculty who so anxious to hang, draw, and quarter without so much as a fair trial 3 lacrosse players on the word of a psychotic woman who is now in prison for 2nd degree murder.

Tam said...

"These are the same students and faculty who so anxious to hang, draw, and quarter without so much as a fair trial 3 lacrosse players..."

While I'll not dispute that campuses are hotbeds of trendy conformatism, were the lacrosse players not also "Dookies"?

Also, pretty sure the students at Duke now were too young to know what "lacrosse" was in 2006.

Joe in PNG said...

These kids are just so eager for a new Gulag Archipelago, aren't they? How they must agonize at all the heresy, lesse majesty, and thoughtcrime around them.

But this is what happens when the Religion of Marx is taught in place of history, the inevitable march towards True Socialist Paradise. Those who oppose this Millennium must be silenced!

RevGreg said...

I work in social services (mostly autism with behavioral issues these days) and I can't even tell you what the proper NewSpeak is for what retarded used to cover because it changes so quickly, often in the span of time it takes you to walk from one management employee to another. Apparently the geniuses who keep dictating the change haven't figured out that and word, phrase, or abbreviation they come up with will eventually take on the same connotation as it passes into general usage. They also seem to be entirely unable to pay attention to the context in which a word is used before contracting severe cases of Butthurtitis, which was made abundantly clear at a recent training.

The training was Non-Aggressive Physical and Psychological Intervention or NAPPI. Now you would think that speaking about the course or procedures used in the course you could pronounce the acronym as it would obviously be spoken. You would be wrong because the first thing I learned in class was that the word "nappy" is ONLY a racial slur. It's not a British diaper, it's not a diminutive reference for a nap or napkin, a rimless shallow open serving dish, a brewing term for the head on a beer, a term used for a jumpy horse, or an alternative to the term "pile" used for carpeting or something fuzzy. They were even squeamish about me calling it "Nah-pie" and insisted that the only acceptable way to refer to the course was by spelling it out every single time which was annoying and almost as time consuming as calling it "The Training Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken" which nearly got me thrown out of the room.

I wish they'd divert half the energy that was spent stamping out the cultural blight of the name of The Training Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken to cutting costs to give me a raise, I think my income would double. They could probably start by firing whomever started the silliness in the first place because I'm sure they manage to find tons of ways to needlessly complicate our operations.

Anonymous said...

"Since when did being uncouth become the badge of Proud Conservatism?"

I think it's more a case of not wanting to be told what I can and can't say. Left on my own, there are plenty of things I'd probably realize are wrong to say. But if I'm told they are "hate-speech" and I'm "not allowed", or even just strongly discouraged, I'll look for ways to say them whenever I can (and then probably feel slightly guilty about it when I read a post like your original one).

Ken O said...

I am guessing the Dookies have never considered a discussion of Muncie vs Tremec/BW vs A833. Yeah, I'm a hater.

Tam said...

Of course, having described a product at the NRA Annual Meeting as "gayer than the front three rows at a Cher concert" there is apparently no depth of hypocrisy which I will not plumb.

docjim505 said...

I suppose that there are always willing recruits for brownshirts, blackshirts, red guards, etc. (just to name some more modern versions of those groups who devote themselves to the welfare of their fellow Man by killing him off).

Tam said...

Dude, that's pretty frickin' non sequitur, there.

Trying to draw parallels between "Hey, it's really not cool to use 'retard' as an insult," and "Get in the oven" makes us sound just a little kooky to folks outside the Glenn Beck echo chamber.

Tim said...

It's not just uncool, thoughtcrime is grounds for a career ending public humiliation and dismissal. In Europe thought criminals are jailed.

Exactly how close to the gulag should we get before we start worrying?

Steve Skubinna said...

Years ago I was searching for an extreme way to say "gay." After some consideration I came up with "gayer than Oscar Wilde's Christmas goose."

Now I can't claim it means anything specific, but it sure sounds gay. And not in the clever, hip, stylish manner.

Tam said...

"It's not just uncool, thoughtcrime is grounds for a career ending public humiliation and dismissal."

Within my lifetime it was cool to refer to Clarence Thomas as a "nigger" in many parts of the country. Nowadays, though, it's okay, and even expected, to shun hateful, ill-mannered douchebags.

I'm still not tracing the straight line from "Not calling Clarence Thomas a nigger" to "Auschwitz".

Help me out? Draw me a picture?

Robin said...

Its far from a straight line, but it does go through a Venn diagram circle of people who use thought crime to keep the "other" in line and enjoy bossing people around.

Tim said...

As your example and RevGreg's example shows, the set of unacceptable expressions gets incrementally larger while what constitutes shunning gets incrementally harsher.

Let's hope you are right and our rulers think that progress has gone far enough. Failing that, I hope the process is slow enough that you aren't bothered by it.

docjim505 said...

Ditto Robin and Tim. I don't say that these young goody-goodies at Duke are planning where they'll put their ovens (how many homophobes can you fit in a rail car?), but when one appoints himself a protector of "decent folk" from h8ers, reds, Jews, blacks, apostates, infidels, etc., he's on that road.

And, as Tim writes, people who will toss other people into ovens, or herd them into killing fiels, or introduce them to Madame Guillotine, or burn them at the stake, or simply knock their brains out for being "the Other" or for saying unacceptable ("dangerous!") things are merely a particularly vicious subset of those who think they've got a Mission in life to mind other people's business for them.

Anonymous said...

Stuffed tighter than Adam Lambert's pants.