Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Tyranny of Political Correctness

I made a decision, several years ago, to NOT succumb to PC speech.  I deliberately use politically incorrect words because political correctness is stealing or revising our language.  Perfectly good words have been redefined and in some cases (like the word “Niggardly”) have been banned.  And what the PC police say is correct today, is certain to be changed tomorrow.

For example, just look at the evolution of PC terms for a dark-skinned person. 

The word, Nigger, is a noun in the English language.  It originated as a neutral term referring to black people.  The word derived as a variation of the Spanish /Portuguese noun, negro, a descendant of the Latin adjective niger which referred to the color black.   

Throughout most of the world, it was not considered to be disparaging until the middle of the 20th century.   Then its usage had become unambiguously pejorative and directed at black people, particularly in the United States. 

Instead, the term colored became the mainstream American English alternative to negro (and all its variant terms).   The opprobrious character of the word “nigger,” was chosen in the South precisely because it was more offensive than "colored."  The term, colored, served us well until it, too, was deemed to be offensive.

That was all before institutional political correctness affected our speech.  Nevertheless, we changed and it was for the good.  I was around when the change occurred; most people, I knew, were uncomfortable with the old pejoratives and were sympathetic to the feelings of black people.  I remember how they sensitively and cautiously uttered the new noun, “negro” (which was, really, the same old word before it became slang).  And everyone was happy -- until they weren’t.  

Negro was derived from negroid just as caucasian was derived from Caucasoid.  But negroes didn't like that so we were forced to change to "black" (in Spanish the word for black is negro).  Okay, I get it – White people are called “white” people so it follows that black people should want to be called “black” people.  That lasted just long enough to get everyone retrained and then, BAM! --black was out.   What was wrong with black?   I don't know; I don't get offended when someone calls me white.

Now it's African-American.  I refuse to use hyphenated designators.  Not all dark-skinned people originated from Africa and not all of them are Americans.  And a lot of Africans are white but, when they emigrate to the U.S., we don’t call them African-Americans.  

Most recently, the African-Americans’ newest descriptor of choice is "people of color." Tell me, why is that acceptable and "colored people" is racist?   A "wealthy person" and a "person of wealth" is the same thing.  A "notorious person" means the same thing as a "person of notoriety" so the distinction is nonsense.  And besides, white is a color.  Why are we not all “people of color?”

Fiddling with the language can be frustrating but forced political correctness can be tyrannical.

For example, now, the whole black community has suddenly decided that they own the word, "thug." They say that when a white person uses the word, we are racist because we, they say, only use the word, thug, in reference to  black people.    

White colored Americans whose families originated in Africa are not allowed to say, “thugs" but black colored African-Americans can?  Go figure.

So I still call thugs, thugs. If dark, colored people act like thugs, I call them thugs. If light-skinned people act like thugs, I call them thugs. I am indiscriminate in my use of the word and I refuse to let only dark-skinned thugs (whether clad in dark hoodies or cloaked in the garb of jack-booted  PC Nazis) deprive me of a perfectly good word.

1 comment:

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I have long refused to bow to PC. The only concession I have ever made is to say "black people," but then I always like to say, "well, really they are just dark brown."