February 13, 2014

I Dig Language. Too Bad Others Don't

I love the English language. I love how it sounds, I love how words have all kinds of meanings, I love the fun that you can have in writing all kinds of whimsy and most importantly, I love the fun that you can have mocking people who take the new and unimproved English language and themselves way too seriously.

For those of you who have been hanging around me since 2008, you know the type of whimsy that I'm capable of writing, and for those brave souls who have jumped aboard the wagon train for tales of brave G.B., whose naked ears were definitely not tortured by sirens sweetly singing, but definitely tortured by mindless YouTube videos that my daughter and her friends constantly play in my presence, last Friday's post was but just a small sample of my rapier wit.

So whenever people go off the edge of the volcano with their disdain of a particular word of phrase, it makes me want to pull my hair follicles out with a pair of tweezers.

The other day, I saw, or rather heard, a brand new PSA about how bad the phrase "That's so gay!" is.

Oh my god! The horrors! My self esteem will be crushed because that phrase cuts me to the core! I am being victimized because of someone's homophobic insensitivity!

I might say that I'm being facetious with that last sentence, but sadly, after watching Vince Vaughn get absolutely crucified by the media, the self-appointed police of all things gay, GLAAD and the Hollywood entertainment industry, I think it's say to say that I'm being serious.

Because of the era I grew up in, most words that have been hijacked by the thought police (see this post for a small sample and please note, the blog that it's on has a warning page for adult content) I know by their original meaning, thus I have no qualms in using them, either in this blog, or in general conversation. However, I am not what most people call close minded, in that I use those words come hell or high water. I have made concessions over the years not to use certain words on my general blog out of respect for my readership.

But, I digress.

It still pains me that people get incredibly upset over words or phrases and because they got offended, they have this insatiable need to inflict their viewpoint on others (see the NCAA and modern media in regards to the Native American nickname controversy). Pains me even more with the movement towards applying revisionist language to previous decades/centuries.

I know this is going to sound like a tired cliché, but it really bears repeating.

Words and phrases offend and/or hurt only if we choose to let them offend and/or hurt us. If you choose to be offended and hurt because someone happens to utter a word or a phrase that you don't like, that is your prerogative. Being shallow and/or weak is not a crime, but it's not an admirable trait nor something to inflict on other people to make yourself feel better.

Your time on this planet is finite, and wouldn't it be better served to spend it doing concrete things to either improve yourself, your family or the world around you, then to spend it trying to get a particular word or phrase banned because you don't like it.

Give that some serious thought the next time you choose to let yourself be offended by a particular word or phrase.

(c) 2014 by G.B. Miller. All Rights Reserved.

9 comments:

A Cuban In London said...

I love your post for its boldness. I agree that sometimes we can be easily offended (or we can allow ourselves to be easily offended). Sometimes, though, I think that sensitivity is called for. Some offensive language has a recent history of its own. That means that those affected by it haven't had time to get used to that language being used in our normal, daily life or even in a different context to the one they are accustomed to, i.e., to cause umbrage.

A good, thoughtful post, nonetheless. I think that we need more of these.

Greetings from London.

G. B. Miller said...

ACIL: My thoughts exactly.

Having grown up in the 70's it really does boggle my mind with the way certain words/phrases are treated.

People take umbrage on every little thing, and while it can be a good thing, after a while, it becomes like the boy who cries wolf.

Riot Kitty said...

It's true we can choose to be offended, but some things can still hurt.

G. B. Miller said...

M: Only if we choose to let them hurt us. Anger that festers because we chose to let words hurt us doesn't do anyone any good and in the long run can only make us grow weaker.

Granny Annie said...

"Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me." Well in this century that is a crock. We are ready to pounce on the wrong words like tigers (oops did I offend any tigers?) and then follow through with the sticks and stones. I am with you on this G.B.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

It doesn't offend me when someone says "That's so gay." It just lets me know they're an asshole. They might as well wear a big flashing neon sign around their neck.

G. B. Miller said...

G.A.: Thankee.

To me language is something to have fun with, not to chastise people with.

Debra: So...if I used the phrase in your presence, you would think I was an asshole?

Isn't that just a little bit of an overreaction?

My time on this planet is finite and it's really not worth to get my panties in a bunch over a word or a phrase that I might find offensive.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

1. Yes.
2. No.
3. To each their own!

Have a great Sunday, G.B. We disagree once again but what's new?

G. B. Miller said...

Debra: Most people would hem and haw on a direct question like that;, but I thank you for being honest. I admire that in a person.

Have a great Sunday as well.