Sunday, 4 March 2012

Objective Proficiency p 156. Political Correctness. Extra Reading

5 Examples of Political Correctness Gone Too Far
No one sacrifices more doves on the altar of political correctness than I do. Many a night do I spend nuzzling warmly against Lady PC's bosom as she whispers to me her secrets and brushes my tangled hair. But even I have to admit that sometimes political correctness is taken too far. At the very least, more important issues, such as bringing an end to baby snatching, should be addressed first. These 5 are my favorite examples of PCness run amok. 

1. Photographic Diversity

We've all seen this in advertising, on company websites, in college brochures, etc. A seemingly random group of people wearing nondescript, often solid-colored t-shirts is having the time of their lives together, each person a representative from a different point on the ethnic spectrum. Or it may be several individual pictures with accompanying quotes, but each major ethnic group is always represented.

Real diversity is great, but fake-looking diversity is mighty stupid. Not to mention it's pretty misleading. Imagine all the disappointed Caucasian kids that get to college, only to find out that their dream of having the perfect odd-couple roommate has been shattered. But even more disappointed when he gets there will be the Chinese student who finds that the campus is 90% white.

2. The Firing of Juan Williams

Our Founding Fathers are probably ROFL to see what the idea of free speech has become in this country. And let's be honest, it is pretty hilarious. It seems we barely have time to mourn the loss of one journalist before another has already been fired for saying something offensive to somebody. Of the many names in the journalists-fired-for-running-their-mouths club are Rick Sanchez, Keith Olbermann, and this woman whom I won't even name for fear of jeopardizing my own career.

And, of course, Juan Williams. Juan Williams was fired from NPR for comments he made about Muslims on Fox News (see video below). That's what he gets for being open and honest in a discussion about a sensitive issue. Hopefully we can all learn from his mistake and never let it happen again. Even liberals agree that this guy got screwed. In the end though, I guess we should just be glad no one tried to blow him up like the dudes from South Park.


3. Trying Not to Hurt the Feelings of People Who Probably Have More Important Things to Worry About

Long ago, they were called street people. Then with the invention of trains and fingerless gloves came "hobo." Finally, someone coined the term "homeless," which seemed pretty good. Then someone else came along and decided we needed to change that to "persons experiencing homelessness," and it all got stupid. The goal in this kind of labeling is to focus more on the person's personhood while softening and minimizing the negative trait ("person with a disability" rather than "disabled person," "vision impaired" rather than "blind"). It's a noble idea, but for one thing: everybody hates syllables.

At some point, the terms get so ridiculous that all it does is make people realize how much easier "bum" and "cripple" roll off the tongue. If we spent half the time we spend perfecting the terminology on eradicating homelessness and designing robot legs for people, then we could focus on more important things, like bringing back Firefly.

4. Even More Name Changing

Racial and ethnic terms have become way too confusing these days. In some cases, you have to put the continent of origin, followed by a dash, and then followed by a present country of citizenship. There's all those syllables again. (Is a white kid whose parents are from South Africa an African-American? What about Charlize Theron?) Then there's the term "Native American." Apparently "native" in this sense doesn't mean "born there" like in the dictionary, which should come as good news to the half-German son of a WWII codetalker. My confusion is compounded further by the fact that everyone on the reservation near where I live refers to themselves as Indians.

Let's face it. Political correctness pretty much boils down to upper class white liberals trying to do two things: keep anyone from ever being offended and make you feel like a bigot. So zealous are they in this endeavor that they've made the very practice of speaking a fearful one, as we have to agonize over each word choice to avoid persecution. I've even seen black folks surrounded by white liberals awkwardly using the term "African-American," because even they apparently felt scrutinized by the PC Rules of Destiny. I myself tried to use this term one time, but unfortunately it was a disaster. The person I was referring to yelled back that he was from the Virgin Islands so it didn't apply. I give up.

5. Coddling the Children

I've heard via teachers that some schools are doing away with GT (gifted/talented) classes. This would of course be so kids in the regular classes don't start crying every day. At that age, most students are either too cool or too lazy to want to be in the nerd classes. And the nerd kids that actually want to learn should be given every opportunity to excel, even if that means segregating them from the students who would rather start fights or put pencils in their nose.

Sports are the same way. When I was a kid, you actually had to try out for sports teams (though you didn't necessarily have to be good since I made the little league baseball team). Apparently nowadays, to avoid hurting kids' feelings, some sports leagues make the teams take anybody. While this may lead to some awesome videos on the FAIL blog, I don't think it's the best thing for the kids. That goofy kid may actually be good at something, but if we keep telling him he's good at everything when he's not, he'll never figure out what his talents are until it's too late. Then we'll just have one more hobo (er, I mean "housing-challenged person") out there walking around with his bindle full of cornbread.

5 Examples of Political Correctness Gone Too Far. Vocabulary

Nuzzle: /ˈnʌzl/ to touch or rub somebody/ something with the nose or mouth, especially to show affection. E.g. Nuzzle somebody/ something She nuzzled his ear. + adverb/ preposition The child nuzzled up against his mother.
PC: Political Correctness.
Bosom: /ˈbʊzəm/ a woman's chest or breasts.
Tangled: /ˈtæŋɡld/ twisted together in an untidy way. E.g. tangled hair/ bed clothes.
Snatch somebody/something (from somebody/something) to take somebody/ something away from a person or place, especially by force; to steal something. E.g. The raiders snatched $100 from the cash register. The baby was snatched from its parents' car.
Run amok: /əˈmɒk/ behave uncontrollably and disruptively. E.g. stone-throwing anarchists running amok. (Figurative) Her feelings seemed to be running amok.
Nondescript: /ˈnɒndɪskrɪpt/ (disapproving) having no interesting or unusual features or qualities. Dull. E.g. a nondescript person/ building/ town.
A solid colour is a colour which does not contain half-tones or gradations. An even color.
Spectrum: /ˈspektrəm/ (pl) spectra /ˈspektrə/ a complete or wide range of related qualities, ideas, etc. E.g. a broad spectrum of interests. We shall hear views from across the political spectrum.
Mighty: (adv) very. Really. E.g. mighty difficult. Driving mighty fast. That's a mighty fine car you have! 
Odd couple: a pair of characters in a play or movie who are extremely mismatched. 
Shatter: break into small pieces. Destroy. E.g. Anna's self-confidence had been completely shattered.
ROFL: rolling on the floor laughing (used to convey great amusement). E.g. just read this, it’s absolutely hysterical—am still ROFL.
Run off at the mouth /run your mouth (off) (North American English, informal) to talk too much, in a way that is not sensible. E.g. he just kept running his mouth.
Jeopardise: /ˈdʒepədaɪz/ to risk harming or destroying something/somebody. Endanger. E.g. He would never do anything to jeopardize his career.
Screw: /skruː/ (slang) to cheat somebody, especially by making them pay too much money for something. Screw somebody We've been screwed. Screw somebody for something How much did they screw you for (= how much did you have to pay)? I really got screwed on that last deal.
Hobo: /ˈhəʊbəʊ/ (Be careful when you call a vagrant or homeless person a hobo — although this is exactly what the word means, it is a somewhat offensive term) 1. a homeless person; a tramp or vagrant. 2. a person who travels from place to place looking for work, especially on farms. A migrant worker.
Personhood: The quality or condition of being an individual person. The status of being a person. E.g. People from all walks of life have been quick to discover that their greatest potential for success in all areas of their life is found in their own personhood.
Bum: a person who has no home or job and who asks other people for money or food.
Cripple: (old-fashioned or offensive) a person who is unable to walk or move normally because of a disease or injury. E.g. (figurative) He's an emotional cripple (= he cannot express his feelings).
Roll/ trip off the tongue: if a word or phrase trips off the tongue, it is very easy to say. E.g. The band is called 'Acquired Echoes'. It doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, does it? A name that trips off the tongue.
Firefly: a flying insect with a tail that shines in the dark.
Code talkers were United States soldiers during the world wars who used their knowledge of Native-American languages as a basis to transmit coded messages. In particular there were approximately 400-500 Native Americans in the United States Marine Corps whose primary job was the transmission of secret tactical messages.
Compound: /kəmˈpaʊnd/ compound something to make something bad become even worse by causing further damage or problems. E.g. The problems were compounded by severe food shortages.
Boil down to something: (not used in the progressive tenses) (of a situation, problem, etc.) be in essence a matter of. To have something as a main or basic part. E.g. In the end, what it all boils down to is money, or the lack of it.
Bigot: /ˈbɪɡət/ a person who has very strong, unreasonable beliefs or opinions about race, religion or politics and who will not listen to or accept the opinions of anyone who disagrees. E.g. a religious/ racial bigot.
Zealous: /ˈzeləs/ showing great energy and enthusiasm for something, especially because you feel strongly about it. E.g. a zealous reformer.
Coddle: /ˈkɒdl/ to treat somebody with too much care and attention. E.g. She coddles him like a child.
Try out for something (especially North American English) to compete for a position or place in something, or to be a member of a team. E.g. She's trying out for the school play.
Little league: (in the US) a baseball league for children.
Goofy: /ˈɡuːfi/ silly; stupid. E.g. a goofy grin.
A bindle is the bag, sack, or carrying device stereotypically used by the commonly American hobos.

Here's 11 examples of political correctness gone mad. 
1. The BBC has dropped the use of the terms Before Christ (BC) and Anno Domini (AD) on one of their programmes and decided that the terms 'Before Common Era' / 'Common Era' are more appropriate  
2. The European Parliament introduced proposals to outlaw titles stating marital status such as 'Miss' and 'Mrs' so as not to cause offence. It also meant that 'Madame' and 'Mademoiselle', 'Frau' and 'Fraulein' and 'Senora' and 'Senorita' would be banned. 
3. Throughout several US councils and organisations, any terms using the word 'man' as a prefix or suffix have been ruled as not being politically correct. 'Manhole' is now referred to as a 'utility' or 'maintenance' hole.
4. Loveable cartoon rogue Dennis the Menace has been given a politically correct make over. BBC chiefs decided to take away his edge in the remake. Gone are his bombs, catapult, water pistol and pea shooter - and in their place is a simple boyish grin.
5. Spotted Dick - a classic English dessert has been renamed to avoid embarrassment. The traditional pud Spotted Dick has been given the title Spotted Richard, after UK council bosses feared the original name might cause offence.
6. A school in Seattle renamed its Easter eggs 'spring spheres' to avoid causing offence to people who did not celebrate Easter.
7. A UK council has banned the term 'brainstorming' – and replaced it with 'thought showers', as local lawmakers thought the term may offend epileptics.
8. A UK recruiter was stunned when her job advert for 'reliable' and 'hard-working' applicants was rejected by the job centre as it could be offensive to unreliable and lazy people.
9. Gillingham fans had begun to fondly offer celery to their goalkeeper, ‘Big Fat’ Jim Stannard. The club, however, decided that celery could result in health and safety issues inside the ground. As a result, fans were subjected to celery searches with the ultimate sanction for possession of celery allegedly being a life ban.’
10. In 2007, Santa Clauses in Sydney, Australia, were banned from saying 'Ho Ho Ho'. Their employer, the recruitment firm Westaff (that supplies hundreds of Santas across Australia), allegedly told all trainees that 'ho ho ho' could frighten children, and be derogatory to women. Why ?  Because 'Ho Ho Ho' is too close to the American (not Australian, mind you) slang for prostitute.
11. Some US schools now have a 'holiday tree' every year at Christmas, rather than a Christmas tree.

Here's 11 examples of political correctness gone mad. Vocabulary
Rogue: /rəʊɡ/ a person who behaves badly, but in a harmless way.
Makeover: a complete transformation or remodeling of something, especially a person’s hairstyle, makeup, or clothes. 
Edge: a strong, often exciting, quality. E.g. Her show now has a hard political edge to it. 
Catapult: /ˈkætəpʌlt/ a stick shaped like a Y with a rubber band attached to it, used by children for shooting stones. Slingshot.
Peashooter: a toy weapon consisting of a small tube that is blown through in order to shoot out dried peas.
Grin: a wide smile. E.g. She gave a broad grin.
Pud: /pʊd/ pudding.
Stun: to surprise or shock somebody so much that they cannot think clearly or speak. E.g. Her words stunned me—I had no idea she felt that way.
Gillingham Football Club /ˈdʒɪlɪŋəm/ is an English professional football club based in the town of Gillingham, Kent that play in League Two. 
Fondly: in a way that shows great affection. Affectionately. E.g. He looked at her fondly. I fondly remember my first job as a reporter.
Derogatory: /dɪˈrɒɡətri/ showing a critical or disrespectful attitude. Insulting. E.g. she tells me I’m fat and is always making derogatory remarks. She indicated by her tone that this was only her private opinion and in no way derogatory of Colonel Ferguson.
Mind you: (informal) used to add something to what you have just said, especially something that makes it less strong. E.g. I've heard they're getting divorced. Mind you, I'm not surprised—they were always arguing.
Whore: /hɔː(r)/ a female prostitute 



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