A really big time current shibboleth is, from all we see about us, the idea that anything we do or say might offend. Offending anyone is the unforgivable sin du jour. References to God must be removed from places at the behest of judges because someone is offended by them. Allah appears to be OK, apparently because being anti-Him is itself already offensive. So if you want God in sight, best do it in Arabic. These things can be confusing, at least to us.
Ham is offensive. If it is busy offending Jews, that is again all right but it best not be caught around any Moslems. Restaurants around Moslems are removing it from their menus since an offended Moslem diner can be hard on the crockery and on wooden buildings as well.
Blacks can evidently be offended by such seemingly perfectly moral substances as fried chicken and watermelon. Best serve neither at a picnic for black folks. Along those lines, why are we allowed to serve rice to Chinese? Dunno …
We can refer to perfectly harmless elderly Tea Party voters as ‘terrorists’ — at least, Democrats can — but we’d best not say that of Moslem Army officers who shoot up an army base yelling “Allahu akbar!”. And we offend when referring to illegal aliens; they are to be recognized as ‘undocumented immigrants.’ Negros and or blacks are likewise to be identified as ‘African-Americans, leaving us flummoxed as to why folk we know aren’t Euro-Americans and Asian Americans.
We were really curious why a friend whose family originated in India wasn’t to be referred to as an Indian-American. We are not allowed to identify descendants of Geronimo or residents of the “Big Rez” around Window Rock today as anything but “indigenous” or “Native Americans” so Indian-American, besides being accurate, should not confuse.
Professional athletes seem part of this as well; it’s OK to be an Angel or a Yankee or a Senator but being an Indian is somehow, de trop. A big no – no. Don’t they win often enough? it seems fair to be a Cowboy …
We note too that it is offensive to disagree very much with President Obama . In that regard, one raconteur ended a monologue on our ‘first black President’ with: “… and the nigger failed!” The author is still around largely because, being black himself, he is bullet-proof on that, though we suppose teeth are still gnashing in some quarters.
“Nigger” is particularly curious; it is pejorative certainly as were the other terms prevalent a generation or two back. We routinely heard not only nigger, but wop, greaser, kraut, mick, hunky, spic, chink, limey and any number of others, none any better or worse than the others. All were offensive when obviously so intended, friendly kidding when that was the intent. But somehow today, you may use all of those without fear, but the first one. Unless of course, you are black and so have a pass. We find all this confusing.
It worries us. We were raised to believe that we should not offend; mountains of soap and sprays have been sold to Americans in that regard. But it is becoming very difficult to anticipate what may offend someone these days. We are informed that some are now offended because they are expected to use the men’s restroom because, though anatomically male, they ‘feel’ like a female. Laws are being passed to accommodate these, lest they be offended. Homosexuals are presently offended big time over being denied the marital subsidies provided by government to subsidize the production of children. You can see why we are confused?
It all strikes us as a prostitution of language. A society needs clear communication to hold together and exchange ideas productively; all this posturing — for that is what most of it is — seems more destructive than not. It amounts to the difference between telling your love that ‘time stands still when you gaze at her face’ versus saying that ‘her face would stop a clock.’
Our alleged freedom of speech is supposed to include offensive speech; if it did not, there would be no need for legal protections, right? Not too long ago, insult was handled by the “Code Duello,’ if someone felt insulted by your remark, you had to go out at dawn and meet him at 30 paces with pistols. Hmnn … perhaps we should reconsider our abandonment of that? That ought to work better than letting government handle it, seems to us …