Get with the times

Friday, April 4, 2008

I thought we were past the phase of political correctness.

I remember being roughly in highschool when even the phrase 'politically correct' became well used. And then there were the changes in peoples' speech patterns that followed---it was like a race to see who could identify and change the most inaccurate and apparently offensive terms in western dialogue.

I have to admit, I wasn't completely immune to it. Up until this time, we had always called my sister mulatto. It was after an Oprah episode when I was a teenager that I started calling her 'bi-racial'. And not knowing many other black people at that time, if I had gone to Chicago then, I might have been caught using the word negro. For a bit near the beginning of my time in the States I likely used African American most often, but by the time I graduated, it was black. And then I've already posted about my feelings concerning the word retarded.

But I've often thought it was much ado about nothing. And perhaps it's that my patience is a little thin these days, but frankly, I think the kafuffle raised over the Toronto councilman's lapse in pc-ness and now the poor guy out west is just eye rolling.

They crucified Councillor Rob Ford a few days ago when he had the 'audacity' to lapse into his childhood speech pattern and call Asians 'Oriental'. Frankly, while I recognize that using the word 'oriental' is old fashioned, I've never heard any convincing argument for why it's offensive. I mean, it's nothing like using the word nigger; 'oriental' is just a behind the times term. It's about as offensive as wearing fluorescent. And while in defense of himself, I thought he raised a couple good points about various other public sources that still use the word oriental (some university department--I only heard the broadcast once). Hasbro better watch their tails! Pretty soon they'll be forced to recall all the Monopoly games and reprint them with Asian Avenue! And his use of the phrase 'work like a dog' to describe the Asian community--give me a break! We all know it's true and we've all thought it before. 'Work like a dog' might not be the classiest way to compliment a society on their industriousness, but I guess Ford is not the classiest guy--I really wouldn't know as I'd never heard his name up until this past week. (And yes, a bit of googling turned up a few other 'foot in mouth' experiences--I just don't think the guy should be publicly flogged for having a bit of a red neck).

Now the uproar over Regina MP Tom Lukiwski's shameful past. I'll admit, it's slightly more concerning than a political figure that can't keep up with racial terminology. I saw this on the news last night and again I was thinking, 'is there nothing more important for these people to be focusing on?'.
My issue has to do with the fact that a) This was 16 freakin years ago! 16 years ago, I was in my last year or two of highschool. The whole gay lifestyle was just starting it's rise to public acceptance. Part of that rise was the gay community embracing the word gay---remember, it used to mean happy!! Faggot was another one of those words that they commandeered and decided that it was now a positive term, just another way to describe them. This may or may not be true today, but in the early 90's, it was well used by non-gays.
B), Did you notice what was happening in that video? It's obviously a mild party scene. People were drinking, hanging around, joking and laughing, it's obviously an 'off duty' moment. Are you telling me that a politician has no down time? That he is constantly on display? Surprise people, politicians are people that have their own thoughts and opinions, but may or may not support those in public.....I think that would be a big part of their job!

And finally, C) Why the heck was this brought out in the first place? Because some idiot out there was salivating at the prospect of making this guy look bad. The news said that the video had been left in some party headquarters for years and was just recently cleaned someone found this video, popped it in, saw this guy making the comments and decided....what? That he/she just couldn't bear to toss it? That they just had to call the evening news and courier the tape right over? Please. I just have a real problem in ruining a guys life over a comment he made half a lifetime ago, in a down and possibly inebriated moment, using again, an old fashioned term, a barely-registering-on-the-insult-gauge term (I can hear it now, "yeah, well you've got dirt under your fingernails" will be ruling the schoolyard for the next few years), and a, well, truthful term. Do gays get diseases? They do. Do they transmit it to other people? They do. More than a straight guy married to the same woman his whole life? Indeed. Let the guy say sorry and get back to work people.


J9 said...

There's a line that keeps running through my head, everytime I hear/see this story about the MP: "Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone"....

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