Thursday, February 21, 2008

No bloggers were lynched in the posting of this entry

I know this is an unpopular stance, but this linguistic lunacy resulting from political correctness has got to stop. I understand full well that there are words, certain epithets, that legitimately raise the hackles of the average person but when almost every choice of a colorful descriptor makes people (and the media) start verbally attacking the speaker as making the most horrid of statements, we're in dire need of some real perspective. Earlier this week, Michelle Obama, wife of POTUS candidate Barack Obama, made the following statement [emphasis added]:

“Hope is making a comeback and, let me tell you, for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country. Not just because Barack is doing well, but I think people are hungry for change” [Boston Herald]
Now I heard the statement and thought the "for the first time" part was a bit much and a borderline idiotic statement, and just took the comment as the typical overstated supportive excitement of the spouse of a politician and left it at that. Unfortunately, I'm one of the few that thought dissecting the statement was a waste of time as it was only a matter of time before the media, pundits and Cindy McCain (with all the smugness of Lynne Cheney) were jumping all over the statement. It was, yes - I'm going to say it, a bit of a virtual lynching. Was she literally hunted down and executed? No, but there was a a rhetorical pile-up that had the heart and soul of a lynching.

Ironically, Bill O'Reilly (that bloviating buffoon from Faux News), in a rare act of common sense decided not to join the pile on. In response to one cheesed-off caller who indicated she knew Mrs. Obama was an angry woman (noting a friend who had info and was sure Obama was "militant" ), O'Reilly basically told the woman to get some actual evidence to back up her claim and stated:
"I don't want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there's evidence, hard facts, that say this is how the woman really feels. If that's how she really feels -- that America is a bad country or a flawed nation, whatever -- then that's legit. We'll track it down." [Media Matters]
This isn't the first time a colorful descriptor has been used figuratively bit it should be the last time or even the last time overly sensitive people decide the figurative use of a word is meant to be injurious and therefor using the word is determined to be some sort of heinous act. If you go looking for a slight, you're going to find (or create) it. That doesn't mean the person taking offense is morally superior, it just means you may be spending too much time looking for a fight.

Pick your battles people, because it's way past time to stop making mountains out of those proverbial mole hills. Use of the word lynch doesn't mean you're racist (or that you really think someone should be attacked), use of the words hystrionic or hysteria isn't sexist and stating that someone is being "pimped out" doesn't their sexual services are being sold by another. These are words and phrases that commonly evoke a meaning that is different from their original and literal meaning and it's time to put the true, tone, tenor, intent and context of the statement ahead of a need to jump on the politically correct bandwagon and focus on more substantial issues.


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