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Dark Ages

I think that my main problem with excessive political correctness is its rapid obsolescence. Obviously, I have others. But the dominant one has to be its clear futility. People go to all of this trouble to make new and neutral designations for anyone who is slightly different to avoid the dubiously offensive nature of older terms, but the new ones invariably come to be used in the same old ways. “Idiot” and “moron” are fully acceptable insults against people who exhibit unpleasant behaviour, but everyone protests when the term “retard” is used in that fashion. Why? Because it is considered to be a purely clinical term that cannot be lightly brought into the vernacular. But modern psychology generally eschews it in favour of less negatively charged language. No one seems to object to the common use of “idiot” and “moron”, though both were once used in psychology to describe certain levels of mental disability. “Retard” seems to be taking a similar path. I seem to recall some popular British radio station that actually defended its host’s use of the word “gay” in reference to an unpopular heterosexual by stating that the host’s informal usage only referred to idiotic behaviour without any judgement of sexuality. I don’t even know what kind of person would prefer to be called a “little person” instead of a “midget”.

Yes. Alright. Fine. Technically, use of the term “Orient” could imply that the lands of powerful old white men are the natural centre of the world by placing Asia in the east. Unfortunately, powerful old white men need to have some system of navigation too, and any coherent geographical system must account for the relations between spaces. Any navigator would naturally see everything in relation to his own position. The world is round. Nothing is objectively east. Nothing is objectively west. People just use “Orient” because it describes a place that is east of their home. It doesn’t imply superiority. Some of its historical users might have believed in their own superiority, but the term doesn’t inherently carry any of that. On a vaguely related note, I occasionally use the term “Dark Ages” because it sounds nice. I know that some people did fantastic things in those times, but I’m not going to let the imaginary feelings of ancient corpses come before euphony. They know that I love them. 

Copyright © 2011, Jaymes Buckman and David Aaron Cohen. All rights reserved. In a good way.