Monday, November 5, 2007

Sensitivity

It's interesting watching language evolve. When I was a kid, there was a retarded girl who lived down the street from us. Nice girl, very sweet tempered. Sometimes other kids would be mean to her -- she got "idiot" or "moron" occasionally -- but we lived on a cul de sac, the families were mostly friendly, and the block mostly looked out for her. She was "retarded."

I used the word a couple years back on Lakerstalk and got jumped on by some people (friends) who said I was being disrespectful. This morning I read a long article about autism that concluded by observing that "retarded" was no longer an acceptable usage -- the journal "Mental Retardation" changed its name this year to "Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities."

Not saying they're wrong to make the change -- sensitivity is good, and if it takes a few more syllables, I'm OK with that. I'm broadly good with calling people whatever they want to be called -- if "colored people" want to be "negroes," fine. If "negroes" want to be "black people," fine. If "black people" want to be "people of color" ... actually that one sends sparks to shoot out my ears occasionally as the circuitry deals with the overvoltage of having been through that whole circle in one short lifetim, but I roll with it because, end of day, what people call themselves is their call, not mine. "Gay" instead of "queer" or "homosexual" or "lesbian" -- fine. Though I can't keep up with whether they're L&G or LGB or LGBT or GLBT -- I saw LGBTQQ the other day, which stood for "Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transexual Queer and Questioning" -- if they'll just stick PHATPIML in there -- "Practicing Heterosexual At This Point In My Life" -- I will happily pay dues. Or it could be "IKSRPBOTYAWAYLAB" ... "I've Known Some Really Pretty Boys Over The Years And What Are You Lookin' At, Bub?" (YWAKS? Which is of course: Ya Want A Knuckle Sandwich?)

It does all remind me of George Carlin's piece about how "shell shock" got turned into "combat fatigue" and then into "operationally exhausted" and then into "post-traumatic stress disorder" ... all the while the poor soldiers were suffering from the same damn condition. I understand why "colored" and "fag" and "retard" got shuffled out of the language, and I'm fully behind it all. But where the language has gained shades of gray, it's lost simplicity. That may be a good tradeoff (probably is) ... but the loss of "shell shock" -- and "old people," to borrow from Carlin again, who are now "senior citizens" -- can still be mourned, and I do.

~~~~~

Got some spam recently I think because of that Lakers-related post -- it was "buy tickets and gear" kind of stuff. I've turned on comments moderation for the moment. I'll give it a few days and turn it back off again. Mostly I don't like comments moderation -- slows back and forth down somewhat, IMO -- but if the blog starts getting a lot of spam, I may go to it. Steve Perry moderates his comments, which I assumed was because he was an old guy authoritarian: "shape up and spell correctly or else!" But maybe it was spam after all ...

~~~~~

Boston College lost this weekend, which was good. Unfortunately, the Patriots probably are the best football team in the history of the game. I can still hope, but they whipped one of the top teams in the history of the game, Manning's Colts, 24-20, in Indianapolis, after having being down 20-10 midway through the 4th, and after having suffered from some downright remarkable officiating -- the Pats set a franchise record for penalties in that game and still pulled it out, in the home stadium of the unbeaten Superbowl champions.

I still hate Boston. Most people only hate individual franchises elsewhere -- which would be the Celtics in my case. But after enough decades of pain, my specific hatred of the Celts turned into a generalized hatred of all of Boston. So I do hate Boston ... but not enough to prevent me from enjoying what the Pats are doing.

Every year about this time people start ranting ab0ut the Last Unbeaten Pro Football Team, and how they might end the season unbeaten ... and it never happens. (OK, happened once, 35 years ago.)

This is the first time I haven't thought the people calling for a complete unbeaten season were delusional. I think the Patriots might do it. They're angry, motivated, and really, really good.

~~~~~

I'm on the road this week and have a post on that coming soon; I also brought along Devlin's Razor and Terminal Freedom, and should get them out to proofers this weekend.

And in my actual downtime (I'm only booked 40 hours this week, and have no wife or kids to distract me) I'm working on the 2nd half of AI War. Those of you I owe mail to, you should get it this week.

10 comments:

The Bunnyman said...

I've had various people advise me, on occasion, that my use of the word 'retarded' to describe things like, oh, conservative political views, or this entire season to date of HEROES, is objectionable and wrong and I must apologize immediately and undertake to never never never use the word again in such context or DIE.

I usually advise such people that they're behaving like retards and then invite them kindly to see just how rich and creamy a lather they can work up with their lips against my ass.

It often seems to me that if your chosen language isn't offending SOME idiot out there somewhere, you probably need a redraft, because you're just not making your point as well as you could be.

But then I think of writers like Colin Wilson, and, well, maybe I'm just being childish.

Whatever. As long as I'm enjoying myself, and nobody else is suffering any actual bloodloss, I just figure everything is cool.

Steve Perry said...

Yep. If you aren't offending somebody with your writing you certainly aren't doing your job -- and being bland to the point of not offending anybody is, well, offensive ...

I like the word "crippled." Know a guy who did a video, "Combat Cane for Cripples," great stuff.

Somebody told me that the new term was "differently abled."

Doesn't speak to a guy on crutches or in a wheelchair, and is, at best, imprecise ...

Yeah, I don't change any posted comments, I just toss out the spam.

The Bunnyman said...

On other stuff --

I moderate comments on my blog, but it's because there are a few/some/many (I don't know for sure which word applies, but however many there are, they're vocal pricks when they track me down) people on the 'net who dislike me intensely over some of my past publicly expressed opinions, and when they find my blog they say really shitty things, and I can deal with shitty things about me, but these are the kind of people who will start to say shitty things about my commenters, too (who are mostly my wife, and some very few very good friends) and I won't tolerate that.

Kick me textually, okay, freedom of speech and all that. Kick those few I actually care about, simply because they like me somewhat too... nope. Can't be havin that.

And my hatred of the New England Patriots has gone to 11 since early childhood, but this season they are recalibrating my speakers upwards of 13, maybe 14. My beloved Bucs and Bills are both showing signs of actually having decent seasons, and it really isn't going to matter, because either the Colts or New England will win the Super Bowl, and that's just how that is. Jesus how I loathe both those franchises.

Sorry to take up so much space in your threads. I apparently missed about half your post in my first hurried run through... dinner time, screaming kids, all that.

Dan Moran said...

Just kidding about authoritarian old guy ... I always assumed it was spam. But schoolmarm Perry is a funny image ...

Steve Perry said...

I remember a professor I had, before I dropped out of college to seek my fame and fortune. Huge class, two hundred people in an auditorium. He'd stand up there, prattling on. Now and then, he'd look up and smile -- that was how we knew he'd told a joke, so we'd laugh dutifully. I always thought he was as inept a teacher as I'd ever had. He would talk from bell-to-bell and we took reams of notes. Come the final exam, every question was straight from the text, not a single one came from his notes. Turned out there was an unstated policy in freshman classes -- if you weren't flunking half of them out, you weren't with the program. More than half, that was bad, but less than that, also bad.

Later, I found out the guy had authored several texts that were the standards in the field (sociology), had won awards, and was considered one of the bright lights for most of his career.

I always wondered what that was about.

Pay attention here, Mr. Moran, or the knuckle ruler comes out!

Dan Moran said...

Yes, sir. I'm sorry, sir.

Dan Moran said...

Bunnyman -- no worries. Take as much space as you need. It doesn't cost me anything. :-)

I got nothing against the Colts. Even the Pats I only hate because they're standing too close to the Celtics, I'd be fine with them if they'd go elsewhere.

Only football team I really hate is the Raiders. (And always did -- their stay in L.A. was torture. They stank the joint up the moment they arrived, and it took years for the stench to clear up once they left.)

Steve Perry said...

Odd thing happened, Dan'l. My nephew and his wife came up from San Francisco to visit last week. Smart kid, MIT grad, programmer, writes games, some of which are movie tie-ins.

So as some point I started talking about great space opera and your name came up. He didn't know of you as a writer, but he said, "Dan Moran? I used to work with a Dan Moran!"

I wonder if it was you. Nephew's name is Jon Heiner ...

Dan Moran said...

Small world, eh? Yeah, I remember Jon. Bright young man. We worked together at launch.com, 8 or 9 years ago. He wasn't long out of college at the time, I recall.

Maureen said...

Exsqueeze me? The new preferred term is logically abbreviated IDD, and they think that's a good idea?
The mean kids will obviously call the IDD kid an idiot.

What's more, this isn't terribly useful. Plenty of people who aren't even mildly retarded have various intellectual and developmental deficiencies. But God forbid that language should carry any information whatsoever.