Dare I Say It?
0 comment Thursday, August 7, 2014 |
The other day I called my mom to find out how to poach an egg. "Gee," she gently chided me. "You really need to improve your life skills."
We live in the age of "Nice Speak." Weird new words and phrases have infiltrated our lexicon, and old ones have been banished.
I once used the word "moronic" in a comment on a local newspaper's blog. To my utter amazement, the comment was blocked.
Unbeknownst to me, "moronic" is on the paper's "bad words" list. Barred from usage, verboten, automatically blocked. I asked the "blog master" what other words I should avoid. What about imbecile? Or idiot? He said he didn't know.
"Housewife" apparently carries such a negative connotation that lawyers, during jury selection, routinely ask women on the panel if they "work outside the home" instead of using the dreaded word. But "stay-at-home mom" would be okay, right? Or "home economist"?
"Fag" used to mean cigarette. As in, "can I bum a fag?" God help you if you use that word now.
Can you still say "hag" -- as in, "she's an old hag"? Err, probably not.
Remember the flack some politician caught a few months back, when he referred to a lobbyist as a "K Street whore"? It would have been just fine except the lobbyist was a woman.
The mega-law firm Morrison Foerster is surely due for a flogging. It proudly calls itself "MoFo" and just changed its website to "mofo.com." How must it feel to say you work for MoFo?
One day Mr. M was with me in the Apple store. He gave a little kid a toy and then tried to take it back as we were leaving. "Don't be an Indian Giver!" I blurted out, without even thinking. Looks like I've got a ways to go.
And how many words do we now use to make unpleasant things sound better?
We don't tell people what to do anymore. No, we "task" them. "Mr. M, you've been tasked with raking the yard."
Used cars are now "pre-owned." A janitor is an environmental engineer. There are no more store clerks. Now, they are all sales associates or customer service representatives.
"Crippled" gave way to "handicapped." But "handicapped" soon became politically incorrect, too. So it was changed to "disabled." Now, the handicapped are called "differently abled." I can hardly keep up.
Learning disabilities are "learning differences." And people with "special needs," those of us who learn differently, don't get help. We get "accommodations."
It's becoming increasingly difficult to say anything without getting into scalding hot water.
"A bunch of f-cking retards!" Rahm Emanual exclaimed last August, to describe some of his fellow Democrats in a closed-door session on health care. We all know how that turned out. So badly, in fact, the Special Olympics got on his case. Sarah Palin, too. ABC did a full story on it last night.
Indeed, the word "retarded" is considered so pejorative that the federal government is going to replace "mental retardation" in all of its statutes with "intellectual disabilities."
Don't you know some newspaper will jump the gun on its word-processing "search and replace" program. The article will read, "Pajamas that are flame intellectually disabled contain harmful chemicals."
I, for one, am sick of those smug "first class" people. They board early, receive free drinks beverages and meals, and get the "forward lavatory" all to themselves. Meanwhile, those of us in "coach" have to share two bathrooms and buy our food. So how about we call it the "upgraded cabin" instead? It would make me feel better.
While we're at it, can we lose the wheelchair symbol in the handicap placard? It makes physically challenged people appear helpless and decrepit. Oh, it's all so unpleasant.
Now, don't misunderstand me: some of this "nice speak" I can understand. Still, it often goes too far. Should an ugly person be described as "aesthetically unique"? Will fat people soon be called "differently sized"?
Equally irksome, some forbidden words and phrases are downright complimentary. "An old wives' tale" doesn't strike me as condescending. Old wives are generally onto something. Hell, I'd like to hear all of their tales.
In the meantime, though, I suppose I'd better get with the nice-speak program.
Next time I'm hoisting my too-heavy suitcase into the overhead bin on an airplane, I won't ask for help. No, I'll just say, "Excuse me sir. I'm differently abled. Could you accommodate me?"
I'm sure he'll know exactly what I mean.

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