The English Language and its Discontents

Are you like me? Do you have a tendency to make off-color jokes about racial, ethnic and religious stereotypes? Do you pepper every conversation with a seemingly endless stream of sexual innuendo? Do you turn people’s words around to make a dumb joke when they are trying to raise a significant point?

 

"Heh-heh... Significant point...giggity."

“Heh-heh… Significant point…giggity.”

 

And are you endlessly entertained by all that? And does it bother you when people on the internet tell you it’s wrong to be like that and you should only say things that won’t ever offend anyone?

Well, then let me tell you how to handle this situation. First, ignore everyone on the internet who tries to address an entire group of people as if they are of one mind. Nobody likes those people anyway. Just kidding. We all do it from time to time. We all have rants where we generalize about certain groups of people. But you should still ignore other people’s rants, because that’s all that they are. It’s not worth taking them personally. They just missed the chance to address whatever it is that got them stirred up and now they’re blowing off steam.

It’s like this. If someone says something that offends you, then it is an issue between you and that person. It is not an issue with culture at large. Yet, somehow, we all leap at the opportunity to say “This is what’s wrong with the world today: People suck.” So, instead of addressing the issue with the allegedly sucky party, we retreat to the comfort of our safe spaces and make a gross generalization about whatever group we presume to be responsible. It’s tiresome and lazy, but there’s probably a very good evolutionary reason for why we’re like that. I think it’s called “Avoid situations where you might get your head bashed in and go see if you can make some allies.”

 

No, Brian. That's completely cool. You totally should get more bananas than me, because you're bigger. Makes total sense. Anywhooooo... I think I'll go see if anyone needs me to pick nits.

No, Brian. That’s completely cool. You totally should get more bananas than me, because you’re bigger. Makes total sense. Anywhooooo… I think I’ll go see if anyone needs me to pick nits.

 

But language can be a tricky thing. For every person who takes your meaning and agrees with you, there are those who misunderstand or just plain disagree. Political Correctness seeks to solve that whole problem by suggesting everyone play nice and avoid saying anything offensive at all.The problem, however, is that you can’t tell people what to say in this country. It’s one of the best things about us and also one of the worst. This election cycle is a prime example. A veritable case in point, if you will.

What’s the worst thing you can say about Hillary Clinton? She’s a crook! In bed with Wall Street! Did some ethically questionable things!

And how about Trump? He’s a crook! In bed with Wall Street! Did some ethically questionable things!

All those things are most likely true to at least some extent. The facts are out there to be looked up and I won’t belabor this post with them. Both of them have faults and it’s up to you as a voter to decide which ones are forgivable. It’s your right and privilege. But please, don’t let the language of the internet sway you. According to the internet both of these people mate with donkeys and plot genocide. The language of the internet is, to my mind, the very counter-point to the spirit and intent of Political Correctness.

PC gets a bad rap, in my opinion. When it first got traction, I was in high school/college. At first, I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand why I should monitor my speech. After all, I’m a hell of a guy! Shouldn’t everyone take my words in the way I mean them? That’s how it is with my friends and family, after all.

 

Especially when I'm in my "writer's room." I can say whatever I want! And I even get Jello!

Especially when I’m in my “writer’s room.” I can say whatever I want! And I even get Jello!

 

But then I got out in the world and met people who are not like me. People who are not friends or family but who might be if I gave them a chance. See, the whole point of Political Correctness is that very often you are not around your friends and family. Being PC means understanding that. Being PC means understanding the people in range of your voice might be coming from very different backgrounds and might receive your mouth dribble differently than intended. It means thinking before you speak. That’s not such a bad thing, right?

I know the internet gives us the luxury of blurting out our thoughts with no filter under the safe blanket of anonymity and distance, but that doesn’t give us a carte blanche to be assholes. Trust me. I know I’ve said some stuff on this blog that can easily be called offensive, but I at least thought about those things first. Mostly, I was trying to be funny, but sometimes I was sincere. And if people take issue with it, then I completely respect it and I’ll try to explain myself if asked.

And if we become friends after that, well that’s when we can say things to each other that are as offensive as all fuck!

And laugh. But you can’t get to the laughter until you earn the trust.

 

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I know! I didn’t mention a thing about Spy for a Greedy Villain! Don’t worry. Everything is on track and I’m still expecting it to be available November 1st!

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