"When I was in college, there were certain words you couldn't say in front of a girl. Now you can say them, but you can't say 'girl.' "
Another editor here at the newspaper paper has passed on a complaint about one of our editorials, specifically the phrase "red man" as a synonym for American Indians -- excuse me, Native Americans. It's not clear from this email whether it was the "red" or the "man" or both that raised our reader's hackles. Either could have attracted the attention of today's
Our always-on-the-alert verbal monitors may not be aware that man embraces woman, as in the title chairman -- of a House committee or an American corporation. Traditional usage tends to elude our verbal overseers. Why that should be, I gave up trying to figure out long ago.
Besides, the political dos and don'ts that govern these things may change without notice, depending on the target of the moment.
That way, the accused remains subject to the Authorities' always changing verbal whims. As in the old
Anyone who prefers plain English just doesn't understand the game. Dare stand up against the
But there are always those stubborn types who refuse to be intimidated. Count me among them. Because here's one old newspaperman who's going to go on using plain English as best he can. The poor old language needs all the help it can get.
There was a different and better time when writers like
A president like
Some of us grew up scarcely noticing that our president was in a wheelchair or on crutches, and then the fact was only incidental. Which was how he preferred it. It would have been impolite to call attention to it.
But now identity politics has made disability almost all that counts in our politics. Or a history of being discriminated against. Or any other grievance. No wonder it can sometimes seem as if we have become a nation of grievance collectors. Why not? It pays off -- in political power.
Today, to quote
"Owing to the spread of victimhood, we have today a large aristocracy of the suffering, the put-upon and the unlucky. Blacks, gays, women, American Indians, Hispanics, the obese,
Victimhood is no longer something to be overcome but celebrated. And the can-do American spirit has become the can't-do, which is not a good sign for any country.