Comedian Jerry Seinfeld, certainly not known for his right-wing politics, recently went off on political correctness on college campuses. He’s not alone. Many top-tier comedians have given up the college circuit because of the lack of sense of humor. Tasteless comedian Sarah Silverman, however, has succumbed to the pressure. She now says comedians need to change with the times. In other words, allow some college kids to dictate what you say.
The PC landscape is ever-evolving. That’s one of the things that makes it so annoying. Who knows what’s PC from day to day? I recently was recounting a story of an elected official who quoted an online urban dictionary and the definition included “retarded monkey.” Now, I understand in that context it probably wasn’t very nice and an elected official should probably know better but it set off a debate over the word “retarded” itself.
Calling someone a “retard” is not polite. I get that. However, when someone has a diminished mental capacity they’re referred to as mentally retarded. Or, at least, I thought so. I got it with both barrels from some hysterical woman who said my use of the phrase “mentally retarded” was hate speech. Hate speech? I asked, pray tell, what I’m supposed to use in its place. “Intellectually challenged,” she said. Really? Intellectually challenged? That’s about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, if I’m still allowed to use the word “dumb.”
I thought I remembered an organization called ARC, the Association for Retarded Citizens, so I went to their website. Apparently it’s no longer ARC, it’s Arc. In other words, they’ll still call it Arc but it doesn’t really stand for anything. However, right there under the ‘Who Are We’ section is the dreaded word. “The National Association for Retarded Citizens,” it reads, “was founded in 1950 as the National Association of Parents and Friends of Mentally Retarded Children.” Oh, my. Hate speech right there on the Arc website.
Please don’t misinterpret my frustration. I have a special place in my heart for mentally retarded citizens and give regularly to organizations like Special Olympics. My problem is with the overly-sensitive PC police who feel it necessary to change the language.
Oftentimes it’s done to try and erase a negative connotation. Take the word “liberal,” for instance. Liberals don’t like to be called liberals anymore because it’s a negative, so they want to be called “progressives.” They’re still liberals and they’re still wrong so it’s only a matter of time before “progressive” becomes a dirty word.
They’re doing the same thing with “illegal.” Illegal alien is a perfect description for someone who’s broken into our country and isn’t supposed to be here but that word has become so negative. Well, yeah, it is a negative. They’ve tried to paper over the problem by calling them “undocumented workers.” They even try to ban the word “illegal.” We should probably just refer to them as what they are: Undocumented Democrats.
Pardon me if I sit out this silly game of musical words. There are apt descriptions of people and things that fit perfectly and there’s really no need to change them. Am I opposed to changing with the times? Not always. I don’t use “gee whiz” or “far out” so I certainly understand how language changes. However, I naturally resist tossing words just because a few people don’t like them anymore. I wrote in The Conservative’s Handbook that political correctness is the liberal version of fascism, and it is.
Controlling language is the first step in controlling thought and I refuse to be bullied.
Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, The Phil Valentine Show.