Saturday, February 6, 2010

Negroes, Colored People, Retarded People and political correctness.

Media Matters is a media watchdog group that watches the conservative end of the media, looking for outrageous utterances from Rush Limbaugh or inaccuracies on Fox News. I seldom think they have anything of substance to report but I subscribe to Media Matters so you want have to. The following from Media Matters is interesting.

Media Matters: The politically motivated selective-victimhood of Sarah Palin
From Media Matters

You've got to hand it to Fox News contributor Sarah Palin. After all, there aren't many people who can make news with a single Facebook post. Her status updates are like catnip for journalists and media types.The Wall Street Journal reported this week that, in a private meeting, Emanuel called plans by liberal groups to run ads targeting conservative Democrats "F-ing retarded."

Following news of the hurtful comment, Palin, the mother of a child with Down syndrome, took to Facebook to demand Emanuel's firing in a post she titled, "Are You Capable of Decency, Rahm Emanuel?"

The deservedly stern comments of an offended mother or the hypocritical nonsense of a political opportunist? First, it's worth noting that Emanuel has apologized for the comment at least twice now. It's also worth noting that just a few short weeks ago, Palin fretted that we were becoming a nation where we -- I'm guessing all the Joe the Plumbers out there -- couldn't use words that were "politically incorrect."

Far from consistent, Palin has exposed herself as someone who deploys selective-victimhood as a politically motivated weapon. How else can one explain her harsh rebuke of Emanuel and near silence when it comes to eerily similar language used by conservative radio talker Rush Limbaugh and her Fox News colleague Glenn Beck?

Last January, during an interview with Mary Lynn Rajskub, a star of Fox Broadcasting Co.'24, Beck laughed at the idea of artwork produced by children with Down syndrome, asking, "What do the paintings of the retarded children go for?"

Then there was the time right after the 2008 election when he went after Newsweek over a story on Palin that he found objectionable. Purporting to offer the magazine's view of the former governor, he played the role of an unnamed Newsweek staffer saying, "When it's really, truly about Sarah Palin and how stupid, she's practically retarded. Yes. I think that's appropriate word to use for Sarah Palin, retarded. I t hink that's an... if you would like a retarded person running the State of Alaska, just higgeldy-piggeldy."

So what did Palin, then the newly minted Fox News contributor, have to say about these comments during her first hour-long sit-down interview with Beck? Nothing. Nada. Crickets.

Responding to the controversy surrounding Palin and Emanuel, Limbaugh said liberals who complained about health care reform "are retards." Sure, El Rushbo went on to say that he was just using the term in "quoting Emanuel," but it wasn't the first time the language had appeared on his radio program. Almost a year ago, long before the Emanuel gaffe, while discussing the flu, Limbaugh appeared to mock those concerned with the use of such language, saying, "[a]nything you can do to stop it or to arrest it or to retard -- sorry -- to 'Special Olympic' its duration, then it -- you should do it."

On Thursday, Limbaugh addressed his controversial comments and suggested that Palin wouldn't "denounce" him because she "knows I do this kind of" thing. Just four hours later, responding to a request for comment on Limbaugh's comments by Greg Sargent of Washington Post Co.'s The Plum Line blog, Palin's spokesperson provided a broad statement saying in part that use of the word constitutes "crude and demeaning name calling."

How long would Palin stand up to radio's reigning king of radical right-wing vitriol? Not long at all. The following day on his radio program, Limbaugh told listeners that a Palin representative had called him in a "panic" to explain her criticism. Heaven forbid she should offend Boss Limbaugh. During the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, Palin offered then-Senator Hillary Clinton advice on dealing with the pervasive sexism Clinton faced in the media, saying essentially that she should stop whining. If Palin can't be consistent in her criticism, perhaps she should take her own advice.

I think Media Matters is right this time. There is gross hypocrisy on the left and the right when it comes to being offended. Since the left has made victimhood and being offended into an art form and a powerful weapon, the right has had to fight back with the same nonsense. It is unfortunate.

I really don't see what is so terrible about what Rahm Emmanule had to say. Insensitive? Yes. Impolite? Yes. And definitely with the use of the F-word, it was crude. But I do think Palin's making a big deal out of it is a little bit excessive. Actually, I don't know why "retarded" became such an offensive word. I think the preferred term now is "intellectually disabled." At one time, I think "retarded" became an acceptable word to replace "slow" and other terms we no longer use.

I also do not see what was so offensive about what Harry Reid said and his use of the word "Negro." The National Council of Negro Women and The Negro College Fund use the word. I know it is no longer a popular word and I don't use the term, but I am not sure when it became a slur. For that matter, I still don't know why the term "colored people" is offensive. The National Association of Colored People haven't changed their name. Can some one explain to me why "people of color" is a good term and "colored people" is a bad term?

I work in the non-profit housing sector and for many year we in the field here in Nashville had a loose association of people who routinely met to stay informed and to network. The name of the group was The Low Income Housing Forum. A few years ago we changed the name to The Affordable Housing Forum. Now, the term "affordable housing" is falling out of favor and people are using the term "work force housing." It all means the same thing. I guess it is time to change the name again. I think as soon as people discover what you really mean by use of word or term, it is time to change it.

I couple years ago I attended a conference on housing for people with mental illness (I am not sure "mental illness" is still an acceptable term). This conference was at one of our state park's conference centers. The buffet one night featured "crazy chicken," which was a choice of chicken cooked several different ways. One could have baked chicken or fired chicken or other chicken choices. Some attending the conference complained and had the leader of the conference write a letter complaining about the use of the term "crazy chicken."

I am not going to go out of my way to offend people but I think people should go out of their way not to be so sensitive. If I know someone finds the use of the word "retarded" offensive, I will avoid using it around them. Since I know many Blacks are offended by the use of the word "Negro" or "colored people" I won't use it. I will not however use the term "people of color." There are limits to how far I will go not to offend.

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  1. " I think people should go out of their way not to be so sensitive"

    No kidding! Christians have to put up with being called everything under the sun, and just lump it because some rotten apples have given us all a bad rap, but no one else can tolerate one schoolyard taunt.

  2. I gotta say I totally agree!

    I'm the first to say, Words mean things. When certain words weave their way into the slang vernacular, and enter UrbanDictionary form, then for chrissakes, stop, the freekin PC, stuff.

    Words, mean things. The intent of word usage, also has a bearing. Or, to put it another way. It's not what you say, but how you say it.


  3. I agree also. It's time we all stopped being so sensitive. Words are indeed powerful but last time I checked we still had free speech in this country. We are allowed to be offensive if we choose to be.

    I grew up after the words Negro and Colored People were common but my mother still uses them today (she is crazy however). I prefer not to use words such as negro, black or colored because I don't think it is usually relevant to the conversation. "It was person", not a black person or a colored person. If the color of the person's skin is necessary in the telling of the story then I use it but usually it isn't. So I don't.

    Retarded and crazy are a little different however. I like both words, they get the point across easily and succinctly. I have no idea when they became bad words to use, I mean no disrespect by using them. In my opinion those words are more respectful than "special needs" or "mentally disabled" (tho, I think that one might be bad too).

  4. It's spooky to me that you wrote about this ... I have a saved draft in my blog postings about this exact same thing!!! Great minds. :)

    I use the term crazy all the some point will it become taboo because it's offensive to nutty people? Being such a nutty person I am not offended by it (or by the term crazy chicken). :)