To be or not to be... - Shakespeare. It depends on what the meaning of "is" is. - Bill Clinton. Don't use any word that has ever made anyone feel bad at any time in human history. - John Robinson.
"Don't you see the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expresses in exactly ONE word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten."
So now the State Department has begun lecturing American citizens on speech code. Everyone who thought the State Department was tasked with foreign affairs raise your hand. Although I must say, this goes along neatly with the notion Americans are the real terrorists. Indeed, to the DC elite we are the new "American Indian" to be broken and if not broken, destroyed. Just watch.
At any rate, State's Chief Diversity Officer John Robinson kindly offers a list of things we're not allowed to say:
- Hold down the fort = Anti-Indian.
- Going Dutch = "Negative stereotype portraying the Dutch as cheap."
- Rule of thumb = "An antiquated law, whereby the width of a husband's thumb was the legal size of a switch or rod allowed to beat his wife."
- Handicap = "Rooted in a correlation between a disabled individual and a beggar, who had to beg with a cap in his or her hand because of the inability to maintain employment."
- Black and Tan = Nike produced this "sneaker without realizing the phrase once referred to a group 'that committed atrocities against Irish civilians.'"
Robinson concludes his magnificent diatribe of stupidity
this way: "Choose your words thoughtfully. Now
that you know the possible historical context of the above phrases, perhaps you
will understand why someone could be offended by their use." Beyond just creepy - talk about a "chill wind blowing", the demand is actually fairly ironic if not impossible to follow. The demand was born in ignorance and will die in ignorance.
I wonder if Robinson would also include words like "communism", "socialism", "atheism", and "Islam", which in their "historical context" are associated with the greatest genocides and acts of cruelty the world has yet seen?
Or maybe "Democrat", a term Americans over the decades have seen associated with:
- Socialism (see above)
- The genocide of 50 million as the result of banning DDT
- The genocides in Southeast Asia as a result of our withdrawal from Vietnam
- The infanticide of millions of unborn babies
- The open call to kill off the elderly and the weak so Obamacare can focus on the young and strong
But who needs to be partisan? Let's look at some everyday words including those that were not so common until media run by liberals like this guy began filling movies and TV shows with them. Others have been with us a lot longer and have some really crazy historical beginnings:
A shot in the arm
Based in drug culture with the bonus of causing anxiety attacks of those severely afraid of the needle.
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
Inspires hunting, which in itself offends leftist sensibilities, but hunting also implies self-sufficiency, which is the greatest evil of all to a liberal and most certainly can cause upset.
An arm and a leg
Insensitive to amputees or those missing limbs since birth or otherwise disabled.
Bats in the belfry
Insensitive to crazy people, insensitive to bats; belfry is a reference to churches, which will offend the irreligious.
Damn; also dayum!
To be sent to Hell
Gild the lily
A term of reckless extravagance that may offend Michelle Obama.
An Anglicization of a Chinese phrase "kung ho" (work together). It is evil because it is Anglicized without sensitive care to pronounce it authentically. It is also evil because it was coined during WWII and used in the context of killing Imperial Japanese combatants.
A 20th Century phrase derived from modern playing cards that are connected to gambling, which in turn is connected to gambling addiction. Thus, to use the term "in spade" is to be insensitive to someone who might suffer from such an addiction.
Joined at the hip
Derived from the obvious reality faced by Siamese twins and therefore offensive to those of Chinese descent and twins of all sort.
Jury is still out
Derived in the 19th Century from American court proceedings. Given how evil and racist our criminal justice system is, using this reference will cause many people great emotional hardship.
Kick the bucket
Glorifies animal cruelty. In the 16th Century, a bucket was also a word for wooden beam, from which animals readied for slaughter would be hung by their feat. The term derives from their death throes.
Offensive to crazy people and also uses imagery of violence and militarism, which is also sexist and racist due to the colonial period when cannons were most often used.
Nits are baby lice. To nitpick is to go through someone's hair to remove lice. This is biased against poor people.
Enlightened liberals believe this term is derived from a context having to do with lynchings in the 19th Century. It is our hope that George Lucas removes this word from Han Solo's dialogue in the upcoming 4-D remix of Star Wars so that we can have a new hope with that change.
On the warpath
Heaven help us! Clearly anti-Indian.
Paint the town red
Implies disregard for all manner of proper conduct. It is rooted in a drunken 19th Century event in which Englishmen literally painted several buildings red, thus they literally carried out in deed that which is so very wrong with the words in this list. They were also English and men, some of the most oppressive, evil people the world has ever seen.
Refers to Scottish whiskey and thus glorifies alcohol consumption.
Red letter day
The Catholic church marked religious holidays in red on their calendars, thus it is a sacred term and offensive to irreligious, other-religious, and non-religious people.
Cover of William Shakespeare
Essentially, this literally describes forcible sex, i.e. rape. As do the phrases "grab your ankles" "bend over", etc. Yet, their cultural meaning is not literal at all. Much the same way Shakespeare used "pregnant" figuratively in reference to an idea right in the middle of a time when the use of the word in the literal sense was taboo and the use of taboo words could be harshly sanctioned:
Of government the properties to unfold,
Would seem in me to affect speech and discourse;
Since I am put to know that your own science
Exceeds, in that, the lists of all advice
My strength can give you: then no more remains,
But that to your sufficiency as your Worth is able,
And let them work. The nature of our people,
Our city's institutions, and the terms
For common justice, you're as pregnant in
As art and practise hath enriched any
That we remember. There is our commission,
From which we would not have you warp. Call hither,
I say, bid come before us Angelo.
That liberals like Robinson are ignorant of actual "historical context", etymology or literature, however, is strangely unsurprising.
Up a tree
Derived from possum hunting, this phrase glorifies hunting and the patriarchal colonial construct.
Upsidaisy; also Upsa daisy, Upsy-daisy, Oops-a-daisy, Oops, Oopsy-daisy, Hoops-a-daisy, Whoops
A term derived from the obsolete "upaday". Furthermore, "daisy" is derived from "day's eye" because the flower opens during the day. This term suggests that only those who are fully awake during the day are prepared to handle the rigors of life, which is clearly dayist (not to be confused with deist).
Wear the pants
Wild and woolly
Offensive for many reasons. It was coined in the 19th Century to describe the Old West, so it glorifies that unfortunate time. There are also racial overtones. In 1850, the first example of the phrase took this form: "wild and woolly-haired Negillo". Negillo may have been a proper surname, but we know what the racists of that time really meant. As proof, the second example of the phrase's use was against Bill Clinton, dubbed by Al Sharpton and others in the 1990s as the "first black president." Even though the second-known use of the phrase occurred 117 years before the presidency of Mr. Clinton, it is clear from reading the passage of this Missouri newspaper just what was meant:
"W. A. Palmer, the South Bend, Indiana, murderer and
paramour of Dolly Tripp, was for several years resident of Clinton. Bill always was one of the 'wild and woolly' kind and
would associate with the demimonde." (P)resident Bill (of) Clinton!
That paper was The Sedalia Daily Democrat, however, so there are some conflicted feelings about whether or not to mute this last example while we also continue to mute the fact that the Democrat Party is so strongly associated with racism throughout America's history.
Indeed, beyond the political, what does "alcohol" mean to the child of an alcoholic, "sex" to victims of sex abuse, "car" to someone who lost a loved one in an auto accident, "money" to someone who lost it all in the markets? Many, if not most of our phrases have been used in a negative context at some point in history. If not all of them.
"'It's a beautiful thing, the Destruction of words. Of course the great wastage is in the verbs and adjectives, but there are hundreds of nouns that can be got rid of as well. It isn't only the synonyms; there are also the antonyms. After all, what justification is there for a word, which is simply the opposite of some other word? A word contains its opposite in itself. Take 'good,' for instance. If you have a word like 'good,' what need is there for a word like 'bad'? 'Ungood' will do just as well - better, because it's an exact opposite, which the other is not. Or again, if you want a stronger version of 'good,' what sense is there in having a whole string of vague useless words like 'excellent' and 'splendid' and all the rest of them? 'Plusgood' covers the meaning or 'doubleplusgood' if you want something stronger still. Of course we use those forms already, but in the final version of Newspeak there'll be nothing else. In the end the whole notion of goodness and badness will be covered by only six words - in reality, only one word. Don't you see the beauty of that, Winston? It was B.B.'s idea originally, of course,' he added as an afterthought."
I suppose George Orwell might reflect also that in the animal farm of words, some words "are more equal than others."
Martin is the assistant editor for Tea Party University, is currently a master's student in national security studies, and is the executive director of Samizdat International, a genuine human rights concern. He served as Texas Chair for Students with Newt Gingrich for President. Martin undertook his internship with the London-based Henry Jackson Society in the summer of 2009 and misses the irradiated sushi at his favorite sushi haunt Itsu. He hates the Turabian style format.
- "Pregnant" via Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare http://shakespeare.mit.edu/measure/full.html
- Paragraph quotes: 1984 by George Orwell
- Word usage citations and some of the definitions by http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/american-phrases-and-sayings.html
- "Some . . . are more equal than others.": Animal Farm by George Orwell