Of all the things ailing our present oh-so-wonderful mass-communication society, none anger me quite like political correctness. In fact, if you were to ask me on a particularly bad day, I would tell you that I believe conservatives invented political correctness as something to tar and feather liberals with. This essay by Steve Kangas tells a lot about why I find this a credible belief.
But that is only a part of the point. A more important point that I will be addressing here today is the motives of people who wish to ban or “dirtify” words.
As I have stated in the past, the English language lacks a word that refers in a positive fashion to a woman who embraces her sexuality. The only words in English that do specifically refer to a woman who embraces her sexuality are extremely negative, nasty, and insulting ones. This is because deliberate efforts were made during the years when control of our language was in the hands of a relative few to ensure this situation. Hence, if you have ever wondered why the singular word references that have anything to do with a woman’s sexuality are things like “slut”, “whore”, “mole”, and so forth, credit the Catholic and Protestant churches.
But the point I am getting at here is that restricting peoples’ choices of words always has had, always will have, and presently has a political goal in mind. And contrary to what its proponents believe, that goal is never a good one. Nor are the real effects positive ones.
In order to concrete this, I am going to cite some ugly examples of behaviour that I have encountered during my lifetime. For example, when I was a very young schoolboy, I had one teacher tell the peers I had just made to keep away from me as “there’s something wrong with him”. And other teacher called David Shuster told me, after I melted down in response to being told I am basically not allowed to defend myself when I cannot expect others to either stop defending or abusing me, that anyone would think I was hard done by.
If you are unsure of what my point here is, then it is this: I defy you to spot one “unallowed” word amongst what either of these people in authority positions of me said at those times. But their impact was, and has remained, exceptionally hurtful to me. So much so that I remember it clearly in spite of the passage of two to three decades!
This is one thing that Steve Kangas wrote in the essay I linked above. Namely, that it is not the words themselves that count, but how they are used. For instance, any antagonist could go to the previous ladyfriend I am most fond of using as an example and tell her that her people are all organised criminals prone to losing their temper at the drop of a hat, and the political correctness brigade will not even tweak that antagonist’s nose in spite of the fact that said lady will be extremely hurt and angry. And this is to say nothing of the fact that the proclamation ignores centuries of the fact that much of the best examples of engineering and art come from her place of origin (specifically, Rome, Italy).
But apparently, the political correctness brigade cannot stand to hear me calling persons who are very deserving retarded, or variations thereof. This makes no sense to me, especially in light of a recent example of just how retarded in the cognitive sense Queenslanders really frequently prove themselves to be. But first, let me concrete this with some examples of linguistics and history. The Random House Dictionary defines the word “retard” thusly:
1. (Verb, used with object) to make slow; delay the development or progress of (an action, process, etc.); hinder or impede.
I like this part of the definition the most, because it demonstrates just how ignorant political correctness pushers really tend to prove themselves. It reminds me of that pseudo-Confucious saying, “when you read half of sentence, you lose all of meaning”. Well, when you read a tenth of full meaning, you can get yourself into big trouble with people who have read all of it.
I have a retarded sense of smell. I mean that you could probably hold a jar full of freshly-excreted bull’s shit under my nose and I would only get a vague hint of a smell. When I smell things, it is only as a vague hint, and often impeded by the fact that chronic sinusitis means I can barely get air in and out of my nose, anyway.
Wolverine was once listed in a Wikipedia with “retarded ageing” as one of his superpowers. I think that pretty much speaks for itself.
The basic point here is that the context of the word and the intended meaning are very important factors.
2. (Verb, used without object) to be delayed.
Queensland retards me. Has done since the moment I set foot in it. I will explain this further in a moment.
3. (Noun) a slowing down, diminution, or hindrance, as in a machine.
This is what firemen and other safety-concerned individuals mean when they refer to things as being flame/fire-retardant. What is the matter, political correctness brigade? Going to go after safety engineers and firemen now? Yeah, I thought not.
4. (Slang: Disparaging) a. a mentally retarded person. b. a person who is stupid, obtuse, or ineffective in some way: a hopeless social retard.
And this is where we get to why I use the word in conjunction with certain people on a fairly frequent basis. I will cite two examples, both of them occurring at the McDonald’s that is approximately ten minutes’ walk from my current residence.
The first example does not relate to me personally. I was standing in a queue at this McDonald’s. Three of the registers were open. I think the counter there is only three registers wide (this should tell you something about its location and usual custom). Each register had a line of people some three or four deep. Twelve people at most. So you can imagine how incredulous I was when this Parramatta boy “over”heard a manager say to one of his staff to close one of the registers because, and I quote, they had orders coming in too quickly. Well, duh! Now, that, in itself, is not what reduced that manager from yokel idiot to complete and utter retard even by Queenslander standards in my eyes. No. What made me truly write that manager off as a retard who should not be working in customer service is that he did not think to say it a) to a go-between somewhere well away from the counter, b) quietly enough that customers would not hear it (especially not ones who grew up around Parramatta), or c) both.
The second example is something I encountered personally. When I order a Big Mac meal from McDonald’s, any McDonald’s, I always follow the statement with one customisation: “no cheese, no pickle”. I used to merely say “no pickle” on occasion in order to ensure freshness (they have to cook “grills” from scratch). But since they ostensibly make them all fresh when ordered now, I also ask for no cheese because I have developed an aversion to the cheese they put on Big Macs, anyway. So I simply ask that I have neither cheese nor pickle on my burger.
Well, the girl behind the register (the only one open at this time) just rang up a cheeseburger meal. Seriously. When she told me the total price in excess of twelve dollars (seriously, Americans, you have no idea how lucky you are in terms of retail pricings), I naturally said “hang on, wait a minute”. Then she actually tells me to my face that I ordered a cheeseburger meal. No dear, I say to her face, I said “no cheese, no pickle”. That corrected and me walking away with what I had actually ordered, I think I did catch one of the other staff shooting me an understanding look out of the corner of my eye. Sadly, however, this is not an isolated example of the poor customer service in this Queensland McDonald’s. It is just the worst, and I hasten to point out that such errors occur at a rate of at least once every possibly less than couple of visits. Whilst McDonald’s branches in the Parramatta region do fukk up very occasionally, it is almost never to that kind of degree (once in my entire lifetime prior to leaving the region), and they seemed to understand that at least being properly apologetic when such fukk-ups do occur is advisable.
When political correctness Nazis propose a word to use in place of what comes naturally, they ignore a vital question. Specifically, which word is more accurate? This is a vital aspect of our language that often gets lost on many who have only barely learned to speak it. It is like that video about how amazingly useful the word bollocks is. Bollocks does indeed express what many people think when they drop a bowling ball on their foot, but what normally tends to come out is something more like “fukking shit owwww!” or similar.
Also worth considering is that so-called politically correct terms have been co-opted and turned into pejoratives themselves. If you go to places like Northern Brisbane, you can find numerous individuals who call people who do not meet with their approval “mentally challenged” or the like. And when they do so, you can hear the loathing roll off their tongues like acid.
This is also to say nothing of how, as George Orwell once wrote, only people with extremely sinister motives fail to distinguish between the thought and the deed. The reason why such people have been using politically correct terms as perjoratives is two-fold. First, because with just a slight change in enunciation, they become pejoratives. Second, because one of the best ways to insult a person who is trying to force a change to your language without your consent is to rub their face in your use of their intended word as an insult. For example, if someone tells me that I have to say “yum” instead of “fukk you”, they can expect to hear me staring right into their faces and saying “yum you” in such an emphasis and tone that makes it very clear to them that what I mean is, always will be, and always has been, “fukk you”.
So whether you like it or not, political correctness can best be summed up with the line from the Public Image, Limited song Rise: “the costs so high, the gains so low”. But there is one final point that I need to address here, and it is a biggie. Often, complaints about violations of political correctness are conjoined with uses of such words like “ableism” or variations thereof. But the sad fact of the matter is that we are not merely conditioned to expect things of one another, we are biologically obligated to do so. It is a component of our ability to survive as an interdependent collective. We have certain standards in terms of interoperability and performance. These standards exist for reasons.
It has always been my position that if you persistently think a person is ordering a cheeseburger meal when they are in fact specifying that they want their Big Mac bereft of cheese and pickles, you should not be employed. The word “retarded” fits you. And the reason I am repeating that example again and again is because it is a mild example of this kind of bullshit that goes on in Queensland. Yes, you read that right. The truth is that of all the incidents of complete disregard for my needs, wishes, or wellbeing, the overwhelming majority have occurred during the years I have spent in Queensland. This includes my repeated expressions of the fact that Queensland has become a very much unsuitable place for me to live. And even today, as I write this, I am getting ill from hostile reactions to mere acquaintances that directly stem from the fact that I would sooner chew my feet off than spend another Summer in Queensland.
Oh yeah, and:
5. (Automotive, Machinery) an adjustment made in the setting of the distributor of an internal-combustion engine so that the spark for ignition in each cylinder is generated later in the cycle.
This aptly describes what people have been doing to my life and social placement since I set foot in Queensland. This is where pejoratives like cuntslander come from, and why I use them. It is also why Queenslander and retard are the same thing to me. Dislike it? Then do something about the underlying cause instead of whinging about the symptoms.
Oh, and for your edification:
1480–90; < Latin retardāre to delay, protract, equivalent to re- re- + tardāre to loiter, be slow, derivative of tardus slow; see tardy
This means that not only do I think that the phrase “collective of retards” perfectly describes cuntslanders and any gathering thereof, so too did the architects of the language we call Latin. And on that note, if you have a problem with me calling a person retarded when they have demonstrated themselves quite clearly to be so, go and fukk yourself.