Touchy, Touchy!

PCSpeak and Other Impediments to Communication

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by Stephen Phillips


A long time ago in a country far away, parents used to teach their children the nursery rhyme, “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep.”  Generations of students scribbled notes that had originally been written on “blackboards.”  People who collected the garbage were collectively known as “dustmen.”  Those big metal plates that covered the drains were known as “manholes”

Ah, those were the days, when if you said that you were having a “gay old time,” people would know that everything was sunny in your life.

Unfortunately, those carefree days have long since passed into history, to be replaced by PCSpeak.

Now in some books it's “Baa, Baa, Green Sheep. ”  Dustmen are collectively known as “refuse disposal engineers.”  A manhole cover is now a “drainage inspection hatch.”

Okay, then.

For the uninitiated hermit who has been living underground for the last decade or so, PCSpeak has become de rigeur for a whole generation.  The use of PC language in everyday conversation has become such an integral part of what's acceptable that even a simple greeting can have dire consequences for the uninitiated.  God forbid that you're feeling out of sorts and you mention to someone that you’re “a little queer today.”  (Just watch the expression on the other person’s face.)

What’s wrong this picture?  Why is it that the PC zealots feel it necessary to hijack so much of the dictionary to propel their agenda forward, leaving the remainder of us to bite our collective tongues before engaging in conversation--too afraid to actually speak what's on our minds, lest we inadvertently offend some portion of society?  It seems that these days, more and more people are using PC to either defend their actions, or belittle those of us who choose not to waste our time being so correct.

Well, you know what?   I have personally had a gut full of PC.  Every time I hear of an incident where PC has been used to forward someone's schema, it gets right up my nose.  I'm getting well and truly hacked off.

After all, we as a species use verbal communication on a daily basis.  (That is, of course, unless you’re living on the Falkland Islands, where the only other living thing that you’re likely to have a conversation with has four legs and goes “baa.”)  For the rest of us, communicating is something we do day in and day out.  We use it to express our feelings, fears, hopes, and frustrations.  We profess our love to each other;  we argue;  we debate;  we scold;  we ridicule.  We communicate via printed words, letters, e-mails, books.

We have managed to utilize all these different media to very good effect, and they have served us  well.   Ever since man first realized that he could take a piece of charcoal and scribble on a cave wall (and I'll bet it was graffiti-- probably along the lines of "Tharg has a butt as big as a mammoth’s"), we have communicated with one another.  In the grand scheme of things, it has only been very recently that we have been subjected to the PC police and their righteous crusade to impose their small-minded, ignorant will upon the rest of us.

I suppose there is very little that we, as sensible people, can collectively do to stop this headlong rush into stupidity.  But at an individual level, I implore you:  please, don't fall prey to the PC crowd.   Be proud to use your language in whatever way you see fit.  If it's a gay day outside, then hold your head high and proclaim it to the heavens.  And when your child asks you to read them a nursery rhyme, by all means, go for “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep.” 

Besides, who amongst us has ever seen a green sheep?

COPYRIGHT 2002 STEPHEN PHILLIPS.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


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