Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Political Mumbo Jumbo

I do understand this hatred for labelling people because most of the time it creates stereotypes and the much-scorned sweeping generalities. However, I believe we cannot avoid stereotypes or generalities, whether they are sweeping or not. Why do I say so? It is because it is hard to stay neutral. We have different opinions on how things are and how they should be.

I agree that there is such a thing as exceptions to the rule and individual traits, but there is also the existence of rules and categories and labels. The problem is this--humans have this tendency to label people and actions in a not so positive way so we associate labelling with put-downs. But don't we give both positive and negative names to identify or describe people, actions and issues? We can call someone a moron or a star. Both are labels!

Whether we like it or not, we cannot help labelling people or issues according to our perpectives. Those who call themselves as progressive or conservative have their own set of rules and criteria that color the way they label people and issues around them.

With the advent of the term "politically correct"(which has expanded my vocabulary, by the way), I have been forced to use terms like love child, gay, alternative lifestyle, visually impaired or financially challenged. At first, it was okay, since I have no problem adding new words to my repertoire of new terms, but it has become a bit tedious when those from the politically correct group keep questioning some terms that I consider acceptable.

And why should this group keep harping on how someone uses terms and labels? We all have rights to say what we mean. They question censorship but isn't it a form of censorship to stop people from using the terms they prefer to use? I agree that some terms can be harsh, but give us a break when we slip into terms deemed politically incorrect. I mean, what is wrong if you say blind, instead of visually impaired? Or homosexuality instead of alternative lifestyle? Or poor instead of financially challenged? Or illegimitate child instead of love child(of course, some will use the word bastard instead but then again, it is his tongue, er.... his/her tongue)?

Certainly, words can be hurtful because of the negative implications. However, some synonyms can be employed instead of sugarcoating a term to make it more palatable and hence, politically correct. As an example, the word "whore" packs a lot more whallop than the word "prostitute' but I don't mind using the latter version. Now, to sound politically correct, I have to use the term "sex worker." But what does "sex worker" really mean? It is just a way to avoid the truth behind the word "prostitute." Would you like to hear your kid say, "I want to be a sex worker someday."? I certainly don't!

The list of hurtful labels will most probably criss-cross the world many times, but maybe we must grow more thick-skinned and less touchy about terms unless we can prove that their usage has a malicious intent or a more sinister motive. Before, using nigger or negro will get you beat up by people whose skin is black(I just can't say African, because there are white people in Africa). Now, it depends who is saying it to whom. And I heard that some people whose skin is black take offense when you call them black. I still prefer to call them black, by the way. I don't mind if people call me brown for being a Filipino.

Language is so colorful and value-laden, but then such is the world we live in. There will be labels and labels and labels based on one's perspective and inclination. Progressive groups may mean well by trying to neutralize words deemed as prejudiced by replacing them with new terminologies. At times, I agree with this move but there are times when I feel that it is becoming too unreasonable. Thinking of terms that will be seen as neutral is so constricting and less tolerant(not to mention, time consuming). If, for instance, I use the pronoun "he" to represent the human race, I will be judged as anti-woman, even though I am a woman myself. Some will even question my use of the term "human" because of the word "man" in that term. By golly, can we just let it be?

Well, my politically correct brothers and sisters, if I want to label an action as sin or sinful based on biblical perspective, just let me be. That is my value system. Call any sin what you want, it is still sin to me. And to make things clear here, I am not pretending I am better than others by labelling one's action as sin. I am a sinner myself. Hey, I know it does assuage one's guilt if I just call sins mistakes. That way, if I do murder someone, it will just be a mistake and not a sin.

Life is already complicated as it is right now. Do we need to complicate it some more by nitpicking every single detail? If you think that by neutralizing labels, you are helping the world, then be my guest. I have no problems with that. But if by doing so, you will make my life more complicated, then please desist because I will just resist!

I rest my case.

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