manipulating language / rights

Bjorn Conrad Fry (bear@USNET.US.NET)
Sat, 31 Dec 1994 13:50:00 -0500

To all on the list,

Almost all of you who have contributed something on this subject
have had valuable things to say, and I for one find it enormously rewarding
and provocative. My only hope is that more of us would find it within
ourselves to keep this a civil exercise in which reason is held above

During a recent television debate on feminism, one of the standard
bearers of the feminist side used the phrase "man the phones" during the
course of the exchange. This usage was not objected to or even mentioned by
others in the group. Now this isn't really that important in and of itself,
except to illustrate, in a small way, how selectively offense is taken with
respect to "objectionable language." This wouldn't really be much of an
issue for me had I not, both directly and indirectly, experienced this
kind of self-serving double standard time and time again over the years.
All too often, offence is professed, or objections raised, only when there
is some disagreement about the greater issue at hand. This brings up
another important angle. In the name of PC or "cause sensitive speech" ANY
opposing position can be conveniently squelched by so doing. This kind of
thing seems to happen most often when that opposing position is well
presented and explained. When this happens the discussion thread is
invariably derailed or the important discussion flow is disrupted. Often,
as in this case, the issue is totally transformed into one of "bullier and
bulliee" (gender neutral?) or perpetrator and victim. And, as we all know,
victims are not responsible. To me the manipulative elements involved are
among the most objectionable. Intent is simply not considered. The
advantages gained are enough to justify the means. Think of it. Where is
this kind of "newspeak" mostly at issue? And, I'm not just talking about
gender issues here. How fair is it? Or isn't that important anymore?

I believe in equal rights and the maximization of personal freedoms
for ALL, regardless of gender or group affiliation. That ultimately, is
more radical and liberty loving than what most who push "newspeak" tend to
tolerate. What I can't understand is, why they can't see that people
naturally sense when the issue is not being addressed head on. People
instinctively suspect, in such cases where direct rational approaches are
all too often forsaken for what is perceived to be unfair and indirect
strategic ones, that the overall merits of the greater issue at hand are
thereby cheapened and diminished. The cause is just but this manipulative
strategy is wrong and counter productive.

Let it be said, once again, that most of what is wrong, and of what
is most perfectable in this world, is located between our own ears.
If we don't first start living our own lives to the fullest, as
responsible individuals, in just fashion, and as empowered examples,
instead of languishing in the addictive maelstrom of blame, depen-
dency, and its powerlessness, there is little hope for us. - bcfry

Bjorn Conrad Fry - American w/ gender neutral intent
Bethesda, Maryland