Friday, July 11, 2008

Why not call it like you see it?

I just read an article by a journalist, a lamentation really.  The subject was the proliferation of euphemisms which seemed to the journalist to represent a decadent inability to assign responsibility or acknowledge mundane realities.  She felt, as many people seem to feel, that words like "poor" or "crippled" or "junkie" were better descriptions than words like "disadvantaged" or "challenged" or "survivor."

Oh.

Let's look at "poor" for a minute.  Does it mean that you do not have much money?  Okay.  Does it have a value judgment associated with it?  What if you are doing "poorly" at school or work? What if you are "needy?"  Maybe "poor" is not just the simplest word for the job.  Maybe it is the simplest word for reflecting a reality in which good people have enough and people who do not have enough can be presumed to be not good enough.

The poor will be with us always. As will our desire to label them.

I have no objection to any word.  A word is a set of letters combined according to some principles to represent something that it cannot possibly adequately represent.

I have no objection to people describing the world as they perceive it, whether that means they see "poor" people or "cripples" or see "at risk youth" trying to survive in an inhospitable world.

I do object to people who are unwilling to notice the difference between calling it as they see it, and calling it as it is.

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