The era of hurt feelings

November 8th, 2016 by Ken

A newspaper article caught my attention recently.    It said that we no longer had convicts in our state prison system.   We don’t even have any offenders there.  What we do have are “students” or “patients” or, at the very worse “incarcerated persons.”  The Washington State Department of Corrections said that by eliminating words like convicts and offenders from the prison vocabulary, that we would remove the negative connotations associated with the words and give those in the state prison system a more “positive self-image.”

About a year ago, I heard some learned scholars referring to “enslaved persons” when talking about the slave era in the American South.   It was such an unusual term that I remembered it.  I guess, “slave” refers to a position of servitude, while “enslaved person” refers to someone who is a slave against his/her will.  The term is now used to remove any doubts that slaves were in a position against their will, thus giving them a more positive self-image.

This idea that words can hurt follows from the anti-bullying efforts in our schools and universities.  When you label someone with a term – – you are in essence defining that someone against his/her will.   And thus, you’re hurting his/her feelings.  And hurt feelings are a form of bullying.

What words can we use now?

As Humpty Dumpty said in a very scornful tone, “When I say a word it means just what I chose it to mean – – nothing more, nothing less.”

Remember “1984” and “Wordspeak” where the government controlled all speech.   Now it appears that Humpty was wrong.   Words mean just what the government choses them to mean.

Posted in The Real News

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