Monday, January 17, 2011

The Whimpification of Language

I remember a commercial from the 1980s featuring L.A. Dodgers pitcher Orel Hershiser describing pitching as "like climbing a mountain" or "going to battle."  Hershiser's use of those analogies (similes?) irritated me at the time (believe it or not, I was more easily irritated back then) and I lashed out in verbal diatribes (since the blog had not yet been invented) whenever the commercial aired and anyone else was in earshot.  "Shut up Orel!  You've never climbed a mountain!  You've never been in battle!  How would you know what either one was like?"

So what does this trip down memory lane have to do with 2011?  The Arizona shooting spree seems to be taking its toll on the English language, at least as used in public America these days.  Apparently, language that when taken in any context as possibly or potentially or maybe-in-the-mind-of-a-sociopath violent is now taboo.  Take, for example, House Speaker John Boehner's new way to refer to Obamacare.  He used to call it "job killing" but now it is merely "job crushing."  (Link to Ben Smith's Politico blog here.)

Apparently, no one is allowed to use the word "killing" in political discourse anymore.  Even when it refers to the "death" of inanimate objects or ideas.  How, ever, can the wonderfully-named city of Town & Country discuss how to control its rampant deer population?  Or what would happen if a researcher today discovered a cure for cancer that "killed" malignant cells?  I guess they'd have to "disable" those cells instead.  Right?

English is not the most beautiful language in the world.  It is certainly not the most logical.  But it is certainly colorful.  But, in the aftermath of a deranged man's act of violence, the political correctness crowed is trying to scrub some of that color from our language.

If John Boehner had been referring to an "employee killing" piece of legislation, that would be over-the-line.  But no person in his or her right mind could possibly believe that a reference to a piece of legislation "killing jobs" is inciting violence.  It doesn't even mention violence.  How can it be violent to "kill" something that is not physical, not alive.

Now, whatever I can say about the Orel Hershiser commercial, his language was colorful and I still remember it about 25 years later.

Stop watering down our language!  Stop making us sound like a bunch of P.C. wimps!

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