Thursday, July 5, 2007

Yo, Mac, It's Not a PC Thing

This is not about PC language, although I realize some of the ignorant might point to my reaction as political correctness gone awry. [Sadly, the ignorant ones probably don’t know that they are just that.]

Anyway, I'm as guilty as anyone else who was ever a kid for inappropriately using slang to insult others. Yes, I admit to calling a person "faggot." And "retarded." And making a gesture as if I were autistic. And so on. I'm not pleased with myself for having been like that.

I didn't ever do it in front of adults, so there was no one to stand up and say, "Don't say those words. They're mean." Although I’m not sure many adults would have said anything back then, in the Dark Ages.

I'm sorry to say that I've heard a few from my children. My oldest will test them out, in front of me. "Gay" was one. He used it once. A friend of his said "Lesbo" in front of me. Once. And an older kid, a teenager, said "Retarded." Once. Why am I stressing “once” each time? Because I spoke up forcefully right away, so there wasn’t a second time.

Not that long ago, I'm talking on the phone with someone at a car repair place, booking my car in for service. And the young woman – she was probably no more than 20, 21 – made a mistake and said, "Oh, I'm so retarded." And I said, "You really shouldn't use that word. I'd be personally angry if I had a mentally retarded kid or sibling." Shamed her, I did. Good for me.

What brings this all to mind today? I was surfing for gifts for Sammy’s upcoming birthday. [I’ve got quite a bit of a credit on Amazon from my Coinstar “deposit” and from winning at Blingo.] I’m searching for Pokemon-related paraphernalia – sigh – and a couple of people have tagged the stuff "retarded."

Do we really have to do that? Do there really have to be such tags out there? I’ve sent a note to Amazon. I don’t blame them. I hardly expect any Internet entity nowadays to be able to catch everything inappropriate before it hits the pages. I believe they’ll remove the tag now that they’re aware of it.

I’m ashamed, really, when my own children do these things. I’m saddened, really, that all my efforts – call ‘em PC efforts if you want – to teach them right and wrong are washed away by exposure to “others.” “Others” like school mates, movies and idiotic television shows.

As saddened as I am to see it in my own kids, I’m equally saddened to see it elsewhere.


Bea said...

I am totally incapable of calling people out on stuff like that. I think I assume that they did it by accident - that if I take notice of it in any way, they will be overcome with unbearable shame. This, I think, is a demonstrably false assumption.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you let Amazon know, and that you correct others when they say such things. My parents did the same to me, and I still remember.

Anonymous said...

I definitely am so happy you speak out on this issue. We have "bad words" in our house, that aren't bad words for other kids. Stupid, dumb, hate and kill (and yes, retarded) are not allowed in our home or in my presence for that matter. The kids know the words aren't legitimate bad words, but I tell them that there is no place to use these words, where you couldn't find something better.
Good job!


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