Wednesday, April 25, 2012

This linguistic engineering invades our lives and loves

Officialdom’s frenetic replacement of words like son and wife with words like ‘carer’ and ‘partner’ diminishes our identities

I have always been fascinated by the language we use to express our view of everyday life. But it wasn’t until the death of my mother three years ago that I realised how words could be used to diminish our identity and pressure us to adopt new values.

As soon as I heard that my mother had a stroke, I went to see her at our local hospital in Kent, England. On arrival, I introduced myself to the nurse with the words, ‘I’m Frank Furedi, I’m Clara’s son’. The woman looked up at me and said, ‘You mean you’re her carer’. ‘No, her son’, I responded. But she was insistent: ‘No, you are her carer.’

Later, one hospital administrator explained to me that they used the word carer because it included all; apparently not every patient has a close relative to look after them.

In Australia, the Department of Health and Ageing defines everyone who provides help to an ill or frail person as a carer. On its website it notes that ‘many carers don’t consider themselves to be carers - they see themselves as just family members’.

Outwardly, this is a simple and uncontroversial statement of fact. But when you examine it closer, it offers a chilling reminder of who defines your identity. You may think you are family but, according to this administrative formula, you are ‘carers’.

The word carer may be inclusive, but if a special connection between mother and son is transformed into a bureaucratic typology, then something very important has been lost. The relationship between patients and their family, friends and paid help all involve care, but they convey fundamentally different meanings to the people concerned.

This linguistic engineering, this tendency to redefine human relations through a vocabulary that corrodes their special, unique and intimate qualities, is often promoted as a way of making all of us feel included. The first time I felt ambushed by linguistic policing was in the 1990s, when I read a report on how to deal with child abuse in a religious setting. The author, Helen Armstrong, argued that the church should respond by changing its traditional language. Why? Because ‘religious language often depends on a positive view of the value and trust placed in fathers, parents and family’ and it therefore may offend victims of abuse. The report warned against the use of a language that ‘represents God as father or as protector’ and said we should rethink ‘the range of “family” language used in religious thinking’.

The implication of Armstrong’s arguments was that the positive valuation of the family discriminated against victims of abuse, and therefore a new language should be made mandatory. If the celebration of the family is seen as troubling to those who have had negative experiences with their parents, then what intimate relationship can be unashamedly avowed these days? Certainly not that of husband and wife. As the Flinders University’s guide to using inclusive language explains: ‘Language that reinforces the assumption that all personal relationships are exclusively heterosexual denies the lived realities of same-sex couples.’ Accordingly, it advises using the term partner instead of wife or husband.

Like carer, the term partner has the advantage of homogenising every relationship, eroding their distinctions and instead making them all conform to an inoffensive generic formula. Insisting that I was my mum’s son was proof of my emotional illiteracy, apparently. But to refuse to be called partner and actually to embrace discriminatory appellation such as ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ - that is a marker of gross insensitivity, we are told. Better that you call your wife a spouse.

And it is now official. Those applying for a visa to migrate to Australia are told by that ‘if you are married, then you apply for the spouse visa’. It helpfully informs applicants that spouse is ‘the Australian husband or wife’.

Thankfully, you can still acknowledge that you are married. What is at issue is who you are married to. Numerous advocates of same-sex marriage argue that the association of marriage between a husband and wife is an expression of discriminatory prejudice. So a few years ago a submission by the Melbourne-based Human Rights Resource Centre to the inquiry into the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2009 insisted that references to wife and husband should be removed from section 45(2) of the act. The submission also took exception to the ‘gendered’ term ‘man and woman’ used in marriage and opted for the term ‘union of two people’.

In Canada, where same-sex marriage was legalised in 2005, terms like husband and wife have already been removed from much official documentation. A similar approach is proposed for Britain in the Lib-Con government’s consultation on same-sex marriage, which implies, in Brendan O’Neill’s words, that ‘bureaucrats have the right to define our relationships, and by extension to govern them’.

Meanwhile in Sweden, campaigners are urging the authorities to introduce ‘gender-neutral’ language. They want to do away with any linguistic expression of difference between the sexes (such as the use of apparently discriminatory words like ‘he’ and ‘she’ or ‘boy’ and ‘girl’) in favour of having everyone speak in a fully PC, new and neutral fashion.

Whatever you think of a world in which sons are called carers, lovers are described as partners, husbands and wives are reinvented as spouses or just ‘two people’, and no one says ‘boy’ or ‘girl’, you should at least acknowledge that it is a very different place to one where people cultivate their own identities and traditions to determine who they really are.

It is important to understand that these new administratively sanctioned terms are not simply different words that express the same old identities or relationships. No, when a son is transformed into a carer, then the defining features of his relationship to his mother become obscured, maybe even lost. When religious organisations are told to use a language that treats the family as no big deal, then they cease to serve as institutions that can give spiritual meaning to their members. When marriage is reinterpreted as merely the union of two people, or a partnership of spouses, then the identity of a husband and wife is steadily eroded and loses its deep-rooted symbolic significance. Linguistic engineering impacts in a very real and very negative way on how we conceive of ourselves and how we think about our most intimate bonds.

The words we use really, really matter. They shape our view of ourselves and of our fellow citizens. In an open, tolerant society, people should possess the freedom to choose how they define themselves and others.

Unfortunately, today there are powerful cultural forces that believe they have the moral authority to decide what words the rest of us can use to describe ourselves, our loved ones and our relationships. Language is a far too important an area of human life to leave to the administrators and experts. We need the courage of our convictions to use the words that best express what we are about.


Another pathetic excuse from lazy British police

Police refused to chase quad bike gang who stole kayak ... because thieves had no helmets

When Rebecca Jones directed police towards a gang of thieves making their getaway on quad bikes she naturally expected officers to tear off in hot pursuit.  But she was left speechless when they called off the chase moments later – on the grounds of health and safety.

They told her that they did not want to risk causing an accident because the gang were not wearing crash helmets and were driving wildly.

Instead, the officers simply gave up and let the thieves disappear into the distance with the  £700 kayak they had stolen from Miss Jones.

The legal executive said the gang struck as she and her boyfriend joined her parents on the water of a weir on the River Dearne at Harlington, in South Yorkshire.

As the group prepared to set off, the quad bikers raced up  and snatched her kayak before driving off with it strapped to one of their machines.

Miss Jones, 28, and her boyfriend, Mark Skirrow, 27, gave chase and tracked the thieves across fields in the hope that the police would take over once they arrived. ‘The police were called immediately and they also followed the gang and caught up with them on the road,’ said Miss Jones, from Swinton, near Rotherham.

‘But they had to abandon the pursuit because of health and safety concerns as the quad bikers were driving erratically and not wearing helmets.  ‘My boat was stolen and there is nothing much I can do about it.’

The police are not understood to have made any arrests.

Health and safety rules have been blamed for inaction by the emergency services in a number of incidents – many of them much more serious.

In March last year Simon Burgess, 41, drowned in a 3ft-deep lake in Hampshire when a policeman and a paramedic were ordered not to rescue him.

In 2009, Philip Surridge, 42, died after firemen refused to rescue him from a frozen lake. He screamed ‘Don’t let me die’ but the crew – sent to Brightwell Lake in Northamptonshire – did not go in because they were not trained in water rescue. In 2008, Karl Malton, 32, drowned in 18in of water in Lincolnshire when a senior fire officer stopped his men climbing down a 15ft bank after a ‘risk assessment’ was carried out.

His body remained face down in the water for three hours after a decision was made to send for a ‘water rescue team’ based more than 50 miles away.

The year before that, Jordan Lyon, ten, drowned in a pond in Wigan after police community support officers said they were unable to help him because they did not have ‘major incident training’.

A South Yorkshire Police spokesman said of the kayak theft:  ‘Officers were instructed not to begin a pursuit. An area search was conducted and all lines of enquiry were explored, unfortunately without gain.  ‘South Yorkshire Police perform a risk assessment based on the circumstances of each incident.’


Moonbats’ Heads Explode Over Marine Crusaders

A culture ashamed of its own religion and history has an obvious psychological disadvantage on the battlefield. Yet since it’s a pillar of leftist ideology that Muslims were the good guys during the Crusades, moonbats at blowing gaskets over this:
    A recent decision by the Marine Corps to reinstate “Crusaders” as the name of its Fighter Attack Squadron 122 — replacing “Werewolves” — and adopting the red cross of the medieval Knights Templar was blasted as unconstitutional and willfully ignorant by a civil rights group Wednesday. …

    VMFA-122 based out of Beaufort, S.C., used the Crusaders symbol from 1958 up to 2008…

That’s when it was changed to Werewolves to be more politically correct, since our rulers would rather have us identify with evil supernatural creatures that degenerate into animals than with heroes who took the fight to the enemy on behalf of Western Civilization during Islam’s long centuries of relentless forcible encroachment on Christendom.
    Dozens of military members, including Marines in the affected squadron have contacted MRFF reporting that the name has been changed back, and that the symbols had already been painted on the vertical stabilizers of the F-18s.

Whimpers Mikey Weinstein, founder of the militantly anti-Christian Military Religious Freedom Foundation:
    “They’re being told, ‘the enemy gets to have Allah in their fight. We need to get our Lord and Savior back into our fight.’”

Lt. Cmdr. Wade Weigel explains it differently:
    “It’s a way for our Marines to draw on the service of the Marines before them, and to make their own history under the same name. As the squadron prepared to celebrate its (70th anniversary), my intent was to return the squadron to the Crusader name since 50 of the squadron’s 70 years were under that name. The name change is a reflection of our heritage.”

If there is one thing liberals hate, it’s heritage. Naturally they are threatening legal action. Maybe they can get the name changed to the Flying Dhimmis.


'Victims' Who Persecute

 Jeff Jacoby

HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY always falls during the week that follows Passover. At first glance, the two would seem to have little in common -- one memorializes the millions of European Jews annihilated by Nazi Germany; the other commemorates the deliverance of the Jews from slavery in ancient Egypt.

Yet for all their obvious differences, a fundamental similarity links these two crucial chapters in Jewish history. Both were attempts at genocide, and in both cases the perpetrators justified their savageries by claiming that they were the real victims, threatened by the people they intended to wipe out.

At the Passover Seder, retelling the 3,000-year-old story, Jews read the passage from Exodus in which Pharaoh rationalizes the lethal repression he is about to inflict on the Hebrews. "Come, let us deal wisely with them," he declares. "Otherwise they may become so many that if there is a war they will join our enemies, fight against us, and leave the land." His notion of dealing wisely: slave labor, followed by mass murder. "Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, 'Every boy that is born to the Hebrews, you shall throw into the Nile.'"

Thirty centuries later, the same pattern preceded the Holocaust.

"The Jewish people stands against us as our deadly foe," railed Adolf Hitler in 1922, "and will so stand against us always." More than 100,000 Jews had served in the German army during World War I; 12,000 had fallen in battle. Yet Germany's defeat was blamed on a "stab in the back" by disloyal traitors -- especially the Jews. To this baseless libel the Nazis added others, such as the grotesque claim of race defilement. "The Jews were responsible for bringing Negroes into the Rhineland with the ultimate idea of bastardizing the white race," Hitler seethed in Mein Kampf. Such a villainous enemy could be shown no tolerance and given no quarter: "It must be the hard-and-fast 'Either-Or.'"

Within weeks of coming to power, the Nazis launched the reign of terror that would culminate in the Final Solution. At every step, their crimes against the Jews were described as self-defense. "The Jews of the whole world are trying to destroy Germany," screamed government posters as the Nazis unleashed a boycott of Jewish-owned businesses. "German people, defend yourselves!" In every issue of Der Stürmer, the Nazi newspaper published for more than 20 years by Hitler's ally Julius Streicher, a Page 1 banner proclaimed: "The Jews are Our Misfortune!"

Down through the millennia, this has been the model for the most virulent, violent anti-Semitism. Jews were depicted, facts and logic to the contrary notwithstanding, as victimizers. Then they were victimized with astonishing ferocity and inhumanity.

In her magisterial history of the 14th century, A Distant Mirror, Barbara W. Tuchman describes how readily the outbreak of the Black Death was blamed on the Jews -- and with what murderous results:

"On charges that they were poisoning the wells, with intent 'to kill and destroy the whole of Christendom and have lordship over all the world,' the lynchings began in the spring of 1348 on the heels of the first plague deaths. The first attacks occurred in Narbonne and Carcassonne, where Jews were dragged from their houses and thrown into bonfires…. The charges drew a picture of an international Jewish conspiracy emanating from Spain, with messengers from Toledo carrying poison in little packets [and] rabbinical instructions for sprinkling the poison in wells and springs."

The Jews' defenders, including Pope Clement VI, pointed out that these were demented lies -- Jews were dying of the plague like everyone else, and the plague raged even in places where no Jews lived. Yet so powerful was the fury against them, and so avid the hunger to believe them guilty of every bad thing, that thousands were slaughtered or dispossessed.

Anti-Semitism is mankind's oldest hatred, irrational, obsessive, and seemingly indestructible. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born activist whose childhood was spent in Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, and Kenya, recalls being instructed "practically on a daily basis that Jews were evil, the sworn enemies of Muslims whose only goal was to destroy Islam." She grew up hearing Jews blamed for everything from AIDS to war; "if we ever wanted to know peace and stability," she was taught, "we would have to destroy them before they would wipe us out."

The Jew-haters always see themselves as victims, and their victimhood becomes their license to persecute. It is a phenomenon as old as the pharaohs and as contemporary as Al-Qaeda. Hitler took it to an unprecedented scale. But while Hitler died in 1945, genocidal Jew-hatred lives on.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCHAUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.


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