Monday, May 16, 2016

Maybe it’s just me . . .

     In a recent Washington Post editorial, Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General Karol Mason said that disparaging, stigmatizing words such as “convict” and “felon” for those convicted of a crime, sentenced to prison time, and ultimately released will be officially replaced by “person who committed a crime” or “individual who has been incarcerated” in all departmental communications, because those old harsh words can “drain a person’s self-worth.”  Ms. Mason made no mention of damage suffered to the bodies or to the mental health of the victims of these convicted offenders.

     In 2013, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter proposed amending city code to replace “ex-offender” with “returning citizen” and made that language change mandatory for city employees.  Again, he made no mention of what proper terminology ought to be for “victim.”  Perhaps Nutter would accept “unfortunate individual” as appropriate?  Or how about “person affected by an unlawful act?”

     In July, 2011, Anders Breivik blew eight persons into fragments with a van bomb, then methodically stalked and shot 69 more persons on an idyllic island owned by a youth summer camp organization.  In court he smiled frequently and gave a crisp Nazi salute.  He was sentenced to 21 years, the maximum under liberal Norwegian law.  He was sent to a comfortable well-appointed detention facility.  Recently he sued for violation of his rights, claiming he has suffered isolation from the facility’s population.  And he won.  The fact that his seventy-seven victims were deprived of the rest of their lives and are forever sealed in the cold isolation of their graves apparently was irrelevant.  (Count to seventy-seven out loud and visualize a different person, many of them young, for each number.  It will take you a while.)

     During the most recent Super Bowl, Doritos aired a commercial showing an ultrasound of a fetus in a woman’s womb.  “Pro-choice” groups took extreme umbrage, accusing Doritos of “humanizing fetuses.”  Which leaves me perplexed.  What is a fetus if not human?  Sub-human?  Simian?  Maybe in their view it is simply an “organic thingy.”

     Increasingly, euphemisms are being used to avoid calling things what they really are.  “Planned Parenthood,” for example.  Or politicians simply “mis-speaking.”  Or illegal aliens being considered merely “undocumented.”  Terrorist attacks termed “man-caused incidents.”  Washington these days is rife with this.

     Do such trends in societal thinking deeply disturb anybody else?

     Or is it just me?


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