Apple Computer has earned the ire of the rainbow crowd for their Macbook definition of the word “gay.”
When Becca Gorman, a fifteen year old student from Massachusetts, searched her Macbook dictionary for the word “gay,” three definitions popped up. The first two were well known: homosexual, and lighthearted or care-free.
The third one caught the eye of the teenager, who was doing a project on the “gay rights” movement: “Foolish; stupid.” The in-context example was illuminating: “Making students wait for the light is kind of a gay rule.” Gorman, who is being raised by two mothers, took offense.
Gee, didn’t anyone tell her that the meaning of words can change? The word “gay” used to mean dapper, as in “don we now our gay apparel.” They weren’t talking about buttless chaps. Over time, the word changed because a political movement coopted it. Those who liked the old definition just fine objected to the inclusion of a new definition. Those people lost because, as they learned, the purpose of the dictionary is to reflect language as it’s really used, moral judgments notwithstanding.
Ms. Gorman is most upset that it wasn’t tagged with the usual derogatory label. She thinks it should be, which, when you think about it, is so gay.
The “gay” community, which fought hard for a societal acceptance of a new meaning of the word, is fighting again to ensure that their preferred definition doesn’t change again. The organization ThinkB4YouSpeak fought a public relations campaign against the phrase, “That’s go gay,” meaning “That’s stupid.”
Do leftists think that they own the English language? The way they lord over it like their personal fiefdom tells me that they do. They introduce new words, ban old ones, and assign new definitions hitherto unknown. What begins as a suggestion soon becomes an imperative—use the words they want you to use, the way they want you to use them, or pay the price.
Keeping up with the latest jargon can be difficult. Every once in a while, some well-meaning person will use a word that was innocuous just a short time ago only to discover that it’s now inflammatory. If that person doesn’t understand why the old word is now verboten it’s okay to ask, though it isn’t okay to evaluate the reason and decide for himself whether it’s valid. Edicts of the language police are final.
“Oriental” was a perfectly acceptable word a generation ago. And why shouldn’t it be? It means nothing more than eastern, which is what oriental people are. That all changed with the publication of the 1978 book “Orientalism” by Professor Edward Said. The professor was, in his time, one of the most outspoken voices of Palestinian nationalism. Dr. Said theorized that Europeans and Americans had long romanticized the East, by which he meant the Middle East in particular. In their romanticized view, Easterners were more caricatures than people, which necessarily justified colonialism.
“Oriental” soon appeared on the list of banned words. Within a dozen years or so the word had become unspeakable on college campuses though it took longer to trickle down to society at large. Some baby boomers have apparently not gotten the memo because they still use the word without realizing that some dead Palestinian professor has declared it out of bounds. “Asian” is now the preferred term, which I must admit I use myself because it’s what people of my generation understand.
Asian isn’t necessarily wrong. Asian people are from Asia, though they aren’t the exclusive inhabitants of the continent. When people say “Asian” they usually mean Koreans, Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, and a few other nationalities. They aren’t referring to Turks, or Russians who live east of the Urals, though those people are Asian as well.
If a time traveler arrived in our age from 1960, he would hardly be able to speak without being pilloried. “Negro” is now a derogatory term, though black is still acceptable, if not optimal. Apparently, the United Negro College Fund has not gotten the message. “Negro” is nothing more than the Spanish word for black. So it’s okay to say black, just not in a foreign language. What do these people have against Español?
“Colored people” is equally unacceptable, though not “people of color” which is all the rage in academia. For the life of me, I can’t explain why one is okay but the other will get you fired. Maybe we should ask the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “People of color” means anyone who isn’t white, which is a strange definition because, last time I checked, white is a color. What are we supposed to call those who don’t fall into this category? People of no color?
No, we call them white. White is an acceptable word, though yellow is not. Don’t ask me why. Yellow people are called Asians even if they’re several generations removed from Asia but white people are called white. We don’t call them Europeans, unless they’re actually from Europe. Red is also unacceptable. We call those people Native Americans. It doesn’t matter if you have roots in this country dating back to the seventeenth century, if you aren’t red you can’t claim to be a Native American.
Get it? Black and white are okay, but red and yellow are racial epithets. I get dizzy trying to keep up.
Who knows what changes the future will bring? In all likelihood, the words we use today will be obsolete in a generation. New words will replace old words and we Gen-Xer’s and Gen-Yer’s will be the clueless old farts who inadvertently say offensive things.
One thing is for sure—when these changes occur, they will all be initiated by those on the political left. It’s their language, we just speak it. English is putty in their hands, to be molded as they please. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is just so gay.