Archive | March, 2014

Sticks and Stones

15 Mar

It seems that the NFL is attempting to outlaw the use of a particular ‘n’ word. This seems to have created a little bit of a discussion on the word. People who look like me seem to be powerless to participate in the discussion, and for pretty good reason. Before you dismiss this as just another white guy telling black guys how to talk, I urge you to read the entire post and then criticize.

The only reason for this discussion is because of the imagery and history associated with the word. There are good reasons to stop using the word. It represents a time period (or more correctly, an aspect of a time period) in this country that is dark and not redeeming. Understandably, there is a reason to want to do away with this memory entirely. Of course, Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

By the same token, those who have taken that which is atrocious and turned it into a word of kinship, friendship, and camaraderie do not (understandably so) want to have their vocabulary stripped. I’m sure David Howard understands this also. To have words which represent a greater meaning stripped from usability can be a cruel thing.

I remember a scene from a Full House episode where Uncle Jesse was trying to use a word (apprehensive) that Michelle didn’t understand and he had to go with scared. Now, that was done for comedic effect, but the reality is that the depth of meaning is not completely conveyed by scared, and often a single word can communicate more than we can with a dozen words not including it. This is why I think it can be tragic to eliminate words from one’s vocabulary.

So, here I am with ambivolent feelings about using this word. I begin to realize there are many words that I feel our community would be better without using. While even the most heinous of words can convey meaning, the reality is that some meanings are better left un-conveyed. Nevertheless, eliminating a word or two cannot make that desired effect.

Making someone convey a different message can only be accomplished by changing their heart. And language, much as I appreciate its depth, ability, and necessity is not the most important thing. The most proper speaker of English can convey things with tone, movement, and even proper words that are not redemptive. This is why I feel any rule, mandate, or anything else to eliminate language is not getting to the heart of the matter.

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