I like to consider myself a lover of language and words; you have to be if you are a writer and especially if you are a prolific reader. I spent a large chunk of my adult life traveling the world. While I am not fluent in any other language besides the one I grew up with, I tried to pick up a few words and phrases here and there from the various countries I visited.
But according to a writer for USA Today, if you don’t speak the native tongue, you shouldn’t use words from other languages, whether in good faith or not. Yet again, no doubt an overpaid liberal pundit is trying to tell us what we should and, more importantly, should not utter from our mouths.
Where I come from, that’s called censorship. Where I come from, I have a certain inalienable right to free speech, whether or not it hurts your delicate sensibilities. So let’s look at this recent attempt to tongue-tie the masses.
USA TODAY: white people shouldn’t say “Aloha” or “Shalom” b/c it may be a ‘microaggression’.
Guess USA Today doesn’t have a clue regarding RESPECTING another culture.
So does that mean the author won’t be eating at a restaurant which doesn’t reflect their ethnicity?🤔
— Ann Marie (@Political_QRM) January 16, 2023
Sticks And Stones
The article that caught my eye comes from USA Today writer David Oliver, an entertainment, lifestyle, and wellness reporter who naturally also covers diversity, equity, and inclusion issues.
In his piece, he warns against using words like ‘aloha,’ ‘hola,’ and ‘shalom’ if you aren’t Hawaiian, Hispanic, or Jewish.
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Mr. Oliver explains:
“Just because you can say something doesn’t mean it’s always appropriate.”
This is a fact, David, but your ilk continues to spew nonsense every day; it’s a good thing you live in a country that allows you to say ridiculous things even though it’s often inappropriate.
Mr. Oliver goes on to say:
“If you’re not Hawaiian and you say aloha, it could come off as mockery.”
Kind of like when people make fun of the vernacular of southern Americans or those citizens who, for various socioeconomic reasons, tend to reside in trailer parks? Oh wait, we only care about hurting the feelings of people with skin color.
Y’all better mind your tongues, or else you may hurt someone’s feelings.
USA Today warns against using ‘culturally sensitive words’ like aloha, hola, shalom#TwoWordsOneFinger pic.twitter.com/5R5A76cBf2
— Veronica 🇺🇸 Persistence 🇺🇸 Resilience 🇺🇸 (@bindyb123) January 16, 2023
It’s About Control
What people like Mr. Oliver are doing by feigning concern over possible offenses that groups of ‘marginalized’ people might feel is actually attempting to exert control over the masses.
For example, Mr. Oliver says in his article:
“The use of certain words requires education, knowledge and the foresight to understand when they should – or shouldn’t – come out of your mouth.”
Says who? All the education in the world hasn’t stopped you, David, from thinking it’s acceptable to advocate for policing what words can be uttered from the mouths of free people.
Seriously, none of what he says is true. The beauty of having freedom of speech is that I can say whatever I want regardless of the possible personal emotional injury it may or may not cause someone to whom I may or may not even be speaking to.
“Hasta la vista, baby.” —Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) pic.twitter.com/TLGUk5NoNK
— Movie Quotes (@MovieQuotes0007) January 21, 2023
This reminds me of an encounter with an old coworker from a previous life who scolded me for saying a particular character in a novel series was my ‘spirit animal’ because, as she put it, “We don’t say ‘spirit animal’ anymore because it culturally appropriates the Native American culture.” So who are ‘we’?
I signed no contract or agreement allowing some other entity to control how I use my tongue. And who says I’m not a Native American? Seems presumptive to assume I don’t have any of that lineage, and Native Americans aren’t the only culture that believes in spirit animals.
I would argue I can say ‘spirit animal’ because of my Celtic background. But primarily, I can say ‘spirit animal’ and various other phrases because I’m a free person on this planet and no one but myself governs my mouth.
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The Destruction Of Debate
Associate professor at Ohio State University Sunnie Rucker-Chang added to Mr. Oliver’s article by stating:
“Language is really about power.”
Indeed language does have power, and when we allow people to dictate what we can and can’t say, we are giving the power away to the establishment. Countering the argument, the appropriately-named Cherise Trump, executive director at Speech First, rightly explains the slippery slope of banning words:
“The more we restrict and limit speech, the less diverse ideas, perspectives, and discussions will be.”
Which is precisely what they want.
All of these calls to shame us from saying words like ‘Aloha’ and ‘Hola’ is meant as a tiny cut to chip away at our ability to speak freely about what is on our minds and, most importantly, engage with one another.
Last year, Stanford University came under fire for their ominously dystopian Big Brother-themed ‘Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative.’
This poorly worded plan included recommendations to stop using ‘harmful language’ including the following words and phrases:
- Circle the wagons
- Indian giver
- Blind study
Stanford University has a new list of banned words. Instead of ‘stupid’, you say boring or uncool. Actually to be precise, most of this list is stupid. pic.twitter.com/hJx2U0pvx5
— Jewish Lumber King 🌳 (@EzraDrissman) December 21, 2022
Soon there will be no more poets, no more orators, and no more great writers, thanks to the word police.
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It was my brother’s generation that started this craziness. It’s because they, along with myself and others that have followed, were raised by helicopter parents and went to schools where everyone got a trophy and everyone was told they were special regardless of what they achieved. I like to call them bubble babies.
Thanks to Generation X, millennials, and now Gen Z, we live in a world where every school, business, and industry requires ‘trigger warnings,’ ‘safe spaces,’ and training on ‘microaggressions.’ But, unfortunately, the reality is in life, there are no ‘safe spaces,’ and if you can’t handle whatever the hell a microaggression is, you won’t be able to take the brutal struggle that life in general is and is meant to be.
The Sweet Struggle: Studies Prove Gen Z Kids Are NOT Alright, And Something Must Be Done https://t.co/a9Dx5cASe0
— Kat ✍️ (@mohawkmoderate) January 13, 2023
Director of the Frederick Douglass Institute of African and African-American Studies at the University of Rochester, Jeffrey McCune, backs Mr. Oliver’s argument, stating:
“Language is too critical to our culture, that we can’t just casually use language in ways that might offend and/or even harm, do harm to certain groups of people.”
I agree with one point; language is too critical to our culture. If it wasn’t for the popularization of non-Hawaiians using ‘Aloha,’ the beautiful Hawaiian language and culture may have been lost to history.
It’s time to stop imagining transgressions or allowing the establishment to control what we say in the name of ‘potentially harmful language.’
Suppose we allow this sort of policing to continue. In that case, you can say sayonara to nuance, do svidaniya to open debate, and arrivederci to our fundamental freedoms.
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