Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Political Correctness and Black Trench Coat Laws

A Huff Post reports that a well intentioned bill to reduce official use of the term "retarded" is awaiting Governor Brown's signature.  As always, the purpose is to eliminate what has become a pejorative with a value neutral term.  The Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein wasted his brilliant mind confusing words describing reality with reality itself.  It is easy to do.  It is also a futile, sterile effort.

Changing the term does not change the attitudes of the users of that term.  Consider the familiar history of an equally well intentioned effort. "Crippled" became "handicapped" became "disabled" became "alternatively enabled" and soon will become..what?  Who knows?  All that is clear is that it will change because changing the term just gives the  contemptuous and the hateful a new word to turn into an epithet.

In honesty, I must admit that incorporating the word, "swamp" into the much more inclusive "wetlands" allowed environmentalists to preserve wild areas previously regarded as vile.  However, I regard this as an unusual case; one which proofs the rule

From the article.-- "Mental retardation" was not always a pejorative term. It was introduced in medical texts more than a century ago, replacing words like "imbecile," "moron" and "idiot" that had developed negative connotations. --

I would add that those terms were adopted as value neutral replacements for "mentally defective".  That worked well, didn't it?

What we must do is educate individuals and prevent bullying.  Changing terms is a Black Trench Coat Law.

OK, my term, so I need to explain it.  When a group of bullied students took revenge by murdering their peers at Columbine, the school board was under intense pressure to do SOMETHING to increase student safety NOW!  What could they do?  In terms of an instant cure, little if anything that would be effective.  Yet, terrified parents demanded action.  Since the killers had favored black trench coats, the board banned black trench coats on campus.  That was simply sad.

So the term, "Black Trench Coat Law" refers to any law which has good intentions, but is pointless to the level of complete futility.  I applaud and support the efforts of many to put and end to the bullying of the developmentally delayed...oops, sorry!  That term became pejorative about 30 years ago...  However, I cannot support Black Trench Coat Laws, no matter how much I wish that they would work.


Another Austrian making trouble with confused ideology?  Let's see...Wittgenstein, Austrian Economics, Hitler....I think the Austrians are determined to destroy the world.

Note:  the last comment is a joke, if you took it seriously, you need some help.

1 comment:

  1. Speaking of jokes, my point is well illustrated by the following:

    Principal's office, 1955

    The principal:  Mr. And Mrs. Jones, the school Psychologist and I have wish to share some of the results of our recent testing session with you.  They indicate that your child is special.

    Mrs. Jones:  Oh!  I knew it!  Thank God you can finally begin to challenge her intellect!

    Principal's office, 2012:

    The principal:  Mr. and Mrs. Smith, the school Psychologist and I have wish to share some of the results of our recent testing session with you.  They indicate that your child is special.

    Mrs. Smith:  Oh!  I knew it!  Dear God, why my  child?  Not my poor baby!  Is there any hope for her?