Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Offensive Language

There are at least three words which should not be used generically but only to describe those historical acts. One of them is "holocaust," periodically used by abortion rights opponents to describe abortion. Recent comments by two other prominent individuals highlight hyperbole run amok.

The Arizona legislature has passed a bill, now awaiting the governor's expected signature, which

would require immigrants to carry their alien registration documents at all times and require police to question people if there is reason to suspect they're in the United States illegally. It also targets those who hire illegal immigrant day laborers or knowingly transport them.

On his blog, Cardinal Mahony, head of the largest archdiocese in the U.S.A., remarked

The Arizona legislature just passed the country's most retrogressive, mean-spirited, and useless anti-immigrant law.

Perhaps (more on the bill in a later post). But he wrote (typed) also

I can't imagine Arizonans now reverting to German Nazi and Russian Communist techniques whereby people are required to turn one another in to the authorities on any suspicion of documentation.

No, this is not quite "German Nazi" techniques. And Americans, not even Arizonans, are Nazis.

What kind of post would this be, however, without criticism of at least one Republican? If Cardinal Mahony was out of line, so too was an ex-college football star, intelligent enough to realize that he had no future in the National Football League, who became a Congressman- and not a very good one at that. Think Progress reports this exchange that took place at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference earlier this month in an interview with former Representative J.C. Watts (R-OK):

ELSWICK: We were talking about social programs, and J.C., she calls them the new slavery.

WATTS: Dave I think that’s a legitimate claim if the programs aren’t improving people’s lives or getting them into a life of productivity. It’s just like, we could say I think it’s slavery to give your kid an allowance unless you say you gotta take the trash out, you gotta keep your room clean. Parents usually don’t give their kids an allowance without saying you have to do something.

Yep, that's the ticket: giving your son or daughter an allowance while expecting nothing in return= slavery.

Representative Watts in 1997 implied that support for abortion was akin to support for slavery (though in my opinion, not quite equating the two things). A decade later and by then a CNN contributor, he tastefully included Reverend Jesse Jackson in a list of "race-hustling poverty pimps," who "talk a lot about slavery, but they're perfectly happy to have just moved us to another plantation." Apparently, Watts likes throwing that term "slavery" around- nothing like diminishing the horror of owning another human being.

Some terms, like Nazi and slavery, simply shouldn't be trivialized.

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