Snarkmeisters and others have had a whale of a good time mocking PETA‘s latest effort to change public discourse and appetites, but the group reinforces an important concept here:
Words matter, and as our understanding of social justice evolves, our language evolves along with it. Here’s how to remove speciesism from your daily conversations. pic.twitter.com/o67EbBA7H4— PETA: Bringing Home the Bagels Since 1980 (@peta) December 4, 2018
Words do matter. So does the evolution of language.
Words express what we think, or in some cases what we want people to think we think. As language evolves, it reflects changes in our culture, in technology, in how we think or don’t think about religion and justice and politics and pretty much everything else. Our use of language reveals what we think about other humans and about animals, as well. What we think about them and how we treat them are closely related.
Speaking like you always have is easy. So is mocking those who advocate for change that you don’t like or that you don’t think is necessary. So is dismissing certain words and phrases as “politically correct,” a stale, overused term that we all would be better off without. (Evolve, dammit!)
Surely PETA expects mockery and denigration. Just as certainly, they know how to use words to provoke discussion and to make people think. May we continue to evolve toward a civilized society once our present backslide is over. It will require some thinking and careful choosing of words, and maybe a little less barking past each other.
From the Bard College Institute for Writing and Thinking, July 8-13, 2018.
I always go back to this question of who or what I am as a writer. A year or two ago the answer seemed relatively clear: I was a scholar, an academic, even an “intellectual” on my more confident days. I taught an wrote and thought for a living. But now that I am living the post-academic life it’s not so clear anymore. Who am I as a writer and a thinker? What identity do I want to have? I think I should write for a popular audience. I should get paid. But I really can’t think at the pace of the internet, nor do I really want to learn. And yet the slow and painstaking work of developing and sustaining a scholarly argument for a year or two or more so it can be published for…
Well OK then. It’s just as I thought, but more vague than I remembered. M-W goes on to define affordable housing as housing that is “not too expensive for people of limited means.”
Again, rather vague. What is “too expensive”? When do means qualify as limited?
Affordable is a relative term that can no longer stand alone and have any real meaning, but the news media and peddlers of sundry goods rarely qualify it as they should.
Take this story about the “wee-Cottages” coming soon to the southeast part of Longmont, Colorado. As if the hyphen and mysterious capitalization weren’t unreal enough, the story says these no-doubt-cute little places will be listed in the low-$300,000s. Presumably they are all at least temporarily affordable, because 27 of the 102 wee dwellings will be permanently affordable in the low- to mid-$200,000s.
Permanently? Nothing is permanent.
This is what affordable actually means in our little piece of Boulder County:
able to be afforded by some people but not by many whose means are actually limited
If a guy tells you something is “affordable,” ask him to complete the sentence.
Anyone who understands the importance of a strong, free press will be disturbed about the precarious state of journalism in Colorado.
So dire is the situation that the Denver Post today called out its owner, a New York City hedge fund, for yet another round of cutbacks. It called on Alden Global Capital to sell the newspaper to an owner that is “willing to do good journalism.”
The Denver Post has done good journalism for decades but is being starved of the resources it needs to continue. These are challenging times for most news organizations, yet many, including The Post, can and do remain viable if that’s what ownership wants.
The Post’s ability to fulfill its important role in the community has been diminished by round after round of greed-induced reductions in newsroom personnel. The latest cuts will further damage its ability to keep us informed.
I could go on, but read the newspaper’s own call for action and act accordingly:
Much human written communication is more clear if the spelling, grammar and punctuation are good.
Having said that, I will be embarrassed if you find a typo or other mistake in this post. If you do, feel free to mock me. I write and edit for a living, after all, so you should expect a certain level of quality in this space.
However, please think before you belittle anyone else over such details.
Sometimes spelling and grammar are simply not important.
Twitter users like to pick on poor spellers. Those pickers annoy me to no end, regardless of the pickee*. Their reactions to a Trump tweet a few weeks ago were typical.
Here’s one example.
“Council…wether…the the…Council…Council.” 5 idiotic mistakes in a single presidential tweet. Rex Tillerson was right about Trump. pic.twitter.com/9qxWaLIJCC