Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Political Correctness

I just received an email that had the following statement in it:

Calling an illegal alien an "undocumented immigrant" is like calling a drug dealer an "unlicensed pharmacist".

Lefties, please explain the difference to me. Logically.


Fritz J. said...

I can't wait to see if anyone takes you up on this. I really want to see what sort of logic is used.

Steve, USMA '85 said...

The one adds strength and vitality to the economy by filling jobs that would otherwise not be done. The other destroys our youth and increases crime.

The sad thing is there are those who would actually believe my first sentence.

PeggyU said...

I just read this somewhere else: The next time you call a lefty a socialist, and he objects, apologize and say, "I'm so sorry I offended you! What exactly is it you don't like about socialism?"

Chanman said...

Don't forget, calling an illegal alien an "undocumented immigrant" is like calling someone who breaks into your home an "undocumented tenant."

mazenko said...

OK, Darren, I'll bite.

It's basically a connotation issue with the goal of removing prejudice and emotion from an issue where its presence inhibits rational understanding of both points of view.

As Dan Haley in the Denver Post effectively stated, the Republican party could: "Stand up for strong border control without demonizing those who cross the border illegally. Acknowledge the humanity in those illegal border-crossers and admit that you, too, would cross a border to help your family.

It's our fault for not securing the border. Can we blame them for crossing it?"

Of course, as an English teacher, nuance of language is important to me. Discussing Juliet's lament ("A rose by any other name") today, my class discussed the power of language to hurt or to heal. Word choice and connotation quite simply matters - a lot.

Darren said...

I agree, which is why some resort to the euphemism "undocumented immigrant" and others use the more accurate "illegal alien".

If we want to live in euphemisms, there's no legitimate reason *not* to use the "unlicensed pharmacist" one.

mazenko said...

Ha, that's amusing.

maxutils said...

So, I'm interested. How do we decide which crimes get cute euphemisms and which don't? An addict might steal because they really need another fix. I think I'd probably do that if I had to. Burglars don't normally have job skills that would allow them a better way of living. I think I'm there, also (remember Les Miserables?). Murderers might kill because their victim just . . . wouldn't . . .listen!

Okay, that might be one step to far.


That said, the only barometer we really have is that society calls certain things crimes, and others not. I personally don't consider drug users to be criminals, but technically they are. I don't have a problem not referring to them that way, because I don't view them as harming anyone else. (If they engage in other behaviors that do harm others as a result of their use, that changes things.)

In the case of illegal immigrants, they do harm others, notably taxpayers and laborers in the fields that they work in (increase in supply of labor = lower wage.)

And, as to the jobs no one will do?
In the words of noted social commentator Joe Getty, in response to the question "Who will pick the tomatoes?": "Someone, or no one, or a machine."

allen (in Michigan) said...

So the purpose of the euphemism is to avoid the prejudice and emotion engendered by the use of the accurate phrase?

I suppose that I could observe how ungrateful us drearily literal conservatives must seem rejecting as we do prejudice and emotion-avoiding euphemisms so thoughtfully created for our moral elevation but that would clearly be redundant.

I've got an alternative explanation. Sadly it carries none of the ethical buoyancy of "undocumented immigrant".

My explanation is that liberals are, among their other pastimes, always on the lookout for opportunities to exhibit their moral and/or intellectual superiority. So Dan Haley sermonizes against the non-existent demonization of the "undocumented immigrant" thus putting himself firmly and courageously - "courageously" in the liberal sense of the word "courage", i.e. danger-free courage - in opposition to that demonization.

Dan stands four-square against....who? Those Republican demonizers?

Yeah, he's just a pulsating mass of courage, isn't he? Why at any moment a Republican's liable to cough politely and beg to differ.

Gosh, doesn't that sort of manly, uhhh, gender-neutral courage send a shiver up your leg?

mazenko said...

Allen, I'm a little surprised at you.

With your laissez-faire, free market capitalist libertarian ideals, I'd expect you to side with the market over nationalism.

Granted you might be arguing for the law/order perspective, though it seems your faith in the supremacy of the market would lead you to advocate for the market to guide the laws and not vice-versa.

It seems you'd believe the ability of businesses to manage their own labor needs. I guess there are times that emotion over-rides reason, and even ideology.

Very interesting perspective.