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  • The Word Really Doesn’t Mean Anything Anymore

    Posted by Dan from Madison on September 9th, 2009 (All posts by )

    Certain words, when used over and over again seem to lose their meaning.

    When I was growing up, if I would have been asked to take out the trash and I woud have uttered the phrase “this sucks”, it would have been met with a bar of soap in my mouth and more than likely several lashes with my dad’s leather belt. Today, if someone has a little sniffle or a cold, I would say to them “that sucks” and everone would go on their way without blinking an eye. In general, from what I have experienced, I would say that we have become more vulgar in a big way over the last few decades.

    Another word that has lost much of it’s intended meaning is “racism” or “racist”. This morning I passed a van on the way to work. On the side were these words:

    “Eliminating Racism, Empowering Women”. I will let you guess the organization before the fold.

    Here it is. What the hell? (There I go again)

    When my mom was young, she actually stayed at a small apartment in the YWCA. They helped her out during a time where she really couldn’t afford to stay at too many other places. I also remember when I was growing up they offered lots of classes and other things to do there. We even took our dog to obedience school classes there. My mom took tap dancing classes. I was enrolled in other fitness type activities.

    So what has it turned into now? Just by having the word “racism” painted on their commuter van really turned me off. The slogan says nothing, and means nothing. When I hear someone called a racist I typically think that means that they have an opposing opinion. The word is used so much that it really doesn’t mean anything anymore. I suppose you could take it to mean “hates black people” or “hates Asian people”. I think by demonizing people and overusing the word so much, it just means nothing. The word “racism” sucks.

     

    12 Responses to “The Word Really Doesn’t Mean Anything Anymore”

    1. knirirr Says:

      Concerning the term “racism,” Dr. Gabb had something to say about it here:

      The word “racism” has so many meanings that it has none. It can mean anything from a preference for living in communities of one’s own sort to wanting to murder everyone else. Since most people come within the weaker definition and almost no one in the stronger, the word has about the same intellectual content and the same function as the growling of a dog. It simply means: “shut up, or we will turn your life into a misery”.

      That seems to be a fair summary of it, I think.

    2. Ginny Says:

      This “shut up” is derived, the speaker believes,from a position of moral authority. And this is granted him not by his courage and altruism but rather by a lack of being “other directed” – he condemns what he thinks are others’ intentions. Uncharitable mind reading isn’t virtue, but in some circles it passes for it. It doesn’t just block the other’s argument, it makes self-examination irrelevant. After all, he wouldn’t have owned slaves; he’s a superior moral character. And so he doesn’t need to think very deeply about the result of his own policies; misdirection helps him justify condescension and a self-righteousness that produces human misery.

    3. Marty Says:

      “Racism” is the new “fascism.”

      It means, “Something I don’t like.” A racist is “someone I don’t like.”

      Not one person in 100 (I’m guessing) who accuses soemone of “fascism” could explain what fascism actually is. Heck, scholars have been wrestling with that since the 1930s… Mussolini, Hitler, Franco, and so on, finding a common definition ain’t easy. Racism is easier to define, but for that reason it’s easier to see the absurdity of the charge when leveled at something or someone where race is clearly not the issue.

    4. cynic Says:

      As far as I’ve been able to determine, “racist” is generally used as a synonym for “Republican.”

    5. Tatyana Says:

      The neighborhood I live in, Bay Ridge, has been, till the last election, one of the last Republican-voting districts in NYC. Incidentally, it is now has a nickname “Bay Root” (as in Beirut), due to the biggest in Brooklyn percentage of Arab residents.
      So when a lefty hipster from B-burg (Williamsburg) or a limousine liberal from Park Slope calls me a racist I always invite them to move in my, very NOT-WHITE, part of the city. Unlike their own.

    6. renminbi Says:

      “Hitler, Mussolini, Franco…” You left out Roosevelt. What was the NRA, all the cartelization and price fixing, but another variation of the corporate state? Jonah Goldberg got it right. Of course “Fascism” is now useless as a descriptive term, but it is a great way to make leftists go ballistic.

      The best way to deal with being called racist is “name calling is not an argument-come back when you have a case.”

    7. Marty Says:

      Renminbi-

      I was very impressed by Liberal Fascism, but I think we have to distinguish bewteen domestic and economic policy and foreign policy.

      On the doemstic and economic front, certainly there are a lot of fascist or quasi-fascist elements in the New Deal, and much of what comes out of Obama’s mouth (and his acolytes) makes me cringe.

      But a fascist foreign policy is rooted in some sort of sense of national, cultural or racial superiority and entitlement, and is aggressive. Hard to see that in Obama (who projects the opposite, at least for all Americans before him) or for the most part FDR. (btb, foreign policy is a good reason to NOT call Franco a fascist)

    8. JaimeRoberto Says:

      “Hate” is another word without meaning. Or more specifically it also means “something I don’t agree with”.

    9. Michael Kennedy Says:

      Victor Davis Hanson had an unusually good piece today on the faux racial warriors in the Obama administration and their acolytes.

      There is a strange pseudo-culture in America, of which Obama is a perfect example. Millionaire Michael Moore announces, “Capitalism is evil” as he hypes promotion of his moneymaking new movie. Oliver Stones praises Chavez, as the dictator shuts down voices of dissent—yet Stone himself could not make a movie in Venezuela as he does here. So too the murderer Che becomes a popular T-shirt emblem among the college elite. Van Jones calls Bush a “crackhead” but then in self-important style flashes on his website, “As a tireless advocate for disadvantaged people and the environment, Van helped to pass America’s first ‘green job training’ legislation: the Green Jobs Act, which George W. Bush signed into law as a part of the 2007 Energy Bill.” Bush is a crackhead in front of some audiences, compliant supporter to others?

      I like all his work but this is especially good.

    10. ligneus Says:

      On their website they have a photo of Ted Kennedy with the words, “The YWCA Mourns the Passing of Sen Edward Kennedy”.

      The Young Women’s Christian Association, mourns Ted Kennedy? Yeah, you can’t make this stuff up.

    11. Dan from Madison Says:

      Ligneus – that is the angle I was after. I wonder what happened to that organization since I was a kid. Oh well.

    12. Whitehall Says:

      I too bemoan the diffusion and dilution of the meaning of “suck.”

      What was once a special treat is now a term of derision.