The Coffee Clutchers were sucking up oxygen and caffeine at Arthur’s the other day when we all should have been doing something useful, but most of us were tired of mowing, hoeing and, in Bud’s case, fixing fences that a neighbor’s scrub bull had broken to ply the affections of one of Bud’s Angus heifers.
We were chewing on the idea that people are tending to go to one of two extremes in public conversation – neither of which serves a civil society.
“You’ve got folks calling each other and even inanimate objects ‘em-effers’ routinely,” Larry said. “It used to be done for the shock value, but the shock is pretty much gone.”
Rob noted that even texting is filled with obscenities and profanities.
“From what I see of my daughter’s friends texting her, ‘WTF’ and ‘OMG’ are their favorite phrases,” he said.
“Then there’s the Alinskyish idea of calling anyone a racist who disagrees with you,” Chester said. “That’s not disagreement; that’s evisceration.”
Bro. Earl (no relation) took a swig of coffee and sighed.
“And then you’ve got the president of the United States talking about whose donkey, if I may euphemize, he needed to kick,” he lamented.
“I’m glad you didn’t use the same word he did, Bro. Earl,” Clyde said. “On the other hand, euphemizing when things ought to be stated clearly is the other extreme of uncivil language.
“We talk of ‘undocumented workers’ instead of ‘illegal aliens’ – as though these folks just forgot to bring their billfolds,” he said. “‘Attendance center’ implies that presence, not learning, is a school’s function. ‘Freedom of choice’ sounds more noble than ‘baby killing.’”
Mark, who leans left, wasn’t about take the salvos silently.
“‘Exporting democracy’ sounds better than ‘making war,’” he said. “‘Patriotism’ is easier to swallow than ‘nationalism.’ And remember when ‘state’s rights’ really meant ‘segregation’ and ‘discrimination’?”
“‘Entitlement’ reframes ‘charity’ to make it seem downright respectable never to do a day’s work,” Rob responded. “And ‘progressive’ sounds so much more palatable than ‘statist’ or ‘socialist.’”
“And don’t you just know how much less our most self-avowed enemies hate us when we call them ‘extremists’ instead of ‘Islamist terrorists’ or ‘jihadists?’” Maurice added.
Harvey, generally the most obtuse among us, stunned us: “If you can’t define the problem, you can’t solve it.”
Bud summed it up for us.
“If you misuse the language, whether your words are too tough or too tender, it’s just like I told my neighbor: ‘I don’t need your bull.’”
Contact Daily Journal Oxford Bureau reporter Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal