Implied Negativity – The Misuse of Words

From my posts found in the Wayback Machine, originally published on May 12, 2009.

Okay, this is a pet peeve of mine. Maybe it’s because I’m a word guy. Maybe it’s because I know when I’m being manipulated. I’m talking about when a word or phrase is used in a context that clearly impliesthat it’s a bad thing.

An example: Corporate. I DARE you to tell me that this word is used fairly in the media. Really – sit still for a minute and think about it. Almost every time you hear this word used, it will have a negative connotation, or be attached to other words like “fat cat” or “greed”, to really underscore the evil.

Since when is a corporation a bad thing? It isn’t. It’s simply another perfectly legitimate business structure, like an LLC, LLP, PC, or a myriad of others. Yes, sometimes some unseemly business takes place in larger companies, some of which are corporations. Part of that is simple mathematics – you have more of EVERYTHING in any larger group – good and bad. C’mon, I don’t have to explain this, right? Are there any LLC Fat Cats out here who want to weigh in on this?

How about “Homophobe“? Ouch – did I DARE venture into a taboo area? Yeah, I’m sure I’ll get lots of feedback about how stupid it is to even comment on this because I’ll alienate people. Well folks, here’s the uncoated truth: Nearly everyone has a strong opinion on this topic, and half of them are scared to death to talk about it. Why? Because the media, ergo society, tells us that you must unconditionally accept homosexuality, or you’re a bigot or homophobe. Now, before you get your feathers ruffled, I haven’t made any commentary about homosexuality at all, and by the end of this writing, I still will not have made one. That’s not what this blog is about, it’s about implied negativity. So, back to the word…Homophobe.

If you remove all opinion about homosexuality and just look at the use of the word, it’s a hate crime in my opinion. Why? Because it is a word that carries a negative meaning, directed at a particular group of people, implying that they are somehow not as evolved as everyone else, or in some sort of sub-class. In reality, if a person uses that made-up word, perhaps they are simply a name-calling bigot, operating under a double-standard: ”Be tolerant, be accepting / If you don’t, it won’t be tolerated.” In short, the word Homophobe is only used by Heterophobes. (by the way, I hate the thought of having hate crimes. Is that a crime?)

Now, half of you have formed an opinion of my opinion about homosexuality, and I assure you that most likely it’s wrong, regardless of how you think I think. I just have a problem with the use of the word.

Here’s another: Uneducated. When used in the sense that people who don’t have a college education or degree are somehow less intelligent or sub-par as humans, or have less worth, is just an insult. When used to simply state the first part without implying the sub-human part, it’s just a statement of fact. But, you can’t really use it that way anymore, can you? The negativity has gotten all over the word and stuck to it.

This is getting lengthy, so I’m sure to follow up when I remember some really good ones. I’ll leave you with this exchange between Lisa and Bart Simpson:

Lisa: “A rose by any other name smells as sweet.”
Bart: “Not if you call them ‘Stench Blossoms.’”
(The Simpsons)

John

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