Social creatures and semantics

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Ohg Rea Tone is all or nothing. He is educated and opinionated, more clever than smart, sarcastic and forthright. He writes intuitively - often disregarding rules of composition. Comment on his posts - he will likely respond with characteristic humor or genuine empathy. He is the real-deal.

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Social creatures and semantics


(Note – some of the language here may be offensive.) Your sensitivity to semantics has merit. Humans, by nature and nurture, are social creatures. All of us have the need for acceptance, a sense of belonging. We understand our level of acceptance through our language – the terms people use to describe us. We put stock in semantics because it is central to our understanding of ourselves and our relationship to our community.

The idea of political correctness comes from this sensitivity. Housewives became homemakers. Janitors became environmental engineers. Computer Programmers became nerds. Christians became fanatics – to some of us. The terms evolve – Negroes became ‘niggers,’ then ‘colored,’ then ‘Black,’ now ‘African-American’ all in the interest of social justice and clarity. A ninety-five year-old Negro might be very happy to be called ‘colored’ – he might see that as an improvement. A sixty-year-old Negro is perfectly happy with ‘Black,’ they would likely be offended by ‘colored.’ The term of endearment of Negro youth today might be ‘nigga,’ used affectionately as a term of inclusion. What is that old saying – ‘…in the eyes of the beholder…’?

One question is: How do we lump people into a category without offending them? Another question is: Should we lump people into categories? Another question: How do we not lump people into categories?



There Are 3 Responses So Far. »

  1. One question is: How do we lump people into a category without offending them?

    Perhaps it is the act of “lumping people into a category” that offends them, in the first place.
    “I’m not just some housewife. don’t call me that”
    “That name is a slur about our race. Don’t call me that”

    So, it seems we should NOT lump people into categories. But we do it. How do we avoid doing it? Focus on the facts, the particulars. generalities are less specific, and therefore less likely to be true, and so more likely to be offensive when applied in any specific context, such as in the word used to describe the individual.

    Describe, or address, the individual, and avoid the problem.

  2. nicely put, dk.

  3. Thank you for your response – I am preparing a post on the difference between generalizing, stereotyping, and prejudice.

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