On a somewhat completely unrelated note, I was reading up on what sort of... a-hem reproductive options are available for pets. I want to take the cats and Zhaan to be fixed in the not too distant future (have been putting this off way way too long). I ran across something that cracked me up....
Did you know that (apparently) the politically correct term for fixing a critter is "altering"? Does this mean that when I take Pixel to the vet, she's going in for alterations? Like a suit... a cat-suit. Ok, I'll stop.
It got me thinking. Do you think that perhaps all the problems we have with violence and people being cold and callous to suffering result from not being able to call things what they are? George Carlin ranted about this once. We've gone from shell-shock, to battle fatigue, to past traumatic stress syndrome. The problem isn't any less painful or hard to deal with. We just feel better talking about it.
To a point, I can appreciate using euphemisms to discuss really difficult topics. It's human nature, but when we can't even own up to castrating our pets (for their own good even), I think we've got problems. Is "fixing" such a horrible phrase? That sums up the situation. We fix pets because we want to get a handle on the problem of unwanted litters of critters. That's good. We are recognizing that we have damaged the status quo and since there are relatively few predators for cats and dogs in our cities, we need to control those populations. Either we fix them now, or their off-spring get to starve. It's not pretty but it's honest. We consider that situation a problem and once the pet has been "altered" the problem has been fixed. Fixed makes a lot more sense. It gets at the actual situation. An alteration is an option, fixing is needed because something is wrong.
It reminds me of what a friend of mine pulled recently. She was confused about a tricky relationship situation. She had "made out" with a boy a few times and that had resulted in all sorts of emotions and weirdness etc... and the net result is that they weren't friends anymore. That sucks. I was a bit curious though, how did so much baggage come from making out? Easy, by her definition, making out involved anything/everything except intercourse. Maybe I'm a prude, but I think that she left making out a few stops back. Fooling around, dry humping, giving head, whatever, it wasn't making out. Suddenly things made a lot more sense (although I did have a "too much information" moment when she defined "tumbling"... no not dryers, not gymnastics.... we're talking actions suitable for a softcore movie).
I'm not going to lie. I love a good double entedre, and it amuses me to come up with euphemisms. Heck, I use them a good bit, and I don't like being outright blunt about some things (last post not-withstanding). However, I know that bottom line, it's a goof. Some people seem to think that we must strike down insensitivity and directness in favor of the most benign and boring language possible. Someone gets arrested in a bank with a gun during a hold-up and they are an "armed robbery suspect." I don't think so. That person is a crook. I think we need to find a spot somewhere between phrases that are actively mean or judgemental (e.g. gimp, crip, etc...) and those that have no power behind them (e.g. differently abled). Look at it this way, what sounds more powerful, "The American's with Disabilities Act" or "The Differently Abled Person's Act"? At some point we need to suck it up and deal. Yeah, this world sucks and bad things go one here, we need to make things better, we don't need to spend time coming up with new acronyms and euphemisms for nasty shit. We do that and then wonder if our kids are messed up because of violent games?
Um. No. In a violent video game if you do something wrong you get hurt and you die, game over. There are ways to cheat and whatnot, but there are definite consequences to actions and there is usually good and evil. It's not that complicated. Of course if that's the only thing that a kid ever sees of violence and pain and suffering then they're going to be warped. Not because the games are bad, but because they have no real world points of reference. You die and you hit reset and it's ok or you get sent back to your last save point. We hear news about a war and yet we see no bodies or blood. This is the sanitized Nintendo war (remember the big hoopla over Mortal Kombat blood/no-blood about 10 years ago?). We see coverage of USO events with pretty people singing and dancing and happy soldiers enjoying it. We don't see any more of the hospital shots with maimed people trying to survive. They were hurt by the bad guys, we killed the bad guys so everything is ok. We went in kicked ass, and the world is a better place for it... now. It's done, the world is better, we can go on to our next heroic battle.
It's possible to go to far in any direction. You can be completely insensitive and mean with the words you use, but you can also be too neutral and ignorable. That's the problem. It's not apathy or being desensitized, it's not being jarred anymore. Someone is horribly murdered, we see long shots of the crime scene with offical vehicles and random people walking around looking serious. 09/11 was the first time in a long time that we had really seen anything approaching real in forever. The plane crash and the Pentagon fires didn't get covered right. They happened, we got the long shots of emergency vehicles and reporters speaking in hushed tones. The planes crashed into the towers and we saw them crumble and die like avatars for all the people trapped inside. The towers were just concrete and steel, but watching them disintegrate into a cloud of smoke was like watching someone die. It was in fact watching many thousands die. I think we need to let ourselves see those things more often. The only way you can appreciate just how atrocious something is, is by seeing the tears and the pain. Bad shit happens everyday, but we've reached a tacit agreement that we aren't going to be morbid and watch too closely but we will watch it over and over. Oh, and we'd appreciate it if we could avoid dealing with the aftermath, thanks. That's wrong. You don't sensationalize things, you humanize them. You see how horrible something is and you remember it and you move on and try to do something positive or you keep doing the good things you already do (you don't put it on repeat for a few weeks until it doesn't mean anything anymore and then forget about it).
Damn. This post ended up much heavier than expected. Sorry about that.