Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I like words...Part Deux

I saw this sign up in Vail last month and I'm still a bit flabbergasted about how DANGEROUS dog waste can be! Who knew? I can't figure out how I survived my childhood. Or how all the small towns in France are NOT TOTALLY DEGRADED and disease-ridden.

Perhaps the words here are a bit poorly-chosen.

In case you can't tell, I’m still thinking of my post of yesterday. (You should probably read it first if you haven't already, because the whole middle-school dance metaphor is going to be verrry confusing to you otherwise!)

So yes, I LIKE WORDS and this whole matchmaking process between words and ideas. But I like some words and phrases better than others. Just like I like some ideas better than others.

I am sure there are a lot of bleeding hearts out there who are going to take issue with this next statement, but here goes.

Some ideas SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN BORN. At birth, they should have been taken out and thrown into the ocean or left on a mountainside for wolves to eat. Or they should have been aborted before they ever came out into the world because they are not ideas that help survival in any sense of the word.

(And, just to reiterate, I am talking about IDEAS here, not about actual PEOPLE. I want to make it clear that the whole PEOPLE thing IS A METAPHOR. In case you are either EXTREMELY LITERAL or you are some sort of political “pundit” whose job is to systematically misinterpret or lie about things that people say and spin it in the best possible light to build your constituency, whatever that is.

I’ll be addressing YOU pundits/spin doctors briefly but directly in this post later.)

Here's an example of an idea that REALLY should have been aborted:

"Hey, why don't we go out and systematically KILL everybody who doesn't look or act or think like us? Like Jews or Armenians or Hutus...etc. etc. etc. ad infinitum"

So, while I wish that particular idea was banned from my little gymnasium dance class, the reality is that it ISN'T. There it is, braless and squeezed into a Laura Ashley dress that is two sizes too small, chain-smoking and probably selling heroin and blow jobs in the bathroom. That is an idea that exists. I’m stuck with it.

So what I CAN do, as the sadistic but highly ETHICAL French dance instructor, is to ASSIGN that idea its appropriate partner. And make it dance in a way that everyone can see its true ugly nature.

Here’s where my preference for words and phrases come in. Say you have two candidates for matching up with this idea. The first is about 7 feet tall and looks like a real-life version of Snake Jailbird from the Simpsons, except that his teeth have been filed into points, he has tattoos all over his body, including his face, and he is carrying an Uzi and wearing multiple bandoliers. Over a neon-orange Speedo, his sole item of clothing, except for the stiletto heels.

The second candidate is clean-cut, wearing a three-piece suit and tie. His face is smooth, he has a fantastic set of teeth that probably represent thousands of dollars of orthodontic debt, a Rolex, a wide smile, and he’s holding an ORCHID corsage. And his diploma from an Ivy-League University.

So who do you pick, word or phrase-wise?

Genocide, who’s shifting his Uzi from hand to hand and looking like he wishes he has more clothes on now that he’s actually facing that scary idea? I tell you, you sure would not want your OWN daughter going out with him.

Or Ethnic Cleansing, with his soothing and semi-professional demeanor? It’s a hard choice. I can see his appeal. After all, his last name is Cleansing. He comes from a good family—hard to object to, usually associated with soap.

If you had a daughter, well, you might approve of her going out with him. And it would be like sending her out with Ted Bundy, who was also clean-cut and well-groomed, at least BEFORE he murdered all those women.

But in this case, you’re not matching either of these guys up with your DAUGHTER. (THANK GOD.) You’re matching them up with some horrific idea.

So my point is that I appreciate HONEST words. In this case, you have an ugly idea. You need to match it up with the word that reflects it—good old “genocide, bandoliers, Speedo and all. After all, it’s what she deserves.

You can’t use those Ted Bundy words like “ethnic cleansing” or his siblings “collateral damage,” “friendly fire,” and “right-sizing” to hide an ugly misbegotten idea, or make it APPEAR more graceful and acceptable.

Once you do that, people will start to think that it’s NORMAL. That people have been overreacting about the Holocaust all these years and they REALLY WERE just “work camps,” not “death camps” at all. Or that somehow the “Shock and Awe” initiative in Iraq was fundamentally DIFFERENT from an idea called, more plainly, “terrorism.”

Mismatching words and ideas is the job of pundits and political commentators and the other professional liars who spin-doctor things away from the truth.

It is not the job of an ethical dance teacher.

No comments:

Post a Comment