Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I try to choose my words carefully.  That's what writing is all about. Word juggling, phrase painting, mental imaging, writing is intellectual concept construction.   Unlike conversation, when you write a word you can take it back, think about it, rewrite it or delete it.  Not so in conversation; perhaps one day the digital age will catch up to actual conversation. It would be nice to have a 10 second delay. You could hear what you just said and change the potentially offensive phrase. You would have a chance to take it back, think about, say it again or delete it.
This is not to say that written words always come out right.  Trying to write funny is even more difficult because proper timing and delivery is impossible to control.  I get it when I write something out of line, even if I thought it was funny. The evil twin of funny is offending someone. It is a razors edge you walk when you try to be funny and not offend someone, sometime, somewhere. If you slip you lick your wounds and keep trying.   When I am wrong I will admit it.
With the idea of retractions and do overs, Here are some thoughts:
An anonymous commenter thought I stooped to name calling yesterday.  I'm not sure I understand and there was no way to get a clarification from anonymous.  I guess it was when I called Rick Santorum
"Recationary Rick".  I did not think that was name calling but rather political identification.  I could have written Republican Rick or Candidate Rick but I searched for a word that more accurately describes his political leanings.  Reactionary was the word I carefully chose. From the dictionary it means:
adj. Characterized by reaction, especially opposition to progress or liberalism; extremely conservative.
  1. n. An opponent of progress or liberalism; an extreme conservative.
It makes no difference if I used the word as an adjective or a noun. Even Mr. Santorum  describes his position as "extremely conservative" and  "an opponent of liberalism''.  He is by definition a political Reactionary. So, I do not consider writing "Reactionary Rick" to be stooping " to petty name-calling like any elementary school student would do.".. anonymous.
My name is Jay Johnson and I approved this message. 
As you were, 


P. Grecian said...

I think name-calling is probably just fine when discussing public figures who name-call. This particular candidate has been called worse. I always try not to name-call when talking TO a person, of course. Besides, you make your living with humor. This blog features humor. "Reactionary Rick" is alliterative and humorous.

Don't worry about it (though I know you of the things we admire about you).

Bob Conrad said...

My name is Bob Conrad and I approve of your message as well.

dennis said...

Hi, Jay - Sorry I posted as "anonymous" yesterday, it was just from laziness being on the iphone (didn't have to sign in).

I'm also sorry I wasn't more clear - I had no problem with "Reactionary Rick", I think that's fair and expressive. I was referring to the use of "Scrotorum". But now that I look at yesterday's blog, it looks like that's been changed.

I hope I can properly express that I'm not *offended* by such words (I'm of the George Carlin school). More accurately, I get *disheartened*. Because if we can't do better than playground wordplay that my 11-year-old would think was hysterical, then I have little faith that we can really address such opposition in an intelligent way; a sense of smug superiority isn't going to get us anywhere. I get the same sense when I hear commentators (not you) use the term "tea-baggers" - yes, we can all snicker over the term (hopefully my 11-year-old doesn't get it...) but if we can't find a more intellectual response, then maybe we're no better.

I find it ironic when we criticize the Rick Santorum/religious right as being misguided for using belief rather than intellect, and yet we throw away our intellect in opposing them. Bill Maher's the best example there - a very smart guy who is clearly capable of winning a debate on issues, but he resorts to dirty-comic wordplay. Yes, he's preaching to his choir, but is that really the choir that's going to get things done correctly?

Santorum's diatribes, whether about how promoting college degrees is "too elitist", or JFK's attempts to distance himself from Catholicism "make him sick", deserve to be excoriated for being hypocritical and false, and we need thoughtful people like you to bring that to light to those who haven't thought as much about it.

Best wishes -