Living a western democracy, we can count ourselves lucky to enjoy the luxury of Free Speech, unlike many harsher regimes where speaking out or criticising the authorities can result in imprisonment or even death.
Even here, however, this freedom is limited by law or good taste, so that slander, racism, blasphemy or obscenity are “no go” areas. We frequently self-regulate our language by resorting to euphemisms, which entails using a mild word in place of one that is harsh or unpleasant, and this is generally accepted as a good means of smoothing the tenor of every-day conversation. Some common examples are ……….
Dying – pass away
Cripple – disabled or handicapped
Backward pupil – special needs
Juvenile delinquent – child at risk
Blind – visually impaired
Toilet – spend a penny
We are all going to experience occasions of being offended; with no God-given or inalienable right not to be, but during recent decades a habit has arisen that appears to want to protect us from it – “Political Correctness” (P C).
It appears to have been used at first in the early days of Stalin’s Communist regime, when all public information was moulded to fit the Party Line.
Today’s practitioners, probably with their own hidden agenda, actively seek out instances of perceived offence by replacing them with milder words, often ridiculous :-
Liar economic with the truth
Fraud creative accounting
Civilian war casualties collateral damage
Attack by own forces friendly fire
Outsourcing cheap foreign labour
AD and BC Common Era/Before Common Era
Happy Christmas Happy non-religion-specific celebration of the winter solstice holiday
Harmless as this may seem, it is only a short step from encouraging physical action against things they don’t like, such as attacks on ladies wearing fur coats, riders at fox hunts or women wearing hijabs.
Another recent trend is emerging with people wanting to pull down statues of historic figures of whom they disapprove, in effect trying to re-write history, e.g. Statues of Cecil Rhodes at Oxford, Captain Cook in Sydney, Christopher Columbus in New York, Confederate General Robert E Lee in Virginia and Buddhas in Afghanistan.
The Scriptures give some guidance on how we should be careful in our choice of words…….
“Let your conversation be always full of grace.” Colossians 4 : 6
“Woe to those who call evil good, put darkness for light.” Isaiah 5 :20
“Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy. envy and slander of every kind.” 1 Peter 2 : 1
Perhaps it is time to disown this barrage of twisted words and language and remind ourselves that this precious gift of Free Speech also includes within it the freedom to offend. Let us continue “calling a spade a spade” and “telling it how it is.”