Language can be powerful. That’s why so many people try to manipulate it.
The Berkeley City Council in California is the latest, but certainly not the last, political entity in this country to take up arms against both common sense and the dictionary.
Its recent decision to declare war against “gendered language” amplifies the growing chorus of manifestly political efforts to remake social mores by declaring some words acceptable and other words not.
While dismaying, it’s hardly surprising to see communities like far-out Berkeley join the grievance studies departments at many universities to try to dictate the words people are allowed to speak in decent company. They’ve been in the vanguard in the fight against the oppressive patriarchy lo these many years now.
Nonetheless, ordinary people — the unenlightened rabble — must soldier on, ignoring what they can and resisting what they must.
For instance, a manhole is still a manhole, not a maintenance hole.
And a personal pronoun — like he, she, him and her — is still acceptable in the singular usage while the politically correct “they” is grammatically incorrect.
Those are just a couple of the blows the Berkeley City Council struck for gender-pronoun freedom in its recent rewrite of the city code.
Here are some more.
“Sister” is now out, replaced with “sibling.” “Sportsman” has been revised to “hunter.” An “heir” is now a “beneficiary,” while a bail “bondsman” is a “bonds-person.”
A “journeyman” has been recast as a “journey,” an obvious conflict with that other word “journey” that conveys a trip or voyage. “Maiden name” has been revised to “family name,” although the relationship between the two words is hardly clear.
“Manpower” is now to be characterized as “human effort” and/or “workforce.”
The obvious target of this Orwellian effort is to eliminate the word “man” from acceptable discourse.
Anyone wonder what the average manicurist would think about that? What about the residents of Manhattan?
Frankly, this whole campaign to change the gender face of society comes across as unmanageable.
But that doesn’t matter because it’s the thought — or lack of it — behind the campaign that matters.
For example, students at Colorado State University are being encouraged to abandon the phrase “long time, no see” from their choice of greetings after a long separation.
Also discouraged is calling a group of guys and gals “you guys.”
The phrases are not considered to be “inclusive.”
One thing, however, is clear. Those who engage in this kind of stilted, rhetorical virtue-signaling are members of a very exclusive group.
They manufacture new language out of whole cloth. They try to mandate its use. They constantly maneuver behind the scenes to advance their cause and would happily manhandle anyone who dares to dissent.
No matter how tiresome their mantras become, they stick to their manuscript regardless of the fact that it’s so much rhetorical manure.