Being Rude is Your Right; Sarowski wants to use it

Another of Nancy Sarowski's straw dogs

Another of Nancy Sarowski’s straw dogs

When you read Nancy Sarowski’s weekly columns in the Petoskey News-Review, you can’t help but wonder in which circles she travels.  Each week she presents something that is not true or doesn’t exist and then proceeds to criticize it.  At the end you’re left wondering why she wasted so much time objecting to something that exists only in her own mind.  No one else sees what she sees and no one else suffers in the way she suffers.

This week she takes on a popular whipping boy: political correctness.  You always know a weak argument is coming when the author quotes the dictionary for the meaning of a word.  The assumption is that despite the richness of our language and the nuance of various contexts in which a word or phrase can be spoken, that we are all somehow bound by a one-sentence definition in a book of language shortcuts.   As with many of Ms. Sarowski’s arguments, it’s just too simple.

When you read her column, you should first be struck by the notion that absolutely no one seriously attacks the use of words like “penmanship”, “man-in-the-street”, “manpower”, etc.  These sound like punch lines from some comic’s routine who is exploring the extreme end of our attempt to be less sexist in our constantly evolving language.   Likewise, “black” hole, “Black Friday”, and “blackmark” are not and have never been anathema to African Americans.  We say and use these words all the time and no one objects.  No one.  Sarowski’s being silly, but she intends to be serious.

The gist of her column apparently is that taking into account how our language might affect other people is somehow a violation of her First Amendment rights.  She goes so far as to blurt out this hyperbole: “Our American way of life is coming to an end because the truth cannot or is not being spoken any more.”   Really?   Our American way of life is coming to an end because I chose to say “Congressperson” instead of “Congressman?”  When a columnist comes to such extreme and unsupported conclusions, it is probably ok to dismiss everything she has to say.

Yet ignoring Sarowski is hard.  She is given prominent editorial space each week in our weekly newspaper.  People just might believe her.  So I will continue to debunk her silliness on this blog.  When it comes my turn to write on Wednesdays I will try to stick to real issues with arguments I can support rather that creating mysterious evils that are ruining America and then attacking those made up problems.

So let’s take a look at the rest of the whoppers in her piece this week:

1)      “You can’t say ‘Islamic terrorist’ because the Islamic terrorist sees himself as a saint doing God’s work.”  Well, Nancy, you’re quite free to call an Islamic terrorist an Islamic terrorist.   People don’t object to that.  What we object to is when people of your ilk link all of Islam to terrorism.  That’s objectionable and patently false.  It’s not politically correct to avoid linking all of Islam to terrorism, it’s common sense and respectful to the people of that faith.

2)      “You can’t say he’s a communist…You also can’t say he’s a socialist…”  Well, Nancy, actually you can.  When someone espouses communism and socialism than they are respectively a Communist and a Socialist.  What you can’t do is use these terms to describe someone with whom you disagree (oh, let’s randomly pick someone…How about President Obama?) and call him things he is not just because labeling this person as a Communist or Socialist scares people into accepting your narrow-minded point of view.

3)      “You can’t say ‘that’s a lie’…’it drives me crazy’… or you’re overweight, ‘the suspect is black’, ‘You’ve had too much to drink.’ etc.  Well, Nancy, yes you can.  And people do every single day.  And I’ve never heard anyone at anytime being chastised for doing so.  Not once.  Ever.  What you seem to have a problem with is being considerate.  It seems that you’re arguing for your right to be rude.  Well, you already have it and feel free to use it.  We’re not judging the liars, mentally ill, the fat, the blacks, or the drunks when you’re rude.  We’re judging you.

The simple fact is this.  None of the things Sarowski says she is being prevented from doing are beyond her ability to say.  The Constitution already protects her right to be racist, insensitive, sexist, etc.  She seems to have a huge problem with treating people with dignity.  Is this a sign of her self-anointed superiority to people she doesn’t see as her equal?  Maybe.

Here’s a legitimate question for Sarowski.  Exactly who is restricting your right to free speech? Just who are these “purveyors of political correctness” Carson refers to in your piece?  Exactly how is your freedom being fundamentally diminished if people chastise you for being rude?

Our American way of life is not coming to an end.  And if it is, it will not be related to people treating their fellow citizens with some dignity.   Nancy Sarowski is crazy for saying it is.  And mentally ill people everywhere are nodding in agreement.

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