First, check out our PODCAST #45 with return guest Dr. Ray DePaulo.
Then, let me tell you about my weekend.
I went away with my husband on a quick trip to my aunt's 90th birthday party. She looks fantastic, her sister was there, her brother-in-law hasn't slowed down any and he had a few too many and was out on the dance floor with his grandchildren. It was a nice time and there were maybe 50 of us there for a nice celebration in a hotel banquet room. Across the hall, there was a wedding. In the adjacent exhibit hall there were....oh, 1600 "guests" there for Extreme Cage Fighting. I've never quite seen anything like this. I'm not sure how to begin to describe it.
Okay, so I tried to go in to check it out. I've never heard of "cage fighting" but apparently it's the ultimate in brutality...two men in a cage trying to beat each other to a pulp. What fun. I was dressed like I was going to my aunt's 90th birthday party. Security stopped me. "May I help you?" I didn't know what to say. "I guess I'm at the wrong event." He looked me over and said, "You're at the wrong event." Everyone else was in wife-beater shirts. My tattoos....well, let's not go there. He let me stand there for a few, I watched as the police dragged out a few people, it was quite the scene.
So the hotel had lost my reservation and we ended up sleeping at another hotel 10 minutes away. I heard from my cousins that this was not a bad thing--- the 1600 Extreme Cage Fighting observers were drunk, rowdy, and raucous through a good part of the night. Someone erroneously reported a fight in my cousin's room and the police came pounding on her door at 4:30 AM, she sent them away saying that she and her 86 year-old mother were not fighting.
Down the road, my husband and I spent a quieter night, away from our teenagers. We chatted, I told him about Fat Doctor's trouble with her difficult Day-Care provider and how she wants to adopt another child. This is what my life has come to.
So everyone I tell about the Extreme Cage Fighters says to me , "You're the psychiatrist, why do people like this?" I guess I could ramble about the baser of human instincts, a pull towards competition and violence. Something Freudian. Honestly, though, I don't get it. I won't be jumping in any cages any time soon. And Roy, count me out for the mud wrestling.
Note to the commenter who objected to the reference to the Russian Nazi day care provider (you posted on the Podcast post)-- You know, it didn't sit right with me either, but it was a direct quote from Fat Doctor so I went with it. Since you validated my vague discomfort, I changed it and will leave Fat Doctor to her own descriptors.
I think it is generally wise to go with your gut.I would like to thank you. It has less to do with beign P.C. than with not allowing words to become so watered down that they mean nothing and the experiences they represent begin to mean nothing.
I know it was not your post, but when you referenced it and kept the wording intact it was disconcerting coming from this blog (for a few reasons). Part of it is the snowball effect, in that you contribute to the legitimacy of it taking place. By using a different word, you can sympathize with your fellow doctor blogger and her problems without agreeing to the wording.
Regarding the Russian Nazi...while I have no proof, she is certainly unable to accept anything other than what she sees as the perfect child. And she is Russian (grew up in Soviet Union). I termed her this at the beginning of our relationship and stuck with it.
Regrding the fight club experience, I almost reproduced it on the fifth floor of my hospital yesteday, dealing with a borderline who took up three hours of my day. Sigh.
Do borderlines get to have dual citizenship? Another word for the pile. Regarding the Russian, had she been Asian or black would it have been okay, do you think, to call her the black or the Korean Nazi? She sounds like a rotten choice of caregiver for your son, that is clear. As hard as it may be to believe, she may be just the ticket for someone who grew up in the former Soviet Union and has similar values and beliefs.On the other hand, she might have a chemical imbalance.
On the other hand, just because someone uses a word that has emotional connotations for some people does not mean they used it without thought or that it was a poor comparison. Perhaps it's insensitive, but giving words too much power isn't a good idea either. I agree with this when it comes to things like the demonstratively euphemized "N word," less so with frivolous comparisons, but I refuse to make certain words sacred or holy. Of course, since you've made it clear you're Jewish, many would insist I should simply defer to your judgement of the situation. (For the record, even though my civilian grandfather was part of the Bataan Death March, was surrounded with brutalities like Japanese soldiers practicing bayoneting with babies in a form to gruesome to elaborate upon, and was one of the few survivors of a Japanese death camp with a higher fatality rate than Auschwitz's, I did not cringe when [Jewish…though I hardly think that should matter] Jon Stewart used Bataan for a frivolous joke Wed or Thurs...heck, I'm just grateful an American was actually taught and remembers what Bataan was...the only Japanese camps my schools ever mentioned were the American internment camps, for which Japanese-Americans rightly received billions of dollars in reparations).
I digress. Valid or not, I'm sure she didn't mean it in a hurtful manner. After all, she didn't imply...or rather, say outright...that someone made "rotten choices" for her child just because her choice of words could have been better (from your perspective). That's a lower blow (from my perspective).
Anyway, to answer your questions, if they were not using black or Korean or Asian pejoratively (I didn't realize being black or Korean or Asian was a bad thing, by the way, and she may as well have said Canadian or Belgian Nazi), then I don't see a difference. Russia's social norms, shockingly, are not a carbon copy of America's, so it's useful shorthand for describing their manner of interaction to people who are familiar with it.
Please forgive my lengthy response, but as I've been trying to point out, using a word shouldn't automatically doom you to being dragged over the coals...certainly reasonable people can disagree over whether "watering down" words is harmful. I guess it's a small matter (well, in my opinion), but I only wish those who imply others are thoughtlessly using a word would first consider if they themselves are having the knee-jerk response.
Longwinded Career Writernonymous, if that gives me more apparent authority concerning words.
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