Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Canine Americans?

The following press release from an animal rights group is now actually suggesting the use the of term "Canine Americans" instead of "dogs."

No, this is no joke.

I want to be very clear here, I love animals. Mrs. Hollywood and I refer to our home as the St. Francis Rescue Mission. We have four cats, all rescues - one of which was unwanted as a kitten, and the other three of which just appeared at our place homeless and pathetic. They must have been tipped off that we are suckers.

We have a "no kill" policy in our home. When palmetto bugs (the huge flying cockroaches native to the deep south) find themselves in the house, we let them go outside. They don't hurt anyone, so why kill them? They're God's creatures. Ditto for geckoes that sometimes sneak in through the door. And frankly, killing these animals would create more mess to clean up. Who needs that?

Our pets get the finest diet, and when they need medical attention, we make sure they get prompt and humane treatment. Our cats sleep with us, and have full run of the house. We consider pets to be family members, and once the commitment is made to own one, it is not an option to simply get rid of it like a used Kleenex or an old cell phone.

Mrs. Hollywood even made the leap to become a vegetarian - because the vast majority of animals raised for meat are mistreated and made to suffer. I agree with her and would like to see more humane treatment of livestock, but I continue to eat meat - though admittedly less these days in deference to her dietary situation.

So, I have a lot of sympathy with "animal rights" folks - though I find many of them to be beyond the pale. This is one such example. Notice in the article that this group is happy to see a more professional image of their constituency - polo shirts instead of T-shirts with slogans, educated and well-spoken professionals instead of people who can easily be made a butt of the jokes in the media. Yes, this is a good thing. They do need to clean-up their rather ragged-about-the-edges image.

And then they go and make the assinine suggestion that we call dogs "Canine Americans."

Kyrie eleison!

But in one sense, who can blame them? Our modern-day elites in the language police have been aggressively and consciously trying to manipulate our attitudes through terminology and thoughts since the 1980s. This is the kind of thing George Orwell spoke of in the novel 1984 - and the most controversial words in our language - especially racial identification labels, have been on a steady parade of change since that time (and even before).

I decided long ago not to play their game.

Dr. Walter Williams, the brillaint economist from George Mason university once wrote along these lines when he rejected the title African-American for himself. He said he was weary of changing from negro, to colored, to black, to Afro-American, and then to African-American. He decided just to stop at black.

I never use such manipulative words as African-American, Native-American, Asian-American, etc. I have no problem with black, Indian, and oriental. The old words are more accurate, they are not offensive, and I don't like to have my choice of terminology dictated by some bureaucrat or academician. I don't see why we kowtow to "activists" and thought-police.

I'm always amazed to hear ordinary people say "African-American." I understand when politicians do it (especially when they are in full-pander mode and go so far as to use the incongruous expression: "African-Americans and whites"), I understand when journalists and newscasters do it. I understand when managers and corporate drones do it. They have to. It's a matter of job survival. But real people just don't talk that way - it's completely unnatural. It just never rolls off the tongue, but always sounds strained and as ideologically silly as calling everybody "Comrade." However, I have noticed younger people (under 30) who will use this ridiculous made up political propangandistic word as though it were natural and normal. It always blows my mind. Have any of them read George Orwell? Do they know they are being politically manipulated?

Such words are innacurate. When a newscaster describes an unknown person in the news as a "African-American male" of such and such an age, I want to ask: "How do you know the man is American?" He could be Canadian. Heck, he could be African (imagine that!). It was like Al Gore's gaffe when he spoke of certain African nations as "African-American countries." Or when bones are unearthed accidentally from a cemetary - again, you can tell a person's race from his skeleton, but his national origin or citizenship? My friend and colleague Rev. Lima Nare is black, but is not American. The term would fit me as well as it would him (He is African, and I am American - so the word would be half-wrong when applied to eaither of us).

But P.C. isn't about accuracy, but rather about power. Our oh-so-sensitive elites want to make us use words they like, accurate or not, because they want the power to bully us into "good, right thoughts." Well, my thoughts are my own. My words are my own. I may have to "play the game" sometimes, but deep down inside I know it's a crock. I know what's behind it.

I even recall a few years back how "Neanderthals" suddenly became "Neandertals." Why they didn't become "Neandertal-Americans" is beyind me. I had a professor who didn't speak of Barbarians, but rather "Germanic people groups" (which calls to mind the Capital One commercials of Viking hordes selling cotton candy). Maybe the Goths and Vandals need new cuddly names.

Journalists no longer speak of "fishermen," but "fishers." Yes, indeed, the female fishermen might be offended. Maybe journalists spend too much time in front of the computer. But I suppose it's a better euphemism and circumlocution than "fisherpersons."

This leads to the whole move to gender-neutralize our language (as a way to get us to gender-neutralize our thoughts). "Chairman" has become the silly "chairperson." "Workmen" are now "workers." Female congressmen are routinely called "Congresswoman" or "Congressperson" - though the constitution knows no such term. I recall a former woman congressman named Helen Chenowith who was offended if anyone called her any of these ridiculous PC titles. She wanted to be called "Congressman Chenowith." Good for her! She understands that the word (and suffix) "man" is already gender-neutral. In the days when we had real education instead of political indoctrination in our schools, everyone understood this. Just as everyone knew the difference between "sex" and "gender." The current move to strike "sex" as a human characteristic and replace it with "gender" is a PC move to promote those whose perceived gender (which is subjective) conflicts with their sex (which is objective and physical).

And when did "oriental" become racist? Would someone please give me a timetable? The word simply means "Eastern." We speak of the Middle East all the time. Ditto for the "Nordic" (a word that means "Northern") countries. In the U.S., we talk about the South, the Deep South, the Midwest, the Southwest, the Northeast, and the Northwest, and with the possible exception of "The South" (which might be a "wrong-bad" word to some anti-Southern bigots), these labels of geography are not racist. Australians and New Zealanders come from "down under." Japan is in the Far East.

So why is the McDonald's Oriental Salad now called "Asian Salad"? And will the Oriental Rug soon become Asian Floor Coverings?

I like the explanation of one oriental comedian: "Oriental is politically incorrect because orientals can't say oriental."

And what's up with "Native American"? I'm a Native American; I was born in Akron (and yes, we do have a stadium called the Rubber Bowl, and yes, we do have an old blimp hangar so large that it used to form rainclouds inside!). I've a native of this country. There is nothing wrong with the word "Indian." Obviously, the word's origins lie in a mistaken geography, but the entire world knows that Cherokees don't come from New Delhi. We have the Cleveland Indians, Indian motorcycles, and the State of Indiana. There is nothing wrong with the Washington Redskins and the Atlanta Braves (and as a native American who is also part Indian, I think I'm permitted to have an opinion on that).

I have no problem just being "white." I'm not a Caucasian - none of my ancestors to my knowledge come from this mountainous region of Russia. Nor am I a Euro (that's currency), nor am I a European-American (never been there) - although it's likely that most of my ancestors came from Europe. But that's separate from race, isn't it? What do we do with all the blacks of African descent who are French? If they move to the states, are they African-Americans, or European-Americans? What about white people whose ancestors have been in Africa for centuries. If they come to the States, are they African-Americans? One white applicant to an Ivy League school was nearly prosecuted for checking the African-American box. Of course, I don't see the harm, given that nobody is given special treatment on account of race anyway, right? I mean, that's what the academy keeps assuring us.

Nationality and continent of origin are simply different matters than race. Race is admittedly somewhat subjective, but for the most part, you can tell which one of the Big Three most people belong to. Of course, there are more and more mixed-race people who defy categorization, but that's the case whether we call them white or black, or Caucasian or African-American. I mean, what label do we give Tiger Woods? How about "Golfer-American" (I had better get copyright protection on that one...).

Some may argue that the terms "white" and "black" aren't accurate. And technically, this is true. But the terms themselves are a kind of symbolic shorthand (which all of language is, if you think about it) for two of the three categorical races of man. Nobody really interprets "black" and "white" as adjectives to describe a person's race as being literally those colors.

Ironically, it is still PC to identify white people as "white." I guess not enough whites have demanded a neologism to describe their racial heritage. And there was even a movement in the 1960s to make "black" the preferred term for black people. The bottom line is this: these words are just fine. We know what they mean. They are neutral terms that are not judgmental or pejorative.

The PC terms are simply an attempt to impose a certain mindset through the use of certain words. People are bullied into using them, and the logical conclusion to the PC silliness is that dogs may no longer be called "dogs," but no amount of linguistic prestidigitation, psychobabble, and personnel department bullying ("human resources" is too PC for my tastes) will make a dog into a human being. In the final analysis, words don't create reality. Only God's Word can do that.

I think our culture is going to the Canine Americans.


Mike Green said...

To brutally paraphrase George Carlin: "...a He-Man will be an It-Person, a manhole cover will be a personhole cover, and on somebody's birthday, we'll all get together and sing For It's a Jolly Good Person."

Frank said...

Palmetto bugs may have been created by God but in my house I exercise dominion over them and return them to dust whence they came

Father Hollywood said...


Good for you. Enjoy it now, because in the New Creation, you won't get to do it. ;-)

In New Orleans, we just recently had a guy similarly exercising his dominion over kittens and returning them to the dust. For some reason, people are upset. They just need to read their Bibles more and get over it. ;-)

I just never got into that kind of thing. Maybe someone can explain it to me some day. It's a great mystery, right up there with the Incarnation and the Trinity. What is so fun about killing little critters?

It reminds me of returning from our retreat in Southern Illinois, we had a flat and spent the night in a Super 8 in a small Missouri town. We almost didn't get a room, as the place was packed with hunters (the next morning was the first day of dove season).

The funny thing was the place was filled with big, burly macho guys in camoflage - trying to look like soldiers. One guy had a couple of dogs with him. My wife pointed out the silliness of these big, tough guys in cammies, carrying guns, and trying their best to swagger around and talk in the gritty cowboy voice (even though most of them had potbellies from too much beer and sofa parties with Mr. Plasma Screen) - for the purpose of shooting tiny birds.

I mean, their not even hawks or eagles or condors (at least that would be more sporting) - they're pigeons, for crying out loud. Man, that's one step away from hunting earthworms!

I never really thought of it, but it was pretty funny. Guys put on military gear and carry on like soldiers in order to kill little birds. I'm sure they're very tasty (after you pick all the ordinance out of them, I suppose).

To each his own, I guess.

Of course, here in Lousiana, there are probably people who have some really good recipes for Palmetto Bug Etouffee. If the crawfish ever run low, we'll know what to replace them with!

Peter said...

I've never been a hunter, but life at the seminary, which is spoiled by the Canada geese, could certainly convert me.

Father Hollywood said...


Actually, I have heard staff members say that the seminary would be a great place to work if it weren't for all the *students.* ;-)

Father Hollywood said...


Only one staff member actually said the seminary would be a great place to work if not for the students, and I'm not sure he's even still there. Other staff members repeated his comment in jest (since it is so out of character of the staff). It became a running inside joke at the seminary.

I was repeating it as a joke.

I want to make sure that no-one gets the idea that the staff and faculty of CTS Fort Wayne actually have attitudes like this.

My experience at the seminary was a real blessing. The staff and faculty are truly dedicated, and they labor under constant financial pressure since the synod's annual contribution of zero dollars and zero cents doesn't go very far.

I'm so biased in favor of the seminary's personnel, I'm even grateful for the Canada geese! ;-)

zorton6 said...

You obviously didn't bother to notice that the Animal Agriculture Alliance is an industry trade group whose business interests are threatened by animal rights groups--they are NOT and animal rights group. The HSUS site offers definitive proof--including a transcript and an audio recording of the speech with the joke in it.

Shouldn't bloggers assume some responsibility to make sure they're not being uses as tools by groups like the Animal Agriculture Alliance before posting propaganda? It took me less than one minute to find the HSUS statement.

Before jerking your knee and going off on a diatribe, take a minute to examine the cause of your reaction. Animal rights groups deserve a lot fo the ridicule they receive, but in this case they don't. You got duped. Own up to it.