Enjoy the little things, for one day you may
look back and realize they were the big things.

Robert Brault

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Confessions of a Logical Mind

My name is Randi, and I am an obsessive compulsive.

One of my worst fears is to be caught committing a spelling or grammatical error. I generally edit my blog posts three or four times after I have posted them, because something either isn’t right or doesn’t seem right.

I make lists--lists of songs I want to download, lists of movies I want to see, lists of craft projects I want to try, and lists of things I am going to purchase when I get enough money. I even make a list of things “to do” every day, sometimes adding something to the list after I have done it, so I have a record that it was done.

I enjoy organizing. Making labels for folders, boxes, and three ring binders gives me joy. Bosses love me because they can walk into the office and say, “Remember back in 2003 when that crazy customer wanted to sue us because her call dropped in the middle of a call to her husband and it was their anniversary? Do we still have that letter?” and I will say, “Oh, yes sir, it’s filed under ‘L’ for ‘Lawsuit Threats.’ Here you go.” 

My worst compulsion by far though, is my demand for things to make sense. I come unglued if something isn’t as logical as I need it to be.  You see me peeling apart at the seams most often when I am required to be “politically correct.”

The very phrase itself reeks. When I think of being “politically correct” I think of a politician shaking my hand and telling me exactly what I want to hear, or what he thinks I want to hear, whether or not it has any basis in truth.  It connotes being false, just to appease someone.  It tells me that someone is playing a game. My sense of logic repels that game.

I have three areas in my life where I have been upset recently by the sham of political correctness—or the denial of truth for the sake of appeasement. The first is my toilet, the second is my ninth grade literature text book, and the third is an email newsletter that I get daily.

Let’s get the toilet out of the way first. It’s a functional toilet and serves its purpose very well. Yet my sense of logic gets thrown out of whack every time I must use said contraption. Why? Because in the 1990’s someone, someone very illogical I might add, decided that in order to be “energy efficient,” my toilet could  use only 1.6 gallons of water per flush. Yay for that person!  They probably got a prize for conserving millions of gallons of water yearly.  Yippee! We’re politically correct! We’re green! We’re saving the planet! 

Well, that’s what Mr. Slimy Politician wants you to think as he’s shaking your hand.  The reality is that it takes four to five flushes for my toilet to do its job properly.  So how am I green? How am I conserving water?  I’m not. I’m using as much water as before the silly regulation went into effect, but now I falsely get credit, as does the manufacturer, for being efficient.  Let’s all ignore the truth and keep on shamefacedly saying, “Oops, sorry, I flushed only once,” when someone has to use the bathroom after we do.
On to the literature text book.

My students are smart kids. They know that the word “love” can mean an emotion in one context, but can mean a tennis score in another. They understand that the word “paper” can be a noun when describing the college-ruled document they are writing, but it can be a verb if you are plastering fliers all over a grocery store wall.  They know that a jack can be a playing card or a tool used in changing tires.

So why do textbook publishers think that my students can’t tell the difference between “gay” and “gay?”   

I teach classical literature to seventh through tenth graders. When I teach a new class and we come upon the word “gay,” I explain that in the author’s time, gay meant happy and carefree. I tell them that for the purpose of classical literature we will use that definition. No problem. When we come upon the word “gay” life goes on. No one snickers or makes rude comments. We sense the mood of happiness that the author is trying to portray.

Last year, my ninth graders read the short story, “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant.
We encountered this sentence without a hitch:

“But sometimes, when her husband was at the office, she sat down near the window, and she thought of that gay evening of long ago, of that ball where she had been so beautiful and so feted.”

This year something new happened. My students said, “Um, our book says ‘happy.’”

What? They censored Guy de Maupassant?  Who are they trying to protect?  My students? They are smart enough to not be offended by the word “gay.”  Are they protecting gay people?  Like most people, I have gay [happy and not] acquaintances who wouldn’t dream of being offended because “gay” has more than one meaning. They would be equally as annoyed as I am about the word being removed from classic literature. So what was the point? Oh yes, political correctness.  The publishers feigned sensitivity, not on behalf of students who get it, not on behalf of gay people who also get it, but on behalf of their pocketbooks.

My logic meter just went “boing.”

Enter the newsletter.

I love our planet. It’s gorgeous. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t marvel at its wonders.
I also care about animals and am converting to a vegetarian diet.

By chance I happened upon a newsletter that purported to care about the same things, so I subscribed to their daily newsletter. Yet the discrepancies and hypocrisy I witness almost daily, cause my head to explode.  Here are a few of the contradicting viewpoints they have expressed:

*They promote abolishing creationism in the classroom and promote evolution or Darwinism instead. Survival of the fittest, right?  Yet, if an animal is becoming extinct or is threatened by “global warming” we must sacrifice our very lives to protect it from extinction. It’s a worthy concern, yes, but are you now telling me you are reversing your position on survival of the fittest?  Logic…hmmm…

*They tell me that abortion is a woman’s option and that politicians have no right to interfere with a woman’s reproductive rights, yet almost in the same breath they tell me that Michelle Duggar and Nadya Suleman (Octomom) need to be forced by the government to stop reproducing or risk destroying the planet. Reproductive rights apparently are  in effect only when you don’t want children. Logic?

*They published an article saying that people who are against abortion are unethical and are using emotion to sway people when they show graphic photographs and therefore they should be stopped. Yet they send me pictures of seals bludgeoned to death saying that they must show these pictures for people to get a clue.  I’m looking for some logic here...hmmm…can’t find it anywhere.

*They routinely resort to name-calling, saying people are racist, sexist, idiots, and corporate greed monsters, yet they ask us, “When will this bullying stop?”   Um, with you?

*In one breath they tell me that I must support illegal aliens by buying produce so that they can have a fair shot at life, and in the next breath they tell me to grow my own garden to help sustain the fragile balance of the earth’s ecosystem.  Which one is more politically correct so I know what to do? Oops, I think I already know the answer. People who grow their own gardens are anti-government Tea Partiers. That was a close one.

*They were upset when a girl said a prayer in school and then asked in regard to a piece on bullying, “Where has the kindness gone?”  But they are  upset  when only certain religions pray because in another article they were in support of schools providing prayer rooms for those students whose religion requires that they pray several times a day.  How is a logical person supposed to keep up?

My husband would say they are  consistent only in their inconsistencies. I guess when you play both sides of the field, you’re bound to win somehow, right?

As you can see, I need my world to have order. But until that day happens, I will refuse to be politically correct because usually it has nothing to do with being correct, or with truth, else why clarify “correct” with the word “politically?” Rather, it has everything to do with image management.














13 comments:

  1. Very thought provoking post. I can't get over they changed the text book...seriously? WHY? so many things are changing in this generation. You must cringe when you come over to my posts. I try to proof read, correct spelling and grammar, however, most of the time, I get sidetracked. At that point, I am like oh well, it is what it is, they will get the gist:)

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  2. Debbie: I couldn't get over the change in the text either. I kept my teacher's edition from the previous year, otherwise I wouldn't have known. And I never cringe when I come to your blog! Quite the opposite. It always feels like I'm walking over to a friend's house.

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  3. Can I just say that omitting the word "gay" from a classic story makes my skin literally crawl? I'm so annoyed with our government. Did you see the recent list of "banned" books? Tears seriously fill my eyes.
    To see a list of banned classics go to:
    http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/frequentlychallenged/challengedclassics/reasonsbanned/index.cfm

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  4. Taleah: No, I haven't seen the list but you can bet I'm headed there right now...

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  5. Randi: Oh, wow. I'm so grateful to the nuns at Heelan High School in Sioux City, Iowa who made sure I had Steinbeck, Hemingway, Sinclair, Dostoevsky, Dickens, Homer and Shakespeare in my head before I graduated.

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  6. Lots of meat in this post. No pun intended. Political correctness is, in fact, censorship of the way we write and speak, which most people scream is against freedom of speech.
    Our plumber advised us long ago to not replace an old toilet with a new one, that the so-called green ones waste water, for the reason you mentioned.
    And I actually saw a post on FB by a woman who said if she had to choose between helping a hurt animal and a hurt human being,she would choose the animal. She might change her mind if that human being happened to be her loved one. Or maybe not.

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  7. Editing a classic???? Now my Irish is up!!! Hmmm, is that okay to say these days?? LOL. Great post Randi. You gave me some good discussion points to share with hubby. You know he'll be "thrilled" that I want to talk :)

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  8. Bev on the censorship mentioned in this post..."AAAGGH, AAAGHH!" (is that spelt right?)

    Is it because I'm English that you make allowances for my grammar and spelling? DON'T respond as I'm already offended:)

    Seems to me that oft times freedom of speech applies only to the minority, obscure, outrageous, quirky and queer...and I don't mean queer!

    Political correctness brings the Irish up in all of us here in the Devine household and we are very grateful to such faceless individuals for providing such great family moments and hilarity in abundance. We'd love them to come to dinner and join in the fun.

    Going to check out the banned books now and also read your last post which didn't show up on my sidebar.

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  9. Auntie M: I love your pun! I agree with political correctness being nothing more than censorship. Kindness in our speech should be common sense and not regulated by those who have ulterior motives.
    I can't imagine saving an animal before a human. What if they had to choose between saving a housefly and saving a dog? Which animal has more perceived value and how do they make that choice? Oops, there I go being all logical again. :)

    Septembermom: My Irish is up too and it usually takes a lot to endanger my Irish! I hope you and septemberdad have a great time chatting. :)

    Ken: That is exactly how I spell "AAAGGH!" Ok, I lie. I spell it differently every time because I really don't know how it's spelled. But the truth is that I hope you make allowances for my grammar because your English came first.

    Political correctness can be a great source of humor in my house too. The absurdity of it all keeps us laughing. It's only every so often that I reach rant mode. I think I received one too many emails from the PC police.

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  10. Didn't we hear over two decades ago that, "A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy," from Ingrid Newkirk, head of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals?

    Yeah, back when PC only meant Personal Computer.

    Of course, the science is settled, no independent thought allowed, just like with global warming...

    http://blog.american.com/?p=10713

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  11. Update: Septemberdad said to me (as I began sharing all of these), "How many more things do you want to talk about?" I think this was after around 2 topics. LOL. I think he just wanted to watch his TV show :)

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  12. Winston: Didn't you hear? It's not called "global warming" any longer. When they found that science did not back them up, they changed the terminology to "climate change" because..well..after all...climate, uh...changes.

    septembermom: Did you feel like Jennifer Grey trying to get Derek's attention during their last performance on DWTS? I am convinced that's why God invented blogs--so when hubby doesn't feel like chatting we women can go to our own blogs, say what we want to a captive audience and then feel complete because our thoughts are "out there." :)

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  13. Political Correctness = guided by emotion, lacking principle. After talking to dad, I think that principle is the only thing that really keeps people consistent, other than that they are just going wherever their crazy emotions take them. It seriously irritates me that they are changing classical literature to dumb us all down. Talk about redefining the vocabulary. GRRRRR

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