MOLA:42’s Guide to Keeping Your Mouth Free of Foot Fungi
All right, I’m lying again. I have no Idea how to keep my foot out of my mouth. I’ve spent so much time in the foot-in-mouth position that I have learned to hop along on one leg.
So… much of the discussion about Redskin football teams and Honest Engine auto repair shops (as published recently in the Lost Coast Outpost) goes right by me.
Let me illustrate the issue with a story:
When I was quite young we would occasionally all pile into the family station wagon and tear off to Grandma’s House in Oakland. My parents would put the family dog between us in the back seat because the dog had absolutely no patience with pre-teen travel shenanigans and we were never sure she wouldn’t rip our lungs out if we went too far.
One of the landmarks along the way was in Southern Mendocino County, Squaw Rock. We had no idea why it was called that, we never bothered to stop to read the Historical Marker. We would speculate about why the landmark was named so and it also meant relative peace in the car (and gave our dog a break).
We never gave a thought about the use of the term “Squaw”; the word was legitimized in our minds by its use in hundreds of Westerns. We didn’t know the word was considered offensive by anyone.
Then one day many years later while traveling by on my own (and without a dog who would possibly rip my lungs out) I noticed the landmark was no longer “Squaw Rock” but “Frog Woman Rock.”
I learned why they changed the name.
Is there a point to my little story?
Yes, for once there is.
Words shape our Universe. We understand who we are and what we are and how we fit in the grand scheme of things through words. Bovine muscle fiber becomes filet mignon. Grass seeds become wheat or corn. The basic urge to procreate becomes seeking Love. Native American women become squaws.
And “Squaw” draws a picture of subservient, dumb, featureless women to be bought for a fur skin or a shiny object.
Yes, it is a big deal what you choose to call a person; or a place or an idea.
It’s no longer proper for actors to wear “Black Face” and play “Step’n Fetchit” roles. Once it was. But then again, it was once also proper to keep slaves and have drinking fountains labeled “Whites Only” and “Colored Only.”
Times change and if we are wise, we change with them.
But it also gets confusing; knowing what is the latest “proper name” can be challenging. Is it wrong to call an “African American” a Negro? In the last census thousands of people preferred the word over any other to describe them.
For that matter is it appropriate to call an “African American” an “African American?”
When did the name “Redskins” become wrong? Was it always wrong to use the name as we do and we are only just now coming to terms with that?
And what of the context?
Don’t we lose something tremendously important when any of us are punished for a prejudice exposed in a private conversation when it becomes public through no fault of the speaker? Should he who misspoke lose his professional basketball team over it?
For me (although I don’t have a professional basketball team to lose) not all of my thoughts are clean and pure. Not all of my notions are “correct.” I imagine that except for a rare few totally perfectly righteous readers, that is true of us all. Do we all deserve public denunciation for our private (and privately held) feelings?
On the other hand, if a person is video recorded with his knowledge, in front of many people, saying that “the Negro” was better off as slaves; did that speaker earn the condemnation he received? Was his lack of formal education a valid excuse?
In a pair of articles in the LoCO, reporter Ryan Burns pointed out if “Redskins” was a pejorative word for Native Americans; then is it proper that a car mechanic calls his business, “Honest Engine”?
Mr. Burns did what all good reporters are taught in Journalism School; make a national or international story more interesting and relevant by creating a “local hook” (also known as “local human interest”).
For instance: If all hell breaks loose in Eastern Gawdawfulstan, create your “hook” by finding somebody in the community who has spent some time in Eastern Gawdawfulstan to talk about the place (even if that person just spent a night in a tourist hotel in Eastern Gawdawfulstan between flight connections).
So, “Honest Engine” won the “local hook” booby prize. Did the car mechanic earn that kind of attention? Were his benign intentions excuse enough? Does he need any excuse?
It might be worthy to note that the business is in the process of changing its name (unlike the Redskins football team). Does that help or hurt?
Let me move toward the close with a quote from one of the commenters in the second story’s thread:
While you’re at it, please do a story examining the appropriateness of naming an anonymous left-leaning mudslinging blog, the “Tuluwat Examiner.” How do members of the Wiyot tribe, and their elected tribal council members, feel about the place-name “Tuluwat” being appropriated for partisan political purposes by an anonymous blogger?
I do NOT speak for the Tuluwat Examiner. (See: About Tab of this blog)
And I do not find any problem with the title of this blog. Not every use of a Native American name or image is demeaning. Sometimes we honor (or at least try to) a people by using their names.
But if the Wiyot tribe was to object to the use of the word “Tuluwat” I imagine the staff of the Tuluwat Examiner would probably change the name.
That’s what anonymous left-leaning mudslinging bloggers do.
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Standard Disclaimer: My opinions are my own and not necessarily those of the Tuluwat Examiner. I am not on the Staff of the Tuluwat Examiner. I don’t even know who these people are. But I have learned the Staff of the Tuluwat Examiner has rented the Eureka Police Department’s Armored MRAP Fighting Vehicle for the summer. They plan on offering “Safe Wildlife Tours of North and Western Eureka;” watching dangerous creatures in their natural habitat from a position of air conditioned safety.
The highlight of the tours will be visits to the Petting Zoo behind the Bayshore Mall.
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