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Of connotations and correctness

By By Craig Ziemba / guest columnist
May 25, 2003
Just about anything you say or do offends someone. Your color, your accent, your religion and your flag anger somebody, somewhere. Unfortunately, the defining characteristics of 21st century man have become thin skin and an inability to cope with anything he doesn't like.
Homo sapiens have evolved into homo hyper-sensitivitus.
Here's how it usually works: Someone sees something that rubs him the wrong way. Perhaps it's a child praying in a public school, a word whose connotation he dislikes, or an adult smoking in public. Homo sapien would have shaken his head, smiled, and said, "It's a free country." But homo hyper-sensitivitus gets a lawyer, organizes a protest, and demands that all mankind conforms to his ideal of secular, multicultural sensitivity.
Across America, armies of political correctness are banning prayer at graduations, revising our language (fireperson versus fireman, Happy Holidays versus Merry Christmas, etc.), and censoring free speech in a ridiculous attempt to avoid the possibility of offending anyone.
Symbols
Symbols, traditions, and terms which fall into disfavor with the hypersensitive become so controversial that most organizations prefer to give in to the demands of the unreasonable rather than face the abuse or expense of standing their ground.
The Scripture teaches, "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." We should never intentionally provoke others to anger, but what happens when you come face to face with people who are going to hate you for who you are and what you stand for?
Paul, who wrote that passage in Romans 12, caused huge riots and offended the entire Roman Empire with what he believed.
There's a point at which we must not allow the forces of political correctness to revise our culture and our language to suit them. We cannot surrender everything we hold dear to avoid hurting the feelings of those who are obsessed with their own fragility.
Quite often, extremists hijack names or causes and create scandals that give ammunition to the forces of political correctness. I'm proud to say that I am a member of the Magnolia Militia and a Tailhooker as well.
Yes, I know there are survivalist soldier-wannabees that call themselves militiamen. There were also some Tailhookers who tarnished the reputations of Naval aviators a dozen years ago. But I refuse to allow a few nutcases to sabotage the concept of the citizen soldier that goes all the way back to the Revolution or to ruin the fraternity of Naval aviation made up of all who have flown from the pitching decks of aircraft carriers.
Standing up
If we don't begin standing up for what we believe, where will it end? How far will we go and what are we willing to give up to avoid offense? Quite frankly, the flag of the United States of America angers many in Europe and the Islamic world. It's also true that prior to Emancipation, slavery existed under the Stars and Stripes.
To avoid offense, then, should our troops wear a baby blue U.N. flag on their uniforms? Should we remove Old Glory from the graves at Arlington and replace it with something less offensive?
Would a solid white flag would be more appropriate?
Live peaceably when you can. When you can't, stand your ground.
Craig Ziemba is a pilot who lives in Meridian. He can be heard this Monday on WMOX-AM 1010 from, 7:15 a.m.-9 a.m.

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