Monday, May 21, 2012

The Growing Police State- Newspeak Edition

A high school in Mesquite, TX is reissuing corrected yearbooks after a horribly offensive phrase was published in the original edition.  Such a horrific phrase should not have even entered the students' lexicon, let alone made it past the editors.  "The use of the something we would never condone," said Laura Jobe, the Districts communications director.

And what was this horrible phrase?  To what poor, unsuspecting group was this horrible appellation given?  The yearbook identified a picture of Special Education students and contained the phrase, "Mentally Retarded."  Yes, that's right, using an actual educational/medical diagnosis in a yearbook is now forbidden.  Note, from the linked article, that the problem is not that the children were misidentified.  No one ever claims that at least some of the children are not "Mentally Retarded," or, as those in Special Ed. call them (full disclosure: my mother was a Special Education teacher here in Texas) "m.r."

You see, "Mentally Retarded" is a real diagnosis.  I can't give you the specifics, but there are several different mental handicaps that qualify for Special Education assistance, and Mental Retardation happens to be one of them. 

Now, if the children really were misidentified, I can understand a correction, but to react to the very words as though they are some unspeakable curse?  That does not make sense.

In fact, I expect that one or more of the children really is MR and that the caption is probably accurate.  In fact, I imagine, the problem the school and the parents have with the caption is not that it is wrong, but that it is right.  This is part of the "Government as Parent" and "Every kid gets a trophy" mentalities.  These parents don't want their "special snowflakes" stigmatized with an accurate description.

I feel for them, I really do, but when you subvert the language, or censor proper use of the language, to avoid "being mean," or to attempt to convey something other than the truth, you start straying into Orwellian territory very quickly.  Most people think in words.  So when we corrupt what words mean in the common usage (this is far different from the evolution of language, for the record) we make communication more difficult, and we foment more discord.  Only one group benefits form more discord and less communication: the Government.


  1. The funny thing is... "mentally retarded" itself was originally a polite euphemism (back in the days before the phrase "politically correct" was invented). It was a gentle replacement for terms like "idiot," "moron," and "imbecile." The phrase "mentally retarded" was to learning what "vertically challenged" is today to height. The label was invented to avoid being mean - the same phrase you use in the last paragraph.

    That Laura Jobe must be a complete re...

    Never mind; I denounce myself.

  2. I saw an old campaign sign for Huey P. Long the other day. One of the benefits of the Long administration would be "a home for Louisiana's feeble minded children." I can only imagine someone using the phrase "feeble minded" these days.

    Also, Barack Obama is a stuttering clusterf*ck of a miserable failure.

    1. I would imagine such a home would warehouse a significant number of Obama voters - with or without their knowledge, IYKWIM. Just like Chicago graveyards...